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How God of War Ragnarök’s characters compare to actual Norse myth

Let’s take a look at the stories that inspired Ragnarök’s heroes and villains

Kratos and Thor battle over Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

The God of War series is all about reimagining ancient mythology. While the series originated in Greece — pitting main character Kratos against a slightly more monstrous take on Zeus, Poseidon, and the rest of the pantheon — God of War (2018) and its 2022 sequel, God of War Ragnarök, take place in the lands of Norse myth.

God of War is practically candy for fans of mythology; the series has always included an entertaining, additive layer of how prophecy stacks up against interpretation. The 2018 God of War reboot played heavily into original Norse myth while also making some key changes. (That Odin guy? Less wise and all-seeing than paranoid and domineering.) Sony and developer Santa Monica Studio have marketed Ragnarök — a reference to the prophesied Norse apocalypse — as a similar treatise on how one can tell fate to go fuck itself.

We already know a lot about Ragnarök thanks to Mimir’s stories in 2018’s God of War. But before we see Santa Monica Studio’s interpretation of the end of the world, we wanted to run through each of the series’ characters and explain their prophesied role in Ragnarök. That is, after all, the fun of the series.

While this post doesn’t contain any spoilers for Ragnarök (all of the below characters appeared in God of War or have been shown in trailers for the sequel), Santa Monica Studio has been purposefully tight-lipped about anything about the game’s narrative beyond its basic plot beats. If you don’t want to know what might happen in God of War Ragnarök, it’s best to bookmark this page and come back after you roll the credits. That way, you can see for yourself how the game deviates.

Most of this myth is common knowledge at this point, but scholars disagree on certain interpretations of the Prose Edda (the 13-century text that catalogs a ton of Norse myth, including Ragnarök) and its “heroes.” For this post, we’ve cross-referenced information from a variety of sources, including wikis, Britannica.com, the inimitable norse-mythology.org, and even the Norse myth subreddit. Where there are notable discrepancies between sources, we’ll mention the disagreement.

Kratos

Kratos — a shirtless Greek man covered in tattoos — stands at the top of Mt. Olympus in God of War 3 Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Wholly fabricated by Santa Monica Studio, Kratos originally hails from ancient Greece. Obviously this means that he doesn’t have a foretold role to play in the Norse myth of Ragnarök. However, the end of God of War (2018) explicitly portends Kratos’ death come Ragnarök.

Loki (Atreus)

Kratos and Atreus face away from the viewer, looking at a shadowy angelic figure with antlers, in 2018’s God of War. Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

God of War (2018) ended with a big reveal that Kratos’ son, Atreus, is known as Loki to the Jötnar (the giants). While the twist recontextualizes the Norse duology of games, it has some major implications for Ragnarök.

In traditional Norse myth, Loki’s biggest role to play is actually as a parent. Loki fathers three children with the giant Angrboda (who we’ll get to shortly): Fenrir, the giant wolf; Hel, the goddess of the underworld; and, would you believe it, that lovable scamp Jörmungandr, the World Serpent.

Fenrir and Jörmungandr play a major part in Ragnarök. As for Loki himself, it’s foretold that he will join the side of the giants in the final war between his people and the Aesir (Odin, Thor, etc.) gods.

Mimir

Mimir on a round end table in God of War Ragnarok Image: PlayStation/Twitch

In God of War (2018), Mimir is the severed head who hangs from Kratos’ belt and tells stories about the Norse pantheon. Few are better for this role: He used to be a counselor to Odin himself, at least in the game.

This is a slight deviation from the Norse myth. In the traditional story, Mimir (also called Mim) is known far and wide for how wise and smart he is — hence Mimir’s self-appointed “smartest man alive” title in the games. However, instead of being trapped in a tree by Odin, Mimir is decapitated during the initial war between the Aesir and Vanir — the Aesir are gods that hail from Asgard and the Vanir are the gods from Vanaheim. (In God of War lore, this conflict happens far before Kratos resettles in Midgard).

Odin does, however, find Mimir’s head after the battle and reanimates it. He asks the head of Mimir for advice — including advice on how to handle Ragnarök — but Mimir himself doesn’t have a specific role to play in the original apocalypse myth.

