Endgame: Bringing Thor Down to Earth (AKA Midgard)
Now that we’re safely past the date that the Russo brothers lifted the spoiler-ban request I want to start posting my articles on Avengers: Endgame (and the MCU in general). One of my favorite things to do is to write character analysis and reactions for the film/tv shows I watch. I don’t critique in a negative way. I just share my personal thoughts, feelings, and heartfelt reactions to what I watch/read.
[Spoilers ahead – SHIELD yourself if you haven’t seen Endgame yet! Images subject to copyrights.]
I am writing a series of articles of character analyses and common themes throughout films of the Marvel Comic Universe. My initial primary focus will be on Mental Health in Marvel. I’m starting with Thor’s state of mind (and body) in Endgame. As I continue, I will be arranging a back-to-back-to-back (ect) watch through of the (currently) 22 films in chronological order. Should be fun!
I’m starting with Thor’s mindset and physical state of being in Endgame. It has received a lot of emotional reactions. The strongest reaction is in to his weight gain. Also known as – The Thor Lebowski . . .
As comedic as it is I’m sure it may stir up a lot of uncomfortable feelings for many people. This isn’t the Thor we know. He’s not fit, or full of take-charge energy. (This is a subtle pun for those who are truly WORTHY, haha). However, I think that this is an excellent moment of character development that will strengthen Thor: God of Thunder even more.
Thor has been through a lot. Yet, in all that we have seen him go through up until this time he always had something he could do (either about it, or to distract him). Endgame finds Thor at the complete bottom. This time, with nothing left to do. In a sense, this is the first time Thor would feel truly powerless despite all the physical strength he retains (in spite of the excess weight).
He has lost everything. In rapid succession. Over the films leading up to this Thor watched his mother and father die. His sister Hela, whom he hadn’t even known existed, returned and crushed Mjölnir; his hammer that provided a gauge for his inner sense of being worthy. During Thor: Ragnarok it is elaborated in a comedic exchange between Thor and his friend Korg that losing his hammer was “akin to losing a loved one.” Then Hela killed most of Asgard’s army as her powers continue to grow towards the unstoppable. In the following battle against Hela Thor directed his brother Loki to release Sutur to destroy Asgard as the means of destroying Hela.
Together, on the ship Loki brought to evacuate the surviving Asgardians, they watched as Sutur completely obliterated Asgard; wiping it from existence. All through this, Thor had managed to hold it together fairly well considering the tremendous losses he had been experiencing.
That is until Thanos came. And killed half the surviving Asgardians. Then he killed Heimdall. And then, while Thor watched helpless and completely restrained, Thanos killed his brother Loki. This happening just after their brotherly relationship had finally come through years of tumultuous uncertainty due to Loki’s nature as the God of Mischief. Thor had been quite happy with his brother at his side. And now that was gone. All of it was gone.
The last thing Thor had left after all of this was the fight; the change to avenge his brother’s death. Unfortunately, by the end of the war, he lost that that too and with it, his self-respect.
For the first time in Thor’s 1500 year life he experiences the depths of humanity’s heartaches. At least, this is my interruptation. He’s been brought down to earth literally and figuratively. Thor sinks into grief and depression while living as a refugee of sorts in Tønsberg, Norway. He turns to drinking large amounts of alcohol, apparently not caring the type. Thor ignores his responsibilities as King of Asgard and utterly neglects his health, fitness, and outward appearance.
And you know what? That’s a completely normal reaction.
I think what bothers many people about Thor’s overweight and unkempt appears is that it hits too close to home. As it does for me. It wasn’t a rapid succession of deaths that hit me hard. It was a series of hard blows financially (being laid off abruptly) and a years of physically and mentally abusive jobs that eroded away my health, happiness, and general ability to ‘fight through it’. I lost my fight, so to speak. And after that, I lost my sense of self-worth.
I believe the same thing (on a much, much grander scale, obviously) happened to Thor. Thanos snapped his fingers, killed fifty percent of all life in the universe, and then vanished. Then there was just nothing left to do. Nothing left for anyone to do.
