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Should Marvel's God Characters Be Vulnerable To Death?

What is it that sets God-like characters like Thor, Loki and Ares apart from other superheroes?

In many ways comic books are a reflection of reality: they are inspired by culture, tradition, mythology and things in our everyday lives, so it is no wonder why when Marvel Comics first began developing their superhero line of books, creators Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby looked to things they already knew, things that already existed, like Norse and Greek mythology, for example, and injected them into their stories. The result was the introduction of characters like Ares, the God of War from Greek mythology and Thor, from Nordic tradition, to name two. These characters were brought into the Marvel universe and, although different, maintained many of the same characteristics of the concepts from whence their creators drew their inspiration. So what makes them stand apart from regular comic book characters? Looking at God like characters in comics (Marvel in particular), aside from being very powerful characters, what is it that makes them Gods?

If were were to remove this idea that mortals once worshipped these omnipotent beings; there would really be nothing that sets these characters apart from other powerful characters who aren't considered "Gods." Gods, like any other characters, are able to die. In fact, looking at the current THOR: GOD OF THUNDER, this happens to be exactly the premise for the current story line. In this series by Jason Aaron, the Gods are being murdered by Gorr, also known as "The God Butcher." The focus is on Thor in three different periods of his life: as a young man, in his middle years, and as an old man who is nearing death and in each period he is being stalked by Gorr, who has made it his goal to kill each and every God that exists. Though, if Gods can be killed, what sets them apart from omnipotent characters like Hyperion and the Sentry? The answer is, nothing.

== TEASER ==

In fact, during SIEGE, after being manipulated by Norman Osborn during Dark Reign, the Sentry managed to not only kill Ares, the God of War, but also Loki. After Bob succumbed to The Void, the Sentry made it his mission to eradicate Loki. In this moment, in their final battle, Loki stood absolutely no chance against him (the Void). Now, sure, Loki has since return and taken other forms (he is currently a much younger version of himself), but should Loki and Ares have been killed in the first place? Doesn't the death of God characters make them just like any other character? I mean, if they can be killed (and really very easily, too, as we all saw during SIEGE) then what is the point of calling them Gods at all?

Death itself as a concept in comics is something of a contentious issue, never mind the deaths of God like characters. Once something that was very rarely used in story lines, death in comics have become as common as a superhero's insignia! Character deaths have become a trope: something so commonly used that it's become the norm. As a result, I think many of us (unfortunately, myself included) have become a bit numb to the idea of death in comics. Very rarely do we find ourselves reading a death in comics without almost immediately thinking "well, that character will be back." And although each character death should be significant, are they? In fact, this issue is such a hot topic that we recently asked various creators to sound off on whether or not they felt that comic book character deaths should be permanent during Emerald City Comicon. Because the deaths of regular superheroes (and their imminent returns to comics after being killed) are so common, it is no wonder why the death of Gods in comics are really not that big of a deal. If Gods in comics (Marvel, specifically) were unable to die, and were truly immortal, their deaths would not only be more significant, but they would (as characters) be seen as more powerful. These characters are, after all, "Gods."

What do you think? Do you think there should be less death in comics? Do you think God characters should be written to be immortal and not so mortal like the people that supposedly worship them? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

145 Comments
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Posted by Naamah_Obyzouth

Yes

I hate how weak the gods are portrayed by Marvel. It literally sickens me.

Edited by guttridgeb

I think god deaths should work like the Eternals but the time it takes them to come back is linked to the way people think of them - if it's worship (in the old days) or respect (for modern god heroes like Thor), they'll decrease the amount of time taken.

Posted by cameron83

@Naamah_Obyzouth said:

Yes

I hate how weak the gods are portrayed by Marvel. It literally sickens me.

It's just the same (or even worse) in DC.

But yeah,they should be immortal and powerful...like how Thor Is portrayed.I love it.But I also love how they are not invincible.

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Posted by nerdork

@Naamah_Obyzouth said:

Yes

I hate how weak the gods are portrayed by Marvel. It literally sickens me.

Man...you must always be nauseous reading comic books these days.

Posted by BlueLantern1995

Gods need to die.

