(Asgardian) Architecture NOW!
Photo credits: Kanike at RancidRainbow (special request)
Concept art by Vance Kovacs.
Since my first instalment of this architectural worldbuilding series was devoted to waters in Asgard, I had every intention to proceed with a post focused on gardens, or at least, whatever green we may see in-between the aggressive metallic towers and the massive statues before our eyes start to bleed.
Then I wrote the words “suspension bridge” to qualify the Bifröst and FosterTheory immediately responded to correct me, and rightfully so. This is, consequently, a special issue entirely devolved to the wonder that is the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, with a little venture in myths and comics, obviously, and further considerations on sparkling transport, the wondrous mysteries of magitek, and this eternal question, the Holy-Grail of wordlbuilders worldwide: does Heimdall even have to pee?
As always, profuse thanks to Kanike for the magnificent captions, and to Fosthe and Artie for their precious input; to Rene for her support, to Bucky whose body was declared ready for more design blabber, and to the untamed legion of anonymous lurkers who creep around this Tumblog with wide, glistening eyes and a silent, frothing mouth. I am writing for you, strange folk.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, this squirrel has got a nut to chase.
- In Mythology
The Rainbow Bridge of Asgard has got three names: the latter, the Bifröst (“shimmering path”, probably, perhaps “tremulous way”), and the Asbrú, which literally means “bridge of the gods” - as Ásgarðr literally means “enclosure of the gods”. Which means, incidentally, that calling its denizens “Asgardians” is completely stupid and equates to referring to, say, the English as “Englanders”. Posh people with way too much academical background call it a tautology.
Note that it first appeared in literature - our (heavily Christianised) source for Norse mythology - not as bifröst but as “bilröst” qg, in the Poetic Edda, the earliest collection of Icelandic poems we possess; in the later Prose Edda, compiled by Snorri Sturluson around 1220, the bridge is finally cited as the Bifröst. Both sources use Asbrú as an alternative.
If the “rainbow bridge” is referred to as such, it is because, in the myths and in the comics, it is a rainbow. All jokes, I prefer to warn you, are highly unwelcome. In Poetic Edda, we are told that it “burns all with flames”. This is, of course, to repel the beastly Frost-Giants (beware Marvel’s simplification, as all Jötnar are not icy ones!).
In Prose Edda’s, a sapient being who calls himself High (certainly Odin in disguise) explains that the gods built a bridge between Heaven - their home - and Earth, and that the humans may call it a rainbow. It has three colours, and “is built with art and skill to a greater extent than other constructions”. Its strength is rivalled by none, although during Ragnarök it is bound to break under the charge of the Fire-Giants who will invade Ásgarðr: they and their mounts are doomed to fall into great rivers below.
The gods gather every day to hold council at the foot of the World-Tree Yggdrasill, and for that borrow the shimmering pathway. Only Þórr (Thor) is not allowed near the bridge, certainly because he rides a thunder chariot that alone may damage the construction.
Naturally, the “whitest of the gods”, the watchful, gold-toothed Heimdallr (“son of nine mothers” and father of mankind), is guarding the Bridge from the Jötnar (giants) who are perpetually attempting to reach the gods’ haven.The bridge ends in his domain Himinbjörg, “heaven’s mountain” (or “castle”).
- In Comics
In comic lore, the bridge made its first appearance in Journey into Mystery #85 (October 1962) as penned by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, under the name “Bifrost”.
Cough. It has more than three colours, you’ll notice. This is offensively inaccurate.
Anyway, the method of transport is simple: you walk or run on the Rainbow Bridge, and you can jump onto Earth below. Science, my dears, I say it always, is overrated.
- In Film
Now, for the movies, that’s another thing. Because modern audiences are so jaded, you know. Here is the Word of God on the whole shiny-transportation-device affair:
‘… this iconic element of Thor’s universe, the “Rainbow Bridge”, the Bifröst - which in the comics is a sort of a psychedelic, turning-right-angle thing that leads all the way from Asgard to Earth - here is a literal bridge, but clearly with energies running through it that are very special.’ (…)
‘We tried every kind of version of this fusion between a light-source, a light-energy which would play very importantly into the story at the end, but also had this magical feel that we were after. As I said it was tied in to this, this idea of this turret, this Observatory - this globe which, in terms of directing people away from Asgard, was now something directed by Heimdall, who with this extraordinary inner mechanism could direct this gun, this nuzzle, this turret, this observatory into the Universe and through the way in which the lightning connects and reflects on the interior, creates a kind of an astral map; an astral map reflecting, if you like, the patterns of Yggdrasil, the “Tree of Life”. So you see an idea of it here, as if it’s some sort of an extraordinary underground map or some sort of road map where he chooses a place inside that nebula, inside that vast galactic solar system that is Yggdrasil, through which the Nine Realms are spread - he chooses the destination and he sends you there.’
