God of War 4 (aka God of W4r, God of Four, 4 God 4 Fourious, etc) is, I think it’s fair to say, not what people expected from a God of War follow-up. In it, Kratos has a precious new family member (his beard) and also a son. What does it all mean? Nothing’s concrete yet, but there’s been some interesting speculation.
Here’s what we know, per interviews like this one: the new God of War takes place later in Kratos’ life. He’s an immortal demigod, so he’s got a lot of life to live. He left Greece to start over, which is how he finds himself in the domain of Norse mythology, during a time when gods walk the Earth. Also, he’s got a kid who’s part-god himself.
That setup creates some interesting possibilities, especially based on hints people have noticed in the new God of War’s debut trailer.
The first theory to become prevalent is a fun, if obvious one. Over the course of God of War, Kratos—with his magnificent and slightly familiar beard—will become Odin. That would make his conspicuously unnamed son, yep, Thor. That’s the idea behind theories like the one proposed by holyarmy:
“This is the journey of Kratos to become the Norse God of War, or the Odin that we know. He might be fighting some kind of monster or on his journey to find the Yggdrasil, but no gods. When he find Gungnir, he became the Odin.”
“If the scenario is indeed happen, that kid is definitely Thor. That’s why they don’t reveal his name.”
The idea also gels with Kratos’ goal of figuring himself out/not being a god-slaughtering maniac. He might ultimately end up trying to save his new Norse buddies from Ragnarok rather than, you know, killing and fucking his way through another pantheon.
To top it off, the trailer has no shortage of lightning/thunder/storm imagery. Kratos’ son’s arrows even seem to have some kind of electrical property to them. Hints at what’s to come? Certainly could be, given that director Cory Barlog has said the trailer is loaded with hints and secrets.
This theory also gels with one of the trailer’s more overt secrets: a cloaked figure who appears behind Kratos’ son.
Based on the helmet, people think the mysteeeeeeerious figure might be Loki. In Norse mythology, Loki is actually Odin’s brother and Thor’s step-uncle, which means the above theory still mostly checks out, especially considering that Kratos’ does have a brother.
So that’s the relatively straightforward theory. Now for a couple... more elaborate ones. Here’s an especially well-constructed take by JEMerc:
“A lot of people started assuming [Kratos’ son] was Thor because the arrows he fires have some sort of lighting property and because let’s face it Thor is the most recognizable norse god.”
“However I started poking around and found out about Ullr, according to http://norse-mythology.org/ullr/: ‘Ullr is an excellent archer, hunter, skater, and skier, handsome, warlike, and an especially apt deity to invoke before a duel.’”
“So now we can start seeing the similarities with the kid on the demo we read on a little longer and see: ‘Ullr is the son of the grain goddess Sif, and therefore the stepson of the thunder god Thor.’”
“Ok so he is the stepson of Thor and son of Sif? From the demo I got the feeling that the boy’s mother was also a huntress and that she had died or maybe she just left them...”
“If we go to wikipidea and search for Sif we find out a bit more about her that might be the biggest clue to all of this: ‘In the Prose Edda, Sif is named as the mother of the goddess Þrúðr by Thor and of Ullr with a father whose name is not recorded.’”
“‘A father whose name is not recorded’ we can already imagine who this might be right? Bearded Kratos!”
“The theory I saw running around is that Kratos was training his son Thor to become a god and then Odin came around to steal his son and claim it as his own (explaining the ghosts seen in the demo), but what I think will happen is that Thor might he angry at Kratos for having a child with his wife, Sif, and at Ullr for being that child so Thor might be sending monsters after them and eventually we get to face him ourselves. Then Odin and possibly all the other norse gods also get angry at Kratos and he goes on another murderous godly rampage.”
So basically, Kratos’ son is Ullr, not Thor, and Kratos slots nicely into the mythology as Ullr’s unnamed dad. Meanwhile, Thor is pissed at Kratos for doinking his wife, so he’s hunting Kratos and sending a bunch of monsters after him. Cue: Kratos bifurcating gods while jamming to Slayer, part two.
Then there’s the craziest theory, dreamed up by 10SB: Kratos’ son is Ragnarok.
“I feel like with what we’ve seen it doesn’t make sense for Kratos to be looking for a fight. He seems content living peacefully as opposed to looking for things to kill so I feel like the antagonist has to come to him in this scenario. What if the plot revolves around the Norse gods trying to kill the boy or find a way to use him and Kratos has to protect him. We saw earlier on the video that the boy isn’t normal, his arrows had magical properties to them so maybe the boy is more special.”
“And what if the reason the Norse Gods want the boy dead is because of a prophecy, what if the boy’s name is Ragnarok. I’m theorizing that the twist would have the developers take some liberties with the mythos and turn Ragnarok from a series of events and make it into a person wherein unbeknownst to the Norse Gods they’re gonna fulfill the prophecy by trying to kill the boy.”
In short, the Norse gods are trying to stop the end of the world, and that means killing Kratos’ kid. Kratos is not even the slightest bit cool with that idea, putting him in a familiar position: god-killer with a chip on his shoulder. Also, it almost feels too fitting that Kratos’ son would be an apocalypse. Overcoming the terrible emotional distance created by traditional masculine modes and figuring out how to protect/prevent the apocalypse? Yep, sounds like a solid metaphor for parenthood.
All of these theories are compelling, but obviously, they might all be way off the mark. Time will tell. Are you an expert in Norse mythology and God of War? Do you have any theories? If so, congratulations: this is your time to shine.