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Every Pantheon That Exists In The Marvel Universe And What They Have Actually Done

The debut of Moon Knight has marked the arrival of the Egyptian gods in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they’re far from the first deities on the block. Marvel Comics’ gods have been part of the MCU ever since Thor first touched down on Midgard, but the Ennead stand out for being unabashedly godly in their portrayal. These aren’t Asgardian aliens who inspired Norse myths or Eternal constructs put in place by Celestials eons ago, these are straight-up gods - and they’ve opened the door to a boatload of other pantheons from the annals of Marvel Comics lore.

What began with a reimagining of Norse mythology has exploded into a Marvel Universe that is chock-full of god squads, and these days you can’t throw a stick on Earth-616 without hitting one deity or another. In the Marvel Universe, the stories of the ancient past are very much nonfiction, and coming face-to-face with one’s maker is a frighteningly common occurrence for its citizens. 

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  • The Asgardians Have Been Instrumental In Keeping Midgard Safe For Millennia

    For as long as there has been a Marvel Comics Universe, the Asgardians have been its preeminent pantheon, and with good reason. More formally known as the Aesir of Norse tradition, the gods who inhabit the shining city of Asgard have been intricately linked to life on the planet they call Midgard since the beginning, and have battled to keep it safe from the other realms for millennia.

    It all goes back to All-Father Odin, who is generally credited with creating the human race about a million years before the modern age. In time, Odin’s son Thor would become Midgard’s greatest champion, but the God of Thunder is far from the only Aesir who is notable for making a difference. The Warriors Three, Balder the Brave, and most of those who fill out the ranks of the Valkyrie are all proud Aesir warriors, each dedicated to representing Asgard and maintaining peace throughout the Nine Realms. As a whole, the Asgardians have kept Midgard safe from Celestial judgement, Dark Elf invasion, and countless other threats. 

    And when representatives of other pantheons come together to protect the homeworld of their followers, it is almost always the Asgardians leading the initiative and leading the charge into battle.

    On the flip side, some Aesir - like Cul Borson, Amora the Enchantress, and Skurge the Executioner - dedicate their immortal lives to antagonism and have threatened the Earth far more often than they’ve protected it. Thankfully, their fellow Asgardians are always ready and willing to keep them in check.

  • The Vanir Are The Lesser-Known Frenemies Of The Asgardians, But No Less Important

    While Asgard has become a household name thanks to Thor and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most don’t realize that the ancient Norse believed in two distinct families of gods, each equally worthy of worship. The Vanir are best understood as cousins of the Aesir, hailing from another of the Nine Realms in Vanaheim, and are more or less as powerful. They were founded by Njord, an uncle of Odin’s, but that didn’t predict the two races from descending into millennia of warfare.

    A lasting peace between the Aesir and the Vanir was finally forged when Odin wed Freyja, daughter of Freyr. She would go on to give birth to Balder, Angela, Tyr, Hermod, and Laussa, in addition to becoming a stepmother to Thor and Loki. Though occasional conflicts would still occur, this union marked the dawning of a new era of intermingling and interbreeding, leading to an Asgard that is now populated by members of both races. In fact, some of Asgard’s bravest warriors, including Sif and Heimdall, are of Vanir origin. 

    The Vanir are destined to fight alongside the Aesir when Ragnarok inevitably arrives. Until then, they’ll both do what they can to keep the peace across the Nine Realms.

  • Hercules Aside, The Olympians Have Threatened The People Of Earth As Much As They’ve Protected Them

    In terms of name recognition within the Marvel Universe, the Olympians of ancient Greece rank behind only the Asgardians. That’s mostly on the back of the demi-god Hercules, who has spent the vast majority of his semi-immortal life living among the people of Earth, and who has become a longtime member of the Avengers in the modern age. 

    But not every Olympian is as altruistic as the Incredible Herc. Their version of a Sky-Father, Zeus, is somehow even more of a jerk than Odin, and far less of a dedicated protector. In fact, Zeus has been an antagonist to the heroes of Earth more often than he’s been an ally, and that’s especially true when he’s under the influence of his wife Hera, who might just be a straight-up supervillain. Together, Zeus and Hera attempted to replace the Earth with an ancient version they were more familiar with, and, when that didn’t work, they moved on to the far reaches of space, where they became violent, planet-razing warlords. 

