(WARNING: If you’re among the 37 people who haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, be forewarned that the following blog post contains SPOILERS THAT SPOIL THE MOVIE. If you don’t want your experience of the movie to be SPOILED, don’t read it. Or just don’t read it anyway, see if I care.)
Speaking as a lifelong Marvel Comics fan who suffered through decades of subpar film adaptations and assumed Hollywood would never get it right, it’s satisfying to watch Marvel Studios rake in all the money in the world by making their characters… fun! A bunch of musclebound guys in bright colors beating the crap out of each other isn’t great art, and it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to be entertaining. Marvel has embraced the silliness of the source material and tricked it out with some amazing special effects, while still making most of the characters feel like actual human beings. All the CGI in the world won’t make the audience care, if they have nobody to identify with and root for. Even Marvel’s second-stringers are now household names, because some smart, creative people figured out all the different emotions an actor can convey with, “I am Groot.”
But for social justice warriors, enjoyment is verboten. Fun is no fun at all. It’s not enough that they’re miserable. They have to bum out everybody else too.
As you know, because you saw Endgame and you’re still reading this, one of the most surprising moments in the movie comes after the story leaps forward five years. Thor is now living on Earth, haunted by his failure to stop Thanos, and he’s spent years sublimating his guilt and shame with beer, food, and video games. He is now a fat drunken slob with a gut like a beanbag chair. An Asgardian lardass. A thunder god with thunder thighs. Thor is a thicc boi.
It’s played for laughs, but it also feels real. Lots of people can relate to it. I sure can. And Chris Hemsworth plays it perfectly. He makes us laugh, and then we feel a little guilty about it because obviously the dude is going through some stuff.
All of which is very very problematic! Lacey-Jade Christie, The Guardian:
At 30 years of age I really should be used seeing how fat bodies are depicted in the media. I should be used to fat bodies being the easy go-to for depicting sad, angry characters. I should be used to the introduction of a fat body to provide some comedic relief. But here I am, the morning after seeing Avengers: Endgame, and I am still shocked, angry and hurt. I am an avid Marvel nerd and while the movie itself was brilliant in many ways, I had seriously conflicted emotions about the physical appearance of Thor…
I thought we were finally past the days of the fat suit. I had hoped that we were past the point in history where we are allowed to poke fun at fat people. I was wrong. Because here we are in Avengers: Endgame and Thor is 30kg heavier and it seems as though everyone in the audience is laughing except me.
Or: “I’m a joyless scold. Why isn’t everyone?”
I’m not as fat as I used to be, but still not as skinny as I was before that, and I have no problem whatsoever with any of the fat jokes they made in the superhero movie. Fat guys are funny, and fat guys who used to be ridiculously fit are even funnier. Thor wobbling around like a Hefty bag full of Jell-O is a great sight gag. It’s incongruous. It’s unexpected. It subverts our expectations. And it’s grounded in plausible character motivation. Thor might just be my favorite Marvel character now, and he did it by putting down the hammer and picking up the spoon.*
Human flaws can be funny. If you share some of those flaws, maybe you shouldn’t take it so personally when other people laugh.
*My one quibble with the film, other than the whole “Is it really ethical to undo death?” thing, is that they didn’t include this scene: Thor says something dramatic about killing Thanos for real this time, and then he holds out his hand for his hammer. Several long seconds later, into his hand flies… a pint of Häagen-Dazs!