There, you have it. Don’t even have to do research. Ah, I love when directors are making my worldbuilding easy in their commentaries, which happens so rarely -
if only he would have done the same for Jötunheim.
From what I’ve seen, the actual quartz bridge doesn’t reach the palace; we see it traverse the city above water, but it must end at some point, perhaps before a set of gates - I found it impossible to determine whether the palace grounds were open to all or only to noblemen and/or counsellors, etc. - as we clearly see Thor and his companions ride along a metal (it looks like metal) bridge at the feet of those huge statues, and as it seems, this pathway must be the one we see reach Asgard, leading directly to Odin’s throne.
Of course, contrary to what I too-quickly said last time when I was speaking of water, the bridge is not suspended: it is supported by a series of identical structures which I suspect of being ways to keep the bridge alive; they are perhaps part of a gigantic machinery that continuously generates the bridge’s texture and powers it. Beware, I said perhaps. Also, I don’t know how it could work.
As FosterTheory remarked, we might call the structure very close to a cantilever bridge - although this type of bridge technically supposes that the structure is only supported at both ends, whereas the Bifröst is in fact supported by those massive piers, which we may also be tempted to think as guardrooms of sorts.
Note that the ginormous golden doors that open to the last yards of bridge leading to Heimdall’s Observatory (its official name) are built on a big headland and I am starting to wonder if this reef mayn’t be completely artificial. After all, if we admit (very willingly) that the whole of Asgard was created at some point, or most of it at the very least, we are capable of envisioning even the seemingly-natural landscape as a putative construction.
As a conclusion, I have two remarks. One, that I am still wondering about the Bifröst’s usage - is it meant to be borrowed by merchants also, communicating between the various worlds which know of one another’s existence? Or is it a V.I.P. kind of club?
The second one concerns the concept art. Obviously, everything was not included as such in the movie, although Vance Kovacs’ art remained mostly preserved if you compare with other artists whose vision was actually much less realistic. One thing you constantly see in the concept art, though, is that Asgard is absolutely tiny. But on the other hand, the film itself didn’t exactly give the opposite impression; we are often left to wonder whether Asgard is not supposed to be this ridiculously small land, a city-state floating on its own amongst the nebulae.
Pretty, yes, but totally ridiculous. Because there visibly are people of different ethnicities, for starters. So, either the “Asgardians” came fully-evolved from another land, or the concept art like Craig Shoji’s above in the last picture is… bah.
lotr 30 day challenge » day 13 » favourite villain
Oh my god. Everything just makes sense now.
ARIEL YOU STUPID IDIOT YOUR BRA DOESNT MATCH YOUR TAIL YOU LOOK LIKE A FREAKING FASHION CATASTROPHE
I don’t understand how they all have different hair colors if they’re Triton’s biological daughters…
there’s only one possible explanation for this. triton had concubines.
Superwholock Via Hogwarts Houses
So, I thought I’d do the Hogwarts Houses as fits the great threesome of Supernatural, Doctor Who and Sherlock. And whilst many of these characters have traits of more than one house I went with the one that seemed to fit them best. And look, Slytherin isn’t full of baddies! I didn’t want to put any baddies in, didn’t want to fall into that trap, but couldn’t think of anyone in Sherlock who screamed Slytherin more that Moriarty.
Hope you all like!
This is actually perfection
Punking up the ponies!
I really, really love these.
these are fuckin radical oh my god
Hate ponies, LOVE these.
oh hey i just found this in my faves.
but if you’ve never seen this movie though
I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS MOVIE
WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIS FACE WHY IS IT JUST HIS FACE WHAT
WHY DOES LEONARDO DICAPRIO RANDOMLY HAVE A CAT ON HAND
WHY DOES THE MAN WITH THE WEIRD FACE NOT LIKE THE CAT
WAS WEIRD FACE GUY MAKING OUT WITH THE CHICK OR
listen to the imaginary voice of your dog, will
“I really love doing research for a character, and like, I have to know everything, I have to understand every single…”