How close does the series get to Norse mythology?
by Netflix Ragnarok is a modern reimagining of Norse mythology through the prism of a coming-of-age story. The show depicts two brothers and their widowed mother returning to their hometown of Edda, Norway. There, the two brothers undergo massive transformations as their powers are awakened. Now, as a blend of their human identities and the famed Norse gods, the characters are thrown into conflict with giants, injustice, corruption, and an upcoming battle for which they are vastly inexperienced.
Danish writer, director and producer Adam Price has received accolades for the reimagined gods and goddesses. Because they are written as both humans and gods, Price created this seems as an equal duality in the characters. However, the lines between humans and gods become blurred, as do the lines between what is morally right and what is wrong. This unique take on these age-old mythological stories is inventive, invigorated, and adapted to modern society while having a strong foundation in traditional tales.
This begs the question: how close is Netflix Ragnarok to current Norse mythology?
Magne versus Thor
Thor is often described as the great protector and god of lightning. As a member of the Aesir, the Norse pantheon of gods, Thor is typically thrust into intense battles to protect humanity from a range of threats, from monstrous creatures to corrupt gods. His reign culminated in defeating the World Serpent and ending the events of the apocalypse (Ragnarok), allowing a new era of rebirth and safety for humans. In his fierce defense of humans and the helpless, Thor has developed a rigid sense of morality and righteousness.
Unlike Thor, Magne Seir (David Stakston) is portrayed as a shy, unlucky, downtrodden character. He and his family return to his hometown after the death of his father, Asbjørn, and it is there in Edda that Magne undergoes a huge change. He now has super strength, his poor eyesight is suddenly cured and his senses are, on the whole, heightened. Over time, Magne hones his new skills as a warrior, eventually controlling lightning, manipulating weather, and wielding Mjölnir. These skills come at a price; He is drawn into a conflict with the Jutul family, a group of giants who have steadily taken over Edda and plan to strengthen their rule across the world.
After several confrontations and ultimately the murder of a member of the Jutul family, Magne struggles with what he feels is the morally right thing to do versus what must happen to protect humanity in Edda. He tries to maintain his sense of righteousness in the face of the moral wickedness of the Jutul (and later, his brother Laurits), struggling to rectify his identity as brother, son, citizen of Edda, and god. The inner battle Magne faces departs from typical portrayals of Thor in mythology – where Thor would be the demonstration, the fable, the life lesson, Magne genuinely struggles to identify what is “right” when confronted what is expected of him.
The rocky journey Magne has made so far suggests that season three of Ragnarok will only be more difficult for him. Will he see the Jutul family as the boss of the vile Jutul industries, or what remains of Laurits’ biological family? Will Magne protect his brother Laurits, or will he fully take the helm of Thor and confront his brother, Loki?
Laurits vs. Loki
Loki is often portrayed as a mischievous and chaotic god. He has the powers of sorcery, trickery and, in some cases, shapeshifting. Loki was adopted by the Aesir, Asgard’s largest group of gods, despite his giant parentage (Jötnar). There he grew closer to the gods while simultaneously opposing them in most conflicts. Most depictions of Loki show an unpredictable, vindictive, and cunning character who often changes sides in a conflict. This portrayal of Loki rings true for Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravil).
He has been at odds with his family for much of the series (much like other portrayals of Loki in mythology and modern media). He oscillates between being a loving and selfless son and interfering and causing conflict within his family, especially after learning that he is the half-brother of his brother Magne and the son of Vidar Jotul, an evil tycoon. business in Edda. This confirmed the feelings Laurits had for most of the series: insecurity, feeling like a black sheep, jealousy that Magne had acquired the qualities of their late father, and a desire to feel a sense of belonging. who was absent at home. After this revelation, Laurits leans into his “Loki” side. His motives (and his allegiance!) become increasingly blurred, and he seems to struggle with the inner conflict that accompanies his actions and his identity.
