When you find your family story in a blockbuster movie

It’s always an interesting moment when you suddenly realize that the plot of a movie mirrors your family completely.

It seemed appropriate to run this bonus post on a Wednesday, which is the day named for Odin. Then again, unlike Romance languages which take their day names from Roman gods, English takes them from the old Norse gods, with the Moon and Sun thrown in.

Okay, I came late to the game because I’ve really had no interest in MCEU movies except for two or three, but I was bored on a Sunday, have Disney+, and decided to check out Thor: Ragnarok because I’d read that it was the funny one.

It was also the first Thor-adjacent film I’d watched since finding out that I’m genetically one-third Scandinavian, so that all of these Norse myths really are part of my culture. It tells the story of Ragnarok, which is the Norse word for the final destruction of the gods and heaven and all that.

The stolen German version is Götterdämmerung, i.e. the same story as culturally appropriated by that anti-Semitic dick Wagner. But it’s the same thing.

But while the overall story itself tied back into a culture I now felt connected to, the specifics of the characters brought it down to a much more personal level.

Let me preface this by saying that I am my father’s only child by his second marriage. Previously, he had three children, in this order: A girl, and two boys. Let me further complicate this by saying that the second of those sons turned out to not actually be his son biologically, but he raised him as such just the same.

So the four main characters of the film are Odin, and his three children Hela, Thor, and Loki — the evil oldest daughter, the confident oldest son who was all about the hair, and the trickster youngest son. (Technically, I think I’m Heimdall in the mix.)

Other minor villains and shenanigans ensue, but what really hit me hard was at the end of the film, which went like this.

Hela, the goddess of death, had been somewhat restrained by Odin once he realized what her ambitions were, but after he died, she was unleashed and wanted to burn everything down.

Thor and Loki had had an uneasy relationship, but eventually came together when they realized Hela had to be stopped. And, all along, Heimdall, who was a much younger son of Odin, tried to keep the siblings in touch and on the right path, although it failed, and Hela wanted to kill him, so he went into hiding.

Eventually, Thor and Loki succeeded in thwarting and destroying Hela while Heimdall rescued the real treasure that she was too stupid to go after.

Like I said, take all of the mythology and movie stuff out of this, and you’ve got my family exactly. Patriarch dies and oldest daughter suddenly goes batshit insane, deciding that everything is hers — i.e., she declares herself the queen, tossing breadcrumbs to the others, even including Heimdall.

Although our Thor is currently residing in Asgard (or might be trapped on some made-up prison planet), Heimdall will eventually help him escape, and he will convince Loki that what really needs destroying is the physical Asgard, while Heimdall will rescue the people.

Or, in other words, Loki will destroy Hela’s authority by burning their mother’s reputation to the ground by revealing his own birth as a bastard. Thor doesn’t have a lot nice to say about their sister, either, when it comes to their father and how she manipulated him.

My half-brother certainly had a choice line in regard to my half-sister’s relationship to our father while he was dying, but I won’t repeat it here.

Anyway, once the film got to the third act, I found myself watching it with my jaw agape as I plugged the characters into my family and realized how well we fit the particulars of this Norse myth. Well, at least this comic-book movie version of them.

Image: Statens Museum for Kunst, (CC0), via Wikimedia Commons

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