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The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero

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Posted May 6, 2011 - By Guest Writer






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The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero

The Mighty Thor is one of Marvel Comics’ majorly overlooked superheroes. Despite his awesome physical strength and otherworldly powers, this god of thunder hasn’t had his own movie or videogame. That changes this week, however, as he’ll finally get what was “Odin” to him: both a live-action film and a third-person action game. And bad puns. But before actor Chris Hemsworth wields the mystical Mjolnir hammer in either overdue experience, we thought Thor’s seven non-starring videogame roles deserved a look. It's Hammer Time, so read on after the break.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero

Marvel Super Heroes was the first videogame in which Thor appeared, but he didn’t even make the fighting roster in this 1995 arcade title that was later ported to PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Instead, playable characters such as Psylocke, Juggernaut and Shuma-Gorath occupied the bottom half of the fighter list, while the god of thunder’s role was relegated to that of an extra. Worse, his background cameo didn’t even include movement. He’s cast in stone alongside other immobile superheroes as part of the final boss stage versus the deadly Thanos. Once Thanos is beaten, Thor and his fellow stone-colored superheroes emerge from their involuntary hibernation and display their true colors. But they never move a muscle.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero

Thor received more than one frame of animation in Capcom’s first MvC title, Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes, but he still wasn’t one of the 18 selectable fighters. As an off-screen partner, he could be randomly assigned to your fighter in a battle and come in to assist during a limited number of clutch situations. Codes would be the only way to override the random selection screen and ensure that your Duo Team Attacks involved Thor or any of the other 21 partner characters.


It wasn’t until this current console generation that Thor became both a playable and selectable character. Marvel Ultimate Alliance released in 2006 on every available platform including the newly launched PS3, and it actually featured him on the box along with seven other iconic superheroes. But even with this cover art perk, the always-overshadowed Thor was placed in the bottom left corner of the box, so the ESRB rating masked part of his hammer-holding pose. His abilities, on the other hand, were not eclipsed.

Moves like Mjolnir’s Might and Mjonir Slam took full advantage of his close-combat skills, while Hammer Toss took out enemies from across the screen. In addition to Thor playing a prominent role in this squad-based title’s story, his evil stepbrother Loki was cast as one of the villains. The menacing god of mischief was the centerpiece in the game’s most memorable, action-filled cutscene when he stormed the gates of Valhalla in Asgard.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero

Another appearance in an isometric action RPG followed with 2009’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. This sequel had everything going for it: improved graphics, awesome power-combining fusion moves and a script based on the pro-Registration vs. anti-Registration Civil War story arc... everything but Thor as a selectable character from the get-go. He was demoted to unlockable status, forcing players to search the game’s maps for five Asgardian Runes in order to add him to their team. Minor Marvel superheroes Penance and Songbird made the roster, while heavyweights Thor and Hulk had to be earned by finding collectables.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero 

Thor returned to starter character and box art status a month later in THQ’s kid-friendly Marvel Super Hero Squad. This Wii, PSP, DS and PS2 title still placed him in the lower-left quadrant of its cover, but at least this time his new pose helped him rise above the shadow of the box’s ESRB rating. Also unable to diminish Thor’s godly abilities were the game’s cute, caricature-filled graphics. A mix of hammer-swinging and lighting-striking attacks powered the game’s story mode. He was even more useful in the PvP battle mode, especially when paired against a superhero like Wolverine. Overhead and out-of-reach, his flying ability aided players in taunting the other overrated superheroes who unfairly have their own videogames.

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet was significant for Thor for two reasons. First, this sequel added Xbox 360 and PS3 to its list of platforms, making it his first appearance on the higher-end systems outside of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance universe. Second, it was his birthday. We know this because the story mode begins with Iron Man and Hulk attempting to buy a new pair of boots for the ageless god of thunder. When their gift gets mixed up with the laundry of Fantastic Four villain Super-Skrull, the pair discovers that Skrull and Thanos are bent on taking over the world with the Infinity Gauntlet in hand, literally. This absurd start to the story reminds us that this is a children’s game. But its presence on Xbox 360 and PS3 meant that kids at heart could enjoy Thor’s birthday quest too.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero 

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds marked Thor’s most recent appearance in a videogame. Though a bit slower than most of the other 35 fighters, he’s a Colossus-comparable brawler and therefore a force to be reckoned with whenever hand-to-hammer combat is involved. Staying on top of your opponent is a must when you select Thor. So is maxing out your hyper meter to perform devastating moves like Mighty Tornado, Super Mighty Smash and Mighty Thunder. A simple and unique way to do this is to employ Thor’s bizarre taunt that has him drone on for several seconds about fighting on behalf of Asgard. It’s as difficult as it is odd, but pulling off this drawn-out speech as a taunt in the midst of a chaotic MvC4 battle will rapidly max out your hyper meter, making it worth it in the end.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero 

We thought that Asgard would freeze over before Thor actually starred in his own videogame. However, Ragnarok isn’t here and, by the power of Odin, Thor: God of Thunder is. This third-person action game has you mowing down enemies by swinging your weapon back and forth and could’ve easily been called God of Thor. Of course, Kratos didn’t have Marvel comic book writer Matt Fraction penning his story.

The Mighty Thor: Videogame's Biggest Sleeperhero 

Even if Rise of the Argonauts developer Liquid Entertainment doesn’t come through with this licensed, movie-expanding game, there’s hope for one more Thor-included videogame this year: Marvel Super Hero Squad Online. It’s clearly aimed at children like the two aforementioned squad-based titles from THQ. However, as adults, we still think that this free-to-play MMO looks promising for Thor and his diminutive superhero allies. Plus, we’re the ones with incredible “credit card” powers, which ensure pesky pre-teens don’t get in the way of our favorite overlooked Avenger.

Which one of these titles is your favorite? And are you going to be hitting the theaters this weekend to see Thor?

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