Why Thor could be more important than you think in Avengers 4

While Avengers: Infinity War was absolutely jam-packed with superheroes great and small, few of them stood quite so tall as Thor. (Both metaphorically and physically speaking — Chris Hemsworth is a beast!) The Asgardian god has been steadily soaking up more screen time in the MCU, with no complaint from viewers who've watched him lose and reinvent himself, go through some pretty intense grief, and run around the universe hunting after a replacement for his beloved Mjolnir.

Even if you set the compelling elements of his personal story aside, Thor has proven an important player in the battle against Thanos. One of his most significant contributions, and hands down one of the most epic scenes of the MCU, was his ability to confront Thanos one on one with a significant chance of toppling the mad titan. And while the end of Infinity War was anything but a win, it certainly seemed to leave Thor poised to take a front seat in the conflict's conclusion.

If you're a Marvel fan, you already know the god of thunder is important — but here's a look at some of the most important reasons Thor will be even more important in Avengers 4 than you might already think.

It's personal

One of the more obvious elements that stands out, especially when you look at the anguish on Thor's face in practically every scene of Infinity War, is the fact that this guy has got some very personal interests vested in defeating Thanos. Thor has had to experience some fairly devastating moments that were really pretty scarring, all things considered.

After losing his father in Thor: Ragnarok, he had to watch his brother be strangled to death by Thanos right in front of his face while he watched helplessly. It's not the kind of thing you can just shake off. Even if Loki manages to come back from the dead (yet again) in Avengers 4, during the interim, the memory of the god of mischief's death will surely both haunt and motivate his brother.

As if the loss of kin wasn't enough, there was also the near-simultaneous death of Heimdall, Thor's longtime friend and loyal servant, who was killed by Thanos after Heimdall spirited the Hulk away to Earth in the opening sequence of Infinity War. On top of everything else motivating Thor, you can bet the death of his friend is going to be a driving factor here.

It's political

While Thor is clearly being eaten up by the loss of his brother and friend, the other glaring emotional factor at play here is his role as the king of Asgard. Of course, the physical kingdom of Asgard doesn't exist since Surtur unleashed death and destruction at the end of Ragnarok. But while the people of Asgard were still alive and well, led by their fearless king and headed for a new home on Earth — until they ran into Thanos' ship and were slaughtered in the process.

Since Odin passed, Thor has had a pretty rough go of it as King of Asgard. Already having gone through the heartbreak of Thor: Ragnarok, where he lost everything from his father and his home planet to his eye, Thor had to be in an emotionally sensitive spot when Thanos arrived and just started rubbing huge fistfuls of salt into his already gaping wounds. With the last of his people most likely scattered and homeless, adrift in space, Avengers 4 will serve as the perfect chance for their king to rise up, seek ultimate retribution for their grievances, and lead them to a new and glorious future.

It's professional

While most of the Avengers "found their way" into the superhero game, Thor was born into it. He's a hero and champion, a king and guardian — and an Avenger. Not just any old team member, rushed into the club to meet an emergency, but one of the original lineup.

When the dust settled at the end of Infinity War, there were five very important characters left: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Black Widow (with the 50/50 chance that Hawkeye was also alive elsewhere). What's so special about this group? They're the original Avengers, and in Avengers 4, they're headed for an epic showdown with Thanos.

You can bet Thor will show up for work — and not just as a violently angry god consumed with rage and hellbent on revenge, but as a part of a well-oiled Avengers team. The group will have to work together to accomplish what they failed to do once before, and Thor isn't going to shirk his duty.

Frequent flyer

Thor is an intergalactic traveler who's very comfortable with the perils of traveling through space, whether it's via the Bifrost, a spaceship, or his fancy new ability to transport himself. This makes him a crucial element not only in the battle to topple Thanos and undo the events of Infinity War, but also in the struggle to even reach him in the first place. It appears that the villain is pretty clearly not on Earth as the movie ends, and after that dreaded finger snap, there just aren't that many intergalactic superheroes left.

Iron Man and Nebula are stranded on Titan, and they'll likely need some space travel in order to reconnect with everyone else. And Rocket is still alive and an experienced pilot to boot. But beyond that, nearly everyone else that could help get people from point A to point B perished in Infinity War, with the possible exception of the Valkyrie, who's probably floating somewhere out there in space. Oh, and Captain Marvel, once she enters the picture.

