Tie dye photo by
Billy Alexander

I’ve been working on a massively awesome D-Pad Damsels post in which I defend Thor’s honor as Best Avenger Ever. I was thinking about why Thor is awesome and why I personally like him, and in contemplating this, I realized that I think it’s nifty that he’s incredibly belligerent and war-like yet has been called a hippie.

I relate. I think we all have a gentle, caring, protective side that can easily cause us to turn violent when we perceive threats.

Back in high school, I was totally a neo-hippie, and that included being a pacifist. Now I see why violence is sometimes necessary, although I think it should be the final option in most situations. That said, I understand Thor’s desire to act in both ways, especially in the comics. This conflict also represents a struggle at the time for Marvel, and it was important enough for them to address in the comic.

Back in the 60s, Thor was mistaken for a hippie more than once, likely due to his stylish golden locks and odd manner of dress. However, Thor had an encounter with some hippies. Now when you think about misunderstood heroes in the Marvel universe, Thor might not be the first person to come to mind. If you follow the movies, you might actually think that could describe Loki instead (he totally has an army supporting this sentiment, of course).

A cursory read of the above-linked scene might go something like this:

  • Thor is trying to track down Loki because Loki is causing trouble (as usual). *
  • Hippies insult Mjolnir.
  • Thor gloats about the fact that they are not worthy to lift Mjolnir and cannot.
  • Thor bullies hippies.

Even with all of my pro-Thor bias, that’s how I read it the first time. Then I read it again and saw it as more like this:

  • Thor is trying to track down Loki because Loki is causing trouble (as usual). *
  • Hippies misunderstand the reason for Thor carrying a hammer.
  • Thor uses Mjolnir as a means of teaching the hippies.
  • Thor respects the hippies’ quest for innocence and enlightenment. His words are not damning.
  • Despite the fact that he starts swinging Mjolnir around in a semi-violent way, his words are far from contrary to the counterculture he addresses: “The true guru thou seeketh doth lie within thyselves!” That’s radical (in all senses of the word) coming from a character who is revered as a god.

I’m not very athletic, so beyond the whole ‘ooh Thor is so hot’ I think people often wonder why I would like a character often regarded as a brutish jock. That’s the thing, though — Thor is hardly that simple. 

As usual, Thor doesn’t understand the surface lingo, like ‘dropping out’ (zoning out, doing drugs–or dropping out of school) or even the colloquial ‘man,’ yet his distance from human culture gives him a refreshing perspective on what those words truly mean. I don’t think he’s pushing people towards violence; he’s just saying that if you’re fed up with the man, you need to stand up for yourself, not tune out.

Once again Thor recognizes human potential when humans themselves miss it.

“When life doth seem too much to bear–’tis not time to renounce the struggle.” That’s pretty timeless advice and it certainly applies to the recent tough times America has faced.

Thor recognizes the positive intentions of the hippies and their movement. He is fond of their quest for enlightenment. His point is that they simply can’t achieve anything in a fight against authority if they stand idly by, drugged and disorganized.

Thor might be a couple millenia over 30 — but I think they should trust his advice.

I really don’t see how anyone could read this as Marvel, Jack Kirby, or the character himself hating on hippies. I constantly sympathize with counterculture and I think it reflects the ethos of someone torn between wanting to support the hippies’ ideology and (much like a parent to a child) wanting to guide them in the right direction. It’s hard for Thor to realize that sometimes humans need to make their own mistakes and that we can’t just absorb centuries of wisdom and live it. It’s got to be frustrating for Thor, because he does care very much for humans.

* Note: The only constant here is basically that Loki is causing trouble (shout out to Loki’s Army–nothing but love for you, friends).

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