Since I seem to be on a bit of a Thor kick of late, let’s have one more.
So, the MCU has, in the course of the Thor movies given us many of Thor’s comic book friends and allies around Asgard. Many, like Odin, Heimdall, Loki, and Lady Sif come from actual Norse mythology. Others, like the Warriors Three, were the creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and still managed to get into the movies. True, these characters weren’t always treated well, but they were there, being played by flesh and blood actors.
And yet, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did use other actual Norse gods in their stories, and Balder the Brave still somehow didn’t get into the movie.
Yes, Balder was one of the gods in the old Norse mythology. Now, it probably isn’t a surprise to learn that Stan and Jack didn’t exactly make their characters completely faithful to the old stories. For example, Sif was actually Thor’s wife in the old stories, and Loki wasn’t just a straight-up villain depending on what story you read.
But the thing to remember about religions like this one is they are a product of their time and place. And Medieval Scandinavia was rather cold, a place where it is understandable if the local religion is kinda depressing. See, unlike other faiths of that era, the Norse had a very specific end times story detailed all out known as Ragnarok. Ragnarok was inevitable and would end with the destruction of almost everything.
Balder’s role there was to be the herald of the end times. If he died, that meant Ragnarok was coming. Odin, as a result, made a deal with everything in creation to never harm Balder, except for mistletoe, which he forgot about and he thought was harmless anyway. To celebrate, all the gods pelted Balder with stuff since he couldn’t get hurt. But a blind giant was upset he couldn’t join in. Enter Loki with a sprig of mistletoe and directions on how to aim.
Yeah, that was how mythological Balder died. Ragnarok stories also say Balder would return to life to start everything over after the apocalypse, but that’s something else.
Anyway, Stan and Jack included Balder as one of the various Asgardian friends and allies of Thor. He has some sort of light-based powers, but mostly Balder was a friend to Thor, good with a sword, basically a male Sif in many ways. He hung around Asgard, and even got his own mini-series once.
In more recent years, Balder even learned Odin was his father, making Thor his half-brother. As such, in periods when both Thor and Odin were not available, Balder ruled Asgard. Beyond the comics, he was even a staple for various Marvel-based cartoons that included a trip to Asgard.
And yet, somehow this guy hasn’t appeared in a movie yet. True, there have probably been more Thor supporting characters appearing in the various movies than any of the others, but no Balder.
Well, if they can have Ragnarok without him, I guess they didn’t need him that much. What else can be bring to the table beyond a cool hat? And it doesn’t even look that practical, all told.
Maybe it’s for the best. Heimdall is a lot cooler anyway.