The best films and TV shows inspired by Norse mythology

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For a body of myths that supposedly started dying out with the coming of Christianity, Norse mythology has shown itself to have a powerful grip on modern culture. Nowhere is this better seen than in the current generation of TV shows and movies.

In the past few years, we’ve seen Hollywood blockbusters in the Marvel Comics universe like Thor being inspired by the Norse god of thunder. TV series like Ragnarok and the Emmy awards-nominated Vikings took direct inspiration from the Scandinavian times of long ago.

Also, a succession of video games have allowed players to discover Norse mythology on a whole new level. Sony’s 2018 hit, God of War, has been touted as being one of the best games for the PS4 and it saw you exploring six different realms of Norse folklore such as Midgard, Jötunheim and Helheim. Plus there’s a good amount of Norse-themed casino games like the Thunderstruck slot game, which is based on the hammer-wielding god Thor. So it’s safe to say that the Norse mythology has its roots across the entire entertainment sector.

Let’s talk about which movies and TV shows have paid the best tribute to this fascinating mythology?

Midsommar

This awesome 2019 horror film could easily be thought of as a kind of Burning Man for the 21st century. But it’s so much more than that. Midsommar focuses on a group of American students who set off to the idyllic countryside of Sweden and encounter a seemingly tranquil village.

Obviously, things aren’t quite as serene as they seem, and the students quickly learn about the old-time religion practised by the villagers. As such, viewers are treated to no end of weird runes, human sacrifices and some pretty bizarre fertility rituals.

Thankfully the whole thing is handled perfectly by filmmaker Ari Aster who also directed the excellent Hereditary. What makes Midsommar a cut above the rest is the fact that the horror film is bathed in bright sunshine which looks particularly dazzling thanks to Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography. Plus the dysfunctional relationship between the lead characters played by Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor adds a nice undercurrent to the simmering tension.

Vikings

This acclaimed series provided six seasons-worth of Norse inspired drama. Vikings wrapped up in 2019 and it followed the sagas of the famous warrior Ragnar Lothbrok. Not only was there plenty of action and adventure in Vikings, but the TV show also proved to be a valuable history lesson about how the Norsemen ransacked and dominated areas of England, France and the Mediterranean.

While there has been plenty of debate about historical inaccuracies of Vikings, the series still managed to captivate viewers thanks to intelligent character development of figures like Lagertha, Floki and Ragnar.

The acting of Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha was particularly impressive as she rose from being Ragnar’s first wife to become the Queen of Kattegat. Like the portrayal of women in Western movies has evolved, it was great to see such a strong role given to a woman in this TV show.

Such efforts helped to show that the vikings were about much more than just raping and pillaging. Plus with news that there’s due to be a sequel series called Vikings: Valhalla on Netflix, it seems as though we can expect plenty more Norse mythology on our TV screens.

Thor

OK, so this Marvel Comics movie franchise isn’t exactly The Seventh Seal, but there is little denying the fact that Thor has brought Norse mythology to a brand new audience. So far there have been three Thor movies that have each made well over $400 million in box offices revenues.

The action has focused on the muscular talents of Chris Hemsworth as Thor, but there’s been plenty of room for Tom Hiddleston to portray his somewhat creepy brother Loki.

Plus with roles for big name actors like Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum and even Antony Hopkins as Odin, the ruler of Asgard, it seems that there’s an endless array of Old Norse characters to bring to the silver screen. And with plans to release the fourth movie of the franchise – Thor: Love and Thunder – in 2022, it looks like we just can’t get enough of Norse mythology.

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