Thor Odinson is one of Marvel’s oldest characters and one of its most popular. The son of Odin and prince of Asgard was the given the mystical hammer, Mjolnir, as a tool to help him defend the Nine Realms. On top of that, he was also known as the God of Thunder, capable of summoning lightning bolts to strike his foes. Most of his adventures took him all across the cosmos, to strange and new lands where readers would meet bizarre creatures unlike anything they’d seen before. He would later become one of the founding Avengers, all while sporting a mostly familiar design. Typically, he wears a helmet, has a long cape and hair, and is offset with some blue and silver for good measure. His classic design was the framework used for his look in the MCU, meaning most people would recognize him in an instant.
Most comic characters get a lot of re-designs, and whether it be because a new arc is on its way or the writers felt it was time for a new take, Thor has been one of those characters who was given several new costumes over the years. New arcs in the Marvel Universe prompted artists to draw a new suit for him, and the leap into animation and live-action also gave Marvel a reason to change his costume. With his various looks over the years, we’re ranking all of them from worst to best. Get thy hammers ready as we go through Thor’s most iconic designs.
20. THE CROSSING
The ’90s were a special time for a lot of industries, especially comic books. Many popular characters were given re-designs to place them in new scenarios or give them an “edgier” look. Marvel changed a lot of its characters during this time, and Thor was one of them.
During “The Crossing” era, Thor was given a new costume that made him look more like a member of a metal band than a Marvel superhero. The dark colors with spikes on the armor didn’t fit him very well, and his hair was extended to unreal proportions. It was all tied together by his half-shirt in the middle, which resulted in an unattractive costume.
19. THE INCREDIBLE HULK RETURNS
While Lou Ferrigno’s portrayal of the Hulk might be one of the most iconic in the character’s history, the same can’t be said for that universe’s portrayal of Thor. The God of Thunder appeared in The Incredible Hulk Returns, which was a TV movie that tied into the series.
Wearing a goofy metal vest with fur around the arms and a helmet that hardly resembles his iconic look from the comics, most wouldn’t know it was Thor unless they were told. Topping it all off was a version of Mjolnir that was tiny, leading to a character that was more laughable than epic.
18. ERIC MASTERSON
In the early ’90s, Thor was bonded with someone other than the Donald Blake persona. Eric Masterson was a young man who became friends with the God of Thunder. During a battle, Masterson was clinging to life, and the only way to save him was to merge his life with Thor’s. The two agreed, and Masterson became the next incarnation of Thor.
There wasn’t much different about Masterson’s costume, but it was the doofy mask that threw off the look. It was something that belonged in a masquerade ball rather than an Asgardian superhero. It was out of place, but Masterson eventually struck out on his own as Thunderstrike with an albeit “more radical” design.
17. MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD
Marvel Super Hero Squad is a show made for younger kids, so it’s not held on the same regard as most superhero media. That said, the art direction of the show’s characters, in general, is awkward. Thor isn’t given any strange additions or design changes — instead, the art style of the show shrinks him down into a chibi character who gets in fights with his brother a lot.
The thick lines and disproportioned body didn’t have a good effect on Thor’s look. Furthermore, the wings on his helmet were much too big. Just wait until you hear what they did to Silver Surfer’s voice.
The Amalgam Universe was an attempt from Marvel and DC to cast aside their differences and unite in a massive storyline. They merged a lot of their characters in the process, like Wolverine and Batman or Doomsday and Doctor Doom, and Thor was merged with DC’s Orion.
Their powers were combined to create an extremely powerful superhero, but the design took a severe hit. Giving Thor a silver and Red costume with a tighter helmet, it just goes to show that two things being amazing on their own doesn’t mean that they would be amazing together.
15. BATTLE ARMOR
Thor is a durable character capable of taking all sorts of punches and still getting back up to fight. He wears some armor with this costume, but never on the level as something from the Middle Ages.
In the ’80s, some artists decided to throw Thor into some battle armor. While it sounds like a neat idea on paper, it wasn’t something that stuck around in practice. The battle armor was distracting, throwing off the cleaner design of the character up until that point. Also, the overuse of gold and light silver didn’t do wonders while it clashed with the red cape that he kept.
14. ’90s CARTOON SUIT
There were a few Marvel cartoons in the ’90s that started to bring those characters in the spotlight, like Fantastic Four and X-Men. Thor never got his own show during that time, but that didn’t stop him from having cameo appearances in pre-existing shows.
For the most part, the goal was to recreate his classic look. While the animators succeeded, the quality of animation at the time hurt Thor’s appearance. The massive cape looks a bit awkward and some of the details (especially on his belt) are drawn a bit poorly. Animators later down the line would better be able to capture Thor’s look.
13. FROG THOR
Loki was up to his old tricks again and used his deceptive magic to turn his brother into a frog. However, being an amphibian didn’t stop Thor from fighting for justice and getting his old form back. Thor kept his costume as a frog. He had all of the parts of his classic look, including the torso piece, helmet, and Mjolnir.
Once he turned back, Marvel decided that they loved the design so much that they made it into a new character called Throg, who was given his own set of powers and joined the Pet Avengers. It’s a weird piece of Thor’s history.
12. POST-HEROES REBORN
After the “Heroes Reborn” saga hit the reset button on a lot of Marvel’s continuity, it decided to follow up by giving Thor one of his biggest storylines to date. Instead of being a protector of the Nine Realms, the God of Thunder was made into the King of Asgard.
To fit with his more regal title, he was given a new costume to go along with it. The design featured a more armored look, reminiscent of the Battle Armor design from the early ’80s. This time, the artists toned it down a bit, giving enhancements to his helmet and torso but still leaving it iconic enough. That said, the altered colors still made it a difficult costume to love.
