Thor and Aquaman have a lot in common. They’ve got similar personalities, impressive beards, and let’s be honest, abs never intended for mortals. But by the end of both of their most recent solo films, both characters had something else in common: a profession. At the end of Aquaman and Thor: Ragnarok, both have become kings of their respective kingdoms. We at CBR find the parallel interesting, and since debating is about 70% of what nerds do, we thought it might be a fun thing to investigate. So, to find out which hero is a better king, we broke down what we think makes a person fit for that role (in a comic book, anyway), and awarded points to each character based on these traits. So read on, comic book fans, as we explore Aquaman Vs. Thor: A Contest of Kings.
10 Strength: Aquaman
There’s a debate in the MCU about who’s the strongest Avenger. If you ask Thor, he’d claim the title. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark’s AI are pretty sure it’s Hulk. But if Aquaman were a part of the MCU, the winner would be a lot more clear. After all, one of the first things Arthur does in Aquaman is hoist a technologically-advanced submarine thousands of feet through the water, and in just a matter of seconds. Even before he starred in his own film, Aquaman proved he could go toe-to-toe with Superman in Justice League. Don’t get us wrong, Thor is one of the most physically powerful beings in the MCU. But if he were ever to cross into the DCEU, he’d meet several people more than his match. Then again, there are forces way stronger than Aquaman or Thor keeping that from happening.
9 Combat: Thor
Of course, there’s more to being a leader in a comic book universe than brute strength. You’ve got to also have a keen fighting style, and we’re pretty sure that one goes to Thor. Obviously, Aquaman has seen his share of battle, and there are a bunch of dead parademons who can attest to his skill. But Thor has proven repeatedly that he can always come out on top in a contest of pure fighting skill. That goes for whether he’s surrounded by enemies (like when he’s captured by Surtur) or whether he’s in a one-on-one match, like when he faces off against the Hulk. One of the biggest fight scenes in Aquaman features Arthur losing, and though he’s admittedly against a highly skilled enemy, we still think Thor could’ve handled it better. Which, if we’re being honest, is probably what Thor would think too.
8 Look: Aquaman
If we’re just comparing costumes in the Thor and Aquaman franchises, then the obvious winner is Black Manta. But since he’s not a part of this contest, we’ve got to pick his arch-nemesis. It’s not that Thor doesn’t have some very cool looks. He does, from his regal armor in the first Thor to his gladiatorial outfit in Ragnarok.
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But Arthur Curry wears his comic book costume, full stop. Thor’s is pretty close, sure, but he’s got some pretty distinct changes from his comic appearance. And while we think it would certainly be a crime to not features those gorgeous Hemsworth locks on camera, we’re pretty sure Thor didn’t have to ditch his helmet so quickly in his first film. Part of being a great leader is having an iconic look. And you can’t get more iconic than a look that’s held for over fifty years of comic book history.
7 Supporting Cast: Thor
What’s a king without his royal court? Not much, you might rightly answer. And in this match-up, the people surrounding Thor are cooler than those around Aquaman. We’re not going to pretend we didn’t love Mera, and Willem DaFoe’s Vulko was, of course, as awesome as Willem Dafoe roles always are. But from his father Odin to his fellow Asgardians The Warriors Three to Lady Sif, Thor’s circle gives him the edge in this category. Sorry Queen Atlanna, we really liked you too. That corpse armor you built was dope as hell.
6 Leadership: Aquaman
Just because Thor’s got more interesting characters around him does not mean he’s better at leading them. In fact, he’s usually the exact wrong person to follow. Luckily for the citizens of Atlantis, that’s not the case for their new king. Despite his outward cockiness, Arthur Curry is actually a pretty humble dude. Because of this, he takes care not to make rash decisions in leading people. When he does decide to be their king, however, his message of a peaceful Atlantis inspires them, turning many of those who fought for Orm to his own side. When they call Aquaman the King of the Seven Seas, they do so with reason.
5 Weapons: Thor
Deciding between a magical, ocean-controlling trident and a magical, lightning-controlling hammer is a fool’s game. And we’ll have no part in it. So why did we give Thor the point here? Well, the answer’s simple. Mjölnir isn’t the only weapon Thor uses in the MCU.
If you’ll recall from Avengers: Infinity War, Thor picks up a different, some might say even cooler, weapon from the same master builder who crafted the Infinity Gauntlet. It’s part mystic metal, part star energy, and part Groot himself, and Eitri the Dwarf gives it a name fitting its epic nature: Stormbreaker. If this contest was between Stormbreaker and the Trident, or the Trident and Mjölnir, or Mjölnir and Stormbreaker, we couldn’t decide. But since one of these guys has wielded two out of the three, we have to give this category to him.
4 Powers: Aquaman
Want to call yourself king in a comic book world? You’d better damn well have superpowers. Both Thor and Aquaman’s abilities fit their adventures perfectly, and to switch them out with something else would probably make for less of a fun story. So with that in mind, here are the reasons we’re still giving this one to Aquaman. First, his powers are grander in scale. Yes, Thor can call down lightning from the skies, but Aquaman can control an entire ecosystem. Second, Aquaman makes a more impressive show of his powers. You’ll recall that Thor doesn’t “bring the thunder” without his hammer until Thor: Ragnarok. And finally, Aquaman’s power is more central to his place as king. You don’t have to be the God of Thunder to be king of Asgard. But you do have to command the seas to be King of Atlantis.
3 Enemies: Thor
You could argue that, like with the weapons earlier, Thor has better enemies just because he has more. But even if we broke down Thor’s enemies by standalone films, we think that the God of Thunder would still top Aquaman for baddies more often. King Orm and Black Manta might be more interesting and fun than Malekith the Dark Elf, but they don’t stand a chance against Hela or certainly Loki. And lest we forget, Thor went head-to-(should’ve-aimed-for-the)-head with Thanos, possibly the greatest comic book movie villain of all time (calm down Slipknot fans, we said possibly). That said, we expect to see a lot of great villains in Aquaman’s future, and as far as Thor’s future goes… there’s a chance we might not see much more at all.
2 Kingdom: Aquaman
While we’re on the subject of futures, that’s essentially the reason we handed the Contest of Kingdoms to Atlantis over Asgard. In their prime, both civilizations were technologically advanced, beautiful, and peaceful. But by the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War, Asgard is left a husk of its old self.
What few Asgardians survived Hela had their numbers thinned even more by the arrival of Thanos, leaving Thor’s kingdom with just a handful of stragglers scattered across the galaxy. Atlantis, meanwhile, is on the rise. They’ve got a new King with a great platform and even better abs, plus a more healthy relationship with the surface world. Hopefully we’ll see Asgard back in a similar position at some point, but for now, things aren’t looking so great.
1 Winner: Aquaman
The match was close, but the winner was clear. Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman, AKA Jason Mamoa, takes home this victory. We’d happily choose either him or Thor to be our king, but with the categories we provided, the more righteous regent is the guy in the orange scales. At least, that’s what we think. But what would you say? Were our categories fair to judge kings, or would you have picked different topics? Let us know in the comments section below, we’re always up for some (friendly!) debate among comic fans. Happy reading!
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