The personal characteristics of gods, heroes, and mythological figures are interesting to many of us. These characteristics relate us to gods and superheroes on a personal level.
Searching for these personal details is tricky, though. It's harder to pin down the specifics than you'd think. There are numerous interpretations of all mythical figures, and every piece of information you find might be slightly different.
One important aspect to consider is the age of the gods. We'll look at the ages of Thor and Loki today. You'll get a sense of their ages from Norse myths, Marvel comic perspectives, and the historical ages of these gods.
First, we have to explore who Thor and Loki are and why they matter.
Who Are Thor and Loki?
Thor and Loki are both gods in Norse mythology.
They're connected, although they aren't related. The Marvel cinematic universe suggests that Thor and Loki are brothers, although that's a creation made for the plot of Marvel books and movies.
The presence of Thor dominated the mythology of Germanic peoples living in Central Europe and Scandinavia for centuries. Thor is mainly known as the Norse god of thunder. He's also representative of agriculture, loyalty, courage, strength in battle, the sky, and more.
Thor's parents are Odin and Jord. Odin is a deeply complex and enigmatic Norse god. He's held with the utmost esteem and is often referred to as the "father of all gods," although he's not the same as an almighty god. Jord is a giantess goddess, although her role in mythology is mainly as Thor's mother.
Loki is a trickster god. His behavior in mythological texts is erratic and mostly leans in the direction of chaos. He defies moral law as well as the laws of physics.
Loki's parents are Farbauti (a frost giant) and Laufey. Interestingly, Loki is also the mother and father of various important figures in Norse mythology. For example, Loki shapeshifted into a mare and courted the stallion Svadilfari.
Their offspring was Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse that Odin would take as his steed.
As you can see, there are entanglements between many gods, their offspring, and their parents. This connection is part of what makes Norse myths so beautiful and complex.
The Marvel Universe
Many of us are familiar with Loki and Thor because they're popular characters alongside Tony Stark in the Marvel movies. Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, and Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, are brothers in these movies.
Their brotherhood is shattered by Loki's realization that he was not the son of Odin. Instead, he was the son of Laufey and Farbauti, making him Thor's adopted brother. This is a crucial moment for Loki's relationship with his father, sending him on the path toward chaos in search of fatherly approval.
Loki's childhood is put in a different light, driving him to cause destruction. Thor, on the other hand, stands tough as the model warrior and defender of the good.
Respective Ages in The Avengers Movies
If you're looking for a quick answer: Thor is older than Loki in the Marvel movies. There are a few twists and contradictions, though.
The ages of Thor and Loki are difficult to determine in these movies. It would be simpler if there was only one series and one timeline. Instead, there are numerous timelines. These "brothers" are referenced in the first movie Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 & 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Endgame.
Throughout that journey, different comments and storylines shift the estimated ages of Thor and Loki. Note that the Avengers movies are supposed to occur in the year the movie is released. So, for example, a 2022 Thor movie is supposed to take place in 2022.
This helps us infer the ages of Marvel gods and heroes in human years.
Whereas Laufey is Loki's mother in the mythology, Marvel's comic book mythology depicts Laufey as a frost giant and Loki's father.
As a result, Loki was born in Jotunheim, the homeland of the giants.
This is relevant because the 2011 Thor movie states that the frost giants come in 965 AD. This starts the war between Asgard (home of the gods) and Jotunheim. In the aftermath of the war, Odin stumbles upon baby Loki and takes him home.
We can assume that Loki was born in 965 AD in that timeline, making him 1,046 years old in 2011. The same timeline continues through Infinity War (2018), wherein Loki gets killed by Thanos at age 1,053.
Currently, Loki is a series on Disney Plus. That series extends from the 2012 Avengers movie. This timeline is different from the one in the previous section.
In that film, Loki steals the tesseract cube and disappears. The Disney Plus series picked up where that movie left off and continues to this day. In that timeline, Loki still lives and would be 1,057 years old.
