Remember when the MCU allowed its most aesthetically-pleasing male hero to succumb to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which saw Thor gain a load of weight before going on a beautiful journey of self-discovery? The decision to take the God of Thunder in this direction in Avengers: Endgame was one of the best pieces of character development in the MCU timeline to date, and was probably the most positive message the franchise has ever produced.
It’s a little concerning then, that the trailer for the new Thor movie appears to categorically retcon this very concept. Of course, we are still just under a month away from the Thor: Love and Thunder release date, so we can’t say for certain just how the hero’s transition from “dad bod to god bod” will play out, or whether it will be quite as problematic as we fear.
However, if the new MCU movie does decide to reverse Thor’s trajectory in such a way that he needs his godlike physique to be a hero again, it would be a real shame.
To understand the importance of this character journey, let’s go back to where it all began. Thor, having failed to defeat Thanos during Infinity War, lost his way both mentally and physically in the aftermath, and deemed himself wholly unworthy. The self-proclaimed “strongest Avenger” was long gone. In its place, a pot-bellied recluse with a drinking problem.
It was such a shock to see Thor in this way. We as viewers had become so accustomed to seeing Chris Hemsworth’s ripped physique revealed at any opportunity in previous MCU movies, that on the surface, this wild transformation played out like a joke. But, it was far from a simple gag, and was certainly not comedy at Thor’s expense.
The introduction of ‘Fat Thor’ paved the way for the MCU character to truly accept who he is, and realise that he is indeed still worthy. When Mjölnir answers his call, Thor learns that his past failures do not detract from his power, and that his happiness does not depend on his physical attributes.
Indeed, when Thor goes head to head with Thanos once again in the climactic battle of Endgame, he does not magically return to his godlike appearance of old. Instead, he fights the Mad Titan unencumbered by his matted locks and rotund frame, and it doesn’t make a difference; Thor is still as strong and capable as ever before.
It’s reported that Chris Hemsworth himself was very insistent on keeping the Fat Thor physique throughout Endgame, feeling very strongly about what that whole process meant for his character. And he was right to fight for it, as it’s one of the most mature and nuanced storylines in the entire franchise.
So, why is Thor: Love and Thunder seemingly backtracking on this entire sentiment? In the trailer for the upcoming Phase 4 film, Thor’s sidekick Korg explains how the hero goes from “dad bod to god bod”, and we even get a glimpse of Thor in all his… glory, as Zeus strips the space Viking, revealing his rock-hard abs and rippling muscles.
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Funnily enough, that exact moment in the trailer is officially the most replayed section of the video according to Marvel’s YouTube. There’s obviously a very immediate mass appeal to having a naked Chris Hemsworth at your disposal, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice narrative for nudity.
Surely Thor, and by extension Marvel, haven’t forgotten the lessons learned from the conclusion of the Infinity Saga? Well, there is hope. In the trailer, Korg claims that Thor “reclaimed his title”, only to be proven wrong when Jane Foster, AKA Mighty Thor, plucks Mjölnir from Thor’s grasp. Clearly, a god bod doesn’t guarantee you the right to wield the magic hammer.
Ultimately then, while it would appear that Thor’s dad bod is a thing of the past, here’s hoping that Taika Waititi and the team know better than to completely reverse the inspirational message that Fat Thor gave the MCU fanbase. It’s important for us to recognise that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and they are allowed to show weakness, to lose, and to be imperfect from time to time.