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Why ‘Endgame’ Thor is so important

Jeremy Milliner

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* SPOILERS BELOW *

Endgame Thor

People deal with grief in different ways, and many of them are not healthy. Marvel’sAvengers: Endgame” starts Thor off in a bad mental place, where he is stewing in his failure to properly behead the mad Titan. He’s off in the corner of the room, not saying a word, and when it comes time to face Thanos again he decapitates him before the rest of the team is ready. He flies off and that’s the last we see of the thunder god until five years later – five years that were less than kind to him.

The ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” is the biggest tragedy in the history of the universe. Billions of organisms (remember, it’s all life; not just people) are turned to dust. The Avengers failed to save the day. The bad guy succeeded in his plan, and then he got away. They didn’t even get to ‘avenge’ the fallen properly. It’s a crippling blow for our heroes’ morale, and for Thor, it was even worse since, at least in his mind, he’s the only one who might have been able to stop Thanos (“should’ve gone for the head”). It was a particularly bad time for the Asgardian to fail once again. We’re shown a candid perspective of Thor’s mental place before he forges Stormbreaker during a conversation with Rocket. Even as far back as then, the poor guy really needed some therapy:

Tasteless jokes?

We go from Thor in the above scene to the aforementioned dark and brooding Thor at “Endgame’s” start. Then we shift to five years later when he’s put on some pounds, let his hair grow unkempt down to his shoulders, and, as War Machine puts it, “has Cheez Whiz running through his veins.”

After the emotional turmoil of “Infinity War” this is how we approach Thor? Jabs at his weight and insensitive remarks? It wasn’t the decision to make Thor fat that caused such a backlash from fans; it was the constant jokes made at his expense. Was fat Thor a weak attempt to inject some humor into an otherwise dark story?

fat Thor Avengers Endgame
Thor drowning his sorrows in what looks like some delicious guacamole.

Thor faces new challenges

Thor is depressed. Not only that, it’s a welcome example of depression being portrayed in a realistic way: Thor isn’t sitting in the dark alone and crying. He’s with his friends; he’s laughing, he’s partying. But when it comes time step up and face the trauma that’s digging at him, he is stubborn and afraid.

On the character’s evolution, director Anthony Russo voiced that Thor’s arc in “Endgame” is one of his favorites. “It’s so devious and subversive,” he said proudly, “when comedy is coming from a place of complete commitment and emotional complexity.” It’s an unexpected turn for the normally godlike character, and it shows one of the angles that Stan Lee was most keen to convey: It’s not your powers or prowess that make you a superhero; it’s who you are as a person.

Thor: Ragnarok Chris Hemsworth shirtless
This shirtless scene in “Thor: Ragnarok” was played for a much different effect.

The main villain of “Iron Man 2” wasn’t Whiplash or Justin Hammer. It was Tony Stark and his own personal issues. Thanos is still a huge threat in “Endgame,” but the first two acts of the film are more about showing how our heroes deal with failure. Thor is an excellent example of this deeper, internal conflict, and Chris Hemsworth was not afraid to play it to its limit. “I like that anything goes. You’re not locked into expectations,” he said. “I enjoyed that version of Thor. It was so different than any other way I played the character. And then it took on a life of its own.”

Originally, the intent was that Thor would regain his godlike physique before the final showdown with Thanos. However, Hemsworth stressed that he would instead like the character to remain overweight, a sentiment that a more lazy actor would never have voiced; putting on that fat prosthetic was no cakewalk (pun slightly intended). “It was certainly exhausting,” said the actor. “I had weights on my hands and ankles just to have my arms and legs swing differently when I shuffled along through the set. Physically, it was a good three hours in hair and makeup. Then the prosthetic suit, particularly for the shirt-off scene, that was a big silicone that weighed about 90 pounds.” The decision to keep “fat Thor” throughout the movie is one of the defining reasons we think the choice was made for more than just cheap comedy.

Why it’s so important

There isn’t one right way to be hero, and everyone deals with depression differently. Thor’s at his lowest point – where can he go from there? “Endgame” screenwriter Christopher Markus reflected that “we wondered ‘okay, well, what if he does become a sort of depressive alcoholic?’ And the weight gain was just part and parcel of that state of mind. We didn’t go, like, ‘let’s chunk him up; it’ll be hilarious.’ I think he is the ideal Thor at the end of the movie, and he’s carrying some weight.”

Thor Dr. Strange beer
Thor’s alcoholism didn’t come from nowhere. It makes sense that depression would ramp it up.

Thor’s got a problem for sure, but it’s his mental state. It isn’t his weight. For all the snipes and jokes made at the expense of his bloated figure, the action on-screen never presents Thor’s bulging stomach as an actual problem. It’s merely a symptom of the mental illness he’s struggling to live with. To emphasize that point, Thor is still able to summon Mjolnir during the scene with his mother, Frigga. “I’m still worthy!” he cries out in surprise.

When Thor comes out to face Thanos during the final fight, he’s not magically thin. He’s got his beard in a neat braid, he’s got lighting coursing through his body, and he’s as strong as ever. He needed to get back in the fight mentally. He needed to face his demons firsthand. He didn’t need a treadmill and a stalk of celery. The fact that there intentionally is not a physical transformation for Thor speaks volumes about the Directors’ decision: Depression and apathy don’t have anything to do with body weight, and neither does curing it.

Thor’s character arc has taken him to a new, unexpected place of power and self-confidence. As per his mother’s advice, he’s stopped trying to be the person he’s supposed to be, and started becoming who he is.

As for what’s next for the thunder god, Hemsworth excitedly stated “I’d still love to do more, to be honest. And I don’t know what the plan is. I feel like we’ve opened up such a different character. I feel more energized for the possibility of where it could go.”

Endgame Thor Mjolnir Stormbreaker
Thor is stronger now than ever before. Ever ‘BeThor?’

Does this mean he’ll be keeping the weight in what the character endearingly called the “Asgardians of the Galaxy?”

Let us know in the comments below if you’d like to see more “fat Thor” in future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and we’ll see you in theaters for “Spider-Man: Far From Home!”

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