The hero has made the decision to embrace his newly formed self and is starting to demonstrate what he has learnt on the Hero’s Journey. But it isn’t enough.
The dark forces which have been pursuing the hero on the Road Back now have one last go at stopping him. We have reached the Climax of the story and another death. The hero must experience a second ordeal, a purification and purging of the past, before he can return to his Ordinary World. In facing down this final test, the hero must demonstrate the lessons learned and use his new insights to gain victory.
The Climax may involve an actual battle and real confrontation with death, or it may be a choice between options to demonstrate a change of character. Some stories have many climaxes, as the various subplots are all brought to an end, and this is what we see in Thor.
Thor watches helplessly as the Destroyer burns its way through the town. He tells his Warrior friends to return to Asgard and turns to face his fate. The Destroyer has been sent to Earth by Loki to kill him and he can’t allow this destruction of his new home and friends to continue.
Thor faces the Destroyer and speaks directly to Loki who is watching from the throne in Asgard. Thor apologises to his brother and offers his life to save the innocent lives of others. Instead of frying him, the Destroyer hits him, sending him flying down the street.
Thor lands on the ground, crushed but satisfied – it’s over, he tells Jane. She is safe. Thor dies, and the Destroyer turns to leave.
As Jane cries over Thor’s body, across the desert Mjolnir begins to break free from the earth. It hurtles through the air, flying towards Thor. He has made the ultimate sacrifice and has become worthy of the hammer.
Thor is resurrected and catches Mjolnir, raising it aloft, his armour and cape also restored.
Realising Thor is back, the metal monster turns to have another go at killing him, but Thor wields his hammer and destroys the Destroyer.
Thor is back to his former godly splendour but the old arrogant swagger is gone. He plans to return to Asgard to deal with his wayward brother, pledging his support to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a defender of this realm, but only if they return all of Jane’s research and allow her to continue her work. They happily agree, and Thor takes Jane to the Bifrost landing site in the desert, promising to return for her as soon as he can.
This is a classic death and resurrection scenario, but it’s not the final climax of the story. There is another fight to come. Thor must confront his brother and put right the damage done in his absence using his new found wisdom.