Svartalfheim? Jotunheim? Marvel’s Ten Realms Explained
Marvel Comics

Svartalfheim? Jotunheim? Marvel’s Ten Realms Explained

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Over the next few months, Marvel will be releasing their latest comic book event called War of the Realms. Spinning out of Jason Aaron’s excellent Thor run, it will bring Thor’s mythology to the grand stage.

But you might be asking yourself, “What are all of the realms?” It’s a resonable request as even some of the most die-hard fans don’t even know. Heck, not even Marvel Comics creators know them all.

As a result, I thought I would be put together a handy guide for anyone who wants to know about all Ten of the Marvel realms.

Introducing Yggdrasill, The World Tree

Before I dig into the ten realms I need to explain Yggdrasill as it serves as the foundations of the realms. Also known as The World Tree, Yggdrasill holds the realms together and allows them to connect to one another. In the comics, it is either represented as a grand tree – with the realms sitting in the branches – or more abstractly as an energy field.

Each of the realms have their own situation on the tree which usually align with particular characteristics. The more regal of realms, such as Asgard, are situated near the top of the tree. Realms with a more sinister approach are down the bottom, among the roots.

What Are The Ten Realms?

So what are each of the realms? Read on to find out what they are and a bit about them.

Asgard by Scott Kolins.
Asgard by Scott Kolins.


Notable inhabitants: Thor, Odin, Frigga, Heimdall, Loki, Sif, Balder the Brave, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg.

With its inclusion in the MCU and the fact that a huge chunk of Thor stories are set here, Asgard is easily the realm with the most recognition. It’s home to the Aesir, who are one of the two tribes of Asgardians.

Asgard is broken up into a diverse landscape. There’s the city of Asgard, which acts as the capital and home to most of the Asgardian characters we know and love; Valhalla, the resting place for the honourable dead; The Realm Below, the subterranean caverns underneath Asgard; and many more.

The Asgardian city has been destroyed and rebuilt on multiple occassions, with it appearing in Oaklahoma for a time.

Alfheim by Ron Garney.


Notable inhabitants: Light Elves, pixies, mermaids, unicorns, fairies.

Alfheim is another of the higher realms on The World Tree and one of the more peaceful. It is home to many different enchanted beings such as light elves, pixies, mermaids, fairies, and unicorns.

Due to it’s peaceful nature, there isn’t a lot of tension in the realm. As a result, Thor hasn’t had a need to visit the realm all that often and we haven’t seen that many stories set in Alfheim. Although, we do know that both Thor and Loki visited the realm as part of their training in their youth.

Ljosalfgard is Alfheim’s capital and it is surrounded by enchanted forests, candy farms, and mermaid lagoons.

Vanaheim by Valerio Schiti.


Notable inhabitants: Vanir

In terms of placement on the World Tree, Vanaheim is right up there with Asgard and Alfheim. It was founded by Njord, a distant relative of Odin who splinted off from the rest of the Asgardians and settled in Vanaheim.

As a result, the inhabitants of Vanaheim are known as the Vanir and are a sister race of the inhabitants of Asgard.

Although, they’re not the only inhabitants. In Vanaheim’s sprawling forests and abandoned mountain-sized citadels are other races such as Rock Trolls and Ogres.

Art by Walter Simonson.


Notable inhabitants: A variety of different giants, some dark elves.

Jotenheim is a cold and barren that’s full of snow, mountains, and giants. It is the largest realm and wraps around the World Tree like a ring.

Geographically, Jotenheim doesn’t have a whole lot of note. Although, for a long time, Loki lived in the realm in his ice palace. It has also been the scene for many battles against Asgard.

Many different giants call Jotenheim home including Frost Giants, Storm Giants, Brine Giants, and Mountain Giants.

Earth by Oliver Coipel.


Notable inhabitants: Almost all of the Marvel heroes.

Out of all the realms, Midgard is the one that Marvel fans would be familiar with the most. That’s because it’s the realm that Earth belongs to. That’s right, Midgard is home to the almost all of the Marvel heroes and is the setting for almost every single Marvel story.

As you can expect, Midgard has been invaded by some of the more nefarious realms. Although, none have been successful thanks to Thor and Earth’s many heroes.

