film.Antrikshy | Thoughts on film and games

On Thor's Lifespan


As the Marvel Cinematic Universe chugs along building an increasingly complex story comprising of episodic movies and dozens of seasons’ worth of TV series, I often find myself nitpicking some of the littler details in the franchise. This is a big compliment, by the way. The fact that the fandom, including myself, frequently discusses these things goes to say how air tight (though not 100%) and entertaining the continuity has been so far.

One of those nitpicks has to do with the way characters with very long lifespans are portrayed in the MCU, and generally in fiction.

This post is me expanding on a Reddit comment I wrote recently.

Card

In Avengers: Endgame, Thor finally confirms that he is over 1,500 years old. We know from earlier entries in the franchise, like Thor, that the character is very much the same demigod from Norse mythology. We’ve known he was old, but it was fun to see an actual number put to it.

Presumably, other Asgardians are similarly long-lived as him.

The Relativity Of Time

Time is the one fundamental thing that unites our perception of the world. The reason days, weeks, months and years feel as long or short as they do is because we perceive time in relation to our cumulative life experiences up to that moment. I’m sure it’s possible to go out of your way to change your mindset around the experience of time, but I’m thinking of the baseline human experience.

I hope there’s some truth to this and I’m not just projecting when I say all this.

This makes me postulate that any being who knows that they will live for multiple Earth-millennia will likely not live their live their lives in a way that us humans 80-90 year lifespan humans can relate to.

From our human perspective, long-lived Asgardians should probably look a lot sluggish and sloth-like as they go about life. Got some Frost Giants to fight? Let’s gear up in 4 Earth-years, what’s the hurry?

While it was more than likely not intentional, but I feel that we see a hint of this in Thanos over the years. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry finish his Infinity Stones project. He spent about 6 years floating around in space, sending minions around before committing to do it himself. Still pretty quick on the cosmic scale, but it’s something.

If we assume all this to be true, the cosmic chapters of the MCU thus far have chronicled an extremely rapid pace of events that took place between 2011 and 2023. We saw Thor go from being an angsty prince character, to dating a pet-like creature (Jane) for basically a blink of his eye, to losing both his parents, his home realm, and most people he grew up around, all while getting whiplashed through various adventures that ended with him saving the universe. I’m amazed he was able to mentally and emotionally keep up with all of it.

Anchoring Things Differently

Another possibility is that none of my hypotheses are correct.

It may be that everybody’s perception of time is more deeply anchored around the day-night cycle instead. I’m no psychologist, but I sure can make up headcanon about alternate timelines!

As someone who doesn’t read comics, I’m not sure how the day-night cycle works (worked?) in Asgard. I don’t think it’s clearly laid in the MCU so far. But we do see nighttime Asgard at least in Thor: The Dark World, and it’s not treated as a long-term event from what I recall.

For simplicity’s sake, let us imagine that Asgardians eat, drink and sleep on a cycle similar to us humans. Given that they physically resemble us so much, we can also presume we were all seeded by common species elsewhere in space. And possibly, we all have common time perception characteristics embedded in our DNA (and whatever the Asgardian equivalent is). Maybe that’s why Thor, Loki, and other Asgardians we know and love make decisions, set goals, and fulfill them in a way that’s relatable to us puny humanfolk.

It’s more fun for me to suspend disbelief and lean into the experiences that screenwriters craft for us. So for the sake of verisimilitude, I’m going to assume this is the correct hypothesis.


Talk to me via Twitter and check out my stuff on GitHub.