Brutish, fearless, and largely clueless about the social cues of Earth, Thor Odinson is a prominent personality of the Marvel Universe. Together with the mighty power of Mjolnir, he can summon lightning from the heavens and lay the hammer down on his luckless opponents. Alongside his Avengers brethren, he is almost completely untested, with but a mere few capable of holding a torch to his god-like abilities (most of whom being his fellow Asgardians).
With a fashion sense that few can pull off and the bulging biceps of a bodybuilder, it’s hard to point out any one actor who could convincingly play the hero. Whether it’s the booming voice or the brotherly love between himself and the trickster Loki, every on-screen adaptation of Thor thus far has set itself apart from the rest -- for better or worse.
We have once again pulled together our resources, sorting through the television series, movies, and limited time specials to ask the question, “Which adaptation of Thor is truly the best?” After hours of viewing, we’ve got the answer. And so, by the strengths passed down from Odin, we present Every Adaptation Of Thor, Ranked Worst To Best.
Whosoever shall possess the number one spot, may he be worthy of our praise.
15 The Incredible Hulk Returns (1988)
By 1982, the badly choreographed fight sequences and body paint began to catch up with The Incredible Hulk. A television series which was once part of every child’s afternoon viewing block quickly became a cheesy display. In 1989, Tim Burton would redefine the superhero movie genre with Batman, but before that, we were introduced to a medical student named Donald Blake and a mighty Norse god compelled to do his bidding.
Although The Incredible Hulk Returns was intended as a launching pad to potentially revive a withering series, it did little to generate new fans. As Donald Blake, the curly-haired Steve Levitt is the personification of nerds everywhere, appearing to be more of a weakling than Bill Bixby’s version of David Banner. But unlike the early days of the comics, Blake does not transform into Thor. Instead, he summons the hero through the powers of Mjolnir and the muscled Eric Kramer steps into the role, doing a half-decent job as the beefy blonde stud covered in thick metal armor and animal furs.
It’s a full-on love/hate relationship at the start, as Thor breaks Banner’s expensive lab equipment and trashes everything in sight. Soon the two grow to like one another, and we're left only with the memory of Kramer’s '80s style rocker hair.
14 Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014)
A collaboration between Marvel Entertainment with Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan and Madhouse, this direct-to-video anime is a gritty character study that holds nothing back for the adults with its violent depictions of hero-on-villain action. Teaming up with S.H.I.E.L.D., Frank Castle works alongside the Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff to stop a nefarious organization by the name of Leviathan from selling deadly weapons to the highest bidders on the black market.
Despite appearing on the cover art for the movie, Thor’s cameo is brief and he has no lines to speak of. Still, he's impressive largely due to the heavy-jawed look given to him by the animation staff. Wearing a silent smirk on his face, this version of Thor steamrolls his way through an army of super serum-infected bio-soldiers with the toss of his hammer. In the epic final showdown, the Avengers take down the likes of Graviton, Taskmaster, and Griffin, laying waste to the bad guys and exiting in a grand fashion. While there’s little to go off of, the God of Thunder’s detailed muscle tone and serious facial expressions are more than enough to leave us wanting more.
13 Planet Hulk (2010)
In 2010, after the positive reception of the famed Marvel Comics storyline, an animated adaptation of Planet Hulk was released on video. Finding himself on the planet Sakaar, the raging green guy went head-to-head with the planet’s emperor, the Red King, competing against many foes in matches of brute strength in the process. In his journey, Hulk meets the imprisoned Korg, a native of Krona. It is here that the rock-like alien recounts his showdown with Thor, which led to his capture.
Landing on Earth, the Kronans believed Thor to be a native, encapsulating him in a large dome for further study. Instead, the God of Thunder gives the plunderers a fight they did not anticipate. He easily breaks loose from the prison cast upon him, chipping the stone from the bodies of his enemies and calling upon the services of his ally Beta Ray Bill for assistance.
In yet another non-speaking role, Thor tallies up the mangled body count, only this time he brings a friend along for the ride. Together, they call upon the power of Odin to demolish the Kronans, exhibiting the unprecedented strength that happens when two unstoppable forces become one.