Freya

Kratos and Freya battle in a screenshot from God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Freya is the mysterious Witch of the Woods in God of War (2018); she’s the ex-wife of Odin and mother to their son, Baldur.

In terms of Norse mythology, the interesting thing you should know about Freya is that it’s unclear — in the original story — whether Freya (a Vanir goddess) and Frigg (an Aesir goddess) are actually the same person. There’s no shortage of debate on this topic among scholars, although it seems most now agree they are one.

Regardless of scholarly quibbles, it seems pretty clear that they are, in fact, the same person in God of War’s universe. In the myth, Frigg is Odin’s wife and Baldur’s mother, whereas Freya was married to Odr and hails from Vanaheim. Based on the first game, we know that Freya is a Vanir goddess in God of War, that she was married to Odin, and that her son is Baldur.

Neither Frigg nor Freya are mentioned in the Ragnarök poems, and it’s assumed they (or she, depending on your interpretation) survive the war.

Thor

Kratos and Thor battle on a cracked, frozen lake in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Thor was teased in God of War (2018), but the game only ever showed his hand hovering over the hilt of Mjölnir — the god of thunder’s trusty hammer — during a mid-credits stinger. In God of War Ragnarök, we know he’ll be one of the main antagonists, portrayed by The Walking Dead’s Ryan Hurst.

In the world of God of War, Thor is more of a violent bully and monster than he is in other modern interpretations — namely Marvel comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor is generally courageous and valiant in traditional myth, and a noble defender of Asgard. But he’s also a bit of a drunken, sporadically violent ass. Based on Mimir’s stories in God of War, the games are clearly leaning into Thor’s more wanton, unpredictable tendencies.

In terms of the traditional Ragnarök prophecy, Thor is destined to kill Jörmungandr, the Midgard serpent. However, immediately after, Thor is supposed to only take nine steps before Jörmungandr’s venom kills him. It’s also worth noting that, in God of War (2018), Mimir mentions that Thor will punch Jörmungandr so hard during Ragnarök that the serpent travels back in time.

This means that Thor either won’t kill Jörmungandr in God of War Ragnarök, or that there are two versions of Jörmungandr in the game — past and future — and Thor will kill one and time-smash the other.

Odin

Odin stands in a doorway, shrouded in shadow in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Odin is the Zeus — the head honcho — of the Norse pantheon. As he did about Thor in the first game, Mimir recalls plenty of stories about the All-Father’s penchant for manipulation.

In traditional Norse myth, Odin is the father to both Thor and Baldur, and wanders the realms in search of information. And even in the myth he’s a bit of a selfish bastard. He is portrayed as a one-eyed old man, having sacrificed his right eye for knowledge. Odin is also sometimes referred to as the “Hanged God”; he once hanged himself from Yggdrasil — the world tree that connects the nine realms — for nine days and nights, which allowed him to perceive runes. Odin is one of the most prominent characters in Norse mythology.

In terms of his fate during Ragnarök, Odin eventually falls to Fenrir, the giant wolf and son of Loki.

Tyr

Atreus encounters Tyr in a still from God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Tyr is the god of war in Norse myth, although in God of War (2018) he’s depicted in Mimir’s stories as more of a diplomat, having traveled between not only the Nine Realms but also between pantheons. (The game suggests he visited Egypt, Greece, and other locations as well). The first game also claims that Tyr is dead, although he’s present in prerelease footage and previews for Ragnarök.

In the myth, Tyr is also associated with law and justice. He’s mostly known as the god who was able to help bind Fenrir the wolf prior to Ragnarök. When the Aesir gods attempted to imprison Fenrir as a child, the wolf refused to be chained — not trusting the gods to ever let him out — unless Tyr would place his hand into the wolf’s mouth as a sign of trust. Fenrir was right to be suspicious, as the gods had no intention of letting him go, so Fenrir bit off Tyr’s hand as retribution. In the trailer for God of War Ragnarök, Tyr still has both of his hands, which is mysterious, as he’s known specifically for the Fenrir story.

