I have recently watched Avengers: Age of Ultron and yesterday I came across this gif.
It got me thinking. The joke is obviously that Thor is insensitive to Bruce Banner’s clearly psychologically tortured state of being, but let’s really get into it here. Natasha Romanov specifically asks the one guy who is literally from another planet, from a culture where martial prowess is celebrated, to report on the Hulk’s performance.
Realistically, what response did you expect to get from him? He considers Bruce Banner to be his friend and wants to talk up his ability to kick butt because where Thor is from people aren’t ashamed of these things.
But this made me want to go further into things. What do we really know about Thor?
#4. Physiologically, Asgardians are indistinguishable from humans.
See Thor. Odin says, “I strip you of your powers,” and proceeds to remove Thor’s armor and weapon. Then he throws Thor down to Earth. Unless there was some much more subtle genetic modifying going on (which is not impossible) then it seems likely that Asgardian’s godlike abilities rest solely in their gear.
Once Thor arrives on Earth he suffers from things in the manner of a person who is unfamiliar with them. Like, he grows hunger and tired, implying that his “mortal” form is weaker than his “god” form. My hypothesis is that Asgardians like Thor are bonded with god-tech early on in life and so are these kind of cybernetic organisms that don’t require sleep or sustenance.
#3. The lifespan of an Asgardian is around 5,000 years.
This is obviously technologically augmented, see the Odinsleep. This was a line from Thor 2: The Dark World. Judging that Odin appears to be near the end of his life, that would mean he’s been around roughly since 3,000 BC, so roughly around when Troy was said to be founded. It’s implied that Odin can only be awake for brief periods, which seems to imply that activity of Asgardians drops off dramatically in their later lives.
What’s interesting is that Vikings were around in the 8th Century CE which means that the Asgardians and their culture predates Viking civilization by a long time. The 8th Century CE is probably when the war with the Frost Giants occurred.
#2. Asgardian “magic” is just technology.
This was a life from Thor, later reinforced by Jane Foster’s observations in Thor 2: The Dark World. The Asgardians are clearly living incarnations of Clarke’s statement, “Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What fascinates me about the Asgardians is that they aren’t technologically declining.
By that I mean they clearly understand how their technology works. They’re able to rebuild the Bifrost when it is destroyed in Thor. Odin mentions that Mjolnir was forged in the heart of a dying star, which implies that the Asgardians, or their allies, clearly have the ability to… build things in stars.
What’s bizarre to me is that the Asgardians seem to limit their technology in a bizarre almost 1% kind of way. Heimdall, who is clearly cybernetically augmented to have some kind of heightened awareness, is seen defending Asgard from space ships with a sword (Thor 2: The Dark World), where we clearly see that the Asgardians actually have projectile weapons.
The Asgardians have a guy whose job it is to act as a first line of defense from space aliens and all they give him is a sword? Meanwhile, Thor has a weapon that can (a) autonomously navigate cities and (b) track Thor to other planets?
My guess is that the Asgardians, while being technologically advanced, are bound by some kind of cultural traditions that seem to heavily concentrate power in literally like two people.
#1. Asgard destroyed at least two alien cultures.
Odin’s father Bor led a war against the Dark Elves, that basically resulted in the mass suicide of the Dark Elves. I can’t tell if that was a genocidal war technically, but clearly no quarter was expected on either side. Admittedly, from a mortal perspective the Dark Elves were comically insane villains. They were like nihilists but … like Supervillain Nihilists. They wanted to destroy everything because …
Then there was the war with the Frost Giants. It’s important to note that Asgard confiscated their powerful magical artifact (and probably others off screen) and that by the time of Thor, the Frost Giants do not appear to have recovered from the loss. It seems like the Asgardians were content to let the Frost Giants live in some kind of magical world poverty. Like they shattered Frost Giant civilization, and then just left them in their own mess.
Asgardian foreign policy is a weird thing. When Frost Giant … terrorists(?) attack Asgard, Odin dismisses them, and seems to desperately want to maintain the peace between Asgard and the Frost Giants, but it’s confusing why he’s worried about war. The Frost Giants don’t appear to have anything approaching the power of the Asgardians who can blow up planets if they leave their teleporter on too long.