Posted by Naamah_Obyzouth

@cameron83: Gods should be thought to be invincible by most. They should only be afraid of others of their same standing. Gods should share contest with other Gods... Normal men and women, even ones that are considered Superhuman should NOT be able to harm them without going to drastic measures. That is my honest opinion on the matter, and yes. Both DC and Marvel have been failing us in this department as of late.

Posted by StMichalofWilson

@cameron83 said:

@Naamah_Obyzouth said:

Yes

I hate how weak the gods are portrayed by Marvel. It literally sickens me.

It's just the same (or even worse) in DC.

But yeah,they should be immortal and powerful...like how Thor Is portrayed.I love it.But I also love how they are not invincible.

This

Posted by rondoudou

@Naamah_Obyzouth: they are called gods because they are somehow metaphyically connected to the culture they are or where worshipped in, but yes the gods in marvel dont often seem powerful enough, like Ares, the god of war should have near infinite strength!

Posted by SC

Well one important difference as far as Marvels Earths deities is that they descended from Demiurge and Gaea in a round about way. That and they were worshipped. In real life thats where the actual term god originates as far as its etymology. Of course anyone that has a passing interest in cults will be aware of many humans who have claimed to be gods in their lifetimes, and technically in many ways arguably they sort of were if they had followers and worshippers. Of course the world has many religious people so the term god often has to mean something much more than that, so we get God where there use to be gods. How this relates to comics is that characters like Hulk, Wolverine, Aunt May, Spider-man, Willie Lumpkin, Sentry, could all be gods potentially, for a combination of power to inspire and awe others, or by a cult of personality, surviving and lasting so long as to inspire worship, or just somehow accumulating worshippers and followers that invoke their names. So the application of god really depends on the application of the definition. Marvel often applies the definition of god that has the criteria of relating top my earlier point about Demiurge and Gaea (and Atum expelling elder god energy - tying into Gorr since he travelled in time to actually kill an infant elder god) but its also possible to deconstruct the Marvel usage and the real life usage.

Consider immortality. Its only really relative. Some characters may die after 200 years, some 1000, some 200, 000. To put in perspective though, even a character like Galactus can die, and even a character like Eternity and Infinity have ceased to exist and or undergone some sort of transformation at the end of the universe to usher in a new universe (Marvel seems fond of the big expansion and big crunch universe structure as opposed to heat death of the universe structure) so yes even then supposed immortals will die. So in my opinion it doesn't really matter in the general sense and only matters really on a case by case basis a good death being a good death and a bad death being a bad death. Then it depends what you mean by death because technically speaking we don't even really actually have a hard consensus of what constitutes death and its definition has change so much over time just like life. Which is to say not to get lost in all the details, writer should know good constructive writing versus bad cheap writing and weighing up the costs and benefits.

Nice article!

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Posted by Wolfrazer
@Naamah_Obyzouth:  Agreed on that, but then it kinda limits on who the gods could face other then other gods. But ya still I agree....DC has been moreso, they barely use their versions and when they do they get beat down or they only appear once or twice, or they appear but don't really do anything. But Marvel has been doing that too...but it isn't as obvious, cause their versions actually do stuff.
Posted by ScottyHawkeye

yes

i hate it when people call thor marvel strongest hero because he's a god

hulk is the strongest one there is

Posted by Naamah_Obyzouth

@rondoudou: I agree. I just feel that there is absolutely no point in even giving a character the title of God or Goddess, and then demolishing the very sentiment by showering them with low end feats, or using them as jobbers.

Posted by Pwok21

@ScottyHawkeye:

Can't tell if serious or trolling.

Posted by DJ1107

No. we wouldn't have someone as f***ing metal as Gorr if Gods were immortal. That plus most Marvel deities are strong enough as it is.

Posted by Mutant God

Zeus is very powerful he beat Hulk easily

Posted by WiqidBritt

The 'God' in the Marvel comics have often been described as being powerful, extra-dimensional aliens. In that respect, they shouldn't be any more resistant to death than any other top level power characters, but maybe have an easier time of coming back from the dead.

To me, Marvel's 'true Gods' have always been the cosmic Abstract Personifications. Such as the Living Tribunal, Eternity, Oblivion, Death and the One Above All.

When Thor was gone after the Ragnarok storyline, the weather on earth didn't go out of control, it was as it always was.

Having characters that can't be threatened at all would be rather boring after a while, because you know, when it comes right down to it, Thor will crush the baddie with his hammer and that'll be that.

