Thor has survived being punched by the Hulk. He has buildings thrown at him on a regular basis. According to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, his body is three times as dense as an ordinary humans. Still, he’s nowhere near indestructible.
This list looks at the times Thor was very, very destructible; damage that warped his body, that would have killed him anywhere outside a comic-book universe. That did kill him (obviously, he got better). In short, his most brutal injuries.
With Ragnarok's release, it’s worth noting that Hela gets several entries in this list. Most of the injuries below stem from Asgardian power of one sort or another. But mortals have gotten a few licks in too.
Don’t think of this as a grim or gory list as much as heroic. Faced with death or crippling injury, Thor doesn’t give up; even when every bone in his body is literally shattered, he refuses to yield. More than his strength or his hammer, it’s his refusal to quit when others are in need of protection ,that makes Thor a hero. In the following list, it shines through.
Here are Thor's 15 Most Brutal Injuries, Ranked.
15 Scarred and maimed by Hela
Thor and Hela have been clashing since her first appearance in Journey Into Mystery #102. In that story, and several that followed, Hela displayed grudging respect for Thor’s nobility and heroism. She was less admiring in Thor #361, when Thor entered her realm of Hel to free innocent souls the dark elf Malekith had banished there. What Hela has, she doesn’t willingly give up.
When Thor entered Hela’s domain, she ripped off part of his jaw, scarred his face, and withered his body with age. Thor only won by threatening to destroy her cape, which allows her to journey outside Hel. He was able to free the innocent souls, but he spent the rest of the quest hiding his injuries. Later on he’d sport a beard to cover the scars. Hela’s dealt Thor worse injuries, but none they had to hide from readers.
14 Transformed into a mortal with a disabled leg
Silver Age Odin was a tough-love kind of father. He stripped away Thor’s godly powers the same way a mortal dad might deny his kid the car keys. Odin’s most drastic, significant punishment was when he turned his mighty son into a mortal who couldn’t even walk without a cane.
In Thor #159, readers learned that Dr. Don Blake, Thor’s mortal identity, didn’t exist. Years earlier, fed up with Thor’s arrogance, Odin had turned him into a mortal to learn “none cam be truly strong, unless they be truly humble.” He erased Thor’s memory and gave him a disabled leg, so that he could learn to overcome challenges without his godly power.
Even after letting Thor regain his power, Odin kept him thinking his Blake identity was real, just to keep him from getting cocky again.
13 Wounded and poisoned at Ragnarok
The cycle of Norse mythology doesn’t end happily. At the end of time, the Asgardian gods and the forces of evil — Loki, the Fenris Wolf, and more — thrown down in Ragnarok, the final battle. Thor, like almost everyone else, buys it: he slays Jormugandr, the world-circling Midgard Serpent, but its bite and its venom finish Thor off too.
While the comics depart wildly from Norse legend, Thor’s death is part of the canon. Journey into Mystery #128 describes Ragnarok - and Thor’s doom. In a later story, a man named Red Norvell temporarily becomes Thor and dies fighting Jormugandr, part of a scheme by Odin to cheat Ragnarok. Both times, though, the death is offstage.
In Thor #293, we see Thor’s envenomed death close up — though this was actually a previous incarnation of Thor, in a previous cosmic cycle.
12 Beaten to death by the Wrecker
Even the Hulk never pounded on Thor as brutally as the Wrecker in Thor #148-9.
The Wrecker was a ruthless, crowbar-wielding thug until a twist of fate juiced him up with Asgardian magic. Suddenly he was a match for Thor — but the God of Thunder was no match for him, as Odin had turned off the power spigot again. Hopelessly overpowered, Thor refused to leave New York at the mercy of the Wrecker. He fought on until the Wrecker toppled an apartment building on him and Thor died. Hela showed up to collect his spirit.
Thor, though, refused to go into the light while the Wrecker ran free. Eventually his battered body revived enough for him to live again, but it took the Asgardian Destroyer to put the Wrecker down.
11 Arm lopped off by Malekith
Malekith, the sinister, scheming dark elf, has been Thor’s most cunning adversary next to Loki. But he’s also capable of taking Thor on in physical combat.
