What about Thor’s half-brother?
For most people, Loki will always be to Thor as Red Skull is to Captain America – his ultimate nemesis. But Loki has always navigated the fine line between enemy and ally for the Thunder God. And lately, in both the comics and the MCU, Loki seems to be put in a much less villainous role.
Not that Thor doesn’t have plenty of villains to fill that gap. Malekith, Mangog, Amora the Enchantress, Crusher Creel the Absorbing Man, and the Wrecking Crew are all classic opponents. Yet none of them have the consistent history with Odin’s son that the mighty Ulik claims.
In 1967 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced Ulik in Thor #137. The Rock Trolls hail from Nornheim, the subterranean realm of Asgard. Their king, Geirrodur, tasked Ulik to steal Thor’s hammer. Ulik, the mightiest of the Rock Trolls, was given “Pounders” to help equalize the advantage that Thor’s mighty mallet, Mjolnir, gave him. Ulik’s Pounders were the equivalent of brass knuckles but made of Uru, the mystical metal that Mjolnir was crafted from.
While many of Thor’s foes rely on magic, trickery, or unearthly powers to combat him, Ulik was designed to be his physical equal. Every time Thor and Ulik battle, readers can count on a savage contest between two well-matched heavyweights. Invariably, Mjolnir gives the Thunder God a slight advantage over the Troll champion.
An Enduring Opponent
While never able to get the better of Thor, Ulik refuses to fade into obscurity. Our favorite Troll has over 100 comic book appearances facing off against the God of Thunder and his Asgardian allies. For most villains, this would mean a slow descent into “B-Villain” status, where he might get an occasional appearance just to get beat up leading to a bigger foe, or get passed on to weaker heroes to battle.
Instead, throughout the decades Ulik remains a worthy opponent for Thor. He even replaced him for a bit, when Karnilla the Norn Queen’s enchantment tricked everyone into seeing him as Tanarus, God of Thunder beginning in Mighty Thor #8. An enraged Thor eventually returns to kill the imposter. Fortunately, in the Marvel Universe, death means as little to Asgardians as it does to X-Men and Ulik somehow returned in the War of the Realms to plague Thor and his allies.
Could Thor’s most tenacious opponent have a future in the Marvel Comics Universe? I am apparently one of only a few people who did not love the movie, Thor: Ragnarok. It was an undeniably popular movie, but this was not the Thor I grew up within the comic books. (I won’t even mention fat Thor from Avengers: Endgame). In Thor’s almost 60-year comic book history, I cannot recall a comedic version of the hero. Unfortunately, I don’t see Ulik as a protagonist for this version of Thor.
However, the new Thor movie on the horizon hints at a possible return to more mystical Asgardian roots featured in his first movie. The nine realms have so much potential to be explored in either the movie or in Loki’s Disney series. If that happens, the door opens for Thor’s biggest rival. The best part of Thor’s last movie was his protracted battle against the Hulk. Imagine a similar scene with an Asgardian backdrop with Thor facing off against the bestial Ulik and his mighty uru pounders!
Will a future MCU appearance bring Ulik the Rock Troll and his comic appearances the popularity they deserve, or will the mighty Ulik remain Almost Infamous?