Warning! If you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame, read NO further! This post features heavy Endgame spoilers! You have been warned!
Mental Illness, PTSD, depression, and anxiety are real issues that plague millions of us. It’s a struggle that some fight with every single day. A vast majority of society is still trying to wrap their heads around illnesses they can’t see and struggle to understand. Some find it hard to even admit they themselves fight against their own brains and bodies. Endgame’s portrayal of conditions like depression and PTSD have been met with mixed reviews, depending on the character experiences them. But which character stands out as the most polarizing?
Endgame’s treatment of Thor is problematic. Complicated. For a lot of folks, it meant regression of Thor’s character from Ragnarok. It means fat jokes and laughing at the expense of people who suffer from conditions similar to Thor’s. When we meet Thor in Endgame he’s a recluse. Shutting himself away from the world to wallow in beer, video games, and buds who can’t see the problem with his lifestyle.
Had this been handled more seriously, it could’ve been a big moment for the MCU. It could’ve been a way to show the pressures of being a hero, even for the gods among us. Hawkeye’s loss of his family was treated with more respect. Iron Man’s own PTSD, stemming from the first Avengers movie onward, was handled with grace and dignity.
But from the first moment on, Thor was a joke. Yelling at teenagers on Fortnite, only answering the call of his fellow Avengers when beer is mentioned. “What kind?” Iron Man pops off Big Lebowski jokes because of Thor’s Dad Bod, beard and unkempt hair. And we laugh. When Thor has had a shirtless scene in nearly every movie he’s been in, his abs should have their own credit next to Chris Hemsworth himself, seeing him with a beer gut is humorous. “Finally, I can cosplay as Thor!” a lot of snickered self-deprecatingly.
But for a lot people who actually suffer from these conditions, it’s not funny. And there were moments that were very serious for Thor. When Professor Hulk mentions Thanos, the anxiety induced panic attack that Thor falls into was striking. The way he fell apart in front of his mother in way he couldn’t with anyone else was heartbreaking.
And for those battling with similar conditions, none of the jokes were funny. Weight gain, panic attacks, mood swings, agoraphobia – these are all real things that people really fight with.
And for a whole other section of fans, it was an awakening. Reddit is littered with confessions:
u/GlitchySwitch came to self-realization during the film. The portrayal of Thor made them realize that they too suffered from depression when they related all too well to the character and his treatment in Endgame.
u/eke_ found inspiration in the way Thor’s character was broken, and how they showed that.
“It only makes sense that eventually you’d break down if all your life everybody around you, and even you yourself have had nothing but expectations from you and you fail to accomplish them. That is why it was important that eventually, somebody told Thor that it’s OKAY and we got exactly that in Endgame.”
In a heartfelt public letter to Chris Hemsworth, u/im_not_juicing spoke about how Endgame didn’t write Thor’s fat jokes as real jokes, poor handling on the part of the writers, but rather accurate portrayals of real-life experiences with loved ones.
“I have seen comments of people disgusted by all the ‘fat Thor jokes’, I wish they realized that those were not ‘jokes’ those were hurtful comments that can destroy real people dealing with real depression. That those ‘jokes’ came from those who were supposed to be Thor’s friends, and they mocked him in a moment of need. And that this happens in real life too.”
Endgame Thor is the perfect representation of…Depression.
When they talk to Valkyrie we think we are gonna see a sad Thor doing nothing except being sad, but no, we see a smiling Thor playing video games and looking like he has a good time.
But he is not, he doesn’t get out of his home, he deals with his depression with alcohol, he can’t find the motivation to do anything and doesn’t care about the smallest thing.
That’s the true face of depression, a smiling face, hiding all the bad ways he uses to deal with the problem, denying that there is even a problem.
That’s not much, but for people suffering from depression that don’t get help because they are not always crying so people don’t believe them, that’s a lot.”
For many suffering from similar issues as Thor, Endgame hit a little close to home. Thor trying to continue to be the “strongest Avenger” when he so clearly isn’t at his best is the perfect metaphor, especially for young men trying to keep up their uber-masculine, macho, He-Man, nothing-phases-me facade. Watching Thor break down in front of his mother, the only person in 9 realms he feels like he can be vulnerable with, was gut-wrenching.
And seeing him continue, find a piece himself he’d lost, symbolized by finding his hammer, and even maintain his Dad Bod while doing it? Was nothing short of inspiring and healing for many in ways they’ve never seen before on screen. Thor calling both hammers, his beard braiding itself, and giving Thanos a good solid walloping, all while sporting a beer gut raised spirits in young people who can relate to where Thor was and his treatment in Endgame.
Time will only tell if Endgame is named as a success or a failure in how it handled and portrayed mental illness. But one thing is for certain: As usual, we nerds feel very passionately about it, no matter which side your opinion falls on.
What do you think? Was Thor handled well? Could you relate to the failure-yet-still-worthy god with a Dad Bod? Or did the humor fall flat and make you feel alienated and ridiculed by the MCU and your fellow movie-goers?
Let us know in the comments below and hit us up on Facebook or Twitter!
And while we’re on the subject, check out these other inspiring Endgame Thor posts from Reddit.