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The drastic change of Thor in Endgame explained

Contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

You've never seen Thor like this before. 

In Avengers: Endgame, the heroes who survived Thanos' (Josh Brolin) split-the-universe-in-half snap each faced their own inner battles. But no one took things as noticeably hard as Thor did. Here's the explanation behind his drastic change in the superhero ensemble.

The fallout of Avengers: Infinity War grew more dire three weeks after the fact, when the remaining Avengers tracked down the big purple dude and discovered that he had used the Infinity Stones to destroy the Infinity Stones, which spurred an exasperated Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to take his battle-ax hammer Stormbreaker and slice Thanos' head clean off. Fast forward five years to the central story of Avengers: Endgame, and none of Earth's Mightiest Heroes (those who were left, of course) were faring any better — Thor especially. 

Wracked with guilt over coming close to stopping Thanos in Infinity War and feeling as though he was responsible for the death of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and what happened to the billions of people in the universe, Thor turned to the bottle, the joystick, and the snack cupboard for comfort. For most of Avengers: Endgame, Thor looked less like the chiseled god of thunder and more like the Dude from The Big Lebowski. His hair was long and matted, his beard thick and full, his physique larger and without tone, and his disposition not nearly as chipper or confident as it once was. He found pleasure in grabbing a headset and talking smack to kids playing Fortnite. He sought happiness in drinking beer — lots of it. He guarded himself from hurt by banning Thanos' name from being spoken in his house in New Asgard, drunkenly rambled during the Time Heist meeting at Avengers HQ, and continued to doubt his own abilities. 

So what does Hemsworth have to say about Thor's evolution from the mighty Avenger with lightning flowing through his veins to the down-in-the-dumps guy we saw in Avengers: Endgame? The actor opened up to USA Today ahead of Endgame's theatrical debut, and explained the dramatic change Thor underwent. Hemsworth revealed that he and the film's directors Joe and Anthony Russo had discussions about how to make Thor look and feel different than he did in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as how to push the character to his limits. 

"I just had an opinion. I wanted to do something different this time. Each film I've wanted to, in particular the last couple, and they were on board," Hemsworth said, noting how the changes Thor has gone through in the past. (More on those in a bit.) "They were on board and we sat for many hours and days and discussed kind of how far we could push it and what we could do different. It was great that was welcomed, you know, that kind of [conversation]."

Now, Thor wasn't the only Avenger who changed in Endgame. It seems as though the conversations Hemsworth and the Russo brothers had may have happened between other members of the Original Six cast. After the five-year jump in Avengers: Endgame, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) abandoned his superhero moniker in favor of donning a darker cowl as Ronin, slicing and dicing his way through Mexico and Japan to eliminate evil-doers who weren't killed in the Decimation. Captain America (Chris Evans) struggled to move on with his own life, though he did try to build others up by leading a support group for survivors. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) spent 18 months in the gamma lab attempting to settle his differences with the Hulk, eventually succeeding and merging the two into one. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) did her damndest holding the Avengers and co. together, while falling apart on the inside knowing that the team still hadn't figured out a way to bring the dusted heroes back home. 

Clearly, everyone was hurting at the start of Endgame – but their pain didn't manifest itself on a physical level in the way it did with Thor. And that's where some fans are calling foul. For many, "fat Thor" was one of the worst parts of the entire film

Kaila Hale-Stern of The Mary Sue wrote an essay in response to the "problematic depiction" of Thor in Avengers: Endgame. She argued in part, "While a passing joke would have felt disappointing for a major movie but you might understand how it squeaked by, the fact that this is an ongoing theme throughout just baffles me. Countless production hours are poured into the creation of something like Endgame. That means again and again and again and again many people signed off on making 'Fat Thor' jokes, from the screenwriters to the costume designers to the directors to the actors to the editors to the executives who rubber-stamped the idea."

A Twitter user by the name of @_adropofred shared their viewpoint on how Thor was presented in the film: "Talking about #AvengersEndgame, this is the only thing I'll say about, because I want my friends to know this and not end up surrounded by hundreds of people roaring in laughter at them: a character gains weight due to PTSD. It's a complete and utter joke repeated several times. My wife put it well: 'I thought Marvel were above this'. They aren't."

This isn't the first transformation Thor has experienced during his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — though this certainly has been the most shocking. At the start of his trilogy, the hero had long, yellow-blonde hair that flowed in the wind in a way that would make even Fabio jealous. The Thor that fans knew under director Kenneth Branagh for Thor and Thor: The Dark World was self-important, serious, and kind of a brat. When it came time to close off Thor's three-film series with Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi stepped behind the helm and brought a completely new version of Thor to the silver screen. He had a cropped 'do, a radically more selfless personality, an ability to make tough choices for the greater good and not just the good of himself, and a sense of humor that solidified him as one of the most naturally funny characters in the MCU

Since Thor remained the same from Thor: Ragnarok to Avengers: Infinity War, it seems there's something of a pattern here: a certain iteration of Thor may only be able to exist in a limited number of two Marvel movies. Uptight, long-haired Thor was in the hero's first two trilogy films, along with the first two Avengers movies; goofy, kind-hearted, short-haired Thor was in Ragnarok and Infinity War. Now, chubby and self-conscious Thor is in Avengers: Endgame — and will likely appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as the final moments of Endgame saw Thor join the galaxy-faring heroes on their new mission. Unless Hemsworth has another chat with Marvel bigwigs on how to give Thor another revamping, the Thor featured in Endgame could be back again pretty soon.