Who is Zeus? When Russell Crowe was announced to be playing the iconic Greek God in the Thor: Love and Thunder trailer, people were shocked, to say the least. How would Zeus factor into the MCU? The trailer for Thor 4 didn’t reveal much about Zeus’ role, but the movie didn’t just set him up for future films, but also suggested that he might play an antagonistic role in them.
When it came to Russell Crowe’s performance as the King of Olympus, his co-stars were full of praise. “It was so much fun to see Russell Crowe play Zeus and have such a great sense of humour with the character,” Natalie Portman, who plays Jane Foster, said in an interview with Disney via The Direct. “I think we’re so used to him in these very strong, heroic roles, so it was fun to see him be able to let loose.”
Chris Hemsworth added, “I never thought I’d see the day where Russell would appear on screen with hints at Gladiator imagery, yet with a wink – totally self-deprecating. He didn’t hold back.” Given how hyped Russell Crowe’s portrayal is, the question we all naturally have is: Who is Zeus? And what does his arrival mean for the MCU?
Who is Zeus?
In the Marvel comics, Zeus Panhellenios is the King of the Olympians and the God of Lightning. In terms of his early life, family, and key life moments, the Marvel comics took a lot of inspiration from Greek mythology, meaning that his marriage to Hera, countless affairs and various demigod children, including Hercules, were also events that happened in the Marvel comics.
The Asgardians and Olympians had a skirmish during the Viking era, with Hercules leading men to kill the Norsemen who were protected by Thor. Despite this, however, Zeus and Odin managed to squash their beef and put an end to the Asgard/Olympus war: instead deciding to be allies in the face of the looming threat of the Celestials.
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An alliance with between the Gods of Olympus and the Eternals was later formed, with the Eternals agreeing to act as the Olympian Gods’ representatives on earth, but a war later broke out between the Eternals and Olympians after humans begun to see the Eternals as Gods instead, leading to Zeus and the other Olympians becoming jealous.
What are Zeus’ powers?
Like Odin and Thor, Zeus has cosmic powers on account of being a God, with his abilities including enhanced strength, speed, agility, immortality, invulnerability, and regenerative healing.
As the God of lightning, his trademark is being able to generate large amounts of electricity and attack people with lightning bolts: an ability that’s further enhanced through his lightning bolt-style weapon. The Marvel comics have confirmed that his electrokinesis is more powerful than that of Thors, and that there is only one Olympian stronger than him: his son, Hercules. His cosmic powers also give him the ability to manipulate and channel magic. All of these abilities also seem to present during his MCU debut: easily beating and overpowering Thor in battle, but a point of vulnerability seems to be his own power.
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While being stabbed by Thor with his own weapon didn’t kill him, the post-credit scene showed that he was substantially wounded, meaning that the weapon was powerful enough to disrupt his regenerative healing power and invulnerability.
How does Zeus come into the MCU?
Zeus makes his first appearance in Thor 4 as a lazy, arrogant, orgy-loving showman. He seems more interested in using his powers to put on a flashy show than he is for any noble causes: as demonstrated when he refuses to help Thor in his quest to defeat Gorr the God Butcher, and even tries to prevent Thor from leaving out of fear that Gorr would be able to find him.
He also seems somewhat sadistic, as seen when he appears to take pleasure when he tries to kill Korg. Above all, he seems to be driven by vanity and pride, as in the Thor 4 post-credit scene he instructs Hercules to take down the superheroes because they are being treated like Gods. It’s uncertain when Zeus will return, but given his history with the Eternals, he may well appear in an Eternals 2, or serve as the antagonist of Thor 5.
Thor: Love and Thunder is available to watch in theatres.