    But it’s not all bad. In addition to Hercules, Greek gods like Ares, Athena, and Aphrodite have each taken a turn at superheroism, with varying degrees of success. As they often were in their traditional telling, the Olympians are a mixed bag of imperfect individuals hiding within perfect vessels - and their perspective from up atop Mount Olympus is definitely a bit skewed. 

  • The Heliopolitan Ennead Interact With Earth Via Their Avatars

    Making their home in Heliopolis, a pocket dimension permanently connected to Egypt, the Heliopolitans came to be worshipped by the ancient Egyptians as gods, and the Ennead were the greatest among their number. 

    Technically, the sun god Ra was the progenitor of the Ennead and not a true member, but several of the Ennead would follow in his path as benevolent rulers of their region of Earth. Others, like Seth, would attempt to take over the planet for more nefarious purposes, and on those occasions, representatives from other pantheons, such as Thor of the Asgardians, would have to step in to set things right.

    For their part, the Ennead traditionally preferred a more “hands-off” approach to their deific duties. As figures like Isis, Horus, and Osiris faded into the background, others came forward to influence earthly affairs through a series of avatars. The panther goddess Bast became the patron saint of Wakanda and empowered generations of Black Panthers to defend its hidden borders. The moon god Khonshu, meanwhile, cut deals with a series of Moon Knights, offering them immunity from death, so long as they agreed to protect those who would travel by night.

    Today, T’Challa and Marc Spector carry on the legacies of the Black Panther and the Moon Knight and, in doing so, ensure that the Ennead still have an active presence on Earth - and are not condemned to the dustbin of worship.

  • The Amatsu-Kami Of Japan Produced Amatsu-Mikaboshi, The Chaos King

    Sometimes known as the Shinto gods, the Amatsu-Kami used to have their home dimension connected directly to the island of Honshu through the Bridge of Heaven, but that connection exists no longer. Still, the Amatsu-Kami continue to influence happenings on Japan and the Earth-616 Universe as a whole, if not directly, then through the consequences of their past actions.

    At some point millennia ago, the Amatsu-Kami went to war with the Olympians of ancient Greece. The results of that war are not nearly as important as the weapons that came out of it. The Amatsu-Kami forged two swords for the purposes of slaying Olympians, Grasscutter and Godkiller. Both blades would survive into the modern age, where they’d be wielded by mortal champions like Gorgon, one-time Hydra assassin turned mutant hero of Krakoa. Another contemporary warrior, Wolverine, would interact with and gain knowledge from the Amatsu-Kami during his time in Japan.

    But by far the most consequential action ever taken by the Amatsu-Kami was their defeat and imprisonment of the demonic entity known as Mikaboshi, or the Chaos King. Though his origins are unclear and he is not believed to be a true member of their pantheon, the Amatsu-Kami took responsibility for Mikaboshi and kept him in captivity for millennia, only to have him break loose in the modern day and start wreaking havoc. The Chaos King destroyed and enslaved a large portion of the Amatsu-Kami and then turned his attention to the Olympians, waging a devastating war on them that would result in the destruction of Mount Olympus and the demise of Zeus.

    A “God Squad” led by Hercules and staffed with members of multiple other pantheons was finally able to arrest the threat of the Chaos King, but not before the balance of godly power in the Marvel Universe had been firmly and permanently shifted. The Amatsu-Kami, for their part, haven’t been heard from much since. 

  • The Annunaki Have Been Antagonizing The Marvel Universe Since The Hyborian Age Of Conan The Barbarian

    The Annunaki - not to be confused with a race of ancient aliens of the same name - are a pantheon of deities first worshipped in Mesopotamia, but whose story spread as far as the fictional nations of Atlantis and Archeron. Their heyday came in the Hyborian Age, lasting from 18000 to 8000 BCE, better known as the era of Conan the Barbarian and other such “swords and sorcery”-type characters. Much of the magic in Conan’s world was a direct result of Annunaki intervention.

    But while Conan would eventually find himself transported into the modern era of the Marvel Universe, the gods of his day would not. As soon as monotheism started to creep into the local populace, the Annunaki decided to close up shop and retreat into their home dimension of Dilmun. They still show up for the occasional Council of Godheads, but otherwise don’t concern themselves at all with the happenings of an Earth that no longer believes in them.