Avengers Endgame: The Untold Story Of Fat Thor: Avengers: Endgame brought plenty of changes to the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and one of the biggest was to Thor, who’s put on a lot of weight. “Fat Thor,” as he’s being called, is dealing with a lot of depression and trauma. Here’s his story.
From Black Panther’s anger after his father’s murder to Iron Man’s post-Avengers panic attacks to Valkyrie abandoning Asgard and drowning her sorrows, the Marvel movies have often dealt with the psychological trauma that comes with the life of a superhero. This time, though, it’s on a completely different scale. In the MCU, the ending of Infinity War is unquestionably the biggest tragedy in the history of the planet. It’s not just the billions of people turned to dust, but as we see in Endgame, it’s all life, meaning that Thanos took out animals, too. It’s devastating for the entire universe, and the heroes who were at the center of it are no exception.
When the film shifts its focus to five years after the snap, we see that each of the Avengers has been dealing with the trauma in a different way. Even before we get to Thor, it’s not always healthy.
In what’s probably the most productive response, we see Captain America leading a support group for survivors, which works on a lot of levels. It highlights the empathy and moral center that makes Steve Rogers such an appealing character, and works as a tribute to his fallen friend, Sam Wilson. Before he was an Avenger, Sam was leading a support group for veterans, and with him gone, Cap is doing his best to carry on that legacy.
The others, however, aren’t doing so well in the way they deal with tragedy. Hawkeye goes to an incredibly violent extreme, trying to personally enforce a fairness that’s absent in the loss of innocent life. Black Widow loses herself in obsessing over her work, trying to fix everything she can. While Tony Stark’s life post-snap is far more idyllic than the other heroes’, he’s still completely given up making the world a better, safer place, which defined his life as Iron Man. He’s refusing to use his genius to help others because, well, what’s the point? He tried, it didn’t work, time to move on. These are all very different and very relatable ways of dealing with a traumatic experience.
The contextual Hulk Bruce Banner’s reaction to the snap is worth paying close attention to, both because it represents the biggest change for one of the characters, and because of the relationship he’s had with Thor throughout the history of the MCU.
Since they first slugged it out on the helicarrier back in the first Avengers film, they’ve been competitors, and the buddy comedy of Thor: Ragnarok put them in direct contrast with each other. It’s come up several times throughout the films that since they hadn’t met Captain Marvel yet, they both consider themselves to be the “strongest Avenger.”
“Welcome, Strongest Avenger.” “Uh, what?”
For all their similarities, it’s how they react to their failures that shows how different they really are. Since his character is entirely built around making explosive anger and the reaction to trauma a literal, physical change, it makes sense that it’s the Hulk that we first see reacting to the devastation that comes along with Thanos. This unstoppable force of nature comes up against something he can’t beat through strength.
In Infinity War, Hulk learns the same thing Thor learns at the beginning of Endgame. Sometimes, physical strength is completely meaningless, and that’s a devastating lesson
for someone who relies on that strength as one of their defining characteristics. For the Hulk, the initial reaction is another one of those unhealthy coping tactics. He runs away and hides. He won’t even Hulk out when his life’s in danger, leaving Bruce Banner free of his dark side for the first time in years. Instead of accepting this thing he’s wanted, Banner comes to understand that the Hulk is a part of him, and as a result, he spends the five-year gap essentially going through the gamma-powered superheroic version of therapy and working through his issues to unify his personalities.
“18 months in the gamma lab … now look at me: Best of both worlds.”
Back in the first Avengers film, Bruce Banner gave us the iconic line that summed up his
struggle with his emotions. I’m always angry.” The Hulk we have in Endgame, however, is no longer driven by anger.
He has young fans that want to take pictures with him, and he shares his lunch with Ant-Man in a scene that’s far more than just a punchline. This is a brand-new version of the Hulk, one who’s not just smart, but kind and generous instead of being a mindlessly angry walking temper tantrum with the potential to destroy a city.
For the first time in the franchise, Bruce Banner is happy because he’s learned and worked
to change himself. Unfortunately, that’s one thing Thor can’t do. Twilight of the gods In a lot of modern stories about mythological characters, including recent comics about Thor, the idea is that gods are the embodiments of ideas.
Unlike humans, they can’t change their nature.
“Loki, I thought the world of you … at the end of the day, you’re you and I’m me.”
Thor is the God of Thunder, who storms in with a bolt of lightning and a booming hammer, laying waste to his enemies. He’s an almost effortlessly powerful warrior, and the entire arc of Ragnarok is devoted to the way he learns that his strength and power come from within himself, not from any of his magic weapons. It’s his defining feature. So what happens when it doesn’t work?
In Endgame, Thor sees himself as personally responsible for failing to kill Thanos before
he could snap, and when he finally did finish off the Mad Titan, it was too late to fix anything. He goes through almost the same thing that the Hulk does, except that he’s made to watch as the last remnants of his people are attacked, and eventually finds out that even his shiny new hammer can’t stop Thanos in time.
For all his strength, he failed. If his strength defines him, but it couldn’t save the billions of lives lost in Infinity War, what’s the point? That’s the existential crisis Thor’s dealing
with in Endgame. Depression and substance abuse When we meet back up with Thor five years after the snap, he’s almost completely inert. That’s a very common and very relatable symptom of depression, and so is the idea that he’s not just sitting around in the dark being sad.
