Ragnarök: The Myth v The Movie

Ragnarök: The Myth v The Movie

With the release of Thor: Ragnarok this week, (or precisely tomorrow) I’ve decided to make an article peeling the phrase Ragnarok and the real Ragnarök in Norse Mythology, comparing it with the real life version and the MCU Version. Please Enjoy the article!

P.S. Indonesian Version of this Article

DISCLAIMER: May contain Spoilers from the Movie, and VERY VERY Gory details… Enough to make Kronos’s story look like a polite one.

Also, I’m comparing the two terms of Ragnarök and Ragnarok here, and for trivial purposes, some of the names in the previous Thor movies, are the same as those in Norse Mythology, although… I haven’t watched Thor: The Dark World yet though…

Ragnarök VS Ragnarok

In Norse Mythology, Ragnarök is the apocalypse, the day where the dead can finally rest, and the living can finally die. Well, on that day, everything will fade to black, and they will be tossed onto the Empty Void Ginnungagap (I think I spelled this right), or as I like to call it, Norse Black Hole

In the comic books of Thor however, Ragnarok is a code name for an evil clone of Thor from Earth-816. Ragnarok retains all of Thor’s powers, but is smarter and is pretty evil. At first when I heard the title of Thor’s next movie, I thought Thor would meet Ragnarok in the MCU, but apparently after the trailer, Thor: Ragnarok’s plotline will be Ragnarök in Norse Mythology, but altered.

Nevertheless let us move on onto the “Ragnarök” side of things, before going onto the Ragnarok part of Thor: Ragnarok

Ragnarök

Right, so we’re talking about apocalypse. Ragnarök is literally translated to “Fate Of The Gods”, which Odin, who you should know as Thor’s father, King of Asgard, because of his paranoia on the subject, he gave one eye to the world tree, Yggdrasil and dranked some of its water, while asking what the Fate of The Gods is.

The answer is simple, but I’ll discuss the prophecy down here.

Norse Geography

A simple guide first, regarding terms and places and stuff you might not know… Firstly here are the 9 Worlds.

  • Asgard: City Of The War Gods, Gods that live here are called Aesir
  • Midgard: Earth, creatures that live here are called humans, the writer of this article is definitely a human.
  • Jotunheim: World of the Giants, those who live here are basically large humans, or well Giants (Jotunn in Ancient Norse)
  • Vanaheim: Realm of the Nature Gods, Gods that live here are called Vanir
  • Niflheim: Realm of Fog, Mist, and Ice. Giants live here, specifically, Ice Giants, or as the first Thor movie states, Frost Giants
  • Muspelheim: Realm of Fire. Fire Giants live here, because the Ice Giants need a rival.
  • Helheim: Realm of the dishonorable dead. Why dishonorable? Cause they didn’t die in battle.
  • Alfheim: Realm of Elves. Pretty much that
  • Nidavellir, or Svartelheim: Cavern World of Dwarves. Cause Dwarves are petrified when they come into contact with the sun, they live in Nidavellir.

Now have some more terms to confuse you more!

  • Bifrost: The Rainbow Bridge of Asgard. Unlike in the Thor movies, where the Bifrost is the beacon (or well gate), in Norse Mythology, Bifrost is the bridge, not the gate, or beacon.
  • Yggdrasil: The tree where the 9 worlds sit on. On each branch lies a world, and you guessed it, Yggdrasil has 9 branches.
  • Valhalla: A hotel, ok maybe not a hotel per se, but a place in Asgard where people that died courageously can live and train till they rest, fight and die in Ragnarök.
  • Vigrid: A 600 kilometer plains somewhere in the 9 worlds where Ragnarok’s war would be fought
  • Naglfar: Ship of Nails, or Ship of The Dead, more explanation below
  • Einherjar: People training in Valhalla, members of Odin’s Army who died heroically to fight with him during Ragnarök
Norse Geography 101, Yggdrasil and the 9 Worlds

Signs Of Ragnarök

It’s Just A Prank Bro!

