Thor: Love and Thunder certainly set the table for a fifth film in the Thor franchise with a mid-credit stinger which revealed that the Olympian Prince of Power has been assigned with taking the Odinson down a peg or two. Given Zeus’ command that Hercules knock Thor from the sky and humiliate him, the fifth film has to at least BEGIN on Earth with the two titans trying to prove superiority. However, if you think the whole film is going to be Thor vs. Herc, you’re probably mistaken. The two are more likely to go the Brennan and Dale route from Stepbrothers and, by the end of the first act, realize that they are best friends who need to go on adventures together. With that in mind, here are five potential stories that could be adapted for Thor 5.
Thor: Fear Itself
In classic Marvel Studios fashion, Thor: Fear Itself would have very little in common with the comic event other than borrowing the name, which is damn catchy, and the main antagonist. Family dynamics have often been at the center of the best Thor stories in the comics and in the MCU. Thor: Love and Thunder took a bit of a break from that, but Thor: Fear Itself could return to that winning formula by introducing a pair of terrifying family members: Thor’s uncle Cul Borson and The Midgard Serpent, Jormungand, Thor’s…nephew?
Thor: Ragnarok introduced the idea of Odin keeping some pretty major secrets from everyone, an idea that could come back to haunt Thor and New Asgard. In the comics, Odin imprisoned his brother and Jormungand deep in the oceans of Earth. Having Cul, who becomes known in the comics as “The Serpent” team up with Jormungand, an actual serpent, and do battle with Thor and Herc would allow for some spectacular battle scenes fully in line with two-time director Taika Waititi’s heavy metal sensibilities. Having a long-lost uncle come into play would also give Waititi plenty of room to mess around with some comedy before an absolutely insane third act.
Thor: Journey Into Mystery
One of the greatest characters of Thor’s supporting cast that has yet to hit the MCU is Karnilla, the Queen of Norns. A part of Marvel Comics’ take on Norse Mythology since 1964, Karnilla’s alliances have shifted multiple times over the years, siding with many of Asgard’s enemies, but occasionally siding with Asgard when is served her. Karnilla was always a powerful sorceress and her connection to the Three Norns, the goddesses of fate, and their shared past with both the Asgardian and Greek pantheons could make her the perfect antagonist for Thor: Journey Into Mystery.
Pulling Karnilla into the fifth film could allow for some flashbacks to Asgard, the location of Karnilla’s home, the Nornkeep, during Thor’s younger days and MAYBE allow for Marvel Studios to FINALLY bring another major supporting character off the bench: Balder the Brave, Thor’s brother and Karnilla’s great love. As it turns out, the world of Nornheim already exists in the MCU and was visited by Thor and Loki in their younger days. Given that their trip their was only mentioned in passing during Thor, that trip to Nornheim could become whatever the writer and director of the film want it to be, including a convenient way to introduce a “dead” Balder by adapting a recent series of events from the comics that found him in Niffleheim as the ruler of Hel. With MCU’s Hel needing a new ruler in the absence of Hela, putting Balder on the throne and finding a way to make Thor and Herc end up there as part of a first act “destiny” plot wouldn’t be too hard to pull off.
It would be very Greek of Marvel Studios, and maybe pretty Norse as well, to have Thor and Herc’s partnership fated for them, even against the will of Zeus. Avengers: Age of Ultron teased the Norns a bit with the Water of Sight, so the studio has clearly considered using them, and by proxy their Queen. Given the right touch, Karnilla could be both one of Thor’s greatest villains to date and one whose true intentions the audience is never sure of.
Thor: The Last Days of Midgard
Another Earth-bound adventure worthy of the two heroes teaming up can be found in the same place from which Waititi was inspired to make Thor: Love and Thunder. Jason Aaron’s epic run on Thor introduced not only Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor and Gorr the God Butcher, but also the terrifying CEO of Roxxon oil, Dario Agger. Agger, of course, was gifted (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with the ability to transform into the mythological Greek Minotaur. You can do the calculus for yourself here: angered by Herc’s friendship with Thor, Zeus turns Agger into the Minotaur.
During Aaron’s run, Agger often teamed up with one of Thor’s oldest foes that has yet to make his way to the big screen, Ulik the Troll. In those comics, Thor teamed up with Jane’s Mighty Thor to take on these villains and he’s definitely going to need some help if the two team up to terrorize the MCU. Agger’s ties to Greece and Greek mythology make him the perfect baddie to follow up Zeus’ appearance in the MCU and square off against Hercules in Thor: The Last Days of Midgard. And Agger’s position as the head of Roxxon would also open the door for Waititi, should he return to direct the film, to use the film to bring environmental issues and the climate crisis to light, topics he’s been very vocal on in the past, making The Last Days of Midgard a haunting and appropriate subtitle.
Thor: When Meet the Immortals
Clearly any and all Marvel Studios adaptation of Marvel Comics are growing incredibly loose and this would be no different. Thor: When Meet the Immortals would take inspiration from an arc by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby that began when Thor and Hercules first met in Journey Into Mystery Annual #1 and continued as Journey Into Mystery became retitled as Thor. For the fifth entry into the Thor franchise, Waititi could work to adapt a 7-issue arc that ended with Thor #130.
This arc provides the best opportunity for Waititi to tap into the Stepbrothers-style relationship between Thor and Hercules while also giving them the type of near impossible challenge both have always thrived on in mythology and in the Marvel Comics. After being sent to Earth to humiliate Thor, The Lion of Olympus not only becomes best buds with Odinson but also falls in love with being a superhero. Enraged, Zeus enlists the help another of his offspring, the bloodthirsty Ares. Meanwhile, seeing his brother’s weakness exposed by Thor, Pluto/Hades plots against Zeus and looks to take over Olympus. Alliances change, and Thor saves the day in the third act by defeating Pluto in the “Netherworld.” An adaptation of this old arc allows for some serious god-on-god violence and provides a more appropriate place for Waititi’s trademark humor than Love and Thunder provided.
Thor: Now Ends the Universe
A common complaint about Thor: Love and Thunder was that when it was all said and done, the stakes seemed relatively low. What better way to counter that than to have the greatest stakes imaginable: the end of the universe? And what better way to spite Zeus than to have his son, who he sent to humiliate Thor, work alongside the God of Thunder as a superhero that saves the universe? And what better threat for them to take on than The Hatred Who Walks, Mangog.
While at face value the Mangog might seem like a redundant villain following Gorr the God Butcher, the character actually provides a path to redemption for the franchise following the luke warm reception to the antagonist of Love and Thunder. Just when Thor thinks he can turn the corner and look the the future, the past of his father (and, for the sake of the MCU, Herc’s father, too) comes back to haunt him in the shape of Mangog. In the comics, Mangog, the last of his race, is imprisoned by Odin after the King of Asgard slaughtered his people. We know from Ragnarok that Odin was quite the conqueror with quite few skeletons in the closet. Mangog, who is powered by the hatred of the billion billion beings slaughtered by Odin, would be quite the skeleton.
For the sake of the MCU, it would easy enough to have a cold open that showed Zeus teaming up with Odin to imprison Mangog a thousand years ago or so. Whether it be the destruction of Asgard that set the monster free or perhaps Zeus being weakened after Thor’s attack at Omnipotence City, the end result is that Mangog is free and on the hunt for the film’s MacGuffin: the Odinsword, which has the power to destroy the universe. Mangog’s sheer power makes him more than a match for Thor and Hercules and his absolutely wild appearance would make him an unforgettable antagonist. He seems perfect for Waititi and it’s surprising he’s somehow never made it to the MCU yet.