12 Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel (2013)
In 2009, Disney purchased Marvel, and in the wake of the two mega-brands joining forces, the world was opened up to limitless possibilities. Four years later, some of the superheroes made their way into their first crossover episode. In the studio’s attempt to “kidify” the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, the stars of Avengers Assemble met up with Phineas and Ferb in a delightful display for fans of either side.
Although the version of Thor that appears in Mission Marvel is far from the center of attention, he has his moments. After losing their powers to Dr. Doofenshmirtz, Thor and his colleagues enter Danville to find Phineas and Ferb. Once their abilities are restored, Thor finds his powers have been switched with Iron Man’s. In a funny exchange between the two, Iron Man is frustrated because he cannot pick up Mjolnir, thus, giving him no abilities at all. In his awkward explanation, Thor tells Stark that the hammer is about worthiness, so he cannot wield it. Ultimately, Phineas and Ferb’s cleverness and dry humor mesh well with the unlikely inclusion of the Asgardian, making for a comical approach that children and adults can appreciate.
11 Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight! (2015)
In this Christmas feature, Loki arrives on earth with a Frost Giant to lay siege to a tropical island and turn it into his own frozen wasteland. After the Avengers learn of Loki’s true intentions to steal Santa Claus’ powers, they must stop him before he spoils the fun for everyone.
Make no mistake, Frost Fight! is an adventure for the kiddies. Filled with multiple slapstick moments, none stick out more than a side story in which Thor and the Hulk join forces to shop for gifts. After arriving on Earth to help find his brother, Thor insists Santa is merely a myth in Asgard. Instead of joining their fool’s errand to hunt for the jolly big man, he parts ways to help Banner do some much needed present purchasing.
As the Hulk teaches a hapless Thor about the true meaning of Christmas, they run into a Santa doppelganger inside a toy store. Dressing him up as Saint Nick, they set out with the look-alike to bring joy to the world. While this version of Thor may be too childish for some, he proves to be ample entertainment as he fails to comprehend the celebrations of our world.
10 The Marvel Super Heroes (1966)
"’Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, Where the booming heavens roar, You’ll behold in breathless wonder, The God of Thunder, Mighty Thor!"
Those were the lyrics which began every Thor segment during The Marvel Super Heroes. The first animated series of its kind, each story would focus on a single character dealing with their own heroic struggles. For Thor, it was often the sinister dealings of his half-brother Loki and his exploits to take over the throne of Asgard, but other characters such as the Absorbing Man and the Destroyer would also make appearances.
Appearing as it did in the comics, each story was a word for word copy of the scenarios that the Marvel writing staff created. As the contributing voice for Thor, Chris Wiggins’ accent isn't the strongest, but his presence as a resounding leader of Asgard is easily detected through his loud, resonating sound. As the first voice of Thor, there’s not much to gone on as an actor, but in his portrayal, Wiggins set the stage for all that came later. And for those lucky enough to have watched the series, he will forever be the voice of the mighty son of Odin in their eyes.
9 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981)
Swinging just inside the top ten on our list, Thor makes a very special appearance alongside Spider-Man and his Spider-Friends in the hero’s titular 1981 animated series.
After Loki steers an ocean liner into a large iceberg in the middle of the North Pole, Spidey gets the call to rescue the sinking ship and its passengers. Bringing along Ice Man and Firestar, the trio set out for a hurried rescue only to find a Viking ship at the bottom of the ocean containing two ancient gems known as the Twins of the Gods. With the power of the gems, Loki hopes to dethrone his brother and take his spot as the heir to Asgard. Luckily, the true son of Odin arrives on the scene to lend a helping hand.
In possession of both jewels, Loki wields immeasurable power and is able to imprison Spider-Man and Firestar within the gems. In a climactic showdown, Loki disguises himself as his brother as he and Thor go at it. With double the pleasure, they battle on a rooftop before Thor ultimately releases his heroic colleagues from the grip of the jewels and banishes his half-brother back to Asgard.