Laurits’ powers have yet to be fully revealed – while his character is similar to most portrayals of Loki, Netflix Ragnarok has yet to describe possible shape-shifting and sorcery abilities. In addition to this potential reveal, Netflix Ragnarok also showed Laurits giving birth to Jörmungandr (the World Serpent) and later releasing him into the sea. This is key as The World Serpent is one of the initial triggers for the events of Ragnarok, the likely plot of season three . In addition to Jörmungandr’s exit, there is a notable foreshadowing of significant chaos and turmoil in season three. This ultimately reflects its instigator, Laurits, who is marked by the troubles he feels and causes.
Harry versus Tyr
Tyr is the god of war in Norse and Germanic mythologies – almost an equivalent of Ares from Greek mythology. His core values center around justice and honesty, as he is also known as the Keeper of Oaths in addition to the God of War. His role in Ragnarok is one of the sacrifices; although not a perfect adaptation, the general events of Tyr in the Legend of Ragnarok are preserved. As the tale describes, the gods chained the horrible wolf-monster Fenrir after lying to him about their true motives. In an effort to convince Fenrir to let the gods impose chains on him, Tyr placed his hand in the wolf’s mouth as a sign of good faith. If the gods were to imprison Fenrir – going against their promise – the wolf could bite off Tyr’s hand.
Contrary to mythology, Harry (Benjamin Helstad) sacrificed his hand in the fight against Fjor (Herman Tømmeraas) so Magne could build Mjölnir and safely escape the forge. Beyond that historical parallel, Harry’s character has yet to get a fully fleshed out arc beyond agreeing to help Magne and Iman if there were to be a bigger battle.
Iman vs. Freya
Freya is associated with love, beauty, fertility and war – almost a combination of the Greek goddesses Athena and Aphrodite. Epic tales show Freya leading warriors across a battlefield, enchanting people to follow her path, and bestowing bountiful blessings on those in need.
Iman Reza (Danu Sunth) is the reincarnation of Freya in Netflix Ragnarok. Like Freya, Iman possesses powers of enchantment and seduction which she uses to her advantage. She forces teachers to give her better grades and shopkeepers to let her shop for free. Despite the morally questionable use of her powers, Iman is one of the few characters to show Magne any kindness, acceptance, and friendship. Much like Magne’s late friend, Isolde (Ylva Bjørkaas Thedin), Iman believes in and supports Magne when he confesses to the re-emergence of mythology in their town.
Wotan versus Odin
Wotan Wagner (Bjørn Sundquist) is the reincarnation of Odin, the king of the gods. He is first seen in the pilot episode as a blindfolded, senile old man in need of help. When Magne intervenes, Wotan and his partner, Wenche, mysteriously hint that they know who Magne is and why he returned.
This depiction of Odin contrasts sharply with most other views in Norse mythology and modern media. Odin is seen as still powerful and worthy of being feared, not some withered old man with little or no combat. A similar representation is shown in Thor: Ragnarok (2019), where Odin nears the end of his tenure as ruler of Asgard. Like Netflix Ragnarok, Thor: Ragnarok depicts the “end times” where the majority of the gods perish in all-out battle. In Thor: Ragnarok, it was the destruction of the planet Asgard by Surtur, a fire demon. At Netflix Ragnarokit seems closer to the “end times” of man and the Norse gods.
Wotan takes on more of a fatherly mentor role to Magne/Thor as the series develops, mimicking the mythology in the process. After Wenche made Wotan a magic necklace to bring back his memories and help his gift of foresight, Wotan/Odin became a wise god again. His gift of foresight is the only divine power revealed so far.
Jutul vs Jotnar
The Jötnar, also known as the Jötunn, are variously depicted in Norse mythology. Where Marvel adaptations depict Jötnar as a mixture of humans, large blue creatures, and sometimes possessing supernatural powers, the Jötnar include frost giants, fire giants, mountain giants, and some born with conflicting appearances in due to various partnerships through mythology.
by Netflix Ragnarok shows the Jutul family as humans, but the show also uses the family as a way to represent the “old world” of warriors, gods, and tales from mythology. The Jutul house is adorned with ancient weapons, the giants drink mead and speak in the “old tongue”. It is unknown what their specific powers, if any, are beyond marked strength in combat.
Production of the last season of Ragnarok began in April 2022. A premiere date for season three has not yet been announced, but it is speculated that it will take place in the first quarter of 2023. Will more be revealed about the gods in the future? Approaching Ragnarok?