How Netflix’s ‘Ragnarok’ Is Different From Norse Mythology


With shows like Ragnarok, mythology or elements of the supernatural are the bait for audiences to wonder about the story and tune into it. That is the marketing aspect of the job, and content must follow closely behind, which Ragnarok clearly fails to do because, other than a regular reminder that the characters were gods and demons, we saw next to nothing of their impressive powers or personalities. While borrowing from Norse mythology, Ragnarok Seasons 1, 2, and 3 deviate significantly from it. Some might argue that it was expected since it is all set in a modern world, but we are pointing it out because the context was that the past was going to repeat itself. The gods came back to Edda to vanquish the evil-causing demons. Therefore, maybe not in the exact same way as the Norse mythology, but there should have been some similarities with what had happened in the past. Yet, everything was different, to the degree that it wasn’t an epic anymore.

First of all, the entire point of the story—Ragnarok, the war—did not happen. In the myths, Ragnarok ended the world, the giants, and the gods. We have assumed that Vidar, Ran, Fjor, and Saxa were the leftovers from that. Since the gods perished, they had to be reborn and woken up from whatever body they were residing in. This part ties in a little with the immortality aspect of both parties, so it is a justified difference.

But another difference that particularly bothered us was that the giants were not troublesome enough. What we mean is that, be it in the myths or in the modern day, they were wreaking havoc, which is why it was important to eliminate them. That trouble in present-day Edda was caused by the way they were polluting the water. What bothers us is that it was such a solvable issue. It would have been a different matter if they had been poisoning the water on purpose to destroy humans. However, it was just a shortcut for their other business operations. Maybe this was a metaphor for the dangers of industrialization, but we would have still liked to see the larger-than-life aspect of it all.

These are all still minor issues. The biggest difference and flaw of the series is not that there wasn’t a fight but that the giants were alive and happy after everything they had done. Fjor found a girlfriend, and Ran had a potential love interest. Saxa was alright, but the scales were not in favor of justice one bit. The original Ragnarok was a fearsome event because the battle between right and wrong ended up annihilating both of them. In the series, both survive, and that is actually more criminal than what happened thousands of years ago.

It also doesn’t make sense that Magne and Little O did not have a proper fight. They are the ones to kill each other in the myth, but if the situation were to be replicated, it should have done a better job. There was plenty of similarity in the way Magne was taken to the middle of the lake, and Thor was in a similar situation back then. But when Thor ended up throwing the hammer at the Midgard serpent, it was for a real battle, which was only prevented because the fisherman got in the way. Nobody got in the way of Little O and Magne, but the overgrown tapeworm was too much of a good boy and did not even think of hurting its uncle.

That brings us to Laurits, who couldn’t have been more different from Loki even if he tried. Loki was a cunning trickster who steered his own fate instead of simply being caught up in the schemes of different people. However, Loki was similarly trans as Laurits, but his partner(s) were women with whom he fathered his children. The Midgard serpent was the second child of Loki and Angrboda. We are disappointed that we never got a look at the feral wolf, Fenrir, who was Loki’s first child. Maybe he could have been introduced as Laurits’ pet or something that Vidar would later kill. In the series, Loki is the mother and father of Little O, and his partner is a man. Additionally, the Midgard serpent left for the oceans after his battle with Thor, whereas Little O went away after Laurits told it to. We also don’t need to point out the obvious difference that Loki was on the giants’ side in Ragnarok the War, whereas he was on the side of the gods in Ragnarok Season 3.

We also find it interesting that in the myths, Loki’s wife was named Sigyn, which sounds suspiciously close to Signy, Magne’s girlfriend in Ragnarok Season 3. Thor’s wife was named Sif, and Jarnsaxa was his lover. The writers established this arc between Signy and Saxa with the Madonna-mistress complex. That reminds us of how Magne never had any children in the show, while Thor had a few in the myths, who were some of the survivors of Ragnarok. Also, if Magne was to get a makeover in season 3 of Ragnarok, he should have looked more like Thor, with the tough gloves and belt, instead of just another Zara shopper. At least Loki did a good job with his outfits.

Probably the biggest difference between the show and the myth is that the latter had tones of a civil war that got way out of hand. We didn’t see that at all in Ragnarok Seasons 1, 2, or 3, and just Magne and Laurits’ occasional conflict doesn’t count. Odin had come back with Wotan, but not once did he pull the father card on Magne. Then there was Laurits, who had stolen his blood, but that was simply forgotten about. There is also significant fighting because of Thor’s relationship with Jarnsaxa, which in this case would have been Magne with Saxa. All of that was simply skipped. While we were not expecting a complete rendition of the Norse mythology in the context of a small town in 2023, Ranganrok missed out on the way too much, to the point that its connections to the myths look almost non-existent. We wish that had been different.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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