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The Entire Thor MCU Story Finally Explained

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has developed a ton of interesting characters over the years. From long-standing favorites like Iron Man and Captain America to fairly recent enigmas like Carol Danvers, each hero has their own alluring traits and characteristics — including everyone's favorite Asgardian, Thor. At various times, the god of thunder (Chris Hemsworth) has been charismatic, powerful, reckless, humble, clever, stupid, and the list goes on and on. Simply put, ever since he flew onto the scene back in 2011, red cape a-fluttering, the fella has remained one of the most entertaining constants this side of Odin's treasure vault.

But while there's no doubt that Thor is an MCU staple, it can get a little overwhelming trying to sort through the laundry list of events that the Asgardian has participated in. At this point, he's been a member of the Avengers since the group's inception, he's fought as a gladiator on Sakaar, and he's hobnobbed with the Guardians of the Galaxy, all while going through his own journey of loss, conflict, and self-discovery. If you've tried in vain to break down Thor's storyline from start to finish, we feel your pain. In order to help, we've pulled together a sweet and condensed version of Thor's rather lengthy MCU timeline, starting from the beginning.

Thor is technically the first Avenger

Yes, Carol Danvers was the first person to sport the "Avenger" moniker, and Steve Rogers had the name literally in the title of his first film, but when you stop to think about it, the first Avenger in the MCU to ever draw breath was Thor. In fact, the competition isn't even a close one. As the Odinson reveals in Infinity War, he's 1,500 years old by the time the events of the modern MCU roll around. 

During that time, Thor has functioned as a prince of Asgard. He's followed the lead and direction of his father, Odin, and spent copious amounts of time roughhousing with (and occasionally being stabbed by) his younger adopted brother, Loki. Of the original six Avengers, Thor is also unique as the only member of royalty on the team, as well as the only hero to live off-world. 

By the time he enters the current, 21st-century MCU timeline, Thor has centuries of experience under his belt. On top of that, he's operating as the heir apparent and a shoo-in for the next king of Asgard. But, of course, things don't always go according to plan, especially in the MCU.

His story starts with exile and restoration

By 2011, the aging Odin is ready to crown his eldest son as the king of Asgard, even if Thor is still rather narcissistic and headstrong. However, the coronation is cut short when Frost Giants suddenly appear on the scene, attempting to raid the royal vault. While the raid fails, it prompts Thor to disobey his father's orders and head to Jotunheim, the Frost Giant's home, in order to exact a little retribution for the unwelcome disturbance. 

Thor's disregard for his father's wishes ultimately leads to Odin stripping his son of his power and banishing him to Midgard, a backwater area of the Nine Realms of Asgard known to its inhabitants simply as "Earth." However, as a sign of secret hope for his son, Odin also sends Thor's magic hammer, Mjolnir, with him, declaring that only one who is worthy will be able to wield it.

On Earth, Thor meets scientists Erik Selvig and Jane Foster, and eventually strikes up a romantic relationship with the latter. Over time, he comes to grips with his exile and is slowly humbled, until he proves himself worthy of the hammer, as well as his former position on Asgard. At that point, he returns home and defeats his brother, Loki, who's usurped the throne in his absence. Loki ultimately falls to his apparent death, and a contemplative, more mature Thor then resumes his position as his father's right-hand man, accepting that it isn't his time to rule as king.

Thor officially becomes an Avenger

One short year after Thor returns to Asgard, he's sent back to Earth by his father — not as an exile, though. This time, he comes with the express purpose to fetch his brother Loki after it's discovered the trickster didn't actually die and is planning an invasion of Midgard. Upon his arrival, Thor quickly bumps into the un-unified team of Avengers, immediately duking it out with Iron Man before Captain America convinces them that they shouldn't be fighting each other. 

From there, Thor joins the slowly assembling team on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Helicarrier, where he participates in the discussion of what to do with his brother, providing insight regarding Loki's past. The thunder god even helps contain Hulk when the Green Machine is accidentally turned loose on the airship. 

After Loki wreaks havoc on the carrier and escapes, Thor heads to the Big Apple, where he reunites with the Avengers and participates in the Battle of New York. The Asgardian plays a thunderous role in the encounter, fighting hordes of Chitauri and trading blows with his brother yet again. When the dust settles, Thor takes both Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard ... although he nabs a quick bite of shawarma before he hits the road.