Before Ragnarök officially begins, there is a part of the prophecy, where Baldr, the God of Light, also son of Odin, would die in Loki’s hands. If that happens, then Ragnarök is surely an undodgeable fate. So, Frigg, Odin’s wife and Baldr’s mother, gave orders to every inanimate object (you read this right, inanimate), would bounce off of Baldr.

After that happened the gods decided to have fun and toss everything to Baldr’s face, causing it to bounce harmlessly, and fall off. BUT! Frigg forgot one thing, the Mistletoe doesn’t bounce off Baldr. Frigg ignored the fact, but Loki found out, so he pranked and tricked Baldr’s blind brother, Hod, to throw a mistletoe at him.

Of course, don’t trust Loki! The Mistletoe was covered in poison, and when the mistletoe hit Baldr, he died. Loki said… “It’s just a prank bro!” But regardless, Loki’s motives were simple, he hated people everyone loves, which is Baldr. Because everyone hates Loki. Cause of this, Loki got a punishment… And if we’re talking about gory details, this is the goriest part of the story.

Loki’s sons from his Wife, Sigyn was killed, and amputated, their Intestines were then used as chains, keeping Loki inside a cave and tied to a rock. I’m not done yet… A snake was sent to circle around Loki’s neck like a bow tie. Every second, the snake would spit venom to his face, leaving it scarred and burned. But, Loki still can project his image to the real world, and in fact, he can even project his physical form. Although he has a cap for that, he needs lots of strength to project his physical form.

Loki’s Punishment, With His Wife Accompanying Him

So… was it worth it? I don’t know… Anyways, this has proved that the prophecy will come true, Ragnarök will begin!

Loki’s Children

Loki has 3 children waiting to be born from his affair with the Giantess, Angrboda. All 3 of his children are equally terrifying, and all are bound or chained somewhere by the Aesir and Vanir, fearing they will start Ragnarök earlier than wanted. If they are truly born, then Ragnarök is confirmed, cause these 3 play very important parts on that day.

Child number 1, The Goddess Hel:

Hel is hmm… She’s a goddess, but is somewhat broken. Her right side of her face is a perfectly fine beautiful young woman. The other side, her left side is a zombie, undead, and is monstrous. She has no powers, that I know of that is, but Odin immediately cast her to Helheim, making her Queen of The Dishonorable Dead. While Odin gets the Limited Edition Warriors in Valhalla, Hel gets the scraps of dead people, getting the typical death cause of sickness, or old age kind of dead people, definitely not the collectors edition thing.

Therefore, Hel is vengeful cause of this, and has sworn to send the dead to storm back to the living during Ragnarök.

The Bipolar Goddess Of The Underworld

Child Number 2, The Sea Serpent Jormungandr:

Jormungandr is a sea serpent whose size is about the entire Equator line. Yes he’s that large. Now you’re probably asking, how does A Giantess, and A Pseudo Giant-God, have a snake that large as an offspring? Don’t ask me, Poetic Edda doesn’t has this, I just gave a more fun version for you to read.

Anyways, Jormungandr was born in Midgard, and his birth caused massive chaos, forcing Thor, whose job is to protect Midgard and humans, to make Jormungandr faint, and send him down to the depths of the ocean. When Jormungandr was born, he wasn’t that large, but over the course of time, he could grow from maybe the length of the American continent to his current size, the size of the equator.

A modern day artwork of Jormungandr

Jormungandr is asleep now, resting and growing, but in Ragnarök, he’ll wake up, much larger than his size when Thor first fought him.

Child Number 3, The Wolf, Fenrir

Fenrir is probably the most feared among Loki’s Children. When he was born, he was a regular wolf, well probably slightly larger, but Fenrir is a very scary wolf. Upon birth, his desire was simple, attack the gods.

On his attack and rage in Asgard (Critically speaking, how did he reach Asgard that fast? He was born in Jotunheim), he wounded Odin, and as the gods rushed in to Nidavellir, looking for the strongest Chains in all of reality, which only Dwarves could forge.

