And then one time, Thor was President of the United States.
But it wasn’t the Thor you’re used to hearing about.
That Thor you’re familiar with, introduced in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was born of the magic of Odin. When a disabled doctor named Donald Blake found an old piece of wood in an ancient cave in Norway, he discovered that the limb transformed into Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and that it changed him into the Norse god Thor. Eventually he learned that he was in fact Thor, banished to Earth for disobeying Odin, chief of the gods, but in any case, Thor used his powers to protect mankind from monsters, madmen, and magical beings, especially his adopted brother Loki.
But in the early 2000s, Marvel decided they needed to try something new to go along with the new millennium. They called this new project Ultimate Comics. It started with Ultimate Spider-Man and blossomed into a re-imagining of their entire line of superheroes.
The idea was, rather than make major changes to their existing line, Marvel would make an alternate universe, where all their heroes could have new origin stories, lead different lives, and so that writers and artists wouldn’t be bound by 40 years of an accumulated continuity that tied their hands to every decision, good and bad, that had ever been made with these characters. The old universe, with the original characters, kept going, so fans could have the best of both worlds, the continuing tales of characters who were older than many of the readers… and fresh, new lives, for very similar characters who were just getting started.
One of these characters brought to life in the new Ultimate universe, a member of The Ultimates team of superheroes (instead of The Avengers), was Thor.
This Thor was born of the technology of humanity.
Ultimate Thor, in this universe, was originally a nurse named Thorlief Golmen, but after the world was shaken by the events of major battles between superheroes and supervillains, Thorlief was recruited into a European super-soldier program. The man had visions and strange memories of a distant past, when he fought giant ice monsters alongside his brothers Loki and Balder. He dreamed of a one-eyed father named Odin who had forged a powerful hammer for him, and infused some of the power of Asgard itself into the hammer. Thorlief had felt this connection for many years, but it became much more real to him as he approached his 30th birthday.
But before the super-soldier program realized that Thorlief truly believed that he was Thor the Thunderer, they crafted fantastic technology for him. A belt of strength, much like Megingjord of mythology, was adapted to his physiology, to make him far stronger than Captain America. But to line up the man with the myth they thought they were only echoing, the program designed a massive warhammer, keyed to Golmen’s genetic markers, that was much more than a hammer: it had the power not only to strike with lightning, but to change the weather and bring down the storm; it had the power to aid Thorlief in flight, but even more impressive, it gave him the power of teleportation, so that he could be wherever he was needed in an instant.
And of course, once the man and the technology were finally brought together, Thorlief had a genuine identity crisis. He was no longer sure at all whether he was Thorlief, Thor, or some strange combination of the two.
It was clearly designed as a commentary on how Thor’s original origin story must have worked for an actual person trying to navigate a human life and the life of a god. Because the man brought in to help save the EU’s investment was a psychiatrist named Dr. Donald Blake.
While Marvel spent nearly a decade playing coy with whether Thorlief was truly delusional or actually the god Thor, it was made clear eventually, through a flashback to those scenes with Blake, that he was in fact the reborn god Thor. Who had originally died in a Ragnarok brought about when Loki co-opted the Nazis into allying with the frost giants to destroy Asgard.
But you’re here for President Thor.
Thor got through his identity crisis with the help of Dr. Blake, and moved on with his life, just not as the hero the EU had been hoping for. Thor abandoned their program, took his technologically enhanced hammer with him, and became a peace activist.
When Nick Fury and Tony Stark created The Ultimates, they tried to recruit Thor to join their team, but Thor wanted nothing to do with it, though he said that if they truly needed him, he would join under one condition: the doubling of the US foreign aid budget. For months the Ultimates built up their assets, worked with SHIELD, and otherwise prepared for battles with supervillains who wouldn’t appear. And Thor continued his work for peace.
And then the Hulk happened in the middle of Manhattan, and the US foreign aid budget doubled that same night. Thor helped take down the Hulk, and he became loosely affiliated with the team.
A couple of years later, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four made a change to the timeline (crazy things with the Fantastic Four don’t really need much more explanation than that), and an ambassador from the Skrulls gave Richards pills that could bring out the latent superpowers in any human being. Within a short period, every single non-mutant on the planet had taken a pill, save one. Everyone had superpowers.
In this amazing new world, where life changed so dramatically so quickly, a new figure was needed to lead the world, and Thor became president, with the quite young (18ish) Richards as vice president. Who better to lead the world* than a peace-loving god who had sufficient power to settle disagreements?
This is a Fantastic Four story, so Thor’s one opportunity to be awesome as President isn’t as lengthy, or as awesome, as one might hope. His reign was peaceful until it ended in utter annihilation. It turns out that the Skrull (who long-time Marvel readers know is a race of bad guys) has used the superpower pills to implant nanotech in all the humans, which harvests important nutrients, etc. Because Thor didn’t need a pill, he wasn’t included in the harvest, but the Skrull brought a fleet of warships to fight those very few mutants and other superpowered people who didn’t take the pills.
Like the powerful protector and god of war that he is, Thor died well in battle, trying to save humanity from the forces of chaos.
This wasn’t the end of the Ultimate Universe, though: Ben Grimm, also known as The Thing, didn’t take the Skrull pills, and managed to get the upper hand, do some more time travel, and fix the whole thing as if it had never happened.
As if it had never happened. Isn’t time travel cool?
* It’s unclear how Thor, presumably not a natural born citizen of the United States, or Richards, clearly not 35 years of age in this alternate dimension, would be eligible for these offices. They’re also the only people who talk with the Skrull ambassador, implying that no other countries are involved with extra-terrestrial diplomacy. Just roll with it.