I straight up love Marvel’s version of Thor, even if he doesn’t exactly match the Norse myth Thor.
In fact, I love the Marvel universe so freaking much I teach a religion class where we read American Gods and the Edda before watching Marvel’s Thor (and, of course, I end class with The Avengers).
Yes, I have so much fun as an adjunct instructor I’m always afraid I won’t be invited back next semester.
But, after watching Chris Hemsworth as Thor about two million times, I’ve gotta admit I have a beef with the movie.
In fact, I’ve two beefs with this movie.
Problem The First: Where are the Valkyries?!?
Lots and lots of action movies have no freaking women, aside from one helpless and usually underdressed love interest. Bonus points if she dies early to spark the hero’s blood-drenched quest for vengeance.
Thor has a competent female lead who does not need rescuing, so bonus points there.
Plus, hey, there’s a female warrior! How diverse, right?
Yup, that’s Sif, the sword-wielding, ass-kicking Asgardian buddy of Thor. The name Sif comes from the original Norse myths, where Sif is Thor’s wife.
So Marvel took a feminine mythological figure and made her bad-ass, helping to increase female representation in the male-dominated Viking myths?
The Norse myths already have kick-ass female warriors. They’re called Valkyries, and they decide who lives and who dies in battle to join Odin’s warriors in Val-Hall, sometimes in gruesome, shamanistic, intestine-wearing ways (for more, check out this article).
So, instead of a group of magical witch-women deciding the fates of moral warriors, Marvel gives us… one woman.
What’s more, in the scene where Thor is trying to convince the warriors to join his incredibly ill-advised attack on Jotunheim, Thor says, “Who convinced everyone a maiden could fight as well as any man?”
This bothers me because it suggests Sif is an exception. Sure, she can fight, but she’s the first and only woman to do so. The other Asgardian woman are presumably off doing appropriately feminine things, like healing Jane in Dark World.
But woman who play an integral role in warfare are not the exception in Norse mythology. They’re essential, and they hold mortals’ lives in sway.
Plus, recent archeological evidence suggests Vikings had female warriors (check out TOR’s article here). Previously, skeletons buried with swords or other weapons were automatically assumed to be men. But guess what? Actually looking at the bones revealed about half the remains were females. That’s right, Viking women were buried with their swords.
So kick ass female warriors may well have been the rule in Viking societies, not the exception.
By making Thor’s flaxen-haired wife into the one and only warrior woman in all of Asgard, Marvel took ancient myths and made them more sexist.
That’s right. More sexist than the Vikings.
Problem the Second: Where are the Hispanics?
Marvel’s vision of Asgard does hold some ethnic diversity, namely Heimdall and Thor’s warrior buddy Hogun.
So that’s cool.
But my second beef with Thor isn’t about the lack of ethnic diversity on Asgard.
It’s about Earth.
Most of the movie takes place in New Mexico. And how many Hispanic characters do we see in a state that’s home of Santa Fe, a city twice as old as Boston? A state where Mexican ancestry dates back to before the Mayflower? What about Native American characters in a state that’s home to at least thirteen distinct tribes, and Native ruins dating back thousands of years?
Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with this.
And that lack of representation blows my mind. I mean, if Asgard was totally white, I’d understand. Norse gods come from cold, Northern countries. They don’t get much sun. I expect them to be pale.
But New Mexico? One of our most diverse, vibrant, interesting states? And there’s not a single Hispanic or Native character, not even the guy in the pet shop…
Or anyone in the diner…
Or even the yokels trying to pull Mjolnir out of the crater.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
I still love Thor, and Marvel.
But just because you love something doesn’t mean it’s without flaws. And, especially when those flaws subtly perpetuate some of the nasty -isms that have recently come to the front in our society (sexism, racism, etc), calling them out is the right thing to do.
So Thor, I’m calling you out.
I shall now resume my smut writing.
Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to my newsletter for updates, teasers, and free stories!