In terms of the Ragnarök myth, Tyr is slated to face Garm, a giant dog who resides in Hel. They are supposed to kill each other — a pretty common theme when it comes to Ragnarök.

Brok and Sindri

Brok and Sindri, two dwarven brothers, stand in their smithery from God of War (2018) Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Brok and Sindri, known as the Huldra brothers in God of War (2018), are two dwarves who forged both the Leviathan Axe, the ax used by Kratos, and Mjölnir, the hammer wielded by Thor.

In the myth, Brok (commonly spelled “Brokkr”) and Sindri are rarely mentioned. However, they are in fact the original creators of Mjölnir. After incurring Thor’s rage, Loki commissions the sons of Ivaldi — who, fun fact, is the owner of the workshop in God of War (2018)’s Niflheim region, and is regularly referenced throughout the game — to create a trio of objects: new hair for Lady Sif (Thor’s wife), a spear for Odin, and a foldable ship.

Loki then went to Brok and Sindri and pitted them against Ivaldi’s sons, daring them to make something better. Brok and Sindri then made a ring called Draupnir (which replicated itself), a glowing boar named Gullinbursti, and Mjölnir. Loki gifted these treasures to the gods, but the various dwarves wanted Loki’s head as payment. In Merchant of Venice fashion, Loki said they could take his head but not his neck, so the dwarves just sewed his mouth shut instead.

The dwarves aren’t mentioned in the tale of Ragnarök.

Angrboda

Angrboda, a young girl in a blue dress with braided hair, as she appears in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Angrboda is a new character to God of War, having only appeared in trailers for Ragnarök. She wasn’t mentioned at all in God of War (2018). In the trailer, she appears as a young girl roughly the same age as Atreus.

In the Norse myth, not much is known about Angrboda. She is often referred to as the “mother of monsters,” and is one of Loki’s love interests. The two of them are the parents of Jörmungandr, Fenrir, and Hel.

Jörmungandr

Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir speak to Jörmungandr, the humungous World Serpent, in God of War on PC Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/PlayStation PC

Jörmungandr, the giant serpent who resides in the Lake of the Nine, is a fan-favorite character from God of War (2018) — or, well, he’s my favorite at least.

In the game, he claims that Atreus seems familiar, despite Atreus having never met him before. This seems to suggest that there’s some timey-wimey stuff going on here, and that Jörmungandr knows Atreus from sometime in the future. The Jörmungandr we meet in the game has also already seen Ragnarök, after all, as Mimir says that Thor will punch him so hard he will go back in time.

In the myth, Jörmungandr lives in the oceans of Midgard and is so large that he is wrapped around the entire world. Come Ragnarök, he and Thor will kill each other. (Just a fun side fact: Germans in the Middle Ages would apparently blame Jörmungandr and his movements along Midgard for earthquakes that impacted their towns!)

Fenrir

Atreus and Fenrir the wolf sit in Midgard, looking solemn, in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Fenrir didn’t make an appearance in God of War (2018).

As we mentioned in Tyr’s entry, Fenrir was imprisoned by the Aesir gods in order to keep him from causing chaos in the various realms — which cost the Norse god of war his hand. Fenrir is also Jörmungandr’s brother in the myth (as well as brother to Hel), and is another son of Loki and Angrboda.

Come Ragnarök, Fenrir will kill Odin by swallowing him whole. Fenrir will then be slain by Odin’s son Vidar, who is the Norse god of vengeance.

Skoll and Hati

Atreus, a young teen boy, stares up in the sky as one of the two wolves, Skoll or Hati, fly through the air. The other wolf is standing next to Atreus in God of War Ragnarok. Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

The two wolves Skoll and Hati are fleetingly mentioned in God of War (2018). They make an appearance in one of the many Jötnar shrines hidden around the game, as well as in a particularly obnoxious puzzle in Tyr’s temple.

In the Norse myth, Skoll and Hati chase the moon and the sun through the sky. It’s said that when the wolves catch and devour the celestial bodies, Ragnarök will begin. They are, supposedly, the sons of Fenrir.

In the trailer for Ragnarök, Atreus shoots an arrow into the sky and two wolves follow it, turning day to night.

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