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Answer by John David Ward, a writer and comic fan.
A lot of people are saying that Thor would have been on Cap’s side. I find this highly unlikely. In fact, I think there’s a fairly good chance that Thor would have been on Tony Stark’s side. Why?
- Some people say that Thor would never subject to being essentially a slave under the Sokovia Accords. I say that’s irrelevant. The Sokovia Accords are concerned withenhanced individuals, which Thor is not. His powers are entirely natural, a consequence of his Asgardian physiology. As an alien, he is a unique case, and is not necessarily subject to the jurisdiction of any Earthly government. It’s likely that he would be excluded from the accords in some way, but you don’t need to be subject to the accords to be in favor of their enforcement.
- One could object that Thor would be unhappy to see his fellow Avengers being slaves under the accords, but given what he know of Asgard, and specifically the strangely feudal nature of its social organization, we should be careful about making those sorts of assumptions. There’s a lot we don’t know about the MCU version of Asgard, but it certainly seems as if Asgard operates under bonds of loyalty analogous to the accords.
- As a diplomatic representative of the Asgardian realms, and especially given the sheer levels of power he possesses, had he been on Earth, he would have been consulted in the drafting of the Sokovia Accords, which means he would have felt invested in them, and likely would have taken Cap’s rejection of them personally, even more so than Stark did. If Thor had been there, it would have been him, rather than General Ross, who introduced the accords to the team.
- By accepting the Sokovia Accords, and admitting that he needs supervision, Stark has essentially come over to Thor’s way of thinking. Stark blames himself for the creation of Ultron and the resultant destruction, just as Thor blamed him earlier. That is, it’s not so much that Thor would be on Team Stark, as Stark would be, and effectively already was, on Team Thor.
- Although it’s usually brief and played for humor, Steve Rogers is probably the single member of the Avengers who Thor is most competitive with. I mean, Stark talked a lot of trash about Thor, but Thor rarely seemed to feel much of anything about Stark other than occasional boughts of anger and annoyance, unlike Captain America (go back and watch how Cap and Thor actually interact in the MCU to see what I mean). Thor doesn’t feel strongly enough about Stark to regard him as a worthy adversary.
- Yes, Thor’s bonds of loyalty to Cap count for something, but consider that Thor has already been betrayed once by his brother Loki, someone he trusted just as must as he trusts Cap. Consider also that knights throughout history have been honorable, but that hasn’t stopped them from fighting on opposite sides. The trope of the honorable warrior is well established, and from a story-telling perspective, it makes particular sense in the case of a civil war.
- Thor has no particular connection to or affection for any of Cap’s comrades-in-arms. Ant-man? A cat burglar. Agent 13? A mysterious former SHIELD agent. Bucky? Assassin, current status unclear. Falcon? Cap’s friend, not Thor’s. Hawkeye? They didn’t particularly get along the first time they met in the Thor movie, and for most of the Avengers, Hawkeye was working for Thor’s treacherous brother, Loki. Scarlet Witch? She was an antagonist for most of their previous adventure. There’s no personal connection there strong enough to win him over. In fact, from Thor’s perspective, most of Cap’s team would seem pretty sinister.
- On the other hand, look at Team Stark. While War Machine and Spider-man mean nothing to him one way or another, he’s at least used to working with Stark and Romanova and the equipment and franchise trappings of the Avengers team; beyond that, he can presumably relate to T’Challa as a warrior-diplomat, and has just as much reason as anyone to trust Vision, given that it was his lightning bolt that brought the Vision to life.
- Speaking of T’Challa, Thor’s position as son of Odin, is analogous to T’Challa’s as hereditary ruler of Wakanda, and T’Challa came down on the side of the accords. Just like Thor, T’Challa likely wasn’t subject to them, but nonetheless was willing to accept Stark’s invitation to end the resistance against them and bring Bucky to justice.
- Thor relies on the cooperation of the world governments to protect with girlfriend, Jane Foster. Keeping her safe, even when he’s off Earth, has always been a high priority for him. As such, it simply doesn’t make as much sense for him to go into hiding, at least not without uprooting her whole life and taking her with him.
- As the Sokovia Accords represent the will of more than a hundred governments of Earth, and as Thor is royalty, to aid in an armed resistance would essentially amount to a declaration of war against the collective governments of Earth, which isn’t wise. Even if Thor wants to help Cap, he’d be under strict instructions not to. Envoys have to be diplomatic, which means they can’t always do what they want.
- Thor’s entire hero’s journey, the thing that makes him worthy of lifting the hammer of Mjolnir, is that he’s overcome his arrogance and is willing to work together with others, humbly. Following or enforcing the Sokovia Accords is another example of the same thing. It hasn’t been so long that he’s forgotten what it’s like to lose the power of Thor for failing to follow his father’s commands. In fact, Thor’s character arc from arrogant loner to team player is quite similar to Stark’s. To put Thor on Team Cap rather than Team Stark would mean completely ignoring this character development.
- Although Thor was on Cap’s side in the comic book version, this was mainly due to the fact that he was the only one powerful enough to stop Ragnarok, the clone of him made by Reed Richards. There was no Ragnarok in the movie version of Civil War. Likewise, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor and Cap do not have the long and amiable relationship they have in the comic book. It a mistake to analogize too much between the two media considering how different the characterizations and continuity are.
I, for one, cannot visualize the movie universe Thor fighting for Team Cap, but I can easily visualize Thor leading Team Thor, assisted and advised by Vision and Black Panther, among others, against them. I can imagine how confused he would feel by international law on Earth. I can see him feeling betrayed by Cap’s refusal to sign, his satisfaction at getting a demoralized Iron Man to admit he needs oversight, and his reluctant, honorable battle against Steve Rogers.
Of course, that movie wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to watch, as Thor’s godlike powers would wrap things up fairly quickly.