Fenrir’s chains were ready, but Fenrir isn’t dumb, he’s the son of Loki, the smartest god out there, he knew something was up. So, the god of Duel and Justice, Tyr rushed forward, and he fearlessly asked Fenrir to bite his hand off as he strangled the beast, while all of the Aesir must kill and chain him with the chains brought from Nidavellir. Upon losing his right arm, he knew it was a sacrifice to be made. Fenrir was then thrown to an island whose location drifts to a different place every day, and Fenrir was bound there until Ragnarök.

Tyr lost his hand after fighting Fenrir

At the day of Ragnarök Fenrir will grow onto the size of a double decker bus, ish, and is going to be a force to be reckoned with, cause trust me, a slightly larger wolf can hurt lots of gods, imagine a gigantic one.

There we have the signs that Ragnarök will begin, issue is WHEN will it begin? Now, I will tell you what will happen on the day Ragnarök does begin.

Ragnarök, D-Day Events

So, what exactly will happen on Ragnarök? Well firstly, according to the prophecies of Odin, Ragnarök will happen after 3 straight winters, or in Norse, the Fimbulwinter, which means Einherjar could prepare much more after 2 straight winters, but then again they have prepared for an eternity so I don’t think that’ll be an issue. During Fimbulwinter Viking Brethren would fight with each other for food.

After that, when will everyone die? Not so fast, Ragnarök was meant to be a painful and terribly punishing day!

Who Turned Off The Lights?

So, the sun and moon is called Sol and Mani respectively in Norse Mythology, those 2 are gods that are cursed by Odin to orbit Midgard because he is jealous that Sol and Mani are better children than Odin’s own Children.

Now, Sol and Mani will be devoured by the Wolves Hati and Skoll, which would eat Sol and Mani for Breakfast and Dinner on Ragnarök. This pretty much means Ragnarök begins at an eclipse, but the Norse lack the Science to explain it.

Anyways Skoll and Hati was sent to the skies to constantly chase those 2 for centuries cause of Odin’s curse to Sol and Mani. Those 2 wolves were just created for the sake of making sure those 2 suffer, and can’t rest. Therefore, Sol and Mani would finally run out of juice after flying and running around for that long, and they’d be wolf food!

Sol and Mani being Chased by Wolves

After this, Skoll and Hati feast on the stars, and the vikings would sort of yell out… “Who turned off the lights?” Cause it was DARK out there.

Waking Up Doesn’t Mean Doing Something

Jormungandr was awake. I don’t know how, he just… you know, woke up! Upon waking up, Loki was freed from his cave because of the massive fissures created by that thing!

Once Loki is freed, he would travel to Helheim, and seek for Hel’s help. (Remind me to write that again, it sounds funny). Wait don’t ask about Jormungandr… Just cause he is awake doesn’t mean he is ready for war, he still has some plans before that. Jormungandr will shake the earth when Loki needs him to shake the earth, after the Naglfar reaches Vigrid.

Jormungandr would lie dormant in the meantime, while Loki travels to Helheim, departing with Hel in the Naglfar.

Let’s Carpool To Apocalypse.

When you heard nails, I’m guessing your thinking those used to make planks stick to walls? The one that we hit with a hammer? Yeah, you’re wrong… I mean LITERAL nails. The dishonorable dead would have their toenails cut, and used to make this ship. Gross!

Ship Of The Dead…

After the ship is ready, and Loki is there as admiral, that ship would depart, picking up some more enemies of the Aesir. From Helheim, the ship is filled with Hel, The Dishonorable Dead zombies, Loki, and Hel’s Giant Dog, Garm.

First stop! Jotunheim!

Who, by the way, the giant Watchman Eggther would signal other giants via his ginormous Lyre. Upon reaching Jotunheim, the giants would fill the Naglfar, and among the giants would be the Captain Hrym.

Second Stop! Why did we stop?

So, here is the thing… After reaching Jotunheim, they would go to Niflheim, which I guess isn’t a problem at all, those worlds were close from one another. They don’t pick up anyone (according to Poetic Edda), but they stop at Niflheim because of massive icebergs. Only after Fimbulwinter ends, that iceberg would melt. So, this is the reason the Norse aren’t fans of summer, they fear Ragnarök will begin. I imagine the vikings are frowning on us when we are this close to global warming.

