Fenrir (Old Norse: "fen-dweller") or Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse: "Fenrir's wolf", often translated "Fenris-wolf"), also referred to as Hróðvitnir ("fame-wolf") and Vánagandr ("monster of the [River] Ván"), is a monster and wolf-like Jötunn in Norse mythology and one of the several monstrous offspring born to the traitorous god known as Loki. Fenrir was born as an abnormally large and powerful wolf with great intelligence but an evil temperment and became a formidable enemy of the gods until they arranged for mystical chains to be forged to contain the monstrous beast until the day of Ragnarök. When that day comes, Fenrir, alongside all other evils, engaged the Gods of Asgard in which he was prophesied to kill the Lord of Asgard by the name of Odin.
Role in Myths
Born through the union between Loki and Angrboða, a giantess who was counted among his wives, Jörmungandr was unfortunate enough to be born as a Beast Jötunn like his brother Jörmungandr due to being born with monster form where in his case, a massive wolf-like creature. As if his accelerated growth and ferocity in the vein with ordinary wolves made him terrifying enough that only Týr who have a courage to form an amicable relationship with him, Fenrir was prophesied to take part in Ragnarök where he will devour his destined opponent Odin. Not only that, Fenrir has sired a number of children presumably with an unidentified wolf where among them happened to be Sköll and Hati who destined to slay Sól (personification of Sun) and Mani (personification of Moon) respectively.
To delay the inevitable, the Gods decided to restrain Fenrir with a mystical fetter called Gleipnir after other bindings failed. For such purpose, the dwarves crafted it out of equally impossible things:
- The stomping of cats.
- The beards of women.
- The roots of mountains.
- The spit of birds.
- The breath of fishes.
- The nerves (ie. nervousness) of bears.
Out of involved Gods, only Týr who had the courage to bind the wolf Jötunn. The plan worked at the cost of the courageous Týr losing one of his hands as the price of betraying the divine beast that used to be his friend. For a good measure, they inserted Gelgja, a cord hanging from Gleipnir into Gjöll, a large stone slab which then fastened deep into the ground with Thviti (a larger rock) to keep it in place before gagging Fenrir with a sword.
As Fenrir "howled horribly", his saliva formed the river Ván and remain trapped until Ragnarök. Even so, it was also a form of cruel mercy since the Gods refused to soil their home, Asgard, with his blood and that it was them who took the wolf wolf Jötunn in to begin with.
During the Ragnarök, Fenrir successfully break free from his fetter and devours Odin. He then in turn, slain by one of his sons Víðarr.
Far more law-abiding than one might expect, Fenrir agreed to test the chain as long as the Gods of Asgard swore to let him go afterwards. However, this hardly veils his hostility towards the Gods he inherited from his Jötunn parent since the day the Gods killed their predecessor Ymir, showing a genuine malice. When the gods broke their oaths, he bit off the hand of Týr in recompense, a sacrifice the War God humbly accepted due to their friendship.
Powers and Abilities
As an enormous wolf-like Jötunn whose gape said to large enough to reach the sky, Fenrir arguably possesses wolf-like traits and abilities befitting to his form albeit in god-like scale. However, the most terrifying aspect of this Jötunn is his ability to devour anything and everything, even the Gods. Such traits later passed to his progenies Sköll and Hati, who are destined to eat the sun and moon upon Ragnarok.
In Popular Culture
- Harry Potter: Fenrir Greyback, a Death Eater werewolf who serves Lord Voldemort, shares the first name with the mythical Fenrir, given his lycanthropyc appearance and tendencies.
- Marvel Comics: In Marvel Comics, Fenrir, under the name Fenris Wolf, shared his role and portrayal with that of his mythical counterpart. However, the character's history was expanded in which he was responsible for an event that became the staple of the tale called Little Red Riding Hood.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe: Fenris's Marvel Comics incarnation in turn, adapted into Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here however, Fenris Wolf is a female and hailed from Asgardian Wolves, a race of giant wolves native at Asgard. By the time it appears in Thor: Ragnarok, Fenris Wolf already following Hela's exile before eventually revived as undead version of herself. She then eventually killed by Hulk who hurled him to the outer space.
- Magnus Chase: Fenrir also featured in Magnus Chase book series as Fenris Wolf and an antagonist.
- Saint Seiya:In the Asgard filler saga appears Epsilon Alioth Fenrir, one of the God Warriors in the service of the god Odin and his celebrant Hilda. It is a boy who grew up with a pack of wolves in the woods surrounding the city of Asgard after the violent death of his parents (killed by a bear) and the abandonment by the servants of the house, which later fell into ruin and forgotten. This led the young warrior to develop a hatred and a deep misanthropy towards men. It should also be noted that "Fenrir" is also the name of the boy's dinasty.