Thor: Ragnarok Contradiction: Same Age
There's a line in Thor: Ragnarok that suggests Thor and Loki are the same age. Thor stated "There was one time when we were children, he transformed himself into a snake... we were eight at the time."
Saying that they were both eight at the time implies that they're the same age. This snake story goes against the evidence in various other movies. That line probably doesn't mean much in the timeline of Thor and Loki's Marvel mythology.
Fun fact: It's common for Loki to love snakes wherever he's mentioned, Marvel or otherwise.
Fortunately, Thor's age is a lot easier to determine. The Endgame films state that he was 1,500 in 2018. Thor mentions, "You know, I'm 1,500 years old."
There isn't much evidence to dispute that claim in the other films. Finally, Odin says that Thor is his first-born son in the 2011 film. This is before Loki becomes aware of his adoption, so Odin is simply telling his sons that Thor is older. This makes Thor the second-oldest human avenger (if you consider Thor to be human). Imagine if you were 1,500 years old and could still lift mjolnir!
The Oldest Avenger
The oldest would be Brunhilde, the last of the Valkyries who was born long before Thor. Most of the other Avengers have origin stories in the 1800s and 1900s.
In Norse Mythology
Determining the estimated age of gods in myth is challenging, in part, because myth doesn't always operate in human years. Human years occur chronologically over shorter periods of time.
Mythology often refers to things vaguely or in terms of deep time. The best method we have to guess the ages of the gods is through their relationship to other gods and events. For example, we know that Thor is the son of Odin. That means that Odin is older than Thor by some amount of time.
For all we know, Odin might have been 100,000 years old by the time he had Thor but it's difficult to say.
Loki's Birth Year
As far as Loki's age in earth years, it's difficult to say. There isn't a lot of interplay between Loki's parents and the rest of the mythological canon, making Loki's birth year hard to determine.
The birth date might not matter so much as a god's place in the royal hierarchy, though. Loki and Thor interact predominantly as peers in mythology. It seems that there's a distinction between these two gods and older gods like Odin and other Asgardians who came before.
Thor's Birth Year
The same is true for Thor's birth year. Most descriptions of his origins only state that he was born to his parents, but there isn't evidence for when that occurred.
Thor and Loki's "Brotherhood"
Unlike in the Marvel universe, Thor and Loki aren't brothers. Loki isn't even Thor's adoptive brother, although they do share a pact of sorts. That means that Loki's daughter, Frigga isn't really Thor's niece. The same goes for Hela loki's daughter.
Thor, Loki, and Odin are interwoven in many ways. Loki swore to Odin that he wouldn't harm him or any of his children. Odin made a similar pact. Further, Loki offered his craftsmanship to Thor when the latter needed help battling in Asgard. As we noted, Loki also gave birth to Sleipnir, Odin's prized multi-legged horse. There's also a key symbolic connection between Loki and Thor that's worth considering.
Symbolically, Loki and Thor need to be intertwined. Loki is a representation of chaos, uncertainty, fortune, misfortune, and trickery. Thor is a representation of fertility, the sky, the weather, and more.
Personifications of Natural Forces
When people can make offerings and worship an embodiment of the sky, the uncertainty of the sky feels a little more controlled. If you do right by Thor, for example, he might provide a forgiving sky for your crops to grow. Those sacrifices attempt to ward off the trickery and misfortune that are inherent in nature.
In other words, you're warding off Loki's relationship with the natural world. These dieties don't make the world any less uncertain, but they symbolize two essential aspects of life that are easier to understand when separated. In that way, Loki and Thor are two sides of the same coin.
Historical Ages in Culture
Nordic mythology is believed have started right around 800 A.D.
That marks the start of the Viking era which ran from 790 A.D. to 1100 A.D. Germanic peoples were predominantly oral groups. That means most of their stories were passed down through language rather than writings.
The Edda Texts
One primary source for early Nordic myth is a collection of poems called the Eddas. There are two collections of poems compiled circa 1220 AD and 1270 AD, respectively. These poetic texts compile a fairly comprehensive tale of the mythology, including most, if not all of the primary gods, origins, and relationships.
