“Avengers: Endgame” may be about to set a world record for earnings on its opening weekend, but there are some Marvel fans who were left very unsatisifed by the epic conclusion to the multi-year Avengers saga.
Predictably, many of those fans are self-identified social justice warriors who are concerned that “Avengers: Endgame” has too few LGBT characters and that audience members may have found some fat jokes, made at the expense of core Avenger Thor, emotionally scarring.
Warning: Story may contain mild spoilers
“Avengers: Endgame” does not feature any overtly LGBT superheros, but it does have an LGBT character: a man, “Joe,” who attends a support group hosted by Captain America Steve Rogers for survivors of supervillain Thanos’ “snap,” which rid the universe of half of all life. The character casually mentions dating for the first time since losing his long-term partner, and speaks frankly about his male date.
It marks the first time an openly gay character appears on-screen in the Marvel movie universe proper (the X-Men franchise has had some LGBT-friendly moments, and Marvel television had some arguably LGBT character appearances), and the moment passed without much fanfare or complaint. There were certainly no audience protests — and, in fact, it almost seemed like the character just blended into the background.
That should be a win for the LGBT community, but social justice warriors were left disappointed that “Joe” wasn’t a more significant character (even though he was played by none other than “Avengers: Endgame” co-director, Joe Russo) and that more significant characters were more concerned with saving the world than finding romance.
“The fact that he plays an unnamed character with a few lines almost feels like a slap in the face to the people waiting 22 movies to see themselves represented onscreen. Sure, we’re glad to have confirmation that gay people exist in this universe, but it feels too little, too late,” a ComicBook.com writer complained.
Feminist “geek” site The Mary Sue called the Marvel director “overly congratulatory” for Marvel’s attempt at “representation.”
To top it off, on Monday, “Captain Marvel” herself, Brie Larson, complained that Marvel could have gone further, and encouraged Marvel bigwigs to make the universe more inclusive of LGBT characters.
That is, though, not the strangest SJW complaint about the epic Avengers blockbuster: that trophy belongs to a host of women’s sites and SJW sites that complained that his fellow Avengers “fat-shamed” an emotionally disturbed Thor, who let go of his superhero physique while recovering from a traumatic experience. The once Adonis-like Thor has taken on quite the “dad-bod” from a life of eating pizza, drinking beer, and playing video games, when he’s contacted to return to Avengers headquarters for a new mission.
The fat jokes and sight gags begin almost immediately, and showcase star Chris Hemsworth’s ability to be a comedic actor in addition to a barely troubled superhero. But social justice warriors are now deeply concerned that moviegoers will be emotionally triggered by the gentle ribbing.
The Daily Dot explained that fat jokes made at Thor’s expense “suck.” And that Marvel should know better.
Over the past few years, body diversity and fat acceptance have become mainstream topics in pop culture criticism. Marvel presumably wants Avengers: Endgame to have a long shelf-life, but this meanspirited recurring fat joke is going to age very poorly, very fast.
Cosmopolitan claims the fat jokes “crossed the line,” and that the jokes “regressed” Thor’s character and minimized his mental illness.
The point they’re trying to make is clear: Thor is plagued by PTSD and mental health issues. My own depression manifests in overeating and weight gain so, like, it me. And if they went on to focus on his recovery and help him process his grief, this could have been an incredible moment in the MCU timeline. But instead of tackling his issues head-on, his fellow team members repeatedly ridiculed and belittled him for his appearance, specifically his weight. They were so relentless, I breathed a visceral sigh of relief when he was able to wield his hammer, half-convinced his newfound physique would mark him as unworthy in the eyes of the powers that be.
Vanity Fair even contributed, calling the issue a “controversy.”
The good news is that Thor is nothing if not resilient, and after a time-travel trip visiting with his long-deceased mother, he recovers completely, fits into his costume and wields his signature weapons well in time for the finale.