The MCU’s gods mythology is a complete mess

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In Thor: Love and Thunder, the heroes go up in opposition to a brand new villain: the vengeance-minded supernatural murderer Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale). As his title implies, Gorr’s entire schtick is killing gods, a mission he took on for himself after the god he worshiped wouldn’t carry a finger to assist him in his time of want. Together with his darkish, shadowy Necrosword, Gorr is on a quest to kill each god ever, as a result of so far as he (or we) can inform, they’ve performed nothing to assist their followers, and even to marginally make the multiverse a greater place.

Since Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a god himself, he disapproves of Gorr’s homicide spree, particularly when he and different survivors of the destruction of his house, Asgard, grow to be Gorr’s subsequent targets. Thor mourns among the gods Gorr has killed, and seeks assist from some who haven’t been focused but. The big selection of beings he encounters within the course of brings up a query that haunts the MCU, particularly as these mythological deities grow to be increasingly more central to the flicks: What the hell makes a god within the MCU?

[Ed. note: Some broad story spoilers ahead for Thor: Love and Thunder.]

The Asgardian Dilemma

Picture: Marvel Studios

Doesn’t Thor: Love and Thunder reply this query? you would possibly ask. Gods are simply the immortal entities that mortal species worship throughout the universe, proper? Ah, if solely it have been that straightforward. Right here’s one complication: When the Asgardians have been first launched in 2011’s Thor, they have been offered as aliens.

Again within the early days of the MCU, the flicks stayed away from mystical and magical components. All of the powers and motion centered on expertise, science, and interplanetary aliens, which have been presupposed to really feel extra severe and funky and grown-up than wibbly-wobbly fantasy. The “magic” of Asgard was simply very superior science, one thing Jane Foster noted when she visited Asgard in 2013’s Thor: The Darkish World. This prolonged to the remainder of the MCU, with Wanda Maximoff’s powers initially defined in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron as the results of scientific experimentation moderately than magic. No one recognized her as a “witch” till WandaVision established a practice and historical past of witches.

So as soon as upon a time, all of the magic within the MCU was actually simply science… till it wasn’t. You possibly can’t have Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, with out some magic. At this level, the MCU has totally embraced magic as an influence supply and kind, which suggests the gods may be gods once more, not simply folks from a unique world. However on the similar time, they’re additionally nonetheless kinda aliens, since a lot of what they do entails going into house.

Thor: Ragnarok - Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie, Loki

Picture: Marvel Studios/Disney

In Thor: Love and Thunder, Thor and his buddies search assist in Omnipotence Metropolis, the place gods hand around in what appears like an area station, dominated by Zeus (performed by Russell Crowe). When Thor and his mates arrive, they stroll via a number of different gods — some referencing or impressed by real-world cultures, and others from MCU fiction. Amid a few of these real-world deities, just like the beings in conventional Aztec apparel, there’s additionally the rock god that Taika Waititi’s rock alien Korg worships (he sits proudly on a throne of vanquished scissors) and Bao, the god of dumplings. (He isn’t an precise Chinese language mythological determine, however he’s lovely nonetheless.) A few the EternalsCelestial masters seem as properly. Different established MCU gods are notably absent, although, just like the Egyptian deities seen in Moon Knight.

Touring to Omnipotence Metropolis clearly entails touring someplace in house. Traditional superhero comics usually blur the strains between magic and science — not shocking in a style that’s solely barely youthful than broadcast radio, and a few a long time older than the house race. The MCU displays this loosey-goosey cosmology — what precisely is the distinction between Physician Unusual’s sorcery and Scarlet Witch’s witchcraft? We by no means discover out, aside from being instructed that witchcraft is unhealthy for some purpose. If Wanda’s powers have been at all times inside her, and have been simply activated by Baron Strucker’s HYDRA experiments, what does that make the Infinity Stones, or the Necrosword itself? How do beings from different universes determine into the cosmology? The questions maintain increasing together with the MCU, however that’s in all probability a topic for one more article.

The decision: All gods are simply aliens, and human minds are too feeble to grasp the distinction.

The Everlasting Query

Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Ma Dong-seok, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, and Lia McHugh in Eternals (2021)

Picture: Marvel Studios

Up to now so good — besides that in 2021’s Eternals, we study that loads of Earth religions got here from myths and legends influenced by the presence of near-immortal beings known as the Eternals, who guided humanity for 1000’s of years.

Most of the Eternals aren’t instantly seen as gods, however they did encourage the tales of heroic mythological figures: Sersi is the sorceress Circe; Ikaris is Icarus, the dude who flew too near the solar; Ajak is the Greek warrior Ajax of The Iliad; and Gilgamesh is the protagonist from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Different members of the group prompted legends about common mythological ideas, like druids and sprites. However Phastos, Thena, and Makkari have direct Greco-Roman counterparts in Hephaestus, Athena, and Mercury. It’s an enormous a part of Eternals that their steering of humanity impressed tales throughout cultures, and the closing credit, which juxtapose among the actors’ names with inventive representations of their characters’ mythological counterparts, hammers this connection house.

