Thor actor Chris Hemsworth may have just teased that “Fat Thor” was no more than a brief joke in the MCU, which would be a betrayal of Thor’s arc from Avengers: Endgame. The Australia Avengers star recently posted a workout photo on Instagram, instigating a comical and friendly exchange between himself and his Marvel co-stars, but there could be more to the image showing off his impressively hulking new form. At the beginning of Endgame, Thor is shown hiding out in a Norwegian fishing village, consumed by regret over his failure to kill Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and save half of all sentient life from being snapped out of existence. Thor is seen playing video games, drinking beer, and eating junk food, which has caused him to put on a substantial amount of weight.
In Endgame, Thor’s weight was played for laughs throughout the entire movie, but shortly after the film premiered, many fans spoke out about their disappointment in how Thor’s arc was handled. Fans identified with Thor’s recognizable symptoms of depression and believed that Disney and Marvel missed a critical opportunity in Endgame to address Thor’s mental health in a way that validated his emotions as well as those of his real-life fans. They were upset to see a fat person being mocked for his body by some of his closest allies rather than accepted and supported, which he desperately needed. But despite their disappointment, fans continued to hope that Marvel would address Thor’s emotions with more sensitivity in subsequent films.
When Thor: Love and Thunder was announced, some hoped that the film would validate Thor’s PTSD-related weight gain rather than treating it like a gag. But Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless workout photo on Instagram – just two months before Thor: Love and Thunder is set to begin filming – could mean that Thor will start the film having already lost the weight he gained between Infinity War and Endgame and that his weight gain will not be seriously addressed. It’s still possible that Hemsworth will wear a prosthetic (aka ‘fat suit,’ though the term has become controversial – as has their use in film), as he did in Endgame, but Marvel wouldn’t be able to get away with playing it for laughs a second time and blockbuster movies are typically uninterested in deconstructing the unrealistic ideals of physical beauty that they profit from – though it would be a pleasant surprise if Thor: Love and Thunder did.
Marvel has already proven that they can provide depth, seriousness, and emotion without forgoing levity or humor. Rocket and Tony Stark each have highly emotional and serious character arcs, journeying from trauma toward healing across multiple MCU films – most notably in Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. But instead of rallying around Thor or providing him with healthy ways of dealing with his mental illness, both crack jokes about Thor’s condition in Endgame. Even Rhodey – who was injured gravely on a mission as War Machine in Civil War – fails to consider PTSD as a cause and makes a crude joke. This is particularly frustrating to watch since all of those characters have suffered their own traumas that were taken seriously by their friends and the scripts of their movies.
Thor has grown and changed as a character in the MCU from spoiled prince to a fully-realized God of Thunder who has suffered the loss of both parents, his adoptive brother, and entire homeworld – and that’s all before Infinity War, where Thor couldn’t stop Thanos and blamed himself for the deaths of billions. After the exits of Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man from the MCU in Endgame, Thor is the only remaining one of so-called Big Three or the MCU’s Original Avengers and deserves a conclusion to his arc that honors his complex emotions as much as anyone else’s.