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The Lore of 'Thor'

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May 06, 2011 | 12:22pm EDT

Thor PosterEach and every superhero has their own mythology, complete with allies, villains, weapons, secret locations and terminology that's exclusive to the character. It wasn't much of a stretch for moviegoers to be able to understand Spider-Man or Batman's background, but Thor? That's a whole other animal. His story is steeped in Norse mythology, which isn't exactly the most popular major on college campuses, so many are unfamiliar with the legends that inspired the hero's creation.

Below, I've listed a handful of terms that will come in handy when watching Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios Thor. They'll help you keep up with the story when you're watching the God of Thunder smash his way through alien worlds and may actually inspire you to pick up a comic book...or choose your next history class.

AsgardAsgard

The home of the Norse gods and one of the nine realms of the universe. It's a shining golden city powered by magic, presided over by Odin and his kin, Thor and Loki. It exists in another dimensional plane and is about the size of the United States. It is not round like the Earth and does not spin on its axis nor revolve around the sun. It is a flat, asteroid-like mass that has a top surface with a gravitational pull, similar to that of the Earth’s, in order to keep the citizens and their cities from floating into the void. I want to go to there.

Mjolnir

We humans don't give our power tools names; generally Black & Decker takes care of that. But the mighty rulers of Asgard all have monikers for their special weapons and Thor's mystical hammer is no different. It's called Mjolnir (pronounced M-Yol-Neer) and it allows the son of Odin to harness the power of the storm (lightening, thunder and rain) and fly! Needless to say, he won't leave home without it.

Dr. Donald Blake

Thor's alias on Earth. In the comics, when Odin banished his son to a life amongst mortal men, Thor inhabited the body of a handicapped medical student -- Donald Blake. The kicker? He had no recollection of his life in the heavens. Blake eventually graduated with honors and opened his own practice, but a trip to Norway eventually jogged his memory and Thor was from that point on able to switch back and forth between Blake and his true self. In the film, the Blake identity is used more as an inside nod for longtime fans, but it does come in handy when our hero is detained by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

Jotunheim

One of the nine realms in the universe and home to a race of beings known as the Frost Giants, sworn enemies of Asgard and Earth. Thor wages an epic war on the giants on their turf in the film and, in a cataclysmic turn of events, the planet is nearly destroyed.

DestroyerDestroyer

Speaking of things being destroyed, no being in Asgard does it better than Destroyer. An obedient guard dog of the Asgardian's prized relics and a protector of all life against the intergalactic entities known as the Celestials, the metal-clad being is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Its energies come from the known gods of Earth, who all gave the inanimate weapon small pieces of their own power to fuel its wrath. Bottom line: stay out of its way.

Bifrost Bridge

This is the portal that is used to send the gods from Asgard to other realms in the universe. Also known as the Rainbow Bridge, in the comics it exclusively transports people from Asgard to Midgard (Earth), but in the film it also sends Thor, Sif and the Warrior's Three to Jotunheim and, presumably, other worlds as well. It is guarded by Heimdall, who Odin entrusted the safety of Asgard to.

Casket of Ancient WinterCasket of Ancient Winters

A powerful, deadly and uncontrollable Asgardian artifact, the Casket contains the fury of a thousand killing winters, creating massive snowstorms (if opened) that can freeze an entire civilization. It has passed through the hands of many gods in the comics and was used against Thor by the demon Surtur in an epic battle. In the film, it is a maguffin that sets the story in motion.

 

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