Avengers Endgame was an epic end to an 11-year story arc. Whilst some may have been disappointed with some of the plot points, I found the film on a whole to be very satisfying.
There is one character arc that had many in their feelings and as it is Mental Health Awareness Week, I’m using Thor Odinson as a case study to highlight how one person can develop several mental health disorders due to social and psychological environment factors.
WARNING: I’m not a doctor! Proceed.
Thor is the former king of Asgard, the god of thunder and one of the founding members of a group of heroes known as the Avengers. He’s a good-natured 1,500-year-old man who exudes confidence on the surface but uses humour to cover up his insecurities.
Due to a culmination of events, Thor now suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Survivors Guilt, Alcohol Addiction and Clinical Depression.
Events take their toll
In the past 11 years Thor has:
- Thwarted his brother Loki’s many attempts to kill him
- Thwarted Loki’s attempt at world domination of earth
- Prevented Dark Elves from plunging the Nine Realms into eternal darkness
- Lost his mother
- Discovered that he had a sister who was Hela bent on destroying Asgard
- Lost his father
- Lost his eye
- Killed his sister
- Witnessed the destruction of his home world
- Lost half his people
- Lost his good friend Heimdall
- Lost his brother
When Thor battled with his sister Hela, she destroyed his hammer Mjølnir. This set him back a little as he’d always believed his power came from his hammer. However, even after all of these events, Thor managed to step up when his team of Avengers needed him to stop one of the biggest threats they’d ever had to face, Thanos.
Thanos was an intergalactic sociopath from the planet Titan. He is also known as the Mad Titan for obvious reasons. His main obsession was to bring balance to the galaxy. To do this he planned to destroy half of all living things.
Lost without his hammer Thor had a new weapon made an axe he named Stormbreaker. Armed with Stormbreaker and renewed self-confidence Thor went up against Thanos but failed to deliver the blow that would prevent the destruction of half all living things.
The last straw
Depression has already started to set in when the Avengers are given an opportunity to confront Thanos and force him to undo what has been done. The mission is a failure and Thor leaves the team to join the remainder of his people in a colony on earth that they called New Asgard.
Hidden away on New Asgard Thor blames himself for not killing Thanos when he had the chance. His internalised guilt shows outwardly in the form of self-neglect, weight gain and alcoholism. Coupled with PTSD and depression, Thor becomes reclusive, neglecting his people and kingdom.
Success isn’t an automatic healer
After living with his illness for five years, Thor does get the opportunity to redeem himself alongside the other Avengers. This success, however, doesn’t result in Thor being instantly healed. In order to heal and tackle his mental health issues, he will need to acknowledge them and seek professional help. As we saw when he went into the past and spoke with his mother, Frigga, Thor really does need to talk to someone who will understand what he has been through and the weight he carries on his shoulders. Frigga reassures him that everyone fails, and tells him that the measure of a person lies not in becoming who you’re supposed to be, but in who you are.
Thor being fat and suffering from PTSD had many fans divided. That Thor was going through depression is not shocking at all. Whilst some fans accused the Russo brothers of fat-shaming others were concerned that his mental health issues were played for laughs. In the theatre I was in, when Thor first appeared on the screen there were gasps, and sad oohs and aahs. That’s not to say there weren’t chuckles whenever other characters made snide comments about Thor’s weight.
On the upside, there are fans who felt seen and were happy that Thor’s trauma was explored. Although he didn’t get an instant glow up by the end of the movie he did shed the weight of his failure that he’d been carrying on his shoulders for so long.