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Why Endgame’s Bro Thor Stumbled While Into the Spider-Verse’s Peter B. Parker Soared

Both Endgame and Spider-Verse feature similar story beats relating to mental health. But Bro Thor caused a lot more controversy than Peter B. Parker.

Released within months of each other, Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame both tackled individual stories of mental health in their larger narratives. Thor and Peter B. Parker underwent universal experiences of anxiety and depression that helped these superhero stories feel more human than ever. However, while the reception to both of these stories were largely positive, the depiction of Thor in Avengers: Endgame garnered some controversy.

In both films, Thor and Peter B. Parker are going through a difficult period in their lives. Thor is barely coping after Thanos’ victory and the subsequent five years after the Snap. Despite being the leader of Asgard, he does not have the will to leave his house, resigning himself to drinking beer and playing video games. He feels that he is to blame for Thanos’ victory and is no longer worthy as a hero. Similarly, in Into the Spider-Verse, after 22 years of crime-fighting, Peter is finding life draining: Aunt May has passed away, his relationship with Mary Jane has taken a toll resulting in their divorce, and he too finds little motivation in being a hero. His great responsibility is being tested.

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Both characters start their films at their emotional lowest. Most notably, both have gained weight as a result of their depression. This point is brought up frequently in both films, usually in the form of jokes. The other Avengers regularly quip at Thor’s expense, and both Miles and his universe’s Aunt May comment on how Peter is now a “different shape.” This is largely where the controversy stems, as, for the most part, these stories are handled with care and respect to those suffering from mental health illnesses. Making jokes about Thor for gaining weight due to his depression seems to go against that. Interestingly, this controversy did not exist for Peter B. Parker in Into the Spider-Verse, which was released only a few months earlier.

There are many reasons why this could be the case. Endgame is a live-action film, whereas Into the Spider-Verse is animated — the animation allows for a level of disconnect that’s not possible in live-action. With animation, audiences see these jokes being targeted toward a cartoon; in live-action, they see them directed at a person. That could explain why the jokes hit some people harder in Endgame than they did in Into the Spider-Verse. However, both films also present distinctly different arcs for both characters, which helps explain the vastly contrasting reception.

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In Into the Spider-Verse, Peter’s status as a hero is never put into question. Even at his lowest, he doesn’t stop being Spider-Man. He’s so used to it that he immediately sets to work getting the “goober” for Miles and getting back to his universe. His arc is about learning to value himself and his relationships as a person, not just as Spider-Man. The beauty of his journey is that as Peter teaches Miles how to be Spider-Man, Miles teaches him how to be Peter Parker. After all, it’s “just a leap of faith.”

However, with Thor, rediscovering his worth as a hero is his journey. While the anger toward the jokes at Thor’s expense is justified, the jokes are very deliberate and key to Thor’s journey. The quips the other Avengers make about Thor do not help his mental state as he tries to hold himself together and help the team. This reaches a peak during the Time Heist when he has a panic attack, and Rocket lashes out at him. It’s not until Thor reunites with his mother that he is finally told what he needs to hear: “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. The measure of a hero is how much they succeed at who they are.”

The pressure Thor has put on himself to be an unattainably perfect hero has broken him. Now, his mom lets him know that to truly be a hero, all he needs is to be himself. This is further proven to him when he summons Mjölnir, proving he’s still worthy. It’s understandable why many dislike the jokes made about Thor in Endgame, but they’re all in service of the story. The film ends with Thor still being a hero, just like Peter, by being who he is, not who he’s supposed to be.

A graduate who has recently completed an English and Creative Writing degree – and a lover of all things nerdy. Has written for publications such as New Welsh Review, and Aberystwyth Student Media; having regularly covered film & TV for the latter. Also enjoys acting and performance in their spare time. They/He

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