Vikings, Odin, and Media — Oh My! Norse Mythology in Today's Pop Culture .
By Fran Neumann
Norse mythology and Nordic history have experienced a pop-culture breakthrough in recent years. More specifically, Vikings are getting a lot of attention. These burly warriors with a dark, rich history have taken creators by the horns as new novels, films, TV series, and games strive to portray what being a Viking was really like.
So, why is there a new fascination with Vikings and Norse-related content? Find out below.
Why Viking Culture?
In 793, folks didn't have the same feelings toward the Viking culture as they do now. This year wasn't the first Viking-related raid on English shores, but the impact was more considerable considering religious implications. Nordic warriors attacked Lindisfarne, an island described as the place where Christianity began.
Today's notion of Vikings is primarily based on their statuses as bloodthirsty warriors, although history suggests there were way more to them. The people were technologically advanced, intuitive traders, and skilled craftsmen — just check out these weapons used in Viking battles, and you'll see what we mean. But beyond raiding and trading, what draws consumers in is the highly complicated fantastical Norse religion.
Now that the “why Nordic culture” is out of the way, let's talk about what Norse mythology and its followers are in.
The Nordic culture is primarily made up of Scandinavian people. If you're looking for direct descendants of the Viking people, or want to explore ancient Nordic relics, then head to Scandinavia.
But if you want something a little closer to home, then it's time to turn to media representation. Keep in mind that Viking books, films, and TV show writers still take liberties — mythology is skewed, and content is catered to the consumer. However, a lack of accuracy doesn't make these experiences any less fun, though!
Here are a few examples of popular media cashing in on the Viking craze:
The Norse gods and their followers have thousands of poems and stories about their history, dating back to over a millennium ago (Beowulf, anyone?).
But the culture is still written about today. Vikings have a home in modern comics and literature, with notable examples including Marvel's Thor and Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
If you want to live out a highly-stylized, stereotypical Viking life, the best place is in videos games.
Most games enjoy exploring the pillaging warrior side of the Norse spectrum. You'll find games that offer grand adventure, battle strategy, and even opportunities to build up your clan.
A few games, like God of War (2018), delve into the dark, complicated Norse mythology. But don't expect dabbling with the big Gods here, as the game is rooted in Norse Paganism. However, even if you're familiar with pop-culture Vikings, you may discover a few new aspects here, as the game focuses more on the less-represented side of mythology.
What's trending right now are television shows and movies featuring our robust Nordic warriors.
Of course, there's the partnership between Marvel and Disney, which has produced seemingly never-ending content revolving around Thor and Asgard. But The History Channel also created its 8-season series. Other major production companies, like Netflix, have taken their stab at the everyday life of Vikings.
Media trends rise and fall, and who can say the fate of our fictional Nordic warriors? However, it's hard to argue the impact Viking warriors have had throughout history. And from their complicated culture to their fantastical mythology, it's easy to see why the Norse folk have inspired creatives for thousands of years. We think Vikings will continue to fascinate audiences for years to come.