Midgard is often looked down upon by other realms as they believe that humans are weak. As a result, Midgard has been invaded by some of the more nefarious realms multiple times. But time and time again, Thor and the heroes of Earth have been able to fight off these forces and save the day.

As part of The War of the Realms event, Malekith and his army have invaded Earth once more in the biggest attempt yet to claim Midgard. Will Marvel’s heroes be able to stop him? You’ll have to read to find out!

Furnaces of Nidavellir from Thor #339 by Walter Simonson.


Notable inhabitants: Dwarves, Eitri, Splitlip, Screwbeard

Situated at the same level as Midgard on the World Tree, Nidavellir is the realm of the dwarves. The realm has many complex underground systems where the dwarves live and work.

Many weapons famous weapons have been forged in Nidavellir using massive furnaces. The most notable being Mjolnir, Thor’s famous hammer, and Stormbreaker, as wielded by Beta Ray Bill in the comics and Thor in Avengers: Infinity War.

During the Fear Itself event, the dwarves allowed Tony Stark to use their forge so that he could combine his armour with the Uru metal.

Page from Thor #700 by Mike Del Mundo.


Notable inhabitants: Dark Elves, Malekith the Accursed, Queen Alflyse, Kraw the Uncontrollable.

If Alfheim is a realm of elves that are light and peaceful then Svartalfheim is the opposite. Home to the dark elves, this realm is a realm of war. The different tribes of elves have been in conflict with themselves for many years and occassionally unite to wage war on other realms.

With this conflict, the realm’s rule has been changed many times. At any given time the ebony throne has been held by Queen Alflyse, Kraw the Uncontrollable, and Malekith the Accursed.

Svartalfheim is portrayed in the comics as being covered in thick, dark, and twisted forests. And while it is mostly poulated by dark elves, dwarves and faeries also this realm home.


Notable inhabitants: Hela, the Draugr, Nidhogg.

Situated at the bottom of The World Tree, underneath Yggdrasill’s third root, Niffleheim is the realm of the dead. Covered in mostly ice, it’s broken up into different regions including Hel and Midhogg.

Hel is the region of dead souls and is ruled over by Hela. Unlike other versions of the underworld, Hel is not a place of punishment and instead is a place for souls to rest.


Notable inhabitants: Surtur, Sindr, Fire Demons, Fire Giants.

Muspelheim is a fiery realm that is situated in the lower levels of the World Tree. The relam consists mostly of rock, fire, and lava, and is home to the fire demons.

Surtur, a massive fire giant, rules over Muspelheim with his giant fire sword. He has attempted to use his fire demon armies to take over the other realms but has never been successful.

Page from Angela: Asgard's Assassin #5 by Phil Jimenez.
Page from Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #5 by Phil Jimenez.


Notable inhabitants: Angels, Angela, Queen of Angels

For the longest of times, there were only nine realms. But that all changed when it was revealed a few years ago to be a tenth realm – Heven.

Not a whole lot is known about Heven, but we do know it was part of the original group of realms but cut-off by Odin as revenge after the Queen of Angels killed his newborn son. As part of revenge, Odin put a curse on Heven which prevented any of its inhabitants from leaving and drifted it further into obscurity.

As part of the Original Sin event, the curse of lifted and Thor and Loki were able to open up the entry to Heven once again. Up until then, the realm had been cut off for so long that it was thought to be a legend.

As hinted on earlier, the inhabitants of Heven are angels.

How Do You Travel To Each Realm?

The most efficient way to travel from one realm to the next is via the Bifrost. This is a rainbow-like pathway (it kind of looks like Rainbow Road from Mario Kart) which connects each of the realms. It is guarded by the all-seeing Heimdall, who watches over it and makes sure that nothing sinister can travel on it.

Currently in the comics, the Bifrost has been destroyed so other means of travel have to be used.

The the most common of these forms are portals. Sometimes these portals are naturally occurring and will appear in random spots, while other times they will be made artificially by sorcerers and other magic users.

Differences In The Comics To The Movies

With the exception of Heven, the comics and Marvel movies include the same realms, although how they’re depicted is a bit different.

In the movies, especially the later ones, each of the realms is shown to be a distant planet.

In the comics, the realms are other dimensions. Realms like Midgard are endless in space, while others are pocket dimensions where space is finite.

Have Your Say!

Which of these realms would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter.


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