That will really assist the “All gods are literally aliens, and people are simply too dumb to know the distinction” thought, if Zeus wasn’t launched in Omnipotence Metropolis as “a god,” within the conventional human sense. Past a passing nod to Dionysus, the god of wine, there are not any different direct mentions of Greek mythological figures within the metropolis. However Zeus sparks apparent questions: Have been a few of Earth’s Greek deities god-gods, as a substitute of simply Eternals or passed-down legends of Eternals? Is there an precise Athena kicking round in Omnipotence Metropolis, whereas Thena the Everlasting did all her soiled work on Earth? Might perception in a god-figure assist create or empower an precise god, the way in which it does in (for example) Neil Gaiman’s novels?

Angelina Jolie as Thena in Eternals.

Picture: Marvel Studios

And what concerning the Roman counterparts? Is Zeus really Jupiter, since Roman mythology is mainly a copy-paste of Greek mythology with some elements added and eliminated for pizzaz? Or is there a unique Jupiter who fills in for Zeus when he’s too hungover to throw lightning bolts round? Actor Carmen Foon is credited as Minerva (Athena’s Roman counterpart) in Thor: Love and Thunder, who could be very a lot not performed by Angelina Jolie, who performs Thena — so does that imply there are separate Greek and Roman deities?

Then there’s the query of the Celestials, the primordial race liable for creating the Eternals. They’re the oldest beings within the universe, and in reality created it — which might make them the closest factor to the Abrahamic God within the MCU to date. However other than the Guardians of the Galaxy operating into Ego (not a Celestial within the comics, however tailored into kind of one for the MCU), nobody however the Eternals appears tremendous conscious of the Celestials. No MCU property since Eternals has acknowledged Tiamut, the large celestial that began to hatch from the Earth’s crust. Although Sersi turned it into marble, it’s nonetheless there, which you’d suppose Earth’s heroes would possibly discover.

The brand new verdict: Some gods are beings despatched by a primordial race of godlike aliens, and a few gods are literally aliens. However clearly some gods are the precise mythological gods we all know.

What the hell is up with Moon Knight?

Khonshu stands at the end of a hallway, looking at Steven Grant from a distance in Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight.

Picture: Marvel Studios

After which there’s Moon Knight.

Moon Knight attracts closely from Egyptian mythology and establishes that the Egyptian gods exist however don’t instantly work together with humanity anymore. As a substitute, they empower people as avatars to hold out their bidding. A lot of Moon Knight is way faraway from the MCU — past a brief Black Panther reference when Moon Knight’s human personalities, Steven and Marc, wander into the Land of the Useless and meet the hippo goddess Taweret, there really isn’t a lot to tie it to the remainder of the MCU.

Taweret, the goddess of fertility, stands in front of Marc Spector and Steven Grant in Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight.

Picture: Marvel Studios

But it surely is nonetheless a part of this sophisticated internet of gods. Moon Knight writer Jeremy Slater revealed that the present’s staff needed to minimize some script references to Gorr the God Butcher as a result of they merely didn’t know whether or not Moon Knight could be launched earlier than Love and Thunder.

So are the Moon Knight gods the identical kind of gods as those we see in Omnipotence Metropolis — immortal, highly effective beings that aren’t simply high-tech aliens or servants of a good larger energy? Most likely, besides that they very notably aren’t in Omnipotence Metropolis, despite their distance from humanity on Earth.

The brand new-new verdict: There are precise gods, however they’re actually faraway from the day-to-day machinations of life, in order that they use folks as avatars to do their bidding, and likewise don’t even hang around with their fellow gods, possible as a result of Zeus is an exclusionist asshole.

Placing all of it collectively

Norse gods are Asgardians who’re aliens, however probably not. The Greek Pantheon is made up of some empowered beings, but additionally some gods, and we’re undecided whether or not Greek gods and Roman gods are the identical. Egyptian gods are precise gods, however they don’t actually do the god factor anymore, and as a substitute simply use people to do their bidding. The gods of main real-world religions which can be nonetheless being practiced don’t come up in these tales, however gods of religions practiced by aliens actually do. The MCU now has magic, besides when it doesn’t. Possibly Thor: Love and Thunder director Taika Waititi places it finest.

“There’s a sure line the place you gotta go away the opposite stuff behind,” he tells Polygon. “In any other case, you get slowed down on this thought of honoring the reality or the authenticity of one thing. Any comedian e book character is reinterpreted a unique approach by completely different writers and completely different artists every time there’s a brand new run. That additionally proves that nothing is definitely sacred.”

The ultimate verdict: The whole lot is made up and nothing issues, so let’s simply have some enjoyable and use gods as little paper dolls for our cinematic universe playtime.

Thor sits peacefully atop a mountain in a robe in Thor: Love and Thunder

How I really feel after accepting this remaining verdict
Picture: Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios

Thor: Love and Thunder is out in theaters now.



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