After Thor became unworthy to wield his hammer Mjolnir, he took up the battle axe Jambjorn instead. When he faced Malekith again, that wasn’t enough. The dark elf chopped off Thor’s left arm just below the shoulder.
Unlike most of the injuries in this list, Thor didn’t immediately recover. Instead, Odin fashioned his son a magical prosthetic arm fashioned out of uru metal, the same stuff as Thor's hammer. With Jane Foster now as Thor, Thor calls himself Odinson.
At time of writing, Thor’s still missing his flesh arm, unless he regrows it between finishing this piece and getting published. Would anyone be surprised?
10 Aged to death by Hela
Thor #183 launched a multi-issue plotline pitting Thor against a mysterious cosmic entity called Infinity and its agent, the Silent One. In #186, Thor followed the Silent One in hopes of learning the true nature of Infinity. To his surprise, the Silent One led him into Hela’s realm, where the death goddess aged Thor with a single touch.
In seconds, Thor was a withered bag of bones so weakened he couldn’t do squat against Hela. Fortunately the Silent One, touched by Thor’s heroism, rebelled against his mistress and sacrificed his own life force to restore Thor’s youth.
It turned out Infinity was actually a portion of Odin’s life force sucked out by Hela to wield the Odinpower for her own purposes. In #190, after Odin returned to normal, Hela aged Thor again. Fortunately Sif’s willingness to sacrifice herself for Thor convinced Hela to relent.
9 Transformed into a frog
One of the high points of Walt Simonson’s superb run on Thor was the arc beginning in #363. Loki magically reverses the legend of the frog who becomes a prince by having a woman kiss Thor and transform him into a frog.
Loki figures his brother is finally out of his hair, but the transformed Thor has powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary amphibians. After helping the frogs of Central Park against the rats and alligators in the sewers, Thor recovers Mjolnir. He’s still a a frog, but the hammer makes him a 6’ 6” thunderfrog!
As it was obvious who transformed him, Thor confronted his brother. The thunder god almost went berserk and killed Loki but the spell wore off first. Loki lived to scheme another day (actually quite a lot of days).
8 Slugged with his own hammer
As Marvel’s mightiest, strongest Silver Age heroes, Thor and the Hulk have been whaling on each other since Avengers #3. The fights are usually even: in Defenders #10 they end up spending hours straining against each other, neither one moving the other an inch.
And then there’s Hulk: Let the Battle Begin, in which Hulk totally pawns the thunder god. Rather than just use his fist or a convenient boulder, he grabs Thor by the wrist — the hand holding Mjolnir — and jerks it back and forth so Thor hits himself in the face with his own hammer. After Hulk slams Mjolnir into Thor’s face a couple of times, Thor goes down with a massively bleeding nose to boot.
Mjolnir to the face is a brutal blow, though probably not as brutal as the blow to Thor’s pride.
7 Slugged by a falling meteor
Getting a truck thrown at him? For Thor, that’s a Tuesday. But a meteor? Now that hurts.
At the start of Giant-Size Avengers #2, the team is in a bad way. Time-traveling tyrant Kang the Conqueror has captured the female members and turned Thor, Iron Man, and the Vision into batteries powering his unstoppable macrobots. He intends to use the macrobots to trigger World War III.
Aided by Kang’s future self, Hawkeye and the Swordsman begin to turn the tide until Kang has nothing but the Thor-powered macrobot to work with. Of course, that’s a lot of power, so the Scarlet Witch uses her mutant abilities to divert a meteor and slam the ‘bot in the chest with it. That’s a brutal enough blow that even Thor doesn’t feel like hitting anything for a while.
6 Beaten and ray-blasted to death by the Destroyer
The Destroyer was an invincible doomsday weapon Odin created to use against the Celestials. Unsurprisingly, the magical juggernaut wound up clobbering Thor instead. With the Destroyer being invincible and indestructible, the fights never go well for Thor.
One of the worst was 1998’s Thor #1. The reactivated Destroyer, it took on not only Thor but the Avengers. Thor did his best, but the Destroyer beat him to death. Then its visor opened, unleashing a disintegrator ray for extra killing goodness.
Thor wound up in Hel once again, only to have the mysterious Marnot intervene and restore Thor to life. The catch was his life was now bound with EMT Jake Olson as it had once been with Donald Blake, part of an elaborate scheme by Marnot.
