How Marvel Saved Thor: From Arrogant Brat to Deeply Emotional Hero
The Mighty God of Thunder
There was something always very off with the character Thor. I fell in love with both Iron Man and Captain America in their first outings in their solo movies. However, I never was interested in Thor or his story. Even when he is around the other Avengers, he was always the least interesting one of them all.
Thor's character has gotten a rewrite in recent years, all thanks to Taiki Waititi. I remember receiving an Entertainment magazine with Thor: Ragnarok being on the front cover. This was the first time I saw Thor with his new haircut. I hated it. Even though I was never a big fan of Thor, I never saw Thor with this new look. However, I totally agreed with the new direction after watching Ragnarok. Since the release of Ragnarok, Infinity War, and Endgame, the character of Thor has became one of my favorites.
Why is that?
Let's take a look back at the history of Thor within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thor (2011) introduced us to a whole new realm in the MCU. We were introduced to Asgard and this world of Gods and Mythology. What should have been spectacular experience turned into one of the worst movies of the MCU.
Iron Man (2008) was the introduction of superheros in what would become the MCU. Tony Stark was arrogant and cocky. However, he was kidnapped by terrorists and had to build a suit out of scrapes to escape. He is redeemable because we see what he went through to become a hero. We saw within the run time how Stark changed after finding out his weapons were being used for evil. He had this side to him that wanted to do good and save the universe.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) saw Steve Rogers turn from a skinny nobody to a super soldier. He has a huge heart and wants to do good because he hates bullies. He had to learn how to be a super hero and the risks that came along with it.
What do these two movies have in common? We are introduced to these people who became superheros and had to use their powers for good. They both met people who helped them become the superheros they are. They both have motivations that drive them to do good.
Thor, on the other hand, never has this. He is born into this world already a God. His father is King of Asgard, he is beloved by everybody, and he has been around for a thousand years. He comes off as a spoiled brat who doesn't have to answer to anybody. This type of character is unlikable to its audience.
Other than his motivation, Thor is just boring. He speaks in a Shakespearean language that is hard to understand. His first movie can be quite enjoyable because he is in a fish-out-of-water scenario. He must battle his brother, Loki, who he does not want to hurt. In the first movie, this seems tough because it is his family. However, this is the only thing Thor must battle with internally—over and over again.
In Thor: The Dark World (2013), Thor does not seem interested in anything other than Jane. He takes his mother's death personally. However, Loki's quest to avenge his mother's death overshadows Thor. This movie feels more centered on Loki rather than Thor because of his motivation. He does not care about anybody but himself. He believes he is an amazing God who will never lose a battle that he fights. Because of this, he still comes off as an ass.
This is the character of Thor in every single outing up to Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). In every single movie, he does not change. There is nothing interesting about him because he is a God who is overconfident and is not willing to risk everything to save the world. Stark risks everything to send the nuke into the wormhole in Avengers (2012). Rogers risks everything to crash the plane into the ice in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Thor is the same person across all of the movies before Ragnarok (2017).
What change did Marvel take to make Thor more likable?
How Marvel Saved Thor
Thor drops the Shakespearean style of language in Ragnarok. Because Ragnarok is a comedy, Thor is more awkward and relatable. He is more human rather than a mighty God. The movie starts out with the old Thor. He is cocky and believes he will never lose a fight. Even when he is face to face with Surtur, he mouths him because he truly believes he will break free and defeat him. Thor does indeed break free and defeats Surtur, he has every reason to believe he will never lose. This all changes after Odin dies and his sister, Hela, arrives. After Hela destroys Thor's hammer and sends him to Sakaar, where he is imprisoned, Thor begins to doubt himself. This is where Thor begins to be more of a likable character. He is hammerless and stripped of his long hair. Thor begins to question himself for the first time. He learns through this movie how to become a true hero. He must not rely on his hammer but what is within him instead.
He ends the movie willing to risk everything to save the day. He fights smarter and knows what is at stake. He destroys his home of Asgard to defeat Hela. This takes extreme courage that every hero has within him. Thor is finally a hero that we find interesting.
However, Thor did not become fully interesting until Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Infinity War begins on the ship harboring Asgardians. Thanos has killed half of the people on board. Thor must watch as his best friend, Heimdall, and his brother are killed by Thanos, and there is nothing that he could do because he was restrained by Thanos's henchman. He begins the movie losing two people who are the most important to him.
Thor is on a revenge quest in Infinity War. He is broken. He tells Rocket at one point that he has lost everyone important to him and that he couldn't lose anymore than what he already has. All he cares about his killing Thanos, and to do this he needs a new hammer. So, throughout this movie, Thor is on a mission to make a new hammer to kill Thanos. When the time finally comes and Thor comes back to Earth, the first thing he says is, "Bring me Thanos." The only thing that is important to him is revenge. He has forgotten everything from Ragnarok on fighting smarter, and he is thirsty for blood. Instead of going for the head and stopping the snap when he has the chance, Thor is so driven by revenge that he tortures Thanos. He nails him in the chest and wants to watch him suffer, giving Thanos time to wipe out half of the universe.
Endgame (2019) brought us a whole new look for Thor. This has caused a lot of controversy with fat Thor. I was not too excited when Thor finally appeared on screen with this new look. However, after I thought about it, I loved this version of Thor. It totally makes sense for the character Thor has become. In Infinity War, Thor could have prevented the snap, however wanted revenge so bad that he wasted the opportunity. He took it personally. He did what anybody would do. Thor became depressed. He blames himself for everything. What does a person do when they are in a depressed state? They let themselves go. Thor drinks too much, and in return, becomes fat and out of shape. This humanizes Thor because even though he is a superhero, he is depressed.
The scene that changes Thor the most for me is when Thor and Rocket travel back to Thor: The Dark World. Thor runs into his mother and the conversation changes everything about Thor. At one moment she says, "Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be." This is said to a person who has always been so confident in himself that he will never lose. However, even that person fails sometimes. Thor just took it personally because he believed he could never lose. Thor then calls for his hammer and is shocked that it comes to him.
Thor is shocked that his hammer came when he called it? Thor has always believed that his hammer will come. It is an extensions of his arm as he says in Ragnarok. However, he is so full of doubt that he did not expect it to come. This is a confidence booster because Thor is still worthy even though he does not think so. This is humanizing because we have all felt this way. We feel like we can do no good, when we are just as good as we used to be. After this scene, Thor is willing to prove that he is still mighty. He is willing to wear the glove to bring everyone back. He wants to redeem himself and become a hero again.
Thor has gone from the most boring character in the MCU to the most interesting. Making a superhero struggle with self-doubt an depression is the most humanizing thing the filmmakers could do. I don't care what anyone says about fat Thor, this is the best version of Thor. Fat Thor is not the most heroic or super, but he deals with so much mentally that we feel for him as a person.
The character of Thor has a huge character arc from Ragnarok to Endgame. He goes from the cocky Mighty God of Thunder to... well, fat Thor. Ragnarok introduced us to a Thor who is about to lose everything. Infinity War showed us what happens when Thor does lose everything. Endgame showed us the aftermath of losing everything. These three movies is a huge learning experience for Thor.
I wished we saw more at the end of Endgame to redeem him and become more mentally stable, but I think we will get to see more after the announcement of Thor Love and Thunder. I cannot wait to see where they take this character and how he will rise from this depressed Thor we saw in Endgame. Thor's story has become a lot more interesting in the last few years and I can't wait to see what is next for the God of Thunder.