What I think is really touching is that the friends he made on the planet Sakaar, Korg and Miek, stay by his side with no comments on Thor’s appearance. It’s as if they are making sure Thor isn’t alone, while also not pressuring him to suppress his feeling. For a time, Thor just needs to grieve and process his feelings. He hasn’t had to do this before. This is Thor’s first true time fighting a battle that takes place entirely in his heart and mind. Depression. Self-loathing. Even despair. I believe the God of Thunder would not be mentally equipped for this battle. It would beat him down mentally and then physically (as he let himself go, so to speak).
What makes this even more intriguing is that this storyline allows Thor to experience and express his emotions. It is the opposite of what we may come to expect. Rage. Revenge. A villain in the making. A whole load of toxic masculinity. Instead, it gives Thor the time to process without stripping him of strength; as we he see he was still Asgardian-strong. He is still a man. A grieving, emotionally hurt man (well, God of Thunder, but yeah). I find it to be inspirational in its own way.
Many of us have been in the down and out with a body that doesn’t reflect who we feel we truly are. Real talk. I have been there before.
Recently, I had a job that was so physically and emotionally taxing that it destroyed my physical health. I was in pain 100% of the time. I had medical proof we were being overworked, but the business owner would not hire more staff. Utterly exhausted, I would use my lunch breaks to lock myself in a storage closet (the only place I couldn’t be interrupted) to sleep instead of eat. Obviously, this chipped away at my mental health. Eventually, I was medicated for depression and anxiety.
All of this came after I had spent over a year publicly pep-talking fitness from my social platforms. I worked out hard and just about got to my peak fitness level. I was ready to take on the world. Or so I thought. Then a series of jobs, including the one I described above, broke down my ability to work out. Chronically pain and fatigue required medical treatment and physical therapy (that I have now had, yay!). I had crashed hard for a long while. Only now have I been regaining it. All with a STRONGER MIND.
I identified with Thor more than I expected to; and definitely more than I had in the past. With Endgame I was suddenly much more emotionally invested in Thor’s journey.
So, I was relieved to see the huge moment of healing and affirmation for Thor when he goes back in time to Asgard and (during that mission) summons Mjölnir back to him. He shouts the telling words, “I’m still worthy!” It’s a powerful moment that reveals just how deep Thor’s psyche had sank. This is even after he killed Thanos after the Mad Titan had destroyed the infinity stones. His vengeance and justice in killing Thanos wasn’t what started his healing. It was the affirmation of his self-worth in holding Mjolnir. This was Thor’s mental and emotional turning point. The physical will come later.
Personally, I like that his body wasn’t magically brought back into top shape in an instant. He has to work for that. Like the rest of us. We all go through our own darkness from time to time. We may lose a sense of self and feel like we have failed completely. We may even lose our strength and physical fitness. The importance of what Thor’s storyline in Endgame speaks to is that NONE OF THESE THINGS MAKES US UNWORTHY.
Know this – deeply. Understand it at the depth of your soul: NO MATTER how you may feel mentally, spiritually, and physically YOU ARE STILL WORTHY. Worthy of love, respect, acceptance, all of it.
I think it was an profound and important choice to bring Thor’s mental trauma to affect him outwardly during Endgame. It may make many of us uncomfortable to see, but seeing Thor struggling with alcoholism and weight gain makes the God of Thunder suddenly relatable.
It is as if Thor’s journey of self-forgiveness and mental healing give us permission to do the same. If the God of Thunder can go through these mental and physical setbacks then I can too. And I can come back from them as well. All of us can.
Addendum. I am fully aware that Thor and all he went through is fictional. I’m still going to stubbornly extract all the positive inspiration I glean from it. How about you? Also. Chris Hemsworth IS Thor. He’s so natural in the character that you almost have to call him Chris. . . HemsWORTHY.
(I HAD to. I just did. Haha.)