God of War’s Ragnarok sequel is one of 2021’s most anticipated releases, set to fully reveal some key players from Norse mythology only hinted at in the last game. To add to the hype, fans are excited to see how Atreus develops and grows, considering the revelations that came to light about the character at the end of the last game.
Odin, the patriarch of the Norse gods, was not seen in the 2018 soft reboot, leaving fans curious about how he will be portrayed in God of War’s Ragnarok sequel. While many are hoping the Norse All-Father lives up to the original God of War trilogy's Zeus, there are reasons Odin should actually have more in common with Atreus instead.
There are several things that Odin has in common with the original God of War trilogy's Zeus. In God of War 2, Zeus becomes overwhelmed by paranoia, a force which Kratos himself released from Pandora’s Box. This leads him to killing Kratos and his son, kicking off another cycle of violence after Kratos is rescued from the Underworld. Even before this, Zeus was portrayed as anxious about his fate. The events of the entire God of War series are set in motion when the Greek gods have Kratos’ brother killed, fearing the prophesied “marked warrior” who would bring down the Hellenic pantheon. Kratos honored his brother with his red tattoos, and the rest is history.
One of the key inciting plot events in God of War's Nine Realms is quite similar. Odin, having become fearful for the future of his pantheon, attempts to steal the giants’ knowledge of the future while on an ostensibly diplomatic visit to their world. When he is caught, Odin is banished from Jotunheim, and orders Thor to kill every giant in Midgard. Thor brutally carries out this campaign, but fails to find Laufey (Faye), Atreus’ mother.
With the similarities already established, Odin and Zeus risk being comparable characters with similar motivations in God of War’s Ragnarok sequel. Like Zeus, Odin could easily be portrayed as a paranoid king presiding over a doomed empire, refusing to accept his fate and struggling violently against it.
This is a far cry from the Odin seen in Norse mythology. While Odin does endeavor to learn more about Ragnarok in Norse mythology, he actually succeeds. Despite knowing that it will be their final battle, the Aesir rally and go to their deaths with honor, paving the way for a world born anew. God of War’s Ragnarok sequel should work to differentiate Odin from Zeus. Odin's exact attitude towards his fate could be a great way to distinguish himself from Zeus. However, based on the indirect characterization of Odin in 2018’s God of War, the storytellers will have to come up with something more nuanced than a god willingly accepting his fate.
Odin could be portrayed as very similar to Zeus, but that characterization would also miss another opportunity that the myths present. In Norse mythology, Odin is remarkably similar to Loki, and is far more like the trickster god than his own male offspring. Odin is a deceiver – when he enters a life-or-death game of questions with a giant named Vafthrudnir, he arrives in disguise and wins by asking a question only he would know the answer to. He asks the giant what Odin himself whispered to his son Baldur after Baldur’s death, costing the giant his life.
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