This is very counter productive… Ragnarök only begins after a Fimbulwinter, but Fimbulwinter is also slowing down Ragnarök, like really?

Well according to other poetics, there is another option for Ragnarök to begin without Fimbulwinter ending. If Jormungandr writhes enough to make a tsunami in Niflheim and Midgard at once, the Naglfar would sail past the iceberg, and they can make their way to their 3rd stop before destroying the world, probably buying their last set of doughnuts, or lunch, as Loki drops them off to the battlefield of apocalypse.

Third Stop! Musselheim? Muscleheim? Muspelheim!

So, after several spellchecks it is indeed Muspelheim. . .

At Muspelheim they will pick up… The fire giants… Led by Surtr… The purpose of these Fire Giants are almost definitely the most important in ending the world in my opinion.

At Vigrid, when most of the gods are weak, or are dead, They would activate self destruct sequence and burn down all of the Nine worlds like a suicide bomber. Without them, the Aesir might be dead, the humans might be drowning, the Vanir might lose all of connection to nature, but the purpose of Ragnarök isn’t achieved, as the world cannot reset.

So they depart to Vigrid, with Hrym making sure they are enjoying their trip to end the world… sorry, The 9 Worlds.

Doomsday Alarm Clock

Heimdall, whose job is just like in the Thor movies, which is to guard The Bifrost, has a horn known as Gjallarhorn… A horn whose function is to remind people, as if saying “WAKE UP! IT’S THE APOCALYPSE!”. Heimdall was told to blow the horn because Heimdall can see from a pretty far range, meaning, when he sees the Naglfar sailing forward, he can warn the Aesir and Vanir to prepare for war.

When That Horn Is Sound, Ragnarök Begins

The events of Ragnarök pretty much starts with Odin riding and rallying the Einherjar with his 8 Legged Horse Sleipnir, and his ravens, while carrying his mighty weapon, the Gungnir. It is customary for the wielder of a weapon to name the weapon, because that would unlock the weapon’s full potential, especially if you treat it like a friend and a single human being.

Odin Rushing With His 8-Legged Steed

The other Gods, among them are Thor, Tyr, Heimdall and Frey (God of Summertime, A Vanir, not Aesir) also followed the rallying Allfather.

Upon reaching Vigrid, the air was tense, seeing that this is an unavoidable fate for the past few centuries, it isn’t an option to turn back now. All of their fates have been revealed by Odin, they knew exactly how they are going to die, but they also knew fate was something they could not avoid, so bravely they fought.

They’re All Dead…

Okay, so finally we can reach the part where the so called Immortals die… Wait, sorry, The Norse has never referenced their gods as immortals.

Anyways, these gods, especially the Norse ones are not all-mighty, and I think I’ll call them stronger beings than humans, unlike the Greek Gods who are immortal, they aren’t. So here comes the part where they’ll die! I’ve been waiting a decently long time to write this part.

Upon reaching the battlefield, Loki immediately wakes up his child, Jormungandr, commanding it to rage, and create tsunami’s, and drown mankind! As the protector of the Earth, Thor flew with Mjolnir and rushed forward, flying to Midgard, fighting him in an instant, blasting the creature with bolts from his mighty Hammer.

Before anything else happened, Hel’s dog, Garm rushed, biting Tyr, as he defended against the dog with his only hand, with his sword, he cut left and right, pushing the dog back, making sure Garm doesn’t harm him, or anyone else.

Not long after, Jotunns, Zombies, Einherjar, and Gods fought with each other, stabbing and slicing each other. In the midst of all this chaos, Hel stood in the back, commanding the dead. Fenrir rushed forward, only to be blocked by Sleipnir and Odin, and having a taste of Odin’s Gleipnir.

Odin Fighting Fenrir

Heimdall faced off with Loki, as he slipped left to right, like an Assassin, stealthily planning his move to kill the god who sees all and hears all (this is literal, Heimdall can do this if he wills it). Finally, Loki played magic tricks, confusing the Guardian of Asgard, Loki proceeded to stab Heimdall, causing him to grunt in pain, until Loki thrust forward, with his daggers ready, making sure his face is the last one that Heimdall sees.

