We come across the story of Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: God of Thunder. And we are pretty much up and running with the villain on issue one. This guy is something of an everyman for the audience to connect with.
Going into the story by Jason Aaron with art by Esad Ribic, the main villain of this title is somewhat of a mystery to the audience, but a well-known antagonist to Thor.
We see a younger version of Thor confronting the figure- a humanoid looking creature cloaked in black, with the ability to summon a weapon from the same black essence comprising his cloak.
As the story progresses, we get little glimpses into the past, the present, and future of what Gorr had been, and what he will become.
We see a past where Gorr takes it upon himself to wreak havoc across the galaxy of gods. The present where he employs the help of his all-black animated hounds to do a bulk of his dirty work. And a future where he is close to his goal of destroying all the gods of the universe, and preserves an aged Thor as the last one to kill.
The story gets a little messy as the present-day Thor employs the use of time travel to make way to his future to find the god-butcher enslaving a multitude of the pantheon of gods to build a bomb. This bomb has the power to rip through time and space to destroy all the gods who ever were or whoever will be.
Gorr’s Past- The Suffering Unheard
It isn’t until issue six of the story that we dive deeper into the history of Gorr, and what he was before. Gorr grew up as a normal child on a barren planet. His mother was devoured by beasts, despite their many prayers to the gods for their protection. He eventually becomes a husband, and a father, only to watch his pregnant wife get swallowed up by the earth and his son withers away from starvation.
Wishing to bury his offspring only to be told to do so would be blasphemy by his highly superstitious brethren, he forsakes their way, and they leave him to die alone in the harshness of their planet’s desert sun.
It is at this point he happens upon the conclusion of a battle between two gods. One with golden armor, and another clad in black. Plunged in the chest of the golden armored god, is the black blade, the Necrosword. This blade belongs to Knull the symbiote god. Another story for another day.
Gorr starts chiding the injured golden god. He is pissed that they would choose squabbling amongst themselves rather than helping their worshipers in their time of need.
His anger at the quibbling gods gains the attention of the All-Black Necrosword, and it finds its new host in the forlorn creature.
Gorr, now equipped with the power of a god-slaying weapon, uses it to travel the galaxy to search for other gods to slay.
Lessons to Learn
There are two things going on in the morality story of what’s being put on the pages here. Maybe three. It’s not so much the story of abandonment by the deities that comes across. It’s rather a false sense of reliance on such things rather than the power and resilience of self to endure throughout life’s hardships. They call this perseverance. And Gorr, and many of his race, seem to rely on waiting for the gods to answer their prayers rather than making things happen on their own.
Another somewhat lesson that happens to come across is blame. It isn’t warranted, it isn’t focused. It’s just anger at the world and putting the blame on something or everything because it isn’t how we want or expect it to be. For this and the previous lesson, the audience may relate to Gorr more than they do Thor. But the lesson learned from Gorr’s example is that circumstances of demise or fortune are completely of our own making. As is the lesson Gorr learns before his head is removed and his power is lost. But the reader gets a sense that he lost both of those long ago.
It’s a short story that tests the waters of our own humanity versus that of the ever-blaming Gorr. There’s a lot of things wrapped up in these issues. We have misplaced faith and the strength and staying power of belief systems, and the dangers of trusting in power that changes us from what we once were to monsters.
Gorr the God Butcher eventually becomes the thing he hated the most in all the galaxy. And Thor learns a lesson as well, as he seeks to mend his ways after his encounter to start visiting the planets and peoples whose prayers had been long neglected.
Gorr to Print to Film
Whatever elements Marvel decides to use for Gorr in the next film, there’s a lot to work with. Heck, there’s enough here that’d make Gorr a solid villain who the audience can relate to. Like they did for Kilmonger in Black Panther. Or Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
There are hints and rumors that the next Thor: Love and Thunder film may use Gorr to some extent. But there may be some change to his background. Because trying to get the weapon of Knull the symbiote god might be a contractual property challenge for the studio.
The current run of King Thor by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic continues the story of Gorr. But this time, the All-Black has found a new host in Loki. Unbeknownst to the old King Thor, the essence of Gorr is infused in the All-Black. And it fuels Loki’s murderous intent towards his brother. So despite Gorr losing his head in a previous run, he doesn’t remain dead. Comics, right?