Spoiler alert: Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War had a lot of superheroes. Almost every hero from the 18 previous Marvel movies teamed up for the battle against Thanos and his weird chin. This offered an embarrassment of onscreen riches, and nearly every one of the heroes, from Spider-Man and Star-Lord to Okoye and The Hulk (sort of) got their solo, oh-shit! moment of badassery. But when the dust cleared, one hero clearly stands head and burly shoulders above the rest to become the best character: Thor. The Asgardian god of thunder fulfilled his destiny to become a selfless space pirate and establish himself as the strongest, funniest, and greatest Avenger in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thor starts out in a pretty dark place in Infinity War. He gets his ass kicked by Thanos, witnesses some pretty shocking deaths, and is marooned in space. But, from the moment he is scooped up by the Guardians of the Galaxy, he’s all charm and bicep-flexing. He casually recruits the Peter Quill and crew with pure charisma and then heads to Nidavellir with Groot and Rocket to get Peter Dinklage’s help channeling the power of a literal star (the gate of which he opened using his biceps) to create, Stormbreaker, an enchanted battle axe that is essentially the Avengers’ only shot at stopping Thanos from wiping out half the earth’s population.
And it turns out everyone’s favorite swaggering Norse god was only getting started. He shows up during the Avengers’ last stand in Wakanda to destroy most of the oncoming monsters and do what the rest of his super buddies couldn’t: Prove Thanos isn’t unbeatable. While Thor isn’t quite able to down Thanos — he should have aimed for the head — it seems logical that if any of the remaining Avengers are going to kill the Titan in the next film, it’s going to be the king of Asgard.
But there’s a lot more that’s propelled Thor to the top of his super-powered class. Ragnarok made it clear that Thor had low-key become the funniest character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he continued to use his matter-of-fact optimism and adorable ignorance to get bigger laughs than Stark, Star-Lord, and Spider-Man combined. Thor’s casual banter and enthusiasm is so juxtaposed with the grim tone of the movie that it feels borderline absurd. But it works.
His biggest laughs come from his odd-couple partnership with Rocket, the cynical, fast-talking, gun-toting Raccoon. Their back and forth results in several of the movies biggest laugh-out-loud moments, including Thor innocently assuming that Rocket is a rabbit. Hopefully, these two stick together in the Infinity War sequel to provide some much needed comic relief as the remaining Avengers try to find a way to get half the population to reappear, including Rocket’s best buddy Groot. And when, alongside the Guardians, he declares himself a space-pirate it just works. Space-pirate Thor!? Hell yeah.
Thor, of course, more than quips and comedic timing. He’s strong enough to survive the power of a dying star and survive floating in space for what seems to have been a long time. He also had some of the most sympathetic character moments in Infinity War. He watched his brother and best friend die at the massive hands of Thanos and worked hard to befriend the new characters he met.
Thor’s interactions with the Guardians were among the most human and grounded scenes in the entire film, as he managed to connect with Rocket over using pain and loss as a motivator while sympathizing with Gamora over the complicated feelings that come with having less-than perfect family members. Thor even managed to connect with Groot because he revealed can speak Groot’s language because of course he can.
Thor’s supernatural ability to be charming and decent in every conceivable way may seem obvious but anyone familiar with the character knows that he had a long and difficult path to reach this point. In the original Thor film, the god of thunder is banished to earth by Odin for being as, as Odin says, a “vain, greedy, cruel boy.”
It was a harsh assessment but not an unfair one, as the Thor we first met was charming and powerful but arrogant and devoid of empathy and selflessness required to be considered a true hero. And so Thor is forced to do a lot of soul-searching during his time on our planet and by the end of the film, he has matured enough to wield his mighty hammer and return to Asgard.
But his journey to be the best version of himself was only beginning. Unlike many of the other members of the Avengers, Thor refused to be complacent and remain the same from film to film. Instead, over the course of Thor’s time in the MCU, he continued to allow his experiences to shape him and forced himself to look inward to discover what he needed to change in order to live up to his otherworldly reputation. His character arc may be more subtle than Iron Man or Captain America but that only makes his triumphant presence in Infinity War that much more satisfying. Looking back, who knew how much fun Thor would become? His leveling-up feels authentic.
The next Avengers film is gearing up to be a “one last mission” for the original super crew and while Thor was once little more than a hunky afterthought in the grand scheme of the MCU, he’s the best of the bunch. So while Iron Man and Captain America continue to fight over who’s really in charge and Bruce Banner tries to get his groove back, Thor will casually drop jokes and bad guys while bonding with, well, everyone. Long live Space-Pirate Thor.