Marvel has an extremely unique twist on Norse mythology, the most recent and obvious depiction of it seen in Thor: Love and Thunder. But portrayals of mythology and the Viking Age have varied greatly from show, movie to movie, and other media over the years. That said, this article will not be an argument for more historically accurate Viking content, but rather it will testify to how different perspectives of the same idea can work in their own ways.
Vikings & Vikings: Valhalla
This drama series was created for the History Channel and follows legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lodbrok (Travis Fimmel) as he seeks to cross the ocean and attack the West, disobeying the orders of the city’s earl, Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). While the show obviously has some historical inaccuracies, the graphic and bloody violence reflects the brutality of the Viking Age, and the show’s foundation is backed by well-researched mythology and culture.
The Last Kingdom (2015)
Alexander Dreymon stars in this historical fiction drama based on Bernard Cornwellit is Saxon stories novels. It follows a Saxon named Uhtred who is captured by the Vikings and raised by Earl Ragnar (Peter Gantzler) like his. After a brutal attack on Northumbria, Uhtred is sent on a journey of revenge and he must choose whether his loyalty is to his birthplace or to the Danes. Many have praised the gruesome series for its fantastic characters and polished action sequences.
How to Train Your Dragon Franchise
How to train your dragon is undoubtedly one of DreamWorks’ finest films, with charming characters and a script that critiques a culture’s brash fear and divisive behavior. The fantasy world is story-driven, of course, with references to Norse gods and the Viking way of life. While obviously fictionalized for younger audiences, the story is hugely satisfying as a light-hearted version suitable for children of a dark and violent age, which sets it apart from many other selections on this list. In addition to three films, the franchise has also spawned a television series titled Dream works Dragonswhich ran for eight seasons over approximately six years.
This fantastic film, starring Jim Caviezalis a sci-fi version of the epic poem, Beowulf. Set just before the Viking Age, it follows Kainan, a humanoid alien pilot whose spaceship crashes in Scandinavia. After being found and taken by a Warrior (jack huston) from a local village, the monstrous creature he was hunting begins to wreak havoc on the Vikings, leading him to use his technology and experience to help the people he unwittingly put in harm’s way. Some scenes remind Ridley Scottit is Gladiator (which may simply be due to Caviezal’s resemblance to Russell Crowe), while others provide a barrage of grotesque imagery like that of Predator Where Extraterrestrial.
Normans, set in the 8th century, provides a comic depiction of the Vikings. Many have compared the series to Monty Python and the Holy Grail for both are satirical depictions of history, but NormansThe extremely mature content sets it apart. It follows the citizens of a small village and their domestic lifestyles, and although it retains a historical appearance, viewers may be surprised and intrigued by mentions of contemporary culture and social issues. The shooting of the show was unique, as if it was produced in Norway, it is available in Norwegian and English as each scene was shot twice.
Valhalla Rising (2009)
Mads Mikkelsen stars in this underrated adventure film about a mute warrior named One-Eye who finds himself on a journey with the Vikings to a mysterious land. Gory and unapologetically intense, many consider this film a worthy Viking epic. While its low budget makes it a little off-putting, its rich religious symbolism and underlying messages present it more as a thought-provoking parable than a gritty thriller.
This film follows an archaeologist (Pal Sverre Hagen) whose studies on a Viking ship led him and his team to Finnmark to discover the secrets of the myth of Ragnarok, the end of the world. This film does not follow the Vikings in the Middle Ages and focuses primarily on exploring Norse mythology through a modern lens. With a captivating soundtrack that immerses you directly in their adventure, RagnarokThe exhilarating yet polished plot evokes classic family films like national treasure.
The Man from the North (2022)
In The man from the north, Alexander Skarsgard plays Amleth, a Viking prince who seeks revenge on his father (Ethan Hawke) is killed by his uncle (Claes Bang). This film is the perfect conglomeration of what traditionally makes a gripping Viking film, from the gruesome images to the tragic events that drive Amleth’s story of revenge. But what sets this film apart is the director Robert Egger‘ devotion to making it as historically accurate as possible so that every outfit, weapon and shield looks like an authentic attribute of the era.
The 13th Warrior (1999)
In this free adaptation of Beowulfa Muslim ambassador (Antonio Banderas) becomes involved with a group of Vikings and their quest to defend their homeland from ruthless, flesh-eating enemies. Director John McTiernan is known for its classic action films such as die hard, and you can expect to see more emphasis on story thrill than on historical accuracy. While it falls flat in some areas, it’s worth watching for the Warriors themselves, which deliver a performance that envelops the esprit de corps.
Beowulf is unique in its use of CGI motion capture throughout the film. Ray Winston portrays the legendary warrior, who must face the vengeful mother of Grendel, a demon he slayed. While some have praised the film for its adventurous animation, others don’t think it carries the emotional weight of the Germanic epic. That said, if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of the poem, you won’t find it here. But for those looking for a fresh perspective, this movie has it in spades.
The Vikings (1958)
In The Vikings, Kirk Douglas plays Einar, a warrior whose longing for a beautiful princess (Janet Leigh) is upset with Eric (Tony Curtis), his half-brother whom he did not know existed. As the princess was betrothed to King Aella (Frank Thring), Einar and Eric join forces to overthrow him. It’s a remarkable film for its time, offering plenty of action and swashbuckling adventure.