The Norse Gods in particular are interesting in that, even in their own non-marvel story, all but two of them die anyway, so it's not just Marvel taking a God and making him weak to fit their stories.

Posted by argusx

@cameron83 said:

@Naamah_Obyzouth said:

Yes

I hate how weak the gods are portrayed by Marvel. It literally sickens me.

It's just the same (or even worse) in DC.

But yeah,they should be immortal and powerful...like how Thor Is portrayed.I love it.But I also love how they are not invincible.

Can you explain that? In marvel the average god gets taken down by low superhumans but in DC the average god can smack around heralds so how is it worse in DC.

Edited by rondoudou

@Babs: i guess than can be called gods because they get resurrected alot more easier than "mortal" characters,so the deaths of god characters are not like anyother as well i remember Ares once said to his son that gods can get killed a lot but never die

Posted by frozenedge

I do think their should less coming back from the dead in comics. There should be a limit to how many times a characters soul could handle being restored to a flesh and blood body. After say 3-5 times, a persons soul should be on the verge of ceasing to exist. For characters like gods, it should take something god-like powerful to kill them.

Posted by tensor

Marvel concept of god is a big joke ,hulk smack around thor all the time an reed richards is smarter than him.If it was me writing thor an other gods in marve,he l would be more on galactus level.

Posted by NightRunner

@Naamah_Obyzouth: Norse Gods like Thor where still able to die in their Mythos before comics. I would say that what you are saying should apply to Greek Gods and other Deities. But I do see your point Gods should be a tier above normal super humans and incredibly hard to beat at that.

Posted by Naamah_Obyzouth

@NightRunner: True... But Wolverine is more of a God then Ares was... Does that seem right to you?

Posted by saoakden

I figure if something can bleed, it can die. Though this is comics books so anything can go these days. I've seen gods portrayed in other media get killed. Example: the God of War series.

Posted by JamesKM716

Yes, But it shouldn't be as easy as Marvel makes it look

Posted by SC

People are also bringing up Norse mythology a bit too as far as gods dying and yes with Ragnarok the gods did die, but much like Marvel it wasn't a true death, but a cycle. This reflects the people of the time who were invested in this mythology. Gods and mythologies reflect their people and exists for a number of affects, to inspire, encourage, punish and keep in check, and the people who lived in the times believing in Norse gods were very different than the Greeks who believed in Greek gods. Definitions and understanding about things such as death and true death and so on appropriately reflect this naturally. Its worth bearing that in mind when talking about death. Key in point consider the very nature of the Phoenix and its supposed role in the end and beginnings of Universes, the cycle of rebirth and how it ushered in Galactus.

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Posted by evilvegeta74

Blame it on the horrible writers

Posted by seekquaze

@Babs: For starters, yes there should be less death in comics. It has gotten to be such a joke that character IN COMICS joke about it. That is one thing about the Ultimate line or comics from other companies by a single writer...death is something serious because it is more permanent.

As for gods, what sets them apart from characters like Hyperion and Sentry is they have some sort of internal mystical power and a creatures of magic whereas others are products of science. Some writers have tried to portray this in comics which makes them a specific class of beings, but in the end this is irrelevant.

Gods in comics have become a joke. It was always touch and go, but stories like SIEGE and CHAOS WAR made it official. All the myths are supposedly true, but when it comes time to display these great powers gods conveniently forget them.

In the end, you can trace it to three problems. The first is how centric pure human characters like Captain America are too comics. You cannot have them be useless or turned to stone with ease by a god so those powers are forgotten. Gods are supposed to be beyond humans, yet are vulnerable to normal humans. The second is the writers cannot agree on what is a god. Most see them as barely superhuman idiots permanently stuck in the dark ages. Hard to be in awe by something like that. Any concept of them a higher beings who have survived for as long as they have with intelligence is all too often thrown out the window. The third problem is gods are often made to be jobbers because gods. What better way to pump up a character than have them defeat a god?

In the end, gods should not be invincible. Gods in myth almost never were. Few gods in myth were ever absolutely immortal either. At the same time, they were immensely powerful and wise beings. Even the lowliest god coming to Earth should be someone that Spider-Man cannot defeat without a special weapon. They should go back to the portrayal from the nineties and earlier where gods actually came across as godly thanks to living in truly advanced societies that spanned the stars instead of broken down castles that need mortal technology. Hard to take Odin's plans to raze the Earth as a threat when Asgards nearly overrun by mortals using a battle strategy that plans to their strength.