Although there isn't a definite date that we see Thor or Loki pop up in culture, we can look to a few contextual clues to estimate who came first.
It's important to note that Thor is a sky god, and his scope contains lightening, thunder, rain, and prosperity. The sky is imperative to the health and wellness of all life, which is why sky gods are some of the earliest known dieties.
Thor's Mythological Cousins
Proto-Indo-European dieties that came before Norse gods were lead by a god named Dyews Phter, who was the daylight-sky god. Similarly, Perk-unos was the god of lightening and storms. His name might translate to "Striker" or "Lord of Oaks," and one of his signatures was a hammer. A combination of these gods would bear striking resemblance to Thor.
Even Hindu gods bear a resemblance to Thor and other Norse gods. Indra, for example, is associated with weather, lightening, thunder, and the sky. While there might not be a direct connection between Thor and Indra, it's worth noting that most primary religions have dieties that represent the sky.
More specifically, polytheistic religions (those with multiple gods) tend to have close equivalents to Thor. This is significant when thinking about Thor's age because the earliest instances of Thor as we know him were likely derived from earlier gods with similarities. Following that chain, the origins of Thor lay deep in time, thousands of years before we have record of various mythologies.
Loki is an archetypal trickster. He's also part-frost giant and part goddess, which puts him in between the divine and human worlds.
Tricksters Throughout Culture
Trickster gods are present in most cultures and mythologies around the world. From Kokopelli in North America to Anansi in Ghana, trickster gods hold important positions in various mythologies. One could even draw a correlation between Loki and Satan, depending on how you interpret both myths.
Loki's balance of Good and Evil
Unlike a devil, though, Loki creates chaos and has a way of cleaning up his mess. As we noted above, Loki agreed with Odin not to cause harm to him or any of his sons
He weaves in and out of the good graces of the gods, peppering their lives with misfortune. It could also be argued that the gods needed Loki.
Mythology Needs Tricksters
Change and uncertainty are inherent in life. Without change, all of the diversity and drama of life wouldn't exist. If change weren't a factor in life, species would never evolve, seasons wouldn't change, and life as we know it wouldn't be possible. Most trickster gods are nuanced in this way. They have very unpleasant qualities but they typically have inherent goodness and try to benefit the world in some way.
So, Who is Older Thor or Loki?
All of the information above might have you scratching your head wondering, "how old are these gods? What's Loki's birth year?" Unfortunately, there might not be a clear answer for you.
Infinity War Recap: Thor is Older
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we get a clear idea of each hero's age.
Is Thor Older in Marvel Comics?
If you're thinking in terms of Thor, the strongest avenger, then he's somewhere in his 1500s. That makes him the oldest official Avenger. Thor is older than Loki in these movies.
Odin's favorite son has a pretty clear age when he's standing next to Captain America in Infinity War. Captain America is nowhere to be found in Norse Mythology, though.
What About Loki?
Loki, arguably the smartest avenger, is 1,057 in his Disney Plus timeline and 1,053 in Infinity War. Odin's second son, though adopted into the royalty hierarchy, is about 500 years younger.
Ages are Uncertain in Norse Myth
When you're looking at Loki as the Germanic trickster god, he's just a little bit older than he is in the movies. If we assume that Norse Myth started around 790 A.D., Loki's childhood would have begun around 1,230 years ago.
Throughout The Ages
If we look at Thor and Loki as symbols passed down through cultures, their origins lie somewhere in pre-historic times. Sky gods and trickster gods are two the most fundamental symbols in mythology. Humans likely started personifying the forces of fertility and chaos right we created mythologies and religions.
Those gods wouldn't have been exactly the same or have the same names, but they would refer to the same things. There may never be a way to know which one of these timeless dieties is older, though.
Want to Learn More About Nordic Culture?
So, is Thor older than Loki? It's hard to say when we're talking about anything but the Marvel movies. There's a lot more to learn about these gods and their importance, though. We're here to give you more insight into everything you need to know.
Explore our site for more insights into different gods, Viking items, Norse culture, and much more.