WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame.

“I am worthy.”

Late in Avengers: Endgame’s 3-hour runtime, Thor makes this realization after he is able to successfully summon his trusty hammer, Mjolnir, bringing him out of the depths of depression, anxiety, and PTSD that he is wracked with for most of the film. It was a line that also made me burst into tears because even though Endgame wildly miscalculates the way it signals us to regard Thor during his journey throughout the film, it does get this moment right. It’s a moment of realization that many of us dealing with similar mental health issues long to find, one I was glad to see Thor was allowed to have. But it absolutely doesn’t make up for the tough emotional wringer that Thor was put through in Endgame, which demands further conversation.

No stranger to the way anxiety, depression, guilt, and shame have physically manifested over the years, I found it hard to laugh at Thor in the way Endgame expected me to laugh. Endgame Thor is “broken,” consumed by his guilt and grief over not successfully killing Thanos in Infinity War and unable to help the Avengers reverse his Snap the first time around early in Endgame. When the film cuts to five years later, we find Thor a permanently changed man, living in New Asgard, Norway but rarely leaving his home.

When Hulk and Rocket Raccoon go to see him in hopes of bringing him back to Avengers HQ to try and reverse the Snap once more, they are just as shocked as we are to see Thor has physically transformed — and not in the way we would have suspected. Constantly drinking (ostensibly as a way to self-medicate), Thor’s hair and beard are longer and messier, he has gained a significant amount of weight, and his demeanor is that of a man actively trying not to remember the past while seemingly not caring about the future. He’s closed himself off to the rest of the world, either because he wants no part of it since it only serves as a reminder of what has been lost or because he is too scared to leave the judgment-free safety of his home or perhaps both. It’s clear that he is no longer the superhero he once was and that the physical toll of his mental health issues have been significant. Hulk and Rocket are shocked by Thor’s change in appearance and while they try to treat him sensitively in Norway, that considerate treatment ends the second they get back to HQ.

Thor’s weight and general demeanor are treated like an easily fixable problem by the rest of the Avengers, a temporary inconvenience for them that can easily be fixed once the Snap is reversed. Jokes about Thor’s weight and wardrobe, which consist of loose-fitting shirts, sweatpants, and a bathrobe, are made regularly. Thor’s depression is treated like instability and rather than taking the time to talk to him and see how he’s doing since his trauma is manifesting so visibly, the Avengers either coddle him, ignore him, or treat him like he is a ticking time bomb they don’t want to address.

So, instead of addressing it, Endgame turns Thor into a punchline. Rocket has some of the most jarring exchanges with Thor and it’s in these exchanges that it becomes clear (to me, at least) that Endgame doesn’t understand whatsoever that those dealing with depression, anxiety, or PTSD are not joke material. When the two arrive in Asgard in 2013, Thor realizes that they’ve arrived on the day his mother, Frigga, dies as well as the fact he has to see Jane Foster in his current state. He’s completely immobilized, his anxiety manifesting as the inability to follow through. Instead of sympathizing with his friend (which we know he’s capable of because he’s shown his softer side in the past), Rocket slaps Thor and tells him to get a grip, essentially telling him to man up. But at this point, the physical manifestations of Thor’s trauma are very real and very apparent and have not at all been treated sensitively, so you’d think there’d be a moment when someone, anyone, would extend a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. It should have been Rocket, but instead, Rocket chooses the more callous option.

Instead, it’s down to Frigga (who quickly susses out this is her future son and not her son in 2013) to sit and talk to him. It’s fair to assume Thor would feel more comfortable opening up to his mother rather than the Avengers. A mother’s love and nurturing instincts are the best medicine and Thor is in desperate need of it. While I think it’s necessary for Endgame to offer Thor some shred of kindness and understanding while also juggling the rest of this story’s demands, it irks me that it took so damn long for someone to reach out to Thor. The film seems to suggest a short conversation with Frigga will be the cure-all to Thor’s trauma; that’s simply not true. You don’t just snap out of depression; a single, in-depth talk with your mother can’t instantly give you all of the hope, tools, or healing necessary to recover from trauma that is deeply rooted within you.

Endgame almost completely deprives Thor of any kind of validity for feeling the way he feels. Worse, it does it willfully, taking every opportunity to pause for a laugh when Thor is onscreen either freaking out, shutting down, or masking his pain with harmful habits like overeating or binge drinking. Even Frigga’s parting comment, where she tells him to maybe eat a salad after defeating Thanos, is unkind and counters the compassion that emerged during her actual final conversation with her son, a conversation he so desperately needed. Endgame seemed incapable of allowing Thor one single second of reprieve from his trauma.

Thor’s mental wellness is the most problematic issue in Endgame in my opinion, not because it exists and is manifesting and we have to watch Thor attempt to process or even find the language to address it, but because the support systems he thought were reliable fail him at every turn and treat him like a pariah. Endgame needed to validate and recognize that Thor is deep in grief, battling very real demons that don’t wield Infinity Gauntlets but are just a life-altering and debilitating. It’s all well and good that Thor was allowed to at least regain some sense of worthiness in summoning Mjolnir and feeling capable to participate in the final battle, but Endgame mostly failed Thor during a crucial development period in his life.

If we do see Thor again (and we just might since he sailed off into the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy), I only hope that he’s treated better and not shamed for his new body or the work he has done to reclaim his mental wellness. He’s come too far to be failed once again by those he trusts in a world the needs him to stick around for a long time to come.

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