The Fire Giant Surtr locked eyes with Frey. It seems to me they are natural enemies, flames, a destructive force, against the calm soothing growth of spring, and the peace of summer. Frey holds no weapon, he traded his Sumarbrander as a wedding gift for a beautiful Giantess he married. Regardless, he fought the fire giant, regardless of the flames surrounding the two of them, caused from Surtr’s pure heat that he radiates, Frey still fights bravely with his magic, stalling the Fire Giant.

Surtr Causing Chaos During Ragnarök

Back in Midgard, Jormungandr has drowned most of the humans, while spewing out lots of Venom, melting whatever tree or path it encounters. Thor did his best to fend off the beast, he tried everything, melee attacks, thunderstorms, tossing his hammer, slamming forward from mid-air. Regardless, his efforts seem to tickle the giant serpent. With all of his might left, he tried his best to electrocute the waters, like he did last time. Jormungandr seemed weakened, but that was a lot of Thor’s energy drained out to poke the beast.

Flying once more, Thor saw the destructive impact Jormungandr did. In the air he saw a bird eye view of drowned humans, washed away homes, fallen trees, and fissures from the earthquakes it caused. He knew he needed to do something very bold to defeat the creature. Thor prepared whatever energy he has left to channel thunderstorms and rushed forward carrying storm clouds with his Mjolnir, tossing it inside the serpent’s mouth, splitting it in half. Thor’s efforts succeeded, but in the process of defeating Jormungandr, the serpent spewed out venom, and as he took 9 steps back on the ground… To the ground he fell, as he took his last few breaths, he’s died a heroic death defending Midgard from it’s most dangerous threat.

Fortunately I’m certain Thor won’t die in Thor: Ragnarok, cause that would be bad for their film business, unless the Marvel Cinematic Universe wants to revive another person, like they always did, except for uncle Ben.

Back onto the plains of Vigrid…

Frey was the next to fall… As Pokemon types taught me, and of course, SCIENCE! Grass loses to Fire, and you don’t want to fight a Fire Giant as a God whose overall job is to grow plants. Regardless, he knew his fate when he gave away his sword as a wedding gift for his beloved Giantess Wife. Frey was burned, weakened, as Surtr finished him with his blazing sword, and the God of Summer was unable to do anything, his powers were drained, plants he created burned in an instant, and he accepted his fate.

Odin stepped back, leaving Fenrir to wreck chaos in his Einherjar ranks, for he knew he needed to finish someone first, somebody who started this war, somebody who likes to play pranks… LOKI! With his eight legged steed, Odin rushed forward, with his Gungnir thrusted forward, he runs forward, stabbing the Trickster, killing him.

Fenrir was enraged… He cannot accept the fact his father died… Fenrir leapt and feasted on Odin, whole, killing the allfather. However, knowing this is the way he died, Odin has prepared a son for this occasion (I know, weird sentence, but he really did that). So, Odin’s son Vidar, who has prepared boots thick enough for him to step on Fenrir’s face without losing a single limb, stepped on Fenrir’s open mouth, and as Fenrir bit it, Vidar strangled the wolf to death… His whole life, Vidar has been prepared for that very moment, which shows Odin’s Paranoia is WAY overboard.

Those Boots Are Thick…

Meanwhile, Tyr has successfully cut Hel’s Dog, Garm, but without getting bitten several times. Garm wounded the War God, leaving him to writhe in pain, until Surtr and his army of fire giants explode, ending the misery of every god out there.

Finally, after most of the Einherjar, Vanir and Aesir died, the Fire Giants followed in a formation lead by Surtr, as they drowned the world in flames and sacrificed themselves to clean the 9 branches of Yggdrasil from whatever it has left…

The world has come to a reset, and only a few survived…

Survivors of Ragnarök

Among the many who died in Ragnarök, some of the Aesir and Vanir did survive…

Magni and Modi, two of Thor’s sons survived as Odin has promised and prophecized that 2 of Thor’s sons will survive and inherit the Mjolnir, Thor chose 2 of his favorite sons to lead the fallen Aesir.

