the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

The Hero’s Journey- Thor (Disney/Marvel Studios)


I have had trouble, dear readers, compiling more serial posts for the Hero’s Journey category this past year, so, I present you with something ready-made.

This presentation was done by a father and son team, for the son’s 5th grade English class.  The video segments are from the Disney/Marvel Studios motion picture THOR (based on the Marvel comic book character of the same name):

Please note that Cimmorene and I have some objections to how the Stages are laid out here.  What is here labeled “Reward” falls to The Ultimate Boon stage.  Indeed, this is what Christopher Vogler also calls “Seizing the Sword”.  I’m going to bet that the display of Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer) in rock was very intentional here, to evoke comparisons to Arthurian legends of the sword in the stone (which was not Excalibur originally, but fused with the Lady of the Lake’s gift in modern reinterpretations).  Resurrection/Transformation/Rebirth occurs here, and not at the scene of Thor destroying the Rainbow Bridge between Asgard and Midgard (Earth, or literally, “Middle-Earth”, which I assume was the inspiration of J.R.R. Tolkien).  The destruction of the Rainbow Bridge would be Crossing of the Return Threshold.  While peace is restored to Asgard and Earth, what is labeled Return with Elixir should be called Atonement with the Father, since it is apparent that not only did Mjölnir come to be wielded by someone worthy as Odin All-Father declared, but that Odin himself confirmed that Thor was worthy, and deserving of fatherly praise.

The Hero's Journey: The Abyss

For those comic book and folklore aficionados that care– Thor, as he was presented in Marvel Comics originally, was Donald Blake, a crippled doctor who knew nothing of his origin as Thor.  When the doctor learned of the legend and found the hammer, he spoke the name of Odin to become Thor, his cane becoming Mjölnir.  Later his memory was restored, and Thor learned that he became the mortal Donald Blake to learn humility.  This is not mentioned in the film; the name Donald Blake is instead said to be an ex-boyfriend of the movie’s romantic female character.  Also, in the original Norse tales, Loki is brother to Odin, and is therefore Thor’s uncle.

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Surfer descends into The Abyss: Enter Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet

Quick confession: I only read through the main Infinity Gauntlet storyline just recently– a few days ago, actually.  I don’t think I missed too much.  The overall storyarc isn’t too deep: it was basically a way for Marvel to showcase their characters of cosmic importance.  After all, the main story begins with the Silver Surfer crashing into Dr. Stephen Strange‘s abode to warn him that Thanos has assembled the Infinity Gauntlet– and is using its infinite power to destroy life in the universe to court Death herself.

To be fair, it’s also a way for Marvel to get readers to read all of their titles, since each of them had individual stories of how their experiences were impacted by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.

First, however, I’ll share this video by that sums up quickly the origin and history of Thanos:

It’s been said that the Infinity Gauntlet is essentially about the Silver Surfer, and I agree.  Moreover, the crossovers into the main Silver Surfer title reveal a rather intellectual battle between Thanos and Surfer.  He is another example of Man As Temptor.

Using the power of the Mind Gem (one of six comprising the power of the Gauntlet), Thanos learns of a dark secret when the Surfer was still Norrin Radd.  Not only had Jartran Radd been accused of intellectual theft, a heinous crime in Zenn-La, he had committed suicide when Norrin refused to grant him forgiveness.

Thanos confronts Surfer with this secret, and more, before allowing him to resume his mad dash to Earth, to warn Dr. Strange.

Thanos was dead, and hasn’t fully resurrected yet. Here he is in a stone husk form, and merely a head at this point.

I guess it’s the last panel, in part, that leads reviewer Mark Ginocchio to call the brutal accusations of Thanos mental and emotional rape.

Mephisto was never this brutal.

It is here that readers learn for the first time not only about Norrin Radd’s parents, but the decadence and hedonism that had brought about a decline in Zenn-Latvian society.  Thanos is relentless in his accusations, and eventually, it breaks the Surfer down psychologically and physically, leading to dark emotions of vengeance and doubt.

Artist Ron Lim gives the Silver Surfer a wicked grin as his board smashes the stone husk form of Thanos into a plethora of pieces.

[Images via Comic Book Resources: Gimmick or Good? – Silver Surfer #50]

No wonder the Surfer is in really bad shape by the time he reaches the abode of Dr. Strange.

 photo InfinityGauntlet1p36.jpg

Surfer’s struggles with Thanos are elaborated in the main Silver Surfer title.  Two issues I am familiar with (thanks to a friend) are #55 and #56

Where Surfer failed against Thanos…

…and Surfer is forced to chronicle perpetual death in the universe. Note that Lady Death is finally a doting companion to Thanos.

We learn at the end of #56 that this is just a horrid imagination of the Surfer.

Oh, so it was just my imagination?

Oh, so it was just my imagination?

Now Surfer is REALLY off to play his part.

Now Surfer is REALLY off to play his part.

(These images are scanned in from my copy of #56. They first appeared way back in 2009, at VOX, under the post title Apocryphal.)

I know that this is an incomplete note to end on, dear readers, but I am out of material again.  The tale of the Silver Surfer, especially as Stan Lee tells it, goes through many of stages of the Monomyth, but as far as I am aware, the main continuity of the Marvel universe does not allow Norrin Radd to go through some of the most important stages, like Apotheosis, Master of Two Worlds, and Freedom to Live.  Perhaps there is material to be found in “Parable”, written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Jean Giraud, a.k.a. Moebius.

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Teaser introduction to the Silver Surfer and the Hero’s Journey

The trial period for the spinal cord stimulator is over; the leads have been out for two days now. Since I’m waiting to see about the permanent implant and I’m not sure how much wrestling I’ll do with pain until then, I’ll be reworking and reposting some series I’ve done earlier.

Many years ago, I remember asking my mother which superhero I most looked like.  She said I looked most like the Silver Surfer.

I wasn’t well acquainted with comic books at that time.  I knew of the ones that most children know of through Saturday cartoons, TV series, and blockbuster movies, but I didn’t really know of Surfer.

I’d seen the cover art for Joe Satriani’s “Surfing With The Alien” (which turns out to be lifted from John Byrne’s art for Stan Lee’s Silver Surfer #1):



I slowly learned more about the Surfer, however, especially when the Infinity Gauntlet crossover story in Marvel Comics hit.  The more I learned, the more I found I related to.  He’s a very deep, deep character, IMHO (despite what some Marvel writers have said on camera).

Then in 2008, Daisy Barringer asked VOX bloggers this question for the Question of the Day:

 What fictional character do you relate to most and why?

and this was my answer:

Not as I am, but who I must become.

When I reblogged this last year to kick off the series of the Silver Surfer and the Hero’s Journey, I added these words:

There are shades of the Monomyth in this herald from Zenn-La, but I ask a rhetorical question: how do you suppose I would see myself in Norrin Radd?


The Infinity Gauntlet

Silver Surfer vs Minion of Lady Death


NEXT POST IN THE SERIES: A Hero’s Journey: Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer

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