The uproar over Fat Thor in Avengers Endgame was, to put it simply, idiotic.
Quite the contrary, Fat Thor was brilliant.
Methinks the mindless twits on Twitter with their groupranthink doth protest way too damn much.
Apparently, the fact that Thor having a gut was too offensive for their delicate sensibilities.
Added to that, their accusation that some of the remarks the surviving members of the Avengers in the film made at his physical appearance was a form of “Fat Shaming” is beyond ridiculous.
The Avengers are comrades, they’re friends, they’re like an amiable bunch of athletes. You are going to dig on your friends for two reasons, because they love your quirks and because they call you out.
They did it with Captain America in Age of Ultron with the running “language” bit. They also did the same thing with Hawkeye being old in the same movie. They always dig on Bruce Banner for being geeky and socially awkward.
It’s par for the course.
Before I continue, however, I feel I should be as transparent as possible and establish my bonafides.
First, what qualifies me to talk about the subject?
I know, it’s a shocking revelation.
I’ve lived most of my life heavier than thinner.
Currently, I’m hovering around the two hundred and thirty pound mark.
According to the height ( I’m 5’11 ½” ) and age chart at my doctor’s office, I am considered clinically obese.
Last year, I was around two hundred and fifty pounds.
There were a couple of years were I weighed a lithe two hundred and twenty pounds.
At my heaviest, back in the mid-nineties, I weighed two hundred and eighty-five pounds.
I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life.
I’ve worked out more often than not for the past ten years, so there is some muscle, but more strength.
Oh, and I still bear the scars of childhood bullying from mean little assholes. The trauma is gone, but the memory is not.
So I feel that definitely qualifies me to talk about this particular subject.
Oh, and I guess I should have prefaced this blog with the words *SPOILER ALERT!!!!!* typed in all caps, bookended with asterisks, followed by a slew of exclamation points, in bold, and underlined.
But really, if you haven’t seen the movie already, then what in the hell is wrong with you?
So, back to Thor.
When I saw Avengers Endgame in the theater, and Fat Thor first appeared, the first of two thoughts shot out into the night sky of my mind and flared like a Fourth of July firework:
Holy crap – that’s me!
That immediate gut reaction was to his physical change.
That was me up on the screen.
I was represented.
Granted, I looked nowhere near as handsome as that damned Chris Hemsworth. His body shape was also slightly different than mine – my gut is not so prominent and my arms are not that muscular.
Nevertheless, I felt the strangest sensation watching him. In a way it was like being home. Like I could breathe comfortably.
Then there’s the scene where Hulk and Rocket Raccoon go to Thor’s home in New Asgard and try to convince him to rejoin The Avengers. There is a lot of comedy in that scene, and it’s easy to miss if you’re viewing it on a purely superficial level, but the mess, the bottles of beer and pizza boxes strewn everywhere, the way Thor’s dressed.
Then there’s Thor’s demeanor – the look in his eye, the way he talks, the way he carries himself. Those are all the telltale signs.
And this is the pure beauty, the sheer genius of Thor’s story arc:
Thor is sad, Thor is beaten, Thor is bruised, Thor is broken, Thor is depressed.
This was the second firecracker of a revelation I saw.
I saw and I understood.
That’s how depression looks like for some people. That’s how it was for me.
Not note for note, of course – because everyone’s battle with depression is different. But it always has to do with slowly being unable to things that others do with no problem, or even with things that you were able to do before with ease that seem impossible now.
Depression can come suddenly with the loss of a loved one. Depression can come with a sudden and drastic life change. Or depression can hover over you like a specter since birth, and wait, biding its time to slip into the cartilage of your joints.
During the course of Phases 1 through 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we saw in his struggles, pieces of him hammered, cracked, then chipped away, but he persisted.
He had a duty. He felt it was his job to solve all the problems that were destroying his world and the ones he loved. Only he could do it. He shouldered everything. He didn’t ask for help. Then when the killing blow was struck, it was not he who had won – it was Thanos.
And that was it.
He tried as hard as he could to hold himself together, to put on a brave face and soldier on. Then when he tried again one last valiant time – nothing.
To me, Thor was the image of my depression. In Thor, we see a god-man, once bright and beautiful and unbreakable and unstoppable just pure focus and vision and charm and wit, just the very best of how we see – or want to see – ourselves, and we see him simply break in two.
And the sad genius of it was that it was laid out well in advance, and it happened over time – since The Dark World. We saw him slowly crack. And it’s a scientific fact that if you hammer away at an object with the right tools, in the right way, it eventually cracks.
He lost his mother. Crack.
He lost his father. Crack.
He lost his friends. Crack.
He lost his hammer. Crack.
He lost his home. Crack.
He lost his brother. Crack.
He lost his half his people. Crack.
Then he lost half the life in the Universe. Crack.
And then, finally, he simply lost. CRACK.
Thor lost everything that he thought he was. He lost everything that he thought defined him. He tried everything, and nothing worked.
We all saw it onscreen. We saw the result:
All that was left was a man, only a man, a scared man, a raw, vulnerable, frightened human.
It was frightening to see onscreen. It’s even more frightening when you are actually going through something like that.
When you have a job, a task, a responsibility, and the weight of carrying it for so long, in silence, without asking for help, or refusing any help given, but with each step forward you can sense the small cracks underneath you like being on a frozen lake that you can feel breaking, but you ignore it, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
And that is the devil hidden deep in the details when it comes to depression – especially with male depression. We bear our burdens silently, because asking for help is admitting weakness, and admitting weakness is a Cardinal Sin for many of us. It is the fatal flaw in our own, personal Greek tragedy that destroys us in the end.
For me, it was starting up a brand new relationship just eight months after being divorced to my high school girlfriend, the last five years of which was highly toxic. Crack.
My new relationship with my ex-girlfriend, who needed special attention because she struggled with so many mental health problems. Crack.
My trying to be a good man and a good father to her daughters. Crack.
My trying to be a good, responsible son and care for my father who went from having severe Crohns disease to getting terminal cancer of the gall bladder and the liver. Crack.
Me, trying to handle all of this on my own, by myself, not talking to anyone about it. Crack.
My slow-slipping down into reckless behaviors, behaviors which caused my girlfriend and I to break up. Crack.
My father passing away. Crack.
Fortunately, I finally sought help. I saw a therapist, who then said I should see a psychiatrist. I went to my doctor, who referred me to the man who saved my mind.
Almost five years later, I’m still around.
Thor survived, and even fat he stepped up. Even after breaking, with the help of his friends, and his anger and his courage, he helped his friends, he helped them win. Greater still, he overcame his fears.
And though I’ve had days where all I’ve wanted to do was stay home and stay in bed – even with medication – I’ve stepped up and helped those friends and family who needed me. I’ve failed them sometimes, but I’ll never stop trying.
And I will continue to step up, grow stronger, grow calmer, because I have a little eighty year old mother whom I love dearly who, like my father, will need me to see them through to the end.
I know it will be hard.
I know it will devastate me.
But I have friends now, who stubbornly insist that I not slip into the Darkness.
I have family who I am no longer afraid to ask for help.
And I have Fat Thor, beautifully portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, with pathos, grace, and humanity.
Thank you, Chris.
Thank you, Kevin Feige.Thank you, Russo Brothers.
Thank you, Stan Lee.
And thank you, Fat Thor.
Thank you for showing me – this fat, broken, socially awkward old geek –
that I am worthy.