For all the film’s over-the-top visuals and jokes about his weight, the movie isn’t a cartoonish portrayal of what it’s like to deal with depression. We see Thor laughing and hanging out with his friends, but when he’s confronted with the idea that he could do something important, the same thing he’s failed at before, it just doesn’t matter. There’s another element of his depression that manifests itself in the film, too: he’s become an alcoholic.
Thor’s legendary appetite for beer has always been a source of comedy in the MCU films.
Thor to Doctor Strange: “I don’t drink tea.” “What do you drink?” “Not tea.”
Endgame shows us the darker side of that. Like a lot of people with depression, including Valkyrie in Ragnarok, Thor is self-medicating, and his physical change is the result of that.
Sadly, that’s a pretty relatable element for a lot of viewers, too. Voluminous and alone
One of the reasons Thor’s “new body” was such a surprise is that unlike a lot of Endgame’s
other callbacks, there’s no real precedent for it in the comics. Thor has undergone plenty of changes over the years, including the time he was a six-foot-six frog for a few issues, but he’s always been drawn with the heroic proportions that you’d expect.
As far as his mental state, the closest we’ve gotten to seeing a truly depressed Thor came
when we got a glimpse of a distant future where Thor was the last surviving Asgardian.
Like his movie counterpart, “Allfather Thor” was dealing with isolation, depression, and
the toll of millennia of battle that had left him with one arm and one eye.
The main difference was that this Thor was more than willing to take up his hammer and
fight, although his goal was a glorious death in battle. That doesn’t mean the Thor comics have been free of fat jokes. For decades, one of the most prominent members
of Thor’s supporting cast was Volstagg the Voluminous, one of the Warriors Three.
He’s a once-mighty warrior whose waistline is just as expanded as the inflated tales
of his glory.
While Volstagg was often depicted as a braggart and more than a little cowardly, he’s also
always been a very positive character who comes through in dire situations. Also, in an interesting contrast of what we see with Thor, he once survived the destruction of Asgard, only to waste away from lack of food before Thor found him and nicknamed him
“Volstagg the Thin.” Relatable or insulting?
All of that forms the background, but for some members of Endgame’s audience, the possible intent doesn’t matter as much as what makes it to the screen.
The simple fact is that the reveal of “Fat Thor” is absolutely played for laughs, and Thor’s body is used as a frequent punchline. There are cracks from our heroes about Thor
having “Cheez Wiz running through his veins,” and even the scene with his mother, one of
Endgame’s most emotional sequences, ends with Frigga telling him to “eat a salad.”
Part of that undoubtedly comes from the fact that over the past decade, Thor has evolved
into a much more comedic character than he might’ve been if Chris Hemsworth didn’t turn
out to have a talent for comedy.
“He transformed himself into a snake, and he knows that I love snakes. So, I went to pick up the snake to admire it and he transformed back into himself and he was like, ‘Yeah, it’s me!’ And he stabbed me.” That said, once he’s done playing “Fat Thor,” Hemsworth gets to go back to being, well, Chris Hemsworth.
The fat jokes are bound to sting regardless, but coming from a dude known for being superheroically ripped and ridiculously handsome, it definitely feels like he’s punching down.
The reaction For some viewers, the jokes at Thor’s expense were easy to forgive.
Not only did they see Thor’s depression and its results as relatable, but the fact that
his fellow Avengers are lashing out is an equally realistic depiction of how people
around them can react under stress. These characters have always been quick to
get snarky with each other, and that’s part of their appeal.
Tony says: “Sometimes I want to punch you in your perfect teeth.”
But even within the context of the film, we’re still seeing superheroes, the ultimate good guys, making fun of someone’s appearance. Context is important, but it’s always worth remembering that this is fiction, and calling anything “realistic” doesn’t hold much water in a movie where a guy with rocket boots uses magic space rocks to fight a 7-foot purple alien.
For some critics, it just raises the question of whether we would’ve lost anything if it
hadn’t been there or if Thor’s depression had been shown in some other way. The defense of Thicc Thor The flip side to the anger is that for all its flaws and the sniping from other characters, the action of the movie never really presents Thor’s body as a problem. The climax of that emotional scene with Frigga is the present-day, post-snap Thor summoning
Mjolnir and realizing that despite the guilt he’s been feeling for five years, he’s still as worthy, heroic, and noble as he has always been.
Most telling, at the end of the movie, where he truly regains his godly power and makes
a stand against Thanos, he doesn’t just magically transform back into his usual, muscular body. The only change to his physical appearance is that his unkempt beard is now neatly braided. He’s still as hefty as he was, but he’s also as strong as ever. As corny might sound, all he really needed was to talk to someone who understands what
he’s going through.
The fact that there’s no physical difference between the depressed, apathetic Thor of the
beginning of the film and the hero we see at the end seems to indicate the filmmakers’
sincerity in presenting the depression, not the weight gain, as the problem to be conquered. Still, the jokes at his expense are very much a part of the film, and it’s hard to believe that Thor won’t be showing up in future MCU films with his traditional jacked bodybuilder. The way it’s treated going forward is going to go a long way in determining how audiences look back on it here.