Thor: Ragnarok brings us the god of thunder in the Marvel Universe like we’ve never seen him before — broken and battered, his beloved hammer Mjolnir cracked literally to pieces by Hela, and hopeless. Luckily, with Thor being Thor, you can’t keep a driven thunder god down, and we get treated to several incredible fights along the way. But while Thor might be the godliest Avenger, he’s not the strongest by a fairly long shot — and he’s definitely not the strongest god there is.
Marvel’s pantheon of gods and Elder Gods and higher powers is many-layered and unbelievably complicated; there are minor gods, omnipotent judges, and even beyond that, formless ideas of law and order that occasionally make appearances to set things right. Thor is the kind of god who likes to keep fighting, no matter what the odds, for the glory of the battle itself, and he’s faced off a few deities that have given him that battle and more. Most of the time Thor is able to win by virtue of his honor, or his wits, but even Asgard’s favorite thunder god has to lose sometimes. Check out this list of gods stronger who have been able to defeat the Mighty Thor!
Odin Borson is the All-Father, the benefactor and spiritual patriarch of all Asgard, and the actual father of Thor; he’s technically Loki’s adoptive father, but he’s as much of a father figure to the god of mischief as anyone. He is also the father of humanity, according to his own tellings of his legend. Odin became such a powerful god when he absorbed the powers of his brothers Vili and Ve, killed when they confronting Surtur. He also wields a force that’s named after him.
Thor has some ability to be stronger than his father, to be sure; his ability to tame Mjolnir when Odin could not speaks to that. But Odin is Thor’s dad who starts out with three times his base power level, factored in with the Odin-Force, plus Odin is renowned as one of the most powerful wielders of magic in the universe. There’s just no contest.
The Mad Titan walks the line between being a heavily superpowered person and an actual God. He wields an immense amount of power as one of the Titanian Eternals, a tribe of sapiens that were experimented on by Celestials in the distant past, and deposited on one of the moons of Saturn. Thanos is technically one of the crueler species of Eternals, the Deviants, as denoted by his super weird chin and purple skin.
Thanos on his own may just be a match for Thor; Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet is, of course, an entirely different story. When he collects the Infinity Stones and uses the Gauntlet, he powerful enough to become a threat to primal forces, like Lord Chaos and Master Order; he also wipes out half the life in the universe with a snap of his fingers. It’s safe to say that Thanos is the favored contender here.
In the mythology surrounding Ragnarok, Jormungand is the son of Loki and a frost giantess, who takes the form of an enormous serpent that encircles the world. He was destined to be slain during Ragnarok fighting Thor, but his venom was meant to kill Thor after he had taken seven steps.
When Thor met Jormungand, they were each disguised: Thor had been cursed so as to be unable to die or heal his body, so he built an armor that would protect him and wore a beard to hide his scarred visage; Jormungand was masquerading as Fin Fang Foom. They fought in a truly awe-inspiring single issue of only splash pages by Walt Simonson, and Thor was able to slay the serpent. However, the Serpent beat Thor so badly that for a decent amount of time, he was basically a liquid person contained inside a suit of armor.
Over the years, Thor has crossed paths several times with the sun god Atum, the son of Gaea and the Demiurge. That parentage places Atum amongst the oldest and most powerful beings in the universe; he moves himself even higher up on the list by consuming other gods when he transforms into his monstrous alter ego, the Demogorge.
Most recently, Thor had to face the Demogorge after his death in Fear Itself. He awoke in an afterlife where he and thousands of others were on a Viking longboat, floating through space towards the Demogorge’s maw. As he gradually remembers who he is, Mjolnir returns to him (in the afterlife) and he recruits other gods to help him fight the Demogorge; they appear victorious in Asgard, but it’s never shown on the page — the Demogorge will be back for Thor one day.
For a guy called the All-Father, Odin was not the first of the gods, by any means. He was one of four brothers, and their father was a god named Bor Burison, who is the son of the first god, Buri. After the abdication of Buri, Bor became king, and ruled until he was turned to snow by a Frost Giant. Bor was resurrected after the Asgardian’s returned post-Ragnarok, and Loki set him loose in New York, under an enchantment that made him believe he was beset on all sides by demons.
Thor was able to stop Bor’s rampage and kill him (after Bor had mopped the floor with the Dark Avengers), but one has to assume that if Thor’s grandfather, one of the literal creators of the universe, had been more tactical and in less of a berserker rage, he would have been a more formidable enemy.
Cyttorak is named in the same breath alongside many of the demigods of magic in the Marvel Universe, like Ikonn and Watoom. He is a destroyer, and ruler over the Crimson Cosmos; he placed his essence on Earth in the form of the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, which is most familiar as the source of the Juggernaut’s powers. Technically anyone who holds the Crimson Gem becomes the Juggernaut, but these avatars of Cyttorak are no match for Thor — only Cyttorak himself is.
Thor has never had the occasion to face the Master of the Raging Storm, but given the fact that the Juggernaut only receives the smallest fraction of Cyttorak’s power from the gem, Thor would not be able to survive his full might unleashed.
Amatsu-Mikaboshi is a Japanese deity, a bringer of chaos and destruction from the beginning of time. He first appeared as a minor god in Thor: Blood Oath, a miniseries about Thor and the Warriors Three trying to track down mystical weapons from other pantheons; he first came to power during Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente’s “Chaos War” event, in which he was revealed to be the personification of the void before time and space.