8 LEGO Thor
As anyone who’s stepped on a LEGO with their bare foot will tell you, those little pieces of plastic are much stronger than they look. While LEGO has obtained the rights to various merchandising brands over the years, though none have appeared more mighty than the Avengers. For the blonde-haired and bearded Prince of Thunder, it’s the molded plastic hammer which he flaunts around that brings him his power, but beware, for even he has admitted to not knowing its true strength.
Alongside his Avengers pals, this toy version of the character is noticeably self-absorbed. Appearing in the LEGO Marvel's Avengers video game as well as the online series Maximum Overload and Avengers Reassembled, the son of Odin is oblivious to his own self-interest, continually remarking upon his greatness. While it’s nothing for him to carve an ice sculpture of himself for a party, it’s the serious tone with which he takes up the task that is the most comical. His fixation on his godly stature mixed with his overpowering approach to everything he does delivers a fine addition to the kid-friendly series, one that makes his impressive feats of strength all the more fun to watch.
7 The Super Hero Squad Show (2009 - 2011)
Cartoonish may not be a word commonly used to describe the eldest son of Odin, but it’s not far off from pinpointing the way he’s perceived by his superhero colleagues. Speaking in archaic English that befuddles those around him, the exaggerated version of Thor in The Super Hero Squad Show is a kid-friendly take that hits its strides by being self-aware of how ridiculous a heavily armored god can appear.
Voiced by David Boat, who also voices the character in Ultimate Avengers (more on that iteration in a bit), Thor’s goofier side shines through. Boat’s tone is cheerful, often employing outlandish insults to boast about his own physical prowess over everyone around him. In excitation, he may call out his sibling Loki for being a “horn-helmeted toad” or he could flex his biceps in a futile attempt to seduce Black Widow. No matter the situation, he brings an unquestionable enthusiasm to everything he does, even if the rest of the Squad don’t find his happy-go-lucky approach very comforting. In his aimlessness, Thor’s child-like pursuits are in tune with his carefree side, which is refreshing compared to the often gloomy depictions of heroes today.
6 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)
In an alternate version of the Avengers, the beloved Marvel characters become parents to the next generation of heroes known as the Next Avengers. Thirteen years after the desolation of the world by Ultron, many of the original members are presumed dead, leaving their children to take over the mantles of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Among the noted inheritors are James Rogers, son of Captain America, Azari, son of Black Panther, and Torunn, daughter of Thor.
After finally defeating Ultron with help from a much older Bruce Banner, Torunn flies his mangled body into space to finish the job. Nearly suffocating to death in the process, she is rescued by her father, who appears in a glowing light. Beneath his helmet, his beard is noticeably long and his age is considerably younger than expected. He speaks to his daughter about the values of being human, a price which will aid her in becoming a true hero. He then extends her an invitation to Asgard, which she humbly declines before saying goodbye. In his years, this Thor has lost all his hard-headed ways, sounding more like Odin and teaching the ways of his forefathers to his only child, who will someday sit on the throne.
5 Marvel Animated Universe (1992-2000)
The British-born John Rhys-Davies is best known for starring in film sagas like Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings, but over the span of his long career, he’s also lent his voice to some other popular projects. For those who remember the ‘90s versions of Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, you may recall hearing him as Thor. Bringing class to the role, he sounded wiser and older than the character appeared. He would only star in three episodes, but he made strides in the part nevertheless.
Showing up first in the Fantastic Four episode “To Battle the Living Planet,” Thor joins Mr. Fantastic and his group to prevent the monstrous planetoid creature Ego from destroying the Earth’s environment. Later, the team recruits him to defeat Galactus after the Eater of World’s new herald Terrax threatens Manhattan. Making his final appearance as Thor, Rhys-Davies uses his thunderous vocal skills in a battle against the Hulk in the green guy’s own series. With authority and virtue, the ‘90s Thor was a reflection of the quality of Marvel animations at the time, delivering an appropriate mix of mythos and cartoon action to fans of the genre.
