Greetings and welcome to Voice of Legend.
We are surrounded by folklore, myth, and strange bits of history. And this wonderful weirdness often ties in to interesting insights into modern day media. Movies, video games, and modern sci-fi and fantasy often have some interesting back stories. In The Voice of Legend, we’ll be looking at current topics, taking the odd tour here and there to meet interesting characters, and examining some of our holidays and traditions from a geeky (sometimes snarky), modern viewpoint. If you have questions or topics you’d like us to discuss, please feel free to contact me. Now, on with the show!
Marvel Avengers: Your Basic Storyteller Six Pack
Or “Thor: Drag Queen of Thunder”
(Warning, some Thor: the Dark World spoilers)
I loved Avengers (2012). After watching the movies—and I mean all of them: Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008) [sigh], Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Iron Man 3 (2013)—I was delighted with the Avengers movie. Quick! Everyone to the car for shwarma! But as a storyteller, I can tell you that Joss Whedon is playing with archetypes that are near and dear to heart of any tale-tellers of old.
Seriously, let’s look at the starting line up: Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Thor, and Black Widow. Or in other words: A knight who drank a magic potion, a wizard with magical armor, a wizard who became possessed by a powerful demon, a guy with magical arrows, a God of Thunder, (look, no change!), and a deadly redhead.
See? Your basic storyteller six pack!
And in this version of the story: A trickster god shows up to steal a magical artifact and summons nasty creatures from another plane to help him take over the world. Ease peasy, lemon squeezy. We’re not even breaking a storytelling, Joseph Campbell™-approved sweat. Trade out the high tech for a few wands and some armor, then we could easily tweak this for the middle ages.
Now as a myth-ing person, I find the treatment of Thor particularly interesting. In the animated series, “The Avengers-Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” (why, oh why, does everything I like get cancelled?) I notice that Thor got a slight demotion. He’s not called the God of Thunder but has been re-dubbed “The Prince of Thunder” in the audio teases. Although, on their website, they get it right: Thor Odinson, God of Thunder, Asgard’s greatest warrior.
In Thor: The Dark World (“Thor 2,” 2013) we see Tom Hiddleston come back as Loki (who, by the way, now owns the role—lock, stock, and barrel—check him out on YouTube at San Diego Comic Con 2013 “Say MY NAME!” http://youtu.be/toPstPIcGnI). I should point out that the movies got some things right. In the Thor/Marvel comics, Loki was not drawn handsome, while in the myths he was very handsome. Thor, on the other hand, looked more like an old school biker in the comics. In the movies, both Thor and Loki make the fangirls (and guys) swoon.
This movie-Loki is actually pretty close to the traditional Norse Myths. Loki in the traditional myths was an agent for change—as befits a trickster—both for good and evil. His ability to shape-shift and knowledge of all the hidden ways proves particularly handy in the movie story. He helps avert the menace of the moment… for a price. Very traditional in my book.
But I should point out the Norse have a particularly open-minded view of their myths. In the “The Lay of Thrym,” Thor has his mighty hammer Mjolnir (mew-mew!) stolen by the giants, and he has to dress up as a bride to get it back. I can’t wait to see Disney approve, “Thor: Drag Queen of Thunder” or possibly, “Thor: My very SMASHY wedding!”
But wait, there’s more. Loki, although very charming, is (how shall we say?)… being a shape-shifter puts a whole new spin on transgender, trans-species, or however you want to define it romance. In the traditional myth of “The Walling of Asgard and the Birth of Sleipnir,” Loki is the hero again, although a desperate one. He ends up becoming the mother of Sleipnir, the marvelous, magical eight-legged steed of Odin (which you see a glimpse of in the first Thor movie, by the way). I have no idea if Hasbro is going to release a very special issue of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic—Little, eight-legged Sleipnir gives his Mom-Dad a very special Mother’s Day card,” but you can be darn sure I would record it!
For your extra, special trivia bits: In Thor 2, that’s not Natalie Portman in that final smooch scene. That’s actually Elsa Pataky (Chris Hemsworth’s wife) in a wig. Natalie could not make it due to a schedule conflict, hence the very real heat. Also, in a nod to Norse tradition, watch the movies that have Thor in them. You’ll spot two ravens flying through. Those would be Huginn and Muninn, who finally show up the Dark World movie. In Norse, their names mean “Thought” and “Memory / Mind,” and it’s said that they are Odin’s eyes to all the worlds. I always cheer when I see them on screen. Hey, I’m a storyteller, mythic geek trivia for the win!
— Be Legendary! R.S.
Robert Seutter is a graduate of USC’s Navy-Marine Cinema Program; a professional storyteller, known as True Thomas; a sci-fi novelist; a scholar of folklore, myth, and legend; a proud geek and a gamer since D-20 dice were carved from mastodon bones!