5 Stabbed by the God Butcher
The alien Gorr had once been a faithful believer in his world’s gods. But despite his devout, desperate prayers, his family died, as did his people. Gorr became an atheist until he saw solid proof that in the MU, gods exist - but not for long — Gorr vowed to destroy them all.
Gorr encountered the young Thor on Earth during the Viking era. They traded some nasty blows, but the real brutality came after Thor penetrated Gorr’s lair. The God Butcher wanted to locate Asgard, so he trapped and tortured Thor to get the intel. Thor held out for seventeen days — much longer than Gorr’s previous victims — until his Viking followers showed up and saved him.
The God Butcher, however, returned to battle Thor later in the thunder god's life.
4 Turned into a tree
Thor in any universe is impressive. On Earth-1610, though, his impressive power didn’t save him from turning into a tree.
Earth-1610 was the home of Marvel’s Ultimate line, including Ultimate Fantastic Four. Over time, that Earth’s Reed Richards became obsessed with building a reality-altering cosmic cube, unaware he was manipulated by that universe's Thanos. An interplanetary tyrant, Thanos knew that with the cube he could truly become all-powerful.
After Reed perfected the Cosmic Cube, New York was caught between Thanos’ forces and those of his adversaries, who thought no-one should have the cube. Ultimately it fell into Thanos’ hands.
The Ultimates, 1610’s counterparts of the Avengers, went up against Thanos. Thor was confident that, as a god, he could kick Thanos' butt. Instead, Thanos transformed him into a tree, quipping that at least Thor would still attract lightning. Lucky for Thor, Reed eventually fixed things.
3 Stabbed in the back
Comics writer Roy Thomas was a huge fan of Richard Wagner’s epic opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelungs, which, like Thor, drew on and freely adapted Norse myths. When Thomas became the Thor writer in the late Bronze Age, he incorporated the operas into the thunder god’s backstory.
In #292, Thor confronts Odin’s missing eye, which for no discernible reason spends several issues recounting an earlier incarnation of Asgard closer to the original myths than Marvel’s version (see #13) “Eye” also revealed Thor’s past life as the Norse heroes Siegmund and Siegfried.
In his incarnation as Siegfried, he was an invulnerable warrior — except for part of his back, which is where a treacherous dwarf stabbed him in #300. Unlike Jormungandr, this past-life Thor didn’t get to finish off his killer, collapsing lifeless to the ground when he tried.
2 Every bone in his body broken
During a battle with the mutant Marauders, Thor was shocked that a punch from their strongest member broke his arm. Afterwards, Hela revealed this was her revenge for defeating her in Hel (#15). Thor's bones were now as fragile as an elderly osteoporosis victim, snapping easily and never healing. Every blow, every fight would break another one — and as Hela refused to claim his life, Thor faced an immortality of pain.
Refusing to quit, Thor had Tony Stark design an armored exoskeleton to let Thor move despite his accumulating injuries. Finally Thor found a solution: transferring his soul into the Destroyer, he attacked Hela, apparently berserk. To stop the Destroyer, Hela healed Thor’s injuries and gave him back the ability to die. Thor's soul reclaimed his body.
Hela admitted, quietly, that she retained enough respect for Thor she wasn’t entirely sorry with how things turned out.
1 Becoming Thor strengthens Jane Foster’s cancer
Although Thor defeated the God Butcher, Gorr also defeated him: it was Gorr’s whispered words that convinced Thor he was unworthy to wield Mjolnir. Into the thunder god’s place stepped Jane Foster, Thor's ex-girlfriend. Though now fighting cancer, Jane became the new Thor.
For Jane, it was a rush to go from weak and exhausted cancer patient to indomitably strong and invincible, to say nothing of getting to punch Odin and Loki in the face (they've had issues). But there’s a catch. Every time she transforms into Thor, it heals any recent damage to her body. As the cancer cells are part of her body, the magic defends them too, erasing the results of her most recent chemotherapy.
No matter how much treatment Jane gets, becoming Thor leaves the cancer free to spread. It’s a horrible price to pay for becoming a hero.
Did we miss any of Thor's worst injuries? Share them in comments!