He murders Nightmare before going on a killing spree that ends up with him devouring 98% of the multiverse. Eventually, Amadeus Cho discovered a pocket universe to which they were going to try and escape; instead, Thor hurled Amatsu-Mikaboshi in and closed it behind him Although, if he ate so many other universes, how would being locked away in another one stop him? Perhaps he’ll be back…
8. CUL BORSON
Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen’s “Fear Itself” event arose when the daughter of the Red Skull was able to open a mysterious undersea prison, revealing Odin’s brother, Cul, the god of fear. The older brother of Odin, Cul had been sealed away eons earlier by the All-Father, when he had gone mad. Cul was known as “the Serpent” for his wily ways, and he confronts Thor at the end of the event.
Thor had already beaten the Midgard Serpent and lived to tell the tale, so he went into battle with the Serpent knowing that it may be the end of all things. It was the end of Thor, as Cul was able to wound him and make him fall after seven steps, but once again, the Asgardians dodged Ragnarok. Odin retreated with the wounded Cul into an abandoned Asgard, to mourn his son and tend to his brother.
7. BETA RAY BILL
Walt Simonson began his legendary run on The Mighty Thor with the introduction of Beta Ray Bill, literally coming in on the cover to smash the old Mighty Thor logo to pieces. Bill is the champion of the alien world, Korbin, created to protect their population while in hibernation on a journey across space — fleeing from Muspelheim’s fire demons, who had found a portal just outside of Korbin.
In Bill’s first ever appearance, he picks up Mjolnir, proving himself to be worthy of such a hammer; after Thor is bested in formal combat by him, Beta Ray Bill was given his own hammer, Stormbreaker, by Odin. Bill isn’t more powerful than Thor by a huge margin — it may be just about neck-and-neck–but he’s beaten him before, and could do it again if he had to.
Sometimes in the course of a battle, it’s a victory just to escape in one piece. Every encounter the god of thunder has had with Hela, mistress of has ended with him containing her by sorcery or trickery, or escaping from her clutches. As the ruler of both Hel and Niffleheim, Hela has countless souls under her sway, and she is a master of spellcraft.
Her most brutal blow to Thor was when she enchanted him so that his body would not heal from wounds, but he also could not die — punishment for his incursion into her realm to rescue the soul of Odin. Thor went on the run for some time in a suit of armor built to protect him from the slightest wounds; he was only able to lift the curse by possessing the Destroyer armor and using that to fight Hela.
Oshtur is one of the Elder Gods in the Marvel Universe, and is one of the primary sources of magical favor in the multiverse. She was created by the Demiurge (basically the Earth’s manifested willpower to create life), and has existed for millions of years. Her son, Agamotto, is the source of Doctor Strange’s relic, the Eye of Agamotto. This kind of supreme magical power makes her a force to be reckoned with, especially as one of the few Elder Gods who has retained her reason instead of becoming a demon.
One of Oshtur’s significant relics is the Book of the Vishanti, one of Doctor Strange’s primary magical tomes, filled with defensive spells and counter-enchantments. The good news for Thor is that defense is Oshtur’s strong suit — she is without a doubt the stronger of the two entities, but her deification of law and reason make her an unlikely foe, to say the least.
In the Marvel Universe, one of the highest powers the heroes were aware of was a three-faced being called the Living Tribunal; he settles disputes between minor gods and brings order to the chaos of the universe. But there is a creator who is placed even above the Living Tribunal: the One-Above-All. He’s been rendered as a generic golden-skinned male, but also as Jack Kirby in a touching Fantastic Four tribute issue.
Each universe has its own Living Tribunal, and each Living Tribunal reports to the One-Above-All, the closest to a Abrahamic idea of a God. Thor fears the power of the Living Tribunal, who only possesses a fraction of the power of the One-Above-All; Thor knows that the One-Above-All can rewrite reality at a whim, and destroy even the idea of Asgard almost without trying.
A Marvellian take on Lovecraftian Elder Gods, Shuma-Gorath, He Who Sleeps But Shall Soon Awake, is a many-tentacled eyeball god that rules over hundreds of dimensions. He first appeared in Marvel’s universe during the Hyborean Age as the nemesis of Conan the Conqueror, haunting the warrior’s dreams; he eventually became associated with Doctor Strange and the magical element of the Marvel universe as well as, of course, Marvel vs. Capcom, where he appears as a boss and playable character.
Shuma-Gorath’s power is such that even his manifestations on Earth have been described as merely a fingernail scratching the surface of our reality — and even in those manifestations, he’s at or slightly above Thor’s power level. Were Shuma-Gorath to flex even slightly more of its muscle, Thor would be Asgardian toast.
Jonathan Hickman’s three-year-long Avengers and New Avengers saga in the lead-up to Secret Wars was chock full of great character moments for the Avengers, and none more so than the final fate of Earth-616 Thor. By the end of that run, Thor was styling himself “Odinson” and was forced to use a giant axe, because he had been deemed unworthy by Mjolnir.
Facing the end of not just the pantheon of the gods, but the end of all reality as everyone knows it, Thor chose to face it side-by-side with his superhero bro, Hyperion. In the course of the battle, Thor picks a fight with two Beyonders who emerge from a spacetime rift, and loses his arm in the fighting. But, in true Thor fashion, Thor goes to his death laughing, fighting right until the very end.
Surtur is the first of the Fire Giants, ruler of Muspelheim, destined to one day bring about Ragnarok, the death of everything, by razing Asgard with his Twilight Sword. He’s even succeeded once or twice. Asgardian stories are cyclical to the last, and the story of Surtur is no exception; he’s invaded Midgard and Asgard dozens of times, and each time, he fights Odin or Thor to a standstill before being imprisoned in the wake of treachery in the ranks.
For all that, though, there is really nothing that beats watching a thousand-foot-tall giant made out of fire swing an enormous sword at Thor to try and obliterate all of reality. Thor has never been able to soundly defeat Surtur, always leaving him imprisoned or exiled. Perhaps he and Surtur know that death comes for the both of them.
Which of these gods scares you the most? Let us know in the comments!
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