Study Guide

Thor Themes

  • Power

    Power defines Thor's life. The son of a king and wielder of the biggest doorknocker in the whole universe, he gets to use power both directly and indirectly. He finds it decidedly inconvenient when that power is taken away from them, and has to learn how to use it responsibility if he's every going to get it back.

    Loki, too, is obsessed with power: mostly power he doesn't have and desperately wants. The irony is that Loki may actually have the makings of a great king and Thor doesn't, something that will need to be rectified before Marvel's famous post-credits cookie shows up.

    Questions About Power

    1. How does the film contrast physical power (or powers) with political power?
    2. In what ways do Jane and her friends hold power over Thor in the film?
    3. Is power ever shown as being inherently good or inherently evil in the film? If so, when? If not, why not?
    4. How does power corrupt the characters? How does it redeem them?

    Chew on This

    Power is shown as a tool in this film: like Mjolnir, it's good or evil depending on how it's used.

    Power has an inherent good or evil quality to it in Thor.

  • Jealousy

    Loki's consumed by jealousy: of his brother, of his father, of everyone and everything around him. In fact, we could just repeat all of Loki's lines here and have the whole "jealousy" thing covered. And Thor himself gets a bit green-eyed when yearning for Asgard from his exile on Earth.

    A lot of the drama in Thor concerns people wanting what others have, and they're defined not just by what they want, but how they resist—or fail to resist—the urge to claim it.

    Questions About Jealousy

    1. Who is Loki jealous of, and why? How does that motivate him for good and for ill?
    2. How closely is jealousy in the film linked to other emotions, like pride and anger?
    3. How does the jealousy of the gods here reflect the jealousy you see in classic Greek and Norse mythology?
    4. Is Thor jealous of anyone in the film? If so, who and when?

    Chew on This

    Loki's jealousy sometimes leads him to do good things, even if they're for the wrong reason.

    Nope, sorry. Loki is bad to the bone and his jealousy is a big part of it.

  • Humility

    Thor's a lot of things, but humble ain't one of them. He has to learn all about it, since that's what keeping him from being a hero instead of a jumped-up frat boy jerk. In many ways, his hero's journey is all about teaching him humility, which he learns at the feet of a couple of plucky scientists who aren't exactly living the high life.

    It helps him to be a better person (or god) and to use the power he has wisely instead of just kicking down doors and beating people silly. Humility is the key to growth and change in Thor, and what ultimately defines the title character's difference with Loki. (Besides a whole lot of brains, that is.)

    Questions About Humility

    1. In what ways to Jane, Erik, and Darcy demonstrate humility? Does Thor learn from their example?
    2. Why is Odin so humble in comparison to Thor and Loki? What differentiates him form them on that front?
    3. How does Thor express his humility before gaining his hammer back?

    Chew on This

    Humility serves as the counterbalance to power.

    Humility doesn't affect one's use of power one way or another.

  • Sacrifice

    Thor thinks being a hero is all about bashing monsters. It's a lot more complicated than that, as he learns.

    Sacrifice for him means giving up everything for the benefit of others. Loki make sacrifices too, though they're more of the knight-takes-pawn types than anything he has to do. Jane and her buddies make sacrifices by pursuing the leads on a scientific phenomenon that no one else believes in. Even Odin has to make sacrifices with his Odinsleep.

    If you want to be a player in this game, you got to give…and not because of what it gets you, but just because it feels good.

    Questions About Sacrifice

    1. What, specifically does Thor sacrifice to his greater goals and why?
    2. What kinds of sacrifices do the people of Asgard have to make for the safety of their kingdom.
    3. Do villains like Laufey and Loki make sacrifices? To what end?
    4. How does the spiritual nature of the characters' sacrifices reflect in the outside world?

    Chew on This

    Sacrifice in the movie only counts if the characters have no alternative gain from it. (Like Loki, for instance.)

    Sacrifice matters no matter what the losses and gains are, provided that it's undertaken with a sense of selflessness.

  • Morality and Ethics

    Thor thinks he has this whole good guy thing figured out. Turns out, he doesn't know nearly as much as he thought he did: being a hero means a lot more than smacking monsters in the face.

    Loki seems to be a bad guy—what with the lying and all—but turns out his sneakiness serves a greater good, too. They're both consumed with doing the right thing, but that tricky word—"right"—can be a lot more complicated than it first appears. These two brothers have a lot of learning to do…though only one of them ultimately picks up the correct lessons.

    Questions About Morality and Ethics

    1. How does the film define ethical behavior?
    2. At what points do each of the characters – even the villains – behave ethically?
    3. How does understanding the moral grays of the world help Thor become a more ethical soul?
    4. Thor may act selfishly, but does he ever act truly unethically? And are the two terms one and the same.

    Chew on This

    Ethics are tricky and subtle according to the film, which is why Thor often struggles with them.

    Ethics are very straightforward. Thor just has to figure it out.

  • Exile

    Thor is separated from the universe he knew, forced to come down to Earth and root around in the mud (literally as it turns out) like the rest of us humans. Even worse, he has to grapple with what he's lost and accept that he's responsible for that state of affairs, all with no hope of ever returning home.

    Oddly enough, Loki ends up in exile just as Thor returns…only he chooses exile voluntarily since he drops into the Giant Cosmic Drain Pipe rather than let Odin and Thor pull him to safety.

    Questions About Exile

    1. Why does Thor take so long to realize that his exile is permanent?
    2. What causes Thor to accept his exile? Why does that allow him to eventually escape it?
    3. How are the other characters placed in exile – both literal and spiritual – throughout the movie?
    4. In what ways is exile a learning tool for the characters, teaching them what they need to know?

    Chew on This

    Thor's exile is self-imposed in many ways and only when he understands his own limitations that led him here can he grow.

    Exile isn't self-imposed, but rather a reflection of the greater community's needs and values. Thor can end it only when he embraces the greater good.