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As so many fans are so fond of pointing out, the Asgardians in the MCU are not actually gods, but rather a super-advanced alien race. Their "magic" is merely technology, their lives are limited. Any worship of them as divine beings is either a mistake (e.g. Odin) or a deception (e.g. Loki). I have discussed how I feel about this, but sadly, the matter has been settled.

And yet, that's not always how it is. The comic book Thor seems to be a genuine god, at least he was during the God Butcher arc, which revolves entirely around gods and their godly nature. No mention is made of technology or advanced aliens, and numerous mentions are made of "godly" factors such as reliance on worship, etc, not to mention godly feats, like being tossed straight through a moon and coming out the other side. There are also numerous physical distinctions, such as "godblood" being a material discernible from mortal blood.

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And anyone who has read that arc knows that if the gods were merely highly advanced mortals, Gorr would have brought that up.

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So I'm wondering, when did this van-Daniken-esque take on Thor begin? Was it an invention of the MCU, or is there precedent in the comics? Is this an Ultimate/616 split, or do different writers interpret it differently within the same universe?

  • Does Beta Ray Bill/Beta Ray Thor count? – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 29 '15 at 22:49
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    @WadCheber As I understand it, Beta Ray Bill is actually an alien, not a god by anyone's standards. He has attained godly power, but he's more like a Greek soldier who happened to wielded Poseidon's trident for a while, rather than a god himself. I'm looking for the Asgardians themselves, and Thor specifically (although I imagine the two will be the same). – Nerrolken Jun 29 '15 at 22:51
  • Yes, Beta Ray Bill is an alien, but he actually was Thor for a little while. I don't know if/when the actual Thor was first portrayed as an alien though. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 29 '15 at 22:53
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    For what it's worth, I used to read my brother's Thor comics in the late 80's/early 90's, and it was always clear to me that Thor was literally a god. I think the MCU changed that to avoid upsetting religious zealots. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jun 29 '15 at 23:00
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    @WadCheber By their agenda I mean getting away from Gods and magic and using the science argument. Thor in the comic is written like a God, Aaron had him answering prayers, in the movies he's not. I doubt that's because they're afraid of upsetting people. In some Marvel comics they also push the magic is science nonsense. – Nullbreaker Jul 26 '15 at 23:31
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It was hinted as far back as Thor #300 (October 1980) that the Asgardians might not be gods but god-like aliens who resided in nearby dimensions, attempting to protect the Earth from extra-terrestrial threats such as the cosmic space-gods, the unknowable Celestials.

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  • The first gathering of the Council of Godheads, to combat the imminent threat of the alien Celestials, in Thor #300, October, 1980.

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  • This image denotes Marvel's official position on the Asgardians as aliens. From Thor #493 (December, 1995, written by Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato)

  • The writers of Thor have managed to figure out how to have their cake and eat it too. The Asgardians and all of the other deities of the Marvel Universe while being depicted as gods, could also be defined as "Clarkian" with their technology being so advanced it is indistinguishable from magic.

  • The benefit of this idea is we get to see Asgard having the benefits of advanced technology, cities, flying machines and the like, without losing the mystique since many members of their species can use "magic" to do work.

  • Depending on the artist/writer team, they can be shown as an advanced spacefaring civilization known and respected throughout the galaxy. When the All-Mother told alien civilizations to leave Earth alone, most alien species complied.

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See Also: What was the ultimate origin of Asgardians?

See Also: How long do Asgardians live for?

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