Posted by cfrehse

thor is not really a god. All asguardians see themselves as gods because they were so much stronger than mortals and they where worshiped by them. All the pantheons where just different more powerful races. The true gods are people like galactus and the entities or even the celestials or the pheonix force. The phoenix beat thor in AvX and i think thats how the fight should have went. It is a cosmic entity. He could do nothing to hurt it. Asgardians are nothing compared to them. If you think about it the hulk would be a god. There are storylines showing him outliving everything plus he really cant be killed. Even wolverine would probably live for 1000s of years. If he lived back in viking times and they saw him fight he would be worshiped as a god. So in the end i def think they should be vulnerable because they are not really gods they are REALLY STRONG ALIENS.

Posted by rondoudou

@cfrehse: but they are metaphysically connected to the cultures that they where worshiped by....hulk is not, also gods are descended from the demiurge, hulk is not

Posted by seekquaze

@cfrehse said:

thor is not really a god. All asguardians see themselves as gods because they were so much stronger than mortals and they where worshiped by them. All the pantheons where just different more powerful races. The true gods are people like galactus and the entities or even the celestials or the pheonix force. The phoenix beat thor in AvX and i think thats how the fight should have went. It is a cosmic entity. He could do nothing to hurt it. Asgardians are nothing compared to them. If you think about it the hulk would be a god. There are storylines showing him outliving everything plus he really cant be killed. Even wolverine would probably live for 1000s of years. If he lived back in viking times and they saw him fight he would be worshiped as a god. So in the end i def think they should be vulnerable because they are not really gods they are REALLY STRONG ALIENS.

No, GODS ARE NOT REALLY STRONG ALIENS. In the context of the Marvel Universe The Asgardians, Olympians, and other similar entities are actual gods. The Eternals have always drawn a difference between creatures of science like themselves and creatures of magic like gods. Highly intelligent races and advanced beings have called them gods. They are gods. Hulk would not be a god because he is not a magical being. Same with Wolverine. Heck, the gods have a heavy hand in running the afterlife.

Abstract beings and the like are more powerful than gods. That is because in Marvel gods are not the most powerful beings in the universe. Difference traits define them. The closest would be cosmic and mystical entities would be the next step of power above gods. Gods work on a smaller level than them with a species or culture. The abstracts are close to platonic ideals or Eastern philosophies operating on a universal level. Mystical entities are beings of pure magic operating on a universal or multiversal level.

Posted by Gallivant

@NightRunner said:

@Naamah_Obyzouth: Norse Gods like Thor where still able to die in their Mythos before comics. I would say that what you are saying should apply to Greek Gods and other Deities. But I do see your point Gods should be a tier above normal super humans and incredibly hard to beat at that.

I totally agree with this. There's no reason to use these mythological gods as Immortal because in their original Mythos they die all the time. Zeus killed his father, Cronus, who also killed his father.

But the idea that any mortal shouldn't be able to challenge a God and potentially slay them would be detrimental to story. Think about it, most of the best stories ever told in Mythology involve Men defying gods and beating them at their own game. Sure they didn't kill them but that wasn't the story for most of the heroes but the idea that they could have if they needed to is a welcomed idea.

Also in that light the idea that a God has to be immortal in order to be worshiped is wrong. It's only their Superiority that makes up the difference, in that light, Superman can be considered a God, but he too can be killed. Sure it's tough to beat him but Bats can do it.

Posted by rondoudou

@Gallivant: thats not true cronos was never killed nor was his father before him, they where merely "imprisoned"

Edited by evilvegeta74

@Pyrogram: Loki who is pictured dying isn't a true Norse God and the son of a Frost giant. Furthermore Thor didn't die in any of those scans, which simply show wounds from battle not the after effect of the scans. The article seems like a shot a Thor, I dont know what the scans are for in the article but here's the end result of one. Two of the things that set Thor apart from other seemingly omnipotent beings like Hyperion and the Sentry, is that at one time he ressurrected his Asgardin Brothers including Loki!

