Full disclosure, this question relates to the Marvel Comics conception of Thor going mano a mano with the Incredible Hulk, and taking some pretty big hits, including repeated hulkian punches to the face that drive his body into the dirt of the arena.

But there are many elements to the Marvel conception that are faithful to the mythological character. For instance, when Dr. Strange offers him tea, Thor is uninterested, but when Dr. Strange converts it to a huge mug of beer, Thor, very casually, nearly drains it in one go, and the mug magically refills, clearly a reference to the third ríma of the Lokrur.

So my question is this: what can we infer about Thor's physical resilience, particularly regarding physical punishment, from the actual mythological sources?

1 Answer 1


Thor can take a lot, but he is not invulnerable

The best example of this is in the story of Hrungnir. In the duel with the obnoxious giant, Thor's hammer Mjölnir collides with the whetstone Hrungnir uses as a weapon. The whetstone splits in two, and one part hits Thor in the head, and gets stuck there. The Völva Groa tries to use her galders to get it out, but fails, so Thor permanently has a piece of whetstone stuck in his head. It is also said that you should not throw whetstones across the room, because then the stone moves in Thor's head, so apparently this is at least an inconvenience to him (Skáldskaparmál, 17).

Another indication is that Thor owns the iron gloves Járngreipr, which he "cannot spare" when he is using Mjölnir (Gylfaginning, 21). This might be to protect his hands, or be a necessary aid to wield the hammer correctly, since it notoriously had a somewhat short handle.

Finally, we should note that while Thor at Ragnarök is able to slay the Midgard serpent, after doing so, he will take nine steps before succumbing to its poison (Gylfaginning, 51).

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