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Aquaman and Thor: A Comparison

Updated on October 15, 2015
Is Aquaman DC's version of Marvel's Thor?
Is Aquaman DC's version of Marvel's Thor?

Who is Aquaman?

Aquaman (real name: Arthur Curry) is the King of Atlantis and the ruler of Earth's oceans. Born to the Queen of Atlantis and a human male, he lived his formative years on the land and eventually became the King of Atlantis after taking the throne from his evil half-brother, Orm. A founding member of the Justice League, Aquaman possesses super-strength as well as enhanced hearing, vision and smell, and he can swim at super-speed. Bullets ricochet harmlessly off him and he wields the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artefact. Furthermore, he is able to to use telepathic powers to cause any marine creature to do his bidding. He is also a founding member of the Justice League and has saved the world alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern on multiple occasions. He is becoming particularly prominent in the DC Universe due to the upcoming film "Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" in which he will be played by Jason Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis, Game of Thrones). Furthermore, Aquaman will have his own solo movie in 2018.

So, with all this going for him, why is he such a hated character? Well, this is entirely due to his portrayal in the 1960s cartoon series "Aquaman" and the 1970s cartoon series "Super Friends". In these series, he is portrayed as a weak, pathetic character who rides a giant seahorse and talks to 'fishes'. Unfortunately, despite the various ways in which the character has been reimagined over the years, this stigma has stuck.

On the other hand, Thor is one of Marvel's most loved superheroes. Wielding the might Mjolnir, the Prince of Asgard has captured the hearts and minds of fans everywhere and the upcoming movie "Thor: Ragnarok" is almost certain to be a major cinematic success. However, there are many similarities between Thor and Aquaman, so much so that, in many respects, it almost seems that Thor is Marvel's version of Aquaman or vice versa. Following is a list of comparisons between the two superheroes.

1. They are both founding members of their superhero team

In Justice League of America #9, released in 1962, Aquaman is written in as one of the founding members of the Justice League alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter. This came about following a string of alien attacks against Earth. Though the origins of the Justice League have been re-written by DC a number of times, the current continuity also has Aquaman as a founding member of the League.

In the Marvel universe, Thor is a founding member of the Avengers. In Avengers #1, released in 1963, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Wasp and Ant-Man formed the legendary superhero team in order to combat a threat posed by Thor's adopted brother, Loki.

The Justice League (left) and the Avengers (right)
The Justice League (left) and the Avengers (right)

2. They are both royalty in a mythological realm

Aquaman is the King of Atlantis, having been crowned after taking the throne from the evil Orm. Atlantis is a mythological realm first mentioned in Ancient Greek myth by Plato. Though an island in mythology, the comics have reinvented Atlantis into a vast underwater continent. Atlantis is divided into two city states known as Poseidonis (the capital) and Tritonis though the entire realm comes under the rulership of Aquaman.

Thor is the Prince of Asgard, one of the Nine Realms and home of the Asgardians. This aspect of the comics remains largely unchanged from the Norse mythology on which it is based. It is connected to Earth (Midgard) via the Bifrost and is ruled by Odin. In addition to being royalty in their realms, Thor and Aquaman must also both split their time between their duties there and their roles as superheroes on Earth.

Atlantis as depicted in the Aquaman comics (New 52)
Atlantis as depicted in the Aquaman comics (New 52)

3. They both have an evil sibling

Both Aquaman and Thor are locked in a seemingly endless struggle with an evil sibling. For Aquaman, this is Orm, also known as the Ocean Master and Aquaman's half-brother. In the current New 52 continuity, Orm was the ruler of Atlantis before Aquaman took the throne from him though this has not always been the case. Orm's primary power is magic and he can use it in a number of ways including magical bolts and telepathy.

And Thor, of course, has Loki. While not strictly a sibling, Loki often identifies as Thor's brother and they are certainly seen as such by Odin. Like Orm, Loki is often written as desiring the throne of his home realm as well as being able to use and manipulate magical energies. Loki has become one of the most popular Marvel villains thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and certainly deserves a place among the greatest villains in comic book history.