11. HEROES REBORN
After the ’80s came and went with all of their awkward designs, there was a big change in Marvel Comics. The “Heroes Reborn” event essentially changed the continuity and, with it, came several re-designs for popular characters. Thor was given a new look during this event, one that was a little more dialed back instead of ramped up.
Thor’s cape was gone, and he was given a black and gold color scheme. He kept his iconic hair and helmet. While it wasn’t a bad look, it wasn’t a memorable one, never leaving an impression beyond the fact that it was better than the ’80s costumes.
10. ORIGINAL MCU
When Marvel brought Thor into the MCU, it had to convince an entire audience that the God of Thunder was cool enough for modern times. The MCU did this by taking elements from some of Thor’s better designs and mashing them together for a concise look.
He went through a few minor changes in The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those looks were all pretty much the same. They were all decent costumes, though Marvel’s fear of taking risks meant that it wasn’t going to be anything breathtaking, like Spider-Man’s costume in Captain America: Civil War.
9. AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is considered by many to be one of Marvel’s best cartoons, just behind Spectacular Spider-Man. In the show, Thor was given a look that felt inspired by Jack Kirby’s initial design without trying to translate it on a one-to-one scale.
The show had some more defined details and harsh lines to its art style, but one that benefitted Thor’s look. Coupled with a few new touches to make him easier on the eyes, it was a design that respected the source material without trying to outdo it. If only the show wasn’t replaced with Avengers Assemble so soon.
8. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
Avengers: Infinity War marked a dramatic shift for many of the MCU’s characters, and one who went through arguably the biggest change was Thor. After losing Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnarok, he decided to forge a new weapon designed specifically to kill Thanos.
The weapon, in tandem with Thor’s new lightning powers, gave him a serious strength upgrade on top of a costume change. It was a striking look in a lot of ways, featuring an ax-wielding Thor, darker colors, and the classic silver armor. The only thing that throws off the look is the return of the big, red cape.
7. JANE FOSTER
In 2015, Marvel decided to rebuild their universe yet again after the “Secret Wars” event. In that new timeline, Thor was unworthy to wield Mjolnir, which was then given to Jane Foster, who became the new Thor. Despite sounding gimmicky at first, this new Thor proved to be a success in her design and character arc.
Featuring tighter armor with a helmet that covered her entire head, Jane Foster’s look was new and impressive without overdoing it. It all blended well with the red cape and golden accents over the armor — making her arguably a much purer version of Thor.
6. OLD KING THOR
As an Asgardian, Thor can live thousands of years and only become more powerful. The Thor: God of Thunder run showcased the character at a few stages of his life. The most memorable of the bunch was the Old King Thor from the future. Thor had become the King of Asgard and bore the Destroyer armor to vanquish his foes.
Topped off with his eyepatch, an artificial arm, and an aged red cape flowing from his silver armor, the design would catch the eyes of many people. What was most telling about the design was how much the God of Thunder resembled his father in both looks and actions.
5. ULTIMATE THOR
The Ultimate Universe was a way for Marvel to re-imagine its characters without having to worry about the continuity it built for decades. This universe was focused more on realism and deeper issues. As such, many heroes were given different designs to reflect this shift. Thor lost his cape, helmet, and hammer in favor of a more subdued look.
However, he wielded the Stormbreaker Axe, which still made him more than a capable threat. Complete with glowing portions of armor and cloth wrappings around his legs, it was a new take on the character that inspired his re-design in Avengers: Infinity War.
4. THOR: RAGNAROK
Faced with a character that most audiences didn’t care about, Marvel came up with a plan to reinvent Thor, and that started with Thor: Ragnarok. In this film, Thor lost his hammer, his home, and all of his friends. Broken after his fight with Hela and journey to Sakaar, his design was drastically changed.
His cape became subtle and over the shoulder, and he had laser marks on the sides of his now shorter hair — it was a risky move, but one that paid off. It inspired by some of Thor’s “unworthier” looks from the comics, and it worked well. By trying something new, Marvel took a character no one cared about and made him one of its best.
3. UNWORTHY THOR
While Jane Foster was flying around the world as the new Thor, the old Thor was still alive and kicking — just unworthy of Mjolnir. That didn’t stop him from trying to save the world, though. Throwing away his traditional suit and long hair, this version of Thor wielded an axe, Black Uru arm, and tattered clothes that came straight out of a Dungeons & Dragons scenario.
Still keeping a torn version of his cape around his neck, this was a reminiscent yet all-new version of the character. These changes would inspire the character’s re-design in Thor: Ragnarok to great success.
2. 2007 RETURN
Thor has gone through a lot of changes at the hands of various writers and artists. In 2007, though, a brilliant writer helmed the relaunch of the character to take him to new heights in both story and character design. This version of Thor became the standard by which future versions were measured.
Instead of going for a Golden Age look, Marvel took inspiration from fantasy novels to give Thor a more whimsical yet grounded appearance. The dimmer colors against the bright, red cape were a fantastic touch. It also gave the God of Thunder his scaled armor that would be later used in the Thor movie just three years later.
1. JACK KIRBY
As if we could’ve put any other Thor costume at the top of our list. Combining the fantastical elements of a Norse god with the wacky, larger-than-life elements of a comic book resulted in the most iconic look for the character to date. Kirby’s look remained untouched for a long time and is still used to this day.
It is the framework for every other Thor design after it. It became forever linked to the character and his legacy. Every great Thor design has taken a variation of Kirby’s original look. It’s a simple design, but it remains the best the character ever had.
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