4 Ultimate Avengers Universe (2006)
Based on the Ultimate comics from renowned writer Mark Millar, the Thor of Ultimate Avengers and its sequel Ultimate Avengers II is ambiguous in terms of his origins. Referred to as a hippy by Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. approaches the hero in a futile attempt to recruit him in the Avengers’ fight against the Chitauri. In that first encounter, he's shown to be an environmentally conscious protester, working aboard a ship to get whale-hunters to turn back to their port. Despite having the ability to summon lightning and manipulate weather, his claims of being a god are scrutinized by those around him.
Ditching the metal armor and helmet, Thor’s appearance isn’t what viewers are used to seeing. Instead, he sports a large tech-belt across his waist which grants him the ability to channel electricity through his body. Despite appearing in a small role in both films, he does manage to contribute in the sequel after seeing a future in which all the Avengers are dead. After reviving a near-dead Tony Stark, he finally proves his standing as a god among men, showing off his divinity and sticking it to all the non-believers.
3 Marvel Animation Universe (2012 - Present)
A well-known voice actor who's played everything from megalomaniacal murderers to heroes fit to be praised, Travis Willingham’s name is all over this list. He’s been Thor for LEGO, The Super Hero Squad Show and now the Marvel Animated Universe. It’s undoubtedly his range that’s allowed him to continue for so long, but it's his part in series like Avengers Assemble which are currently getting him the most recognition.
During his time across Marvel Animation’s current running universe, the God of Thunder has been an exemplary warrior, stating on multiple occasions that he would die to protect the people of Earth and Asgard. Sticking close to the MCU, he’s courageous and only uses his full strength in a fight when he deems it necessary.
Showing up in Ultimate Spider-Man, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Guardians of the Galaxy in addition to his appearance in Avengers Assemble, Thor has struggled with everything from battling Frost Giants to being transformed into a baby. Whether he’s rough-housing with the Hulk or defying the laws of physics, he’s brought a joy to the kids watching at home thanks to one actor’s skills behind the scene.
2 Chris Hemsworth - Marvel Cinematic Universe (2011 - Present)
With a strike of lightning, Chris Hemsworth crashed onto the Marvel scene in 2011 as the titular Norse God in Thor. With his tall frame and luscious locks of hair, he looked like a glamour model for a shampoo commercial, but outside of his dashing appearance, he had the demeanor of a fierce warrior. In his performance, he is at times stubborn but remains stalwart. He takes on the job as protector of Asgard and shows sorrow for the path followed by his brother Loki. In the end, he rises to the occasion, becoming a leader to which the civilians of Earth can look up to.
In a world as fantastical in scope as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, properly fitting a god from another realm into the mythos can still present a challenge. Luckily, Hemsworth brings a charm to the role that is at once Shakespearean in dialogue and comical in its out-of-place positioning within modern day society. Jaunty and light-hearted when he needs to be, he’s also capable of flipping the switch with his intimidating voice and furious stare. With Thor: Ragnarok fast approaching, you can bet Hemsworth’s role in the MCU will only get better as time wears on.
1 Christopher Yost Universe (2008 - 2012)
If you’re unfamiliar with Christopher Yost, it’s best to get acquainted now. As a prolific writer for Marvel Animations as well as a screenwriter, he’s contributed to such notable projects as Thor: The Dark World and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. But of all his contributions, the now named Christopher Yost Universe is the greatest standout. Consisting of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as well as the direct-to-video tie-ins, Hulk Vs. Thor and Thor: Tales of Asgard, the CYU features the God of Thunder in three different, loosely connected projects.
Lending their voices to the respective stories, Matthew Wolf and Rick D. Wasserman split the acting duties. While Wolf's natural royal tone is lighter in sound, it makes him an optimal choice to play a younger version of Thor in Tales of Asgard. But it’s Wasserman whose voice ultimately conjures images of the Nordic hero. As the noble warrior with a disdain for mortal technology, Wasserman not only nails the Shakespearean accent but can also switch from a self-serious tone to a humorous side seamlessly. As a writer, few have what it takes to make a Norse god relatable, but Yost does it with ease, making his Thor the hands-down winner.
Which take on the God of Thunder has been your favorite to date? Will Chris Hemsworth's third solo outing as Thor be enough to push him up to the top spot? Let us know in the comments.
Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters on November 3rd, 2017.