In Defence of Thor’s Character Arc in Avengers: Endgame

This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. You have been warned.

Avengers: Endgame has been receiving all of its deserved dues since it came to our cinemas at the end of April, with its plot beats already being regarded as some of the best the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever delivered. Despite all of this love being dished out on the internet (with over 50 million tweets, no less), there’s a little disarray in amongst the affection. Many have pointed out that Thor’s character arc throughout the film exists solely for upbeat gags to disperse throughout the admittedly bleak story. However, after watching Thor grow over his years in the MCU, I’m inclined to disagree.

In Endgame, a litany of the remaining heroes travel to New Asgard, the misty fishing town where Thor and his remaining Asgardian neighbours have decided to stake their claim. The first glimpse of Thor is from behind as he stands shirtless, with his long matted hair falling over his back around his obvious muffin top. Obviously, this re-introduction is played for laughs off the back of what we expect of the God – commanding, lean, and powerful. This moment leaves Thor looking like a stupid, slapstick beat, but the scene develops to show his new demeanour. When Hulk mentions Thanos, Thor’s arrogant and cocky nature is stripped from him. You see shock and fear appear immediately as the titan’s name is only spoken, and it’s made very clear that the events of Infinity War have truly affected the character. Thor blames himself for not having finished the fight once and for all in Wakanda, and feels that he didn’t do enough to prevent the apocalypse. All of the events that require Endgame to take place are, to Thor, his fault. The responsibility is crushing him, and he is forced into alcoholism and depression that seem to have lasted a good five years. And with all the beer that Thor could drink (and by the looks of it, has), it’s no surprise he’s packed on a couple of pounds.

Thor’s weight does remain a laughing point throughout the film, but it lasts with the audience as a physical manifestation of his despair and depression thanks to his own perception of his failure, and a rejection of his hyper-masculinity manifested in his good looks. As the film sets itself on its way to its climax, the battle with Thor, Captain America and Iron Man facing off against Thanos by themselves is a great display of Thor’s regenerated confidence. He had no doubt in himself as a fierce warrior after somewhat returning to his cocksure and arrogant nature he displayed in his first film (seemingly as a defence mechanism), but his fear at the start of the film for Thanos made it seem as though he’d have trouble returning to face the titan. Thor’s image as a dual-wielding, ragged, overweight Viking makes him even more commanding than before, and gives the character a new representation as a beaten and emotionally wounded warrior, who will always pick himself up and fight harder than he did last time. He has grown into the definition of “tank”, and by stature alone seems unstoppable.

endgame-thor-lightning.jpg

When Captain America finally wields Mjolnir, Thor’s reaction shows such a difference from his reaction to the slight budge Cap gave to the mythical hammer in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In this party scene, it was one of suspicion and bewilderment, almost confusion as to how Rogers could possibly make the slightest move on it. When it flies into Cap’s hand in Endgame, Thor’s reaction is one that ties his character together with a theme that’s attached itself to himself and his beloved hammer: moving on.

“I knew it!”

This line shows the God’s willingness to allow the past be the past, and let the Captain wield his beloved hammer. Thor has Stormbreaker now, and while his moment in Asgard being reunited with the weapon is a heartwarming and emotional reminder that Thor is still worthy of wielding the hammer which grants him his confidence back, he’s content with Stormbreaker, and doesn’t need “the little one” much longer.

It’s hard to determine if his future appearances will feature Thor having lost weight or not, as with Endgame, his weight has been a manifestation of his depression, but his sheer will to continue to fight is a symbol of his strength. It would make sense for him to shed the weight and return to a version of himself he is more confident and capable in, given his boisterous nature and “manly man” demeanour. However, the cataclysmic events of Endgame hopefully have shown him that triumph isn’t associated with ignoring mental health and attending to his vanity.

Thor, while often used as a comedy beat throughout the film, is also a symbol of tragedy, and his tale is one of redemption. Thanos sent him into a depression of alcoholism and sloth, but he still got up to not only save the universe, but to redeem himself once and for all. And with his presumed adventures with the Guardians to come, we can only hope that James Gunn can interpret the God of Thunder with the same affection that the Russo brothers and Taika Waititi could.

by Joseph Kime

Joseph Kime is a writer and journalist from Plymouth, with a specialty in film and music. He is a member of indie-punk band As It Stands, is studying Journalism at MarJon University, and is unapologetically anti-Tory. His favourite films include Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, Hot Fuzz, and Thor: Ragnarok. He spouts garbage on Twitter here and talks films on Letterboxd here.

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