Love and Thunder’s Flying Goats, Explained
Marvel’s Thor started out as a way to hunt down mythical characters. If superheroes were modern interpretations of classic heroes and gods, why not put one in the middle of it all? Its introduction in 1962 Journey into the Mystery #83 largely focused on its hammer Mjolnir, but co-creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly latched onto the entirety of Norse mythology for material. This included the likes of his brother Loki – the foundation’s central villain Avengers #1 just a year later – as well as a separate “Tales of Asgard” section of the Journey into the Mystery line starting with the number 97.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has adhered closely to the notion in its portrayal of the God of Thunder, with many figures from the Norse pantheon appearing whenever Thor does. Predictably, this involves a surprisingly deep reservoir of numbers, since old stories and folk tales have always had room for a few more. This continues even when his adventures turn ridiculous, as they did in Thor: Ragnarok, which involved traditional mythical notions such as Hela, Queen of the Underworld, and the destruction of Asgard itself. The new trailer for Thor: Love and Thunder contains a unique and very strange addition to their ranks.
Thor: Love and Thunder has to go deep into the bench for very good reasons. Most of Thor’s supporting cast died during the events of Ragnarok or shortly after. Only Valkyrie and Lady Sif remain, along with a pair of the strangest inhabitants of Thor’s world. The new teaser features a brief shot of a flying Viking longship being pulled by a pair of giant goats. They belong to the god of thunder, and they are much more important to him than it seems.
The pair are called Tanngrisnir (Teeth-Barer) and Tanngnjóstr (Teeth-Grinder), and traditionally pull Thor’s chariot in ancient myths. They can come from poetic edda and the Edda in prose, two collections of folklore dating from the 13th century. Besides their powers of transportation – carrying Thor wherever he wants to go, regardless of distance – they possess a singularly macabre ability. If Thor needs food, he can cook and eat them, then resurrect them using his hammer with their skins and bones.
A tank pulled by flying goats may have been too big and elaborate for Marvel comics superheroes. Lee and Kirby solved the problem by having Thor rely heavily on Mjolnir for travel, which he could grab by the handle throwing it and allowing him to pull it. But sometimes more was needed, and the 1976s The Mighty Annual Thor #5 marked the comic book debut of the two goats. (Interestingly, this issue involves a battle between Asgard and the Greek gods, who will also appear in love and thunder.) Their powers were very similar to those of their mythical counterparts: possessing great strength, being able to travel easily between the Nine Realms, and preparing a delicious dinner in case Thor needed it: then regenerating themselves provided that their skin and bones be left intact.
How many are left in love and thunder remains to be seen, but given director Taika Waititi’s quirky humor, anything is possible. The pair appear in the trailer pulling a flying boat over New Asgard, which was officially dubbed in early tie-in products as “The Goat Boat”. The Funko Pop figure and Lego toy versions of the vehicle both feature the goats, along with the words “Asgardian Tours” written on the side of the ship. This suggests that New Asgard has embraced tourism as an industry, and Thor is making quick use of it.
Whatever the reason, their presence indicates that love and thunder did not lose the ironic approach manifested in Ragnarok. The presence of such odd and slightly absurd characters, not only in Marvel canon, but also in mythic lore, might have been too much for Waititi to resist. And if their origins are true, fans might also see their gruesome dinner turn.
Thor: Love and Thunder, Goats and All, hits theaters on July 8.
Thor: Love and Thunder will include the return of [SPOILER] to the MCU
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