The god of thunder saves the universe

After the 2012 events with the Avengers, Thor returns home and spends a good deal of time traveling the Nine Realms and tending to royal business. As he takes care of his responsibilities, though, he never stops pining for Jane Foster. But after he asks the all-seeing Heimdall to check in on her, Thor is surprised to discover that his far-sighted friend can no longer see her. 

This revelation spurs the prince to return to Earth in order to inquire about the whereabouts and safety of his sweetheart. Upon his arrival, he finds that she's been possessed by the Aether — that is, the Reality Stone in its "angry sludge" form. Concerned, Thor brings Foster back to Asgard to receive treatment. 

In the ensuing chaos, the Dark Elves, led by Malekith, attack Asgard and kill Thor's mother, Frigga. This new threat posed by the Dark Elves, the danger of the Aether inside Jane Foster, and the death of his mother push Thor to disobey his father again (this time with more noble intentions). He hatches a plan which includes sneaking out of Asgard with Loki in order to hunt down Malekith before the Dark Elf can literally destroy the universe. With the future drama surrounding Thanos, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that universe-saving shows up on Thor's resume multiple times. The pursuit eventually leads back to Greenwich, England, where Thor defeats Malekith and does, indeed, save the universe.

Ultron and the Infinity Stones

The next significant event that Thor participates in is the war with Ultron in 2015. He aids in retrieving Loki's scepter in Sokovia, and he's present when Ultron is created in Stark Tower, after which he lends his god-like strength to the fight against the runaway android.

In addition to the superhero antics, Thor also heads off on a side quest in order to learn more about a disturbing vision that he'd received involving the Infinity Stones. At this point, he'd already had multiple encounters with the gems, including the Reality Stone, the Space Stone, and the Mind Stone housed in Loki's scepter. He finds Erik Selvig, who takes him to the Water of Sights, where he learns, among other things, that a new being will help destroy Ultron. This prompts him to bring Vision to life upon his return to the Avengers.

As the story winds its way to the climactic events in Sokovia, Thor continues to provide muscle and firepower for the Avengers' plans, and ultimately plays a critical role in foiling Ultron's attempt to exterminate mankind through a global catastrophe. With the super-android defeated, Thor heads off to continue his investigation of the Infinity Stones.

The road to Ragnarok

Up until this point, Thor has faithfully played the part of a royal prince, noble warrior, and mighty Avenger with perfect, if not particularly compelling, precision. However, two years after the events surrounding Ultron, the character takes a bit of a hard left. His search for the Infinity Stones proves to be fruitless, he and Jane Foster "mutually dump" each other, and by 2017, he's being haunted by a new series of dreams, this time revolving around Ragnarok and the destruction of his homeworld.

After exposing Odin as his brother Loki in disguise, the pair travel to Earth in search of their father. Doctor Strange directs them to Norway, where they arrive in time to have some parting words with their dad before he passes away. While initially tragic, the event soon turns into a catastrophe, as Odin's death releases their evil sister, Hela, from thousands of years of imprisonment.

Hela quickly shows her superior powers, as she destroys Mjolnir without skipping a beat. She then prepares to force her brothers to bow to her so she can take her place as the rightful queen of Asgard. At this point, Loki mistakenly summons the Bifrost, allowing Hela to follow them directly to Asgard. While en route, she sends the two brothers hurtling out of the beam and into space, where they're eventually both deposited on the garbage planet of Sakaar. 

Thor becomes a Revenger

On Sakaar, Thor is captured and forced to fight as a gladiator in the Grandmaster's arena, and against his "friend from work," Hulk, no less. After their battle, he helps Bruce Banner regain control over Hulk and then joins with Banner, Valkyrie, and Loki in a daring escape. He leads the ragtag band, called the Revengers, back to Asgard where they plan to overthrow Hela. 

Back on Asgard, the Revengers defeat the goddess of death, but only by unleashing Ragnarok. As Thor's home planet implodes under Surtur's fiery heel, the god of thunder escapes with the Revengers and the survivors of Asgard on a ship that's headed for Earth.

During the short period of time that leads up to Ragnarok, Thor loses his father, his home, most of his people, his hammer, and even his eye while in combat with his sister. Nevertheless, he comes out of the ordeal ready to lead the remnants of his people as their king. Unfortunately, the new king doesn't even finish the trip to Earth before things take an even darker turn.

