(Note: This post contains spoilers for “Thor: Ragnorok.”)
“Thor: Ragnarok” is all about Thor going through some changes. After losing Mjolnir, the mythical hammer that gives Thor many of his powers, the hero struggles to figure out how he’s going to be good enough to deal with Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death who threatens everything he’s ever known.
So Thor figures himself out and taps into his own potential. He learns from his father, Odin, that Thor never really needed the hammer except as a way to channel his immature abilities. Once he’s gone through some personal growth and become a real leader to Asgard, he’s able to tap into his true power as the god of thunder, and he doesn’t need a special hammer to do it.
Thor’s journey in “Thor: Ragnarok” is similar to one he goes through in the Marvel Comics, right down to a big change in his physical appearance. During “Ragnarok,” Thor loses an eye in his fight with Hela. It not only makes him look more like Odin, but the moment helps Thor realize his limitations, as well as his capabilities, as a character.
In the comics, Thor goes through a lot of trials like those in “Ragnarok” on his way to becoming the king of Asgard. In Marvel’s comics, Thor goes on to become Rune King Thor, a different, more powerful version of the character who can tap into the same incredible force that gives Odin his powers.
The “Rune King Thor” arc also includes a moment in which Thor has to sacrifice in order to gain the knowledge and understanding that lets him tap into his power. To do that, he pulls out his own eye — just like Odin apparently did. He also spends some time hanging from a chain and learning about runes in order to gain a sort of enlightenment. (There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but that’s the gist.)
In “Ragnarok,” Thor doesn’t go through quite so obvious a set of trials, but the parallels to the Rune King Thor ideas are there. The opening portion of the movie sees Thor hanging from a chain after apparently being captured by Surtur, where he learns important stuff about Asgard and its ultimate fate, Ragnarok.
The movie version of the character struggles with his own limitations as he fights Hela, and spends the entire movie become more than just a strong her guy who punches stuff. It’s only when Thor becomes a real leader, more than just a relatively selfish superhero, that he’s finally able to outsmart and defeat Hela.
While Rune King Thor is nearly omniscient and basically all-powerful, the movie version of Thor isn’t quite so changed. But the similarities are there, even if his changes in “Thor: Ragnarok” are more about his growth as a character than becoming an invincible god.
So what’s next for Thor? It’s tough to say what will happen in “Avengers: Infinity War,” but in the comics a version of Thor similar to the one we see in the MCU didn’t just lose his eye, but his arm as well. With the battle against Thanos finally almost here, it seems possible that some brutal difficulties could be in store for the God of Thunder.