Thor Makes Dealing With Alcoholism and Mental Health Relatable AF
Thor in his usual avatar.
Thor in his usual avatar.(Photo Courtesy: Marvel)

Thor Makes Dealing With Alcoholism and Mental Health Relatable AF

The Avengers assembled and blew our collective minds across the world!

A stellar finish to an 11-year-old saga, saw fans cheer and break down to tears, as our favourite heroes went back in time to save the day. Meanwhile, Marvel reaped huge profits, collecting over USD 1 Billion in the opening weekend, while sinking James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ to become the second highest grossing movie of all time.

After the ‘spoilers’ embargo was lifted from the film, directors of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Anthony and Joe Russo spoke about several plot points in the movie and how each character was sculpted for the final showdown with the ‘Mad Titan- Thanos’.

However, it was Thor who divided the internet right at the centre.

Let’s call him ‘Fat Thor’ since he is sporting a huge beer belly through most of the film, without a care in the world, while playing ‘Fortnite’ with his besties Korg and Miek, at his new home on Earth ‘New Asgard’.

So, what’s this bruhaha about the not-so-chiseled Thor that’s got fans divided? Is it because Thor now has lightning and cheese wiz coursing through his veins?

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Thor’s Mental Health & Anxiety

For starters, many critics and fans felt that Thor was fat shamed and insulted throughout the movie by the other protagonists.

His disheveled look was teased by Tony Stark who called him Lebowski (a reference to ‘The Dude’ from the Cohen Brother’s cult classic ‘The Big Lebowski’), while Rocket Racoon straight up called him a melting ice cream.

To top it off, none of the Avengers were sure how to handle an inebriated Thor while they were busy discussing their plans to reverse ‘The Snap’. In another scene, the God of Thunder is slapped out of his delirium, only to make him cry for comic effect.

Audiences everywhere laughed at Thor’s acute lack of finesse and emotional outbursts, and that according to several critics and fans was a poor way to handle a sensitive subject- depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Then there are those who equally loved Chris Hemsworth’s chubbier rendition of Thor and could relate with a God humanised on the silver screen. A haggard, potbellied, pyjama wearing slob who couldn’t care less about the present and future while drowning his sorrows in beer and videogames.

To call Thor a caricature of some one with mental health issues is heavy handed, because the Avengers are based on comic books that deliver action and adventure and Thor, chubby or not, delivers both. In fact, the Russo brothers juxtaposed crippling anxiety with an immortal god and made his mental status quite relatable for us mere mortals.

Not to forget, the God of Thunder manages to alleviate himself out of his emotional quagmire by the end of the movie.

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Thor- The Tragically Funny Super Hero

According to the Russo brothers, Thor’s character arc is the most Shakespearean of all the Avengers put together. The so-called ‘Strongest Avenger’ has literally lost everything in the run-up to Endgame- his parents, his brother, his planet and more than half of his subjects.

Not to forget, Thor came quite close to killing the Mad Titan in Infinity War, but as Thanos said- he should have gone for the head. With such a crippling personal loss and an insurmountable self-criticism after failing to save the universe, the over 1,500-year-old god’s spirit was thoroughly crushed.

“We had a five-year time jump from the events of ‘Infinity War’ and we wondered, how does one process their grief. We wanted to add psychological realism to the story telling, and when half the universe has disappeared which is your (Thor’s) fault, you will process it in a very intense way. And the only path that seemed right was Thor ending up as a depressed alcoholic.”
Joe Russo, Director, Avengers: Endgame

And that is what the chubby Thor signifies- a man who is thoroughly washed up by his fate and has no interest in where destiny will lead him. So he chooses to handle the pain by taking to the bottle.

The comic timing was Thor’s saving grace, else we would have seen a colourless superhero with nothing to offer besides some well-choreographed action.

Anthony Russo said in the same interview, “For someone who has lost everything, the only way for us to bring out his story was through humour.”

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An Inverted Character Arc

Joe and Anthony Russo love to play subverted plotlines in their movies- classic example being Infinity War, where Thanos wins despite every effort put by our heroes. The brothers bring out a similar inverted arc for each of the characters, almost always teaming two heroes together to tell an interwoven story.

For example- Tony Stark who was a selfish and an arrogant tech moghul ends his arc with a selfless sacrifice. While Steve Rogers aka Captain America who start out as a selfless patriot ends his arc by settling down with the love of his life.

Thor and the Hulk too have been paired in a similar equation especially in Endgame, where the vain god of thunder is now an empty albeit large shell of his former glory, whereas the Hulk has amalgamated his superior brains and brawn to become Professor Hulk- a far cry from the rampaging green behemoth.

Thor didn’t manage a makeover by end of Endgame, but he did receive closure. Rene Russo’s cameo in the movie was an important lesson in life for Odin’s son which ends with Thor realising that he is still worthy.

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Thor Learns to Laugh at Himself

As someone who was fat-shammed throughout my childhood, watching Thor was the highlight of Endgame. Yes, fat shaming is terrible and so is laughing at someone else’s depressive state of mind, but Thor laughs at himself, and that truly is his redeeming quality in the movie.

It only takes one lightning strike to make him a total badass wielding an axe and a hammer with such ferocity, never captured in any of his previous silver screen outings. Not to forget, Thor is a god from Norse mythology which has always represented him as a large towering figure with a huge belly and a thick beard.

Yes, the movie concludes with Thor as fat as he was in the beginning, but that adds more scope to the character in future, as he joins the Guardians or the ‘Asgardians’ of the Galaxy. For a long time comic book fans sought a truly comical super hero and Thor has finally stepped up to the mantle right after Deadpool.

But will Thor return? Only James Gunn can answer that question.

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