Apart from that, the other Avengers are stranded in their own way on Earth, and it's pretty obvious that a flying god whose kingdom used to be in a distant corner of space will come in handy.

Thor and Hulk: besties

Thor and Hulk have been matched up throughout the MCU saga in an endlessly entertaining, rough and tumble relationship all along. From smashing around a giant aircraft in the first Avengers to dueling in front of a massive crowd gladiator style in Thor: Ragnarok, the two have always been, how best to put this… straightforward with each other.

But when push comes to shove and the going gets tough, these two musclebound characters always come together to collectively provide an incalculable amount of brawn to the Avengers team. With Hulk pretty clearly shaping up to be an important part of Avengers 4, there can be little doubt that Thor will be right there next to his friend on the front lines of the fight, whether that involves another showdown with Thanos, like the one we already saw in Infinity War, or a hunt through space and time looking to resurrect their lost friends.

Trading up to Stormbreaker?

We all loved Thor's hammer-wielding horseplay in the past, and saying farewell to Mjolnir in Thor: Ragnarok was a sad moment. But the truth is that there's just as much storyline behind Thor's new weapon, if not more.

Thor's new axe-hammer, Stormbreaker, was as big of a centerpiece in Infinity War as anything else, serving as the Norse god's focus for the bulk of the movie. Thor stubbornly pursued the casting of his new weapon such single-minded purpose and tenacity that he even took on the brunt of a star's destructive power. And his seemingly distracted quest — carried out while everyone else was, you know, trying to stop half the universe from being wiped out — turned out to very nearly save the day.

When Thor arrived at the battle of Wakanda, he ultimately used the weapon to cut right through the power of all six Infinity Stones, showing that his new axe was for more than chopping firewood. It was the very tool that everyone had been searching for to stop Thanos dead in his tracks (or almost dead, at least). But we only got to see it in action in the last few minutes of the movie, and Marvel has proven over the years that they generally don't build up huge plot momentum only to fritter it away in a few moments.

Galactic grudge match

Stormbreaker aside, while the importance of the new weapon is pretty clearly going to emerge in Avengers 4, the hand wielding the weapon has become even stronger. In the final moments of the movie, Thor, with his new lightening-infused dominance, was revealed as the only one who could manage to face Thanos head on and do everything but beat him. Literally. You can't wedge an axe into someone's chest and then stand there gloating and not be darn close to victory.

In a one on one fight, no one else can seem to get a step up on Thanos, not even the Hulk. The only one who could take on the Mad Titan mano a mano was, well, the other god in the room. The Asgardian can literally claim to have cut Thanos to the quick, a boast no one else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is able to make yet. If only he'd aimed for the head…

Even more shocking than Infinity War?

When actors who play gods speak up, the world listens, and when Chris Hemsworth told Esquire that this next Avengers movie will be even more shocking than Infinity War, it left heads spinning. How do you get more shocking than losing half of the universe? In the interview, Hemsworth made it clear that if we thought Infinity War was a trip, we haven't seen the half of it yet — in fact, he said he's "probably even more excited about" Avengers 4. Referencing the multilayered storyline and the convergence of so many characters and their arcs colliding in one film, he argued that the MCU and its myriad of stories and characters have continually presented bigger and better storylines, nearly always finding new ways to wow the audience.

While Hemsworth's comments are interesting on their own, they also add a bit of "oomph" to the argument that Thor will have a major role in Avengers 4. You know there's something there when an actor says he's even more excited for the next movie than he was for the one that left the whole world with their jaws on the floor.

Thor's story arc

Finally, we have Thor's story arc. While the Avenger god has been an established presence in the MCU since he flew into theaters in 2011, we're really dealing with a whole new character since Thor: Ragnarok gave us a delightfully masterful reworking of what many considered a fairly bland franchise, especially when compared to Thor's partners like Iron Man and Captain America.

In spite of its playful banter and ridiculous humor, Ragnarok ultimately served as the vehicle by which retooled storylines for both Thor and Hulk were delivered. Before Ragnarok, Thor was little more than a support character, albeit a freaking awesome one. After it, he became the bona fide king of Asgard — and truly a top-tier character in the MCU.

With the third Avengers movie now in the books and Avengers 4 steamrolling toward its May 2019 release date, we can only wait and see how this "new" Thor's star rises as the Avengers enter the ultimate showdown with Thanos and attempt to reverse the tragic events of Infinity War. — but however it happens, it seems clear that he'll be even more important than you think.