This post includes spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
Avengers: Endgame is surprisingly good, all things considered. The ending doesn’t really make sense, but overall, Marvel delivered a satisfying conclusion to the Avengers franchise. Oddly enough, I found that my biggest objection wasn’t structural issues or quibbles about characterization, but the choice to include a gratingly bad fat joke.
The first act of Endgame explores how the Avengers handle their grief and survivor’s guilt after Infinity War. Hawkeye goes on a killing spree, Tony Stark becomes a recluse, and Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff refuse to move on, moving into the old Avengers compound. Meanwhile Thor settles down in a town called New Asgard, playing video games and developing a beer belly.
This isn’t an intrinsically bad idea for Thor’s trajectory after Infinity War. Weight gain and heavy drinking can go hand-in-hand with depression or PTSD, and the idea of Thor regressing to a self-loathing version of his beer-swilling youth is a plausible scenario. The problem is, the movie plays the whole thing for laughs. Thor’s weight gain is a punchline that comes back again and again, leading to the uncomfortable situation of sitting in a theater of people laughing uproariously because a hero got fat.
It’s as if Endgame took the lesson of Thor: Ragnarok (ie. that Chris Hemsworth is great at comedy) but instead of just making him funny like in Infinity War, the Russo brothers gave him the offensive comic relief role from an altogether worse movie. It’s a jarringly insensitive choice for a film where we see Captain America leading a grief counseling group.