With the recent release of Thor Ragnarok and the general love audiences have been showing for the film, it leaves one wondering just when the blonde god stole the thunder away from the rest of the Norse mythological figures. Granted, there have been plenty of movies, TV shows, games and even music revolving around Vikings and their gods, but we wanted to take a trip to Valhalla and show some of the most popular examples of Vikings and Norse mythology in popular culture that we could find. Let’s start with a work that began its life as a novel and just recently made its screen debut on Starz.
American Gods (Odin)
Odin has gone by many names in his long, storied history, but readers of the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods know him best as Wednesday. Although neither the television show nor the original novel focuses solely on the character but instead showcases worldwide mythology, Odin is paid special tribute as he’s one of the main characters throughout both pieces. Not only does the All Father make a notable appearance in the production, but the familiar trickster Loki plays a pivotal role in the book as well.
Veteran actor Ian MacShane takes up the mantle of the old man here. If you’re interested to learn more about the actor playing the part along with the rest of the first season cast – which includes a lanky leprechaun, a couple of Slavic deities and a slew of “new gods,” one of which that’s played by X-Files star Gillian Anderson – be sure to check out our actor intro article right now. It might not completely ooze with the Norse goodness that you’re looking for, but it sure does put an interesting spin on Thor’s father and brother. Although season one wrapped up months ago, season two has been given the green light with no release date so keep your eyes peeled for that.
On September 12, Vikings was renewed for a sixth season ahead of the November 29 premiere of the fifth season. Although the television show doesn’t focus on Norse mythology per se, it does portray Viking life in a way that people seem to be loving. With an average viewership of 2.2 million throughout its fourth season, numbers that show consistent interest in the show even though the series premiere drew an impressive six million viewers in the United States. With the fifth season fast approaching and the promise of the sixth season in the future, there’s no telling how popular this History Channel show might get.
God of War 4
Apparently, the god of war got bored beating up Zeus and Co. in his previous trilogy and is looking to test his grit against the likes of Thor, Loki and fire giants in his fourth numbered title. If the way Kratos dealt with Ares in God of War 3 is any indication, Thor should think twice before picking up the hammer. Kratos is also stepping away from his title of lone wanderer and towards dad of the year as footage from this year’s E3 showcased the god fighting alongside what appeared to be his son. While it hasn’t been revealed which of the Norse icons the newly bearded Kratos would be fighting, Sony has put up a website for the game where you can get a lot of spoiler-free information and upcoming updates. It’s complete with Norse imagery and most importantly Kratos’ new axe, a Viking-inspired axe laced with glowing runes.
Speaking of one of the Vikings’ most recognizable weapons since the days of the legendary arcade title Golden Axe, Viking-like warriors have graced video games and helped us hack away at hordes of enemies. The Norse mythology-themed slot game Thunderstruck 2 gives the feeling of amassing treasure like Vikings without actually pillaging anything. On top of that, recognizable icons are sprinkled throughout the experience as cartoon portraits of Odin, Loki, Valkyrie and more make appearances throughout. The pictures even animate during the game as lightning shoots across coloured panels and runes are etched into stone frames around the action. The title makes an appearance alongside other familiar themes in slots such as Moby Dick, Bridesmaids and even Phantom of the Opera. So if slot machines can use the high-energy action of Norse mythology, it’s no wonder Kratos is getting in on some of the fun with his next game. We’ll just have to wait until 2018 to see how the move pans out for the brute.
Now maybe it makes a bit more sense as to why we’re handing out a copy of one of the oldest Viking movies out there. It’s because it’s not all about Thor, and if you wholeheartedly believe that, we’re sure you’ll be checking out the above media as soon as it hits a theatre, TV or video game console near you.