Loki as depicted in "Thor: The Dark World"
Loki as depicted in "Thor: The Dark World"

4. They both wield a mythological weapon

Aquaman's primary weapon is the Trident of Poseidon. This unbreakable weapon is a hugely powerful artefact and serves as an extension of Poseidon's power. It has a number of powers including, but not limited to, controlling any body of water, conjuring ice and cold, dispersing energy and conjuring water and storms. The weapon is based on the trident used by the god Poseidon in Greek mythology.

Thor wields the mighty Mjolnir. Like the Trident of Poseidon, Mjolnir is also an actual mythological weapon and was believed by the Norse to be used by Thor, their god of thunder. Mjolnir is capable of energy manipulation/conjuration and weather manipulation like Aquaman's trident, though it has a host of other abilities including allowing Thor to fly and even to produce and control cosmic energy.

Aquaman wields the Trident of Poseidon
Aquaman wields the Trident of Poseidon

5. They both have the ability to channel lightning and cause storms

Whilst this ties into point number 4, I have chosen to place it as a separate point as the ability to control the weather and channel lightning is an integral part of Thor's character. Furthermore, the ability to channel lightning does not directly follow on from the fact that they both wield mythological weapons. On multiple occasions, Aquaman has shown the ability to call upon devastating storms and channel lightning through his trident.

Thor is, of course, known for his ability to control lightning and storms and often uses this ability in a fight. Ultimately, both Poseidon and the the Norse thunder god had the ability to manipulate the weather to devastating effect.

Thor channels lightning through Mjolnir
Thor channels lightning through Mjolnir

The Differences

Whilst there are a few other minor similarities between the characters including the relatively similar love interests (Marvel's Lady Sif and DC's Mera), there are some notable differences between the two characters. Aquaman is half-human and only based on a god whereas Thor is a full god. Furthermore, Aquaman's primary power comes from the sea whereas Thor is a lot more rounded and can function at full strength in a number of different environments. There are some who see Wonder Woman as a better comparison with Thor due to her ties with an historical pantheon of gods though Wonder Woman does not have as many of the comparisons listed above.

There are obviously a few more differences between the two characters but, in my opinion, the similarities Thor and Aquaman share are striking. What do you think? Could Aquaman be DC's version of Thor or vice versa?

What do you think?

Is Aquaman DC's version of Marvel's Thor?

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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 17 months ago from Freehold, NJ

      Aquaman's vilification is completely unwarranted. The blame for this lies with the Superfriends cartoon because of course it does. Anyone who has spent seven seconds watching The Superfriends prior to Challenge of the Superfriends (and even afterwards) would walk away thinking that Aquaman was nothing more than a swimming fish trainer.

      Aquaman and Thor are serious superheroes whose archetypes run deeper than what casual comic readers are prepared to deal with. From a mythological standpoint, you can compare each of these characters as being the ruler of one third of their perspective universes. In Greek Mythology, we see that the world is separated into three separate and distinct zones: the sky, the water, and the earth underworld - belonging to Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades respectively (forgive me if I've transposed Greek and Roman names). The analogy runs the same for the Marvel and the DC universes. In the DC universe, it runs Superman, Aquaman, and Batman. In the Marvel universe, it runs Thor, Namor, and Ironman.

      When we speak of Thor, we should acknowledge that as the God of Thunder, he rules the kingdom of the sky elements - rain, clouds, and lightning - He flys, too. Aquaman is the ruler of the DC universe's water kingdom. He is one with the sea, commands all sea life, and rules over 3/5's of the world. He's also one of the strongest heroes in the DCU. Have you any idea how strong you have to be to endure the steel crushing depths of the bottom of the sea? The fact that Aquaman can open his eyes and see with the most delicate part of his body and not go blind tells you much of his body's density. I could also go into the Flashpoint paradox and how he essentially commanded one entire side of the DCU as a military force.

      Aquaman is no joke and deserves more respect from the idiots who have no idea of who he is.

    • profile image

      Ashrym 22 months ago

      I was thinking the same thing before seeing this article. It seems like a very valid comparison.