The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown and changed a great deal since its launch back in 2008, and the story of Thor within that is no exception. The series is one of the originals within the larger franchise, and we have seen the god-like hero and his core supporting characters go through a hell of a lot not only over the course of two solo movies, but in Avengers titles as well. As a result, there's quite a bit to catch up on before the arrival of the latest big screen adventure, director Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok, but it's within that realm that we are here to help.
Just in case you don't have time to watch hours of Marvel movies before going to see Thor: Ragnarok in theaters this weekend, we've thrown together this handy SPOILER-FREE guide to provide all of the information you will need. Where have Thor and Hulk been the last few years? What's Loki's deal? Who is that guy doing all those weird magic tricks? We have the answers to all those questions and more below and on the next few pages, so read on!
Most of the Avengers came together to square off in Captain America: Civil War, but Chris Hemsworth's Thor was a notable exception. Instead, we haven't seen the God of Thunder since the final sequence of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he found himself discussing the magic of Mjolnir with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) at the brand new Avengers facility. He departed the scene with his hammer lifted high in the air, telling his comrades that he would be leaving to search the galaxy for more information about the fabled Infinity Stones. Ultimately this doesn't have a huge impact on the events of Thor: Ragnarok, for reasons best discovered while actually watching the movie, but what is key to know/remember is the base history of the titular hero and where he comes from.
While he's rarely identified with the title, Thor is actually a prince in his home world, Asgard. As the oldest son of the king, Anthony Hopkins' Odin (more on him in a bit), he grew up as the heir apparent to the throne -- but found trouble just as he was first about to be anointed. A petulant and foolish man, he nearly broke a peace treaty and started a war, leading Odin to punish him. Thor was deemed unworthy of Mjolnir -- which gives him the ability to harness lightning and fly -- and he was banished to Earth until he could become humble. It wound up being an opportunity for great growth, and he returned to Asgard as a better hero.
Later, after saving Earth during The Avengers and the whole of the universe during Thor: The Dark World, Thor was once again given the opportunity to rule Asgard as king -- but it was an offer that was turned down. What the God of Thunder didn't realize at the time, however, was that it wasn't actually Odin who was giving him the offer...