Thor, Stormbreaker, and Infinity War

Before Thor and the survivors of Asgard get to Earth, they're intercepted by Thanos and his forces. The ensuing encounter leaves half of the Asgardians — including Loki — dead, the ship in tattered ruins, and Thor floating through space with little to no chance of rescue. However, when all hope seems lost, the Guardians of the Galaxy, responding to a distress signal, arrive on the scene and save the king of Asgard from a chilly death in space.

Once he regains consciousness, Thor and the Guardians talk through Thanos and his plans with the Infinity Stones. This leads the Asgardian to commandeer the ship's space pod and head off towards Nidavellir in search of a weapon to replace his beloved Mjolnir. Rocket and Groot tag along, and once the trio gets there, they attempt to convince the dwarf king and master smith Eitri to help them forge the powerful new weapon. Eitri is able to do so, but only after Thor reignites the dormant star forge and takes the full force of its heat in order to keep it operating, a feat that almost kills him. 

Armed with the freshly forged Stormbreaker, Thor summons the Bifrost and hurtles back towards Earth, in order to help his allies and find Thanos. Thor's epic arrival in Wakanda proves timely, and he successfully helps to subdue the hordes of Outriders that threaten to overwhelm the Wakandan defenses.

Going for the head

Thanos arrives in Wakanda in search of the last Infinity Stone not long after Thor. And in a last-ditch effort, the king of Asgard proves stronger than any of the other heroes and lands a solid strike on the Mad Titan with Stormbreaker. However, he aims for the villain's chest, inadvertently allowing the wounded but not-at-all-defeated Thanos to snap his fingers and then disappear.

Thor is devastated by his failure. However, a month later, the Avengers discover Thanos living in retirement on another planet, and the group jumps at the opportunity for revenge. They take Thanos into custody, only to quickly find that the Infinity Stones are destroyed, and it's too late to undo the snap. In a rage, Thor takes Thanos' past advice and decapitates the villain with a single blow.

Over the following five years, Thor helps found New Asgard on Earth, but he eventually leaves the bulk of the administration to Valkyrie. In the meantime, he withdraws with his friends, Korg and Miek, and spends his time drinking beer, playing video games, and slowly slipping into an overweight, despondent state of severe depression.

Thor's resurgence in Avengers: Engdame

When Hulk and Rocket arrive at New Asgard five full years after the snap, they attempt to recruit fat Thor into the Avengers' effort to travel back in time and undo the damage that Thanos has caused. While Thor is initially reluctant, he finally agrees to join the venture when he's promised a whole lot of beer.

From there, the Odinson finds that his task is to time travel with Rocket back to Asgard in 2013, to that very day when his mother dies, in order to retrieve the Aether. Once in Asgard, though, Thor panics and attempts to flee from his responsibilities, leaving Rocket to take care of the unpleasant business all on his own. In the meantime, Thor has a heart to heart with his mother and finds new hope. Summoning Mjolnir, he joins Rocket, and the two head back to the present, arriving at the Avengers facility in upstate New York. 

Once the Infinity Stones are all gathered, Thor offers to be the one to snap Stark's Infinity Gauntlet since he's clearly the strongest Avenger. However, he eventually defers to Hulk, who takes on the responsibility due to his affinity with gamma radiation. After this, Thor — supercharged once again, albeit still overweight — plays a heroic part in the final battle to overthrow Thanos, wielding both Mjolnir and Stormbreaker until he lends the former to the very worthy Captain America.

Thor's MCU future

After the final battle with Thanos is complete and the Mad Titan has been turned to ashes, Thor finally finds himself free to forge his own path for the first time in ages. He surrenders his kingship to the extremely capable Valkyrie and then hitches a ride with the Guardians of the Galaxy, a move that immediately causes friction between himself and the crew's captain, Star-Lord.

The future for Thor is bright, as he's poised to make a splash no matter where he ends up next. He's already been the first Marvel character to ever be given a fourth solo film, which puts him in rare air, to say the least. On top of showing up in the fourth installment of his own franchise, there's also the potential for the hero to soak up some screen time in the third Guardians of the Galaxy film, as well. 

Whether it's in Thor 4, Guardians 3, or another Avengers film, one thing is virtually certain at this point: Whenever he does show up next, the god of thunder is going to bring down the house — both literally and metaphorically speaking.