‘Avengers: Endgame’: In Defense of Fat Thor

     May 1, 2019

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Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame.

One of the many secrets Marvel did a great job of hiding in the leadup to Avengers: Endgame is that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) gets fat. Unable to cope with his failure to kill Thanos before Thanos snapped away half the universe, Thor retreats to the small village of New Asgard where he spends his days drinking beer and playing video games with Korg (Taika Waititi) and Miek. Thor has also become fat.

Fat Thor is kind of a genius move for several reasons. For starters, perhaps more than any other Marvel superhero, Thor’s been about his physique. He’s supposed to be god-like, and that means having chiseled features from head to toe. He’s arguably the sexiest avenger, and so they decided to have some fun with that by giving him a massive gut. While you could do this with the other male heroes in the MCU, it works best for Thor since he’s always been a bit vain and cocky, so a big belly helps redefine the character.

avengers-endgame-posters-thor-chris-hemsworthIt’s also a great way to quickly and visually represent Thor’s depression and make it unique from everyone else. You can see that all of the Avengers are pretty depressed, and while some have found ways to muddle through, Thor hasn’t been so lucky. Since Thor’s confidence has always emanated from his power, and that power wasn’t enough to stop Thanos from dusting half the universe, Thor no longer invests in that power. There’s no point in being strong anymore if he was just going to lose when it mattered most. Compound that with losing his father, his brother, his home, and half his people and Thor’s depression makes absolute sense.

It was encouraging to see a movie that had a main character wrestle with that depression in a tangible way. Even when the team is getting back together, Thor isn’t really all-in. He’s just kind of along for the ride, and it’s not until he’s given the chance to reconnect with his mother and start working through his baggage that he starts to heal. While the story of Captain America and Iron Man in Endgame is about conclusions, Thor’s story is about finding his swagger again and learning to get back in the fight. To be clear, depression is a serious issue, and you don’t get over it just by fighting the purple man again, but at least the movie was willing to show Thor at his most human when they could have just tried to make him more gritty, which is the route they took with Hawkeye (and that’s fine, but not as interesting).

I also applaud the movie for not fat-shaming Thor. Yes, it’s a joke at the expense of his physique, but the movie isn’t saying “Fat people are bad.” There’s no “fatty fall down” humor or anything like that. I could very much relate to Thor’s weight gain being tied to his depression, but every time I saw Fat Thor, I got a huge smile on my face. Here was a superhero, a demigod, and he’s got that same battle. And that’s weirdly inspiring, especially when you’ve got an actor as charming as Hemsworth handling it.

The film can also get away with Fat Thor because of Thor: Ragnarok. If we had the super serious Thor of Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron, this new Thor would be really out of place. But because they laid the comic groundwork in Ragnarok, we can roll with it. It now fits with Thor’s character in that these movies are able to laugh with him and let the character be lighter rather than the serious Shakespearean figure he started out as in Thor.

Fat Thor is the hero we didn’t know we needed. I expect if we see Thor in another Marvel movie (and at the end of Endgame, it looks like he’s going to be in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3), he’ll be back to his slim self. But to have Fat Thor in Endgame was a welcome surprise and an unexpected twist for the character. Watching Fat Thor brought a smile to face, and he’s the superhero we didn’t know we needed in the MCU. Godspeed, my curvy superhero.

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