On

Posted by Gallivant

@rondoudou said:

@Gallivant: thats not true cronos was never killed nor was his father before him, they where merely "imprisoned"

I stand corrected. LOL yeah I forgot they just imprisoned Cronus, but if nothing else we can say they were defeated. Yet that doesn't have to do with Killing them of course. I still feel that a God should be able to be killed if the story demands it.

Posted by Crom-Cruach

I think the isssue is not whether gods should die or not in Marvel. It's just that the way marvel writes deaths. It makes then either:

1-Meaningless

2-Done with malicious bad taste.

Posted by Teerack

No comic characters are vulnerable to death really.

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Posted by fullmetalquach

I feel like if they call them "Gods" they shouldnt be able to die and they should be all powerful with their only rivals being other "Gods". But since they aren't written like that then it makes sense for them to die, especially the Norse "Gods" mainly because of Ragnarok. Deaths in general should be taken more serious and should be longer lasting. As much as I want Nightcrawler to come back ,it might be better if he didn't. The death of comic book characters doesn't mean too much to me because my first thought is always, "I wonder when they'll be brought back" and not "I hope they bring them back"

Posted by sagejonathan

I think Aaron's take on gods in the Marvel Universe is excellent.

Posted by TheHeat

gods...not Gods.

Posted by Farwind

I think it should depend on the mythology from which they originate. For example, The Olympian Gods are immortal, as in they can't be killed (They can be dealt with, such as Uranus being castrated and Cronos being thrown to the depths of Tartarus), but under no circumstances can they cease to be.

The Norse gods, on the other hand, are not so lucky.

Posted by Dman1366

What is a "god"? A powerful being that others worship? It's not their fault they are worshiped. They are just powerful beings that live exceptionally long; they are perfectly vulnerable to death. The idea of god is a joke anyways, so having the characters reflect that is just accurate.

Posted by Charles D. Blue

nores gods are kill able though

Posted by nappystr8

There are certainly arguments to be made for both sides, and certainly there are fun stories to tell about omnipotent creatures to which death holds no purpose, but what it comes down to for me is this: If gods couldn't be killed, then their stories would not hold the same weight as those of the rest of the Marvel Universe. First, the way the Marvel U is set up, there is some openendedness as to whehter groups like the Olympians or Asguardians are even authentic gods, or simply a different form of life from a different universe who have used their advanced technologies and powers to grant followings among people. And even if they are 100% real gods, it's not as if the death of gods is a novel concept, gods have died in the mythos of various cultures for as long as there have been gods.

At the same time, a resurrection of a god character in comics feels far more convincing than when it happens to normal joe superhero. Death doesn't have to be permanent to be death, not with gods anyway.

Edited by McHotcakes

In Norse mythology the Gods could be killed. In fact all of them do die at Ragnarok. So I have no problem with Loki or Thor or any of the Asgardians being able to die. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about Ares being able to die though.

Posted by The Stegman

@0:45 answers the question 
 
  

Posted by Mrfuzzynutz

i think the Sentry/Ares moment was a testament to how powerful the Sentry as opposed to thinking Gods are in the MU are ordinary.

A mortal can possess powers of the Gods, or even surpass them, that shouldn't detract what makes Gods who they are

Posted by crazy8504

I think it would be more interesting if gods took the doctor who method and regenerated/reborn every time they died that way you could have the essential have the same character just different personality. think of the story line or relationships that could be created this way

Edited by MuyJingo

This is a really good article. I posted a similar thread a few weeks ago: Are the gods in comics actually gods?

Essentially, the only reason they are worthy of the title is because of a lesser definition that says if they are worshiped, they are a god. This could be true of any character....if enough people worshiped Superman he would fit the definition as much as Thor does.

If you look closer at the etymology and historical meaning of the term, it isn't solely about power or worship, but about power omnipotence or close to that level, that we can't comprehend. This doesn't apply to Thor for example, as we see that he is just an Asgardian...which happen to be a humanoid race with far, far more power than humans. His hammer is a piece of advanced technology*. He duped ancient humans into thinking he was a god so he carries the title. It is however a title and nothing more.

Posted by JamDamage

They should be able to die. They're more magical then anything. Nothing really spirtual. Plus I think Sentry killed Loki and Ares because he was just the powerful.

Posted by Empurios

No, that should be the power of gods.....immortality.

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