Chris Hemsworth / Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Like just about everyone else on planet Earth, I went along to see Avengers: Endgame recently. I’m not a big superhero girl, and honestly, I only bought a ticket because all my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss out.
I watched a few other Avengers films the day before so that I could at least follow along, and I didn’t really go in with any expectations, other than a deep desire to see Brie Larson fight some men.
On the whole, I think Endgame had the desired effect. The film satisfyingly ended the stories of its heroes with respect for the characters, their relationships, and their extremely devoted fans. There was one storyline though, that really caught me off guard, and had me leaving the cinema with a bad taste in my mouth. (Spoilers ahead!)
Thor was in a pretty bad place at the beginning of the film. He blamed himself for not being able to stop Thanos from snapping away half the living creatures in the universe, which is pretty heavy stuff. Then he sliced off Thanos’ head, and that really sent him over the edge.
When we see him again 5 years later, he looks like a completely different person. Literally.
Thor was clearly suffering from PTSD in Endgame, and fair enough: from what I can tell, his life has been pretty crap. Everyone he loves is dead, he thinks he’s responsible for half the world ceasing to exist… you know, the usual.
In the film, this PTSD manifested in isolation, binge-drinking, and excessive eating. When we see the new Thor, he’s put on a significant amount of weight, which is visually jarring to an audience who is used to the otherworldly abs of Chris Hemsworth.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this storyline. A lot of people do put on weight when they’re suffering from mental illness. Thor’s weight gain and addictive habits could have been used to explore his trauma as well as the crushing expectations of masculinity and literal godliness that have been placed on him for all his life.
Instead, it was played off for laughs. Thor’s entire storyline in the last Avengers movie was one big fat joke.
Shots of Thor topless or shovelling food into his mouth were presented over and over, simply as a cue for the audience to laugh. It felt like every time the camera panned to Thor, the Russo brothers were in my ear saying: “Haha, look at this body! Isn’t it funny? Isn’t it laughable?!”
Throughout the film, other characters told Thor that “he looked like melted ice cream” or that he had “cheese whiz” running through his veins. There was only one scene in the film that addressed the emotional trauma Thor had suffered with a little grace, when he went back in time and spoke to his mother on the day she died, and even that conversation ended with her telling him to eat a salad.
I thought in 2019, we were above this kind of cheap and offensive comedy.
It’s disrespectful to a character that fans have spent years with, to reduce his pain to a joke. It’s disrespectful to the audience to underestimate their intelligence and assume that this kind of humour is good enough for them.
Most of all, it’s not only disrespectful but also harmful for every member of the audience who can relate to Thor’s new body (which, might I add, is a much higher proportion of the audience than those who can relate to Chris Hemsworth’s actual body).
All this storyline served to do was create a few cheap laughs here and there, while telling millions of people that their bodies are something to be ashamed of.
But it’s the creators of Endgame who should be ashamed. In a three hour long film, not one shot of Chris Hemsworth eating bread and not one fat joke made by a literal raccoon seemed expendable?
I expected better from what’s set to become the biggest movie in history. I guess I shouldn’t have.Support Villainesse