Avengers: Endgame has many nods to the lengthy history of Marvel Comics, some more obvious than others. And one of them is the story of Asgard and its people, begun in Thor and now in a completely different place in this “season finale” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We won’t give too much away before the spoiler warning, but Asgard’s Endgame fate is pretty similar to one era of Thor stories — or Thories, as the experts call them — in particular.
[Ed. note: This post will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.]
In 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Asgard was destroyed, and Thor decided to take the All-Father’s words to heart: Asgard was not a place, it was a people. But also, Odin made sure to note: Norway is nice.
“Remember this place,” he told Thor and Loki with his last breath, “Home.”
And in Avengers: Endgame, we see the results of Odin’s pining for the fjords — the Asgardian refugees and Sakaaran gladiators have settled in a Norwegian community called New Asgard. We don’t get to see much of it, but it seems like a tidy little fishing town, with good internet access and plenty of beer.
New Asgard has a place in Marvel Comics
Asgardians have settled on Earth before, in Marvel Comics (and no, we’re not talking about ancient Norse times). As part of 2004’s “Avengers: Disassembled” event, which saw Earth’s Mightiest Heroes crumble and fail, Thor (at the time ruler of Asgard due to Odin dying in battle) had to face the prophesied end of Asgard: Ragnarok.
However, Ragnarok is part of an endless cycle of death and rebirth, and Thor learned that Odin’s banishment of him to Earth to learn humility had caused a loophole. Confronting the Norns (the Norse equivalent of the Greek Fates) and the enigmatic Those Who Sit Above In Shadow (the “gods above the gods”), Thor severed the Asgardian cycle completely, meaning his people were now truly free. That didn’t prevent Ragnarok from playing out though, and Thor went into hibernation for several years, presumed dead by his fellow superheroes.
Awakening in 2007 (and in a new comic by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Olivier Coipel), Thor learned that his human form, Dr. Donald Blake — who’d previously been vanished away by Odin once Thor learned the lesson of his banishment — had come back to life after Odin’s death. Convincing Thor to take up Mjolnir again and embrace their shared identity, Blake also revealed he’d learned that all the other Asgardians had been reincarnated as Earthlings and needed to be reawakened.
After using all of his power to rebuild Asgard as a giant floating fortress outside of the small town of Broxton, Oklahoma; Thor did just that, restoring every Asgardian to their true self except for Sif, as Loki had stolen her true form and trapped her in the body of an elderly terminal cancer patient in the care of Jane Foster (she’s a nurse in the comics).
Thor also angrily confronted Iron Man over the events of Marvel’s first Civil War, which had occurred while he was sleeping. Angered that Iron Man had made a murderous clone of him to help the pro-Registration side, Thor told Tony (who was the director of SHIELD at the time) that Asgard would deal harshly with any outsiders. To help the government save face, Iron Man suggested that Asgard be treated as a foreign embassy and thus gain diplomatic immunity.
To that, Thor agreed. After finding the spirit of Odin in a limbo realm, he attempted to persuade his father to return to life but was told that it was his turn to lead Asgard now. And lead he would ... until Jane Foster took the hammer in 2014. Jane’s turn as Thor was even more eventful for Asgard and the Asgardians, culminating in this summer’s big Marvel crossover event, War of the Realms.
At the end of Endgame, it seems like the Asgardians are on Earth to stay — as Thor once again renounced his kingship, giving it to Valkyrie — to become what he’s always been at heart, a wandering adventurer.
And I think I speak for all of us when I say: All hail King Valkyrie.
Tom Speelman is the former manga/anime critic for the Eisner Award-winning Comics Alliance. He’s proofread and edited several books for Seven Seas Entertainment and other clients and can be found on Twitter @tomtificate, where he’s usually yelling about comics.