Vidar survived, because of his Father’s plans to kill Fenrir, Vidar was given the gift to survive Ragnarök, if he succeeds in avenging Odin.

2 Humans were given shelter in Yggdrasil by Thor before he fought Jormungandr, and Thor told them to repopulate earth after Ragnarök ended.

At the end of the world, the Yggdrasil grew a new earth from whatever was left of it, which was oceans, and the world has come to a reset!

 

Wow that was a heck of a story… Hope you enjoyed it!

Now for the Thor: Ragnarok version of the story…

Thor: Ragnarok

Stop here if you don’t want spoilers for any of the movie…

Peeling the Myths versus MCU Trailer

From the trailer I can conclude that Loki is a good guy now… So there’s that, sigh… Bad Guy Loki has always been awesome in my opinion. Sorry, that was wrong… Loki doesn’t believe in Good and Evil, for he perceives the war as two sides fighting against each other, and Vikings have no concept of Good and Evil… I prefer Loki fighting with his daughter Hel, who unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be Loki’s daughter, and Loki won’t probably be seeing Hel’s help this time.

Now we have Hulk’s existence, which some might doubt, but Hulk could fit the description of a Viking Berserker pretty well, some Einherjar are Berserkers, which are people who fight in an unstoppable rage when they are mad. Sounds like Hulk for me.

Then we have Odin, Heimdall, and Sif, in the Myths, Odin fought and died, unfortunately, from what I saw from the trailer, Anthony Hopkins’s portrayal of Odin doesn’t seem existent in the war. Heimdall doesn’t seem existent, as I doubt the guy with the red cape is indeed Heimdall, but I wish he is. Sif is Thor’s Wife in the myths, and unlike in Thor, she isn’t an archer, or a hunter or anything… She’s the goddess of Earth and growth, so there’s a difference there, although I’m not sure Sif is returning for the time being.

I also saw glimpses of a Giant Wolf I’m praying to be Fenrir, cause I can’t wait for him to get killed by whoever it is in the movies.

Peeling The Whole Movie Versus Myths

Well I’ve watched the movie, and here are a few differences of the things that actually happened in the movie, this section is filled with Spoilers, and I think lots of them, especially since the movie is pretty closely related to the myths, so a bit of a disclaimer, step away from this section if you haven’t watched the movie.

  • Surtr’s role… WAIT! The movie subtitle mentions Surtur, which might be a bit of an error cause pronunciation issues. The major difference between the movies and the myths is that Surtr doesn’t kill Hel, and burn away everything, which in the movies, he only burnt Asgard.
  • Hel’s presence. In the movie the name was Hela, which I’m not fussing about, cause the ancient Norse poems use the name Hela, and the modern name became Hel. Hel/Hela wasn’t Odin’s child, and then, Hel doesn’t have her own realm. Which for the record, in the first movie, Thor mentioned one world which doesn’t exist in the 9 Worlds version of the myths, which was Nornheim, probably the MCU substitute of Helheim.
  • Next, I’m going over Fenrir, and Fenris, which although Hel’s wolf isn’t that fearsome in the movie, the presence was reassuring, and Fenris, also like Hel and Hela, the ancient Norse names mention Fenrisr, which some literate as Fenrir, and some as Fenris, so no biggie there, just different versions.
  • Thor’s powers… I’m not joking here, Thor without his hammer is like… A gun without a trigger. The gun is still there, and you can theoretically hit people’s head with it, but it’s barely something. In Norse Mythology, with 20-30 Giants, Mjolnir can easily be lifted, and hidden from Thor. Then Thor is useless… Like, he has his backup weapon his staff to punch people, but he can’t electrocute anyone, nor can he fly. But well, then there is no room for heroism, then…
  • Valkyries. Although unmentioned of their pure tasks, Valkyries are generally doing nothing but pulling heroic people onto Valhalla, and yeah, in MCU, as mentioned by Thor and seen in Loki’s memory stealing, they do fight for the throne, so that’s just a minor difference.

Well there you have it… P.S. GREAT MOVIE! also a well-placed Stan Lee cameo.

 

Thanks for reading!

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