Few projects have been as audacious and insanely successful as the Marvel series of movies. Since Iron Man, nearly every movie has been a refreshing take on a beloved character. I'll admit, Ant Man took me off guard as being surprisingly good; I was dubious about that one.
I love most of the characters in the series. Captain America and his unfailing determination to do the right thing, Tony Stark and his ability to think through any problem, Starlord and his goofy crew of criminals, Black Panther's nobility, Black Widow's overcoming of her past to be heroic, and Scarlet Witch's overcoming of her fear of her power to benefit others.
These are amazing characters with incredible plot lines to unite them against the ultimate enemy: Thanos the Mad God. But I do have a favorite, and he was not my favorite when the series started.
At the conclusion of Avengers: Endgame, Thor became cemented as my favorite Marvel hero of the series to date.
Thor actually started out as a pretty flat character. The original Thor had an over-confident frat-warrior get his teeth kicked in for a much-needed lesson. It's a great movie, and I especially love the soundtrack, but this is not why I like Thor as a hero.
Of all the characters in the Marvel cinematic universe, Thor lost the most.
His mother is killed. His brother turns to darkness. His father dies. The love of his life leaves him. He loses his hammer. He is forced to let his city burn to save his people from his demented sister. His brother dies in Thanos's fist as he is forced to watch, surrounded by the bodies of the people he failed to save. Finally, he misses saving half of all living creatures in the universe by about eight inches to Thanos's head.
You have to understand, most people would have been destroyed by sentence two or three of that paragraph. I think I would have been.
But Thor kept picking up his hammer. As depression set in across multiple movies at all he'd lost, he continued fighting to protect those that he could. Even in Endgame, at his absolute lowest point, he picks up a headset and defends his friend from the abusive noobmaster69 in an online video game.
The most beautiful moment in Endgame comes as a culmination of all these events. A lot of people either love or hate the all-female assembly on the last battlefield. They say it is empowering and affirming of women. Apart from the ludicrousness of gathering every single female hero into one shot from a battlefield recently bombarded by a battleship, I disagree for a different reason.
The god of lightning is visiting his home in the past. He is trying to work up the courage to speak to his old flame and distract her so Rocket can get a sample of her blood. His courage breaks and he turns to leave--when he comes face to face with his mother. The woman who will die later that same day.
They share the most incredible moment as Thor, one of the most powerful warriors in the universe, gets to be vulnerable with the woman who matters most to him. She assuages his guilt and gives him strength, strength he needs for a last battle where everyone is counting on him.
This, to me, was the most powerful female moment in the movie, when a god, after years of failure and loss, turned to his mom for comfort.
After he has been strengthened by a last moment with his mother, he holds out his hand and calls Mjolnir. After a moment, the weapon soars across the sky and slams into his waiting fist, silently declaring that its judgment of Thor. With tears in his eyes, he gasps, "I'm worthy!"
This is why fiction is so powerful to me.
I fail all the time. I fail as a dad, as a husband, as a Marine, as a martial artist, as a writer, as a provider, as a music leader, as a blogger, as a friend and worst of all, as a child of God. Sometimes, the combined magnitude of my failures crush my chest so I can't breathe, and I don't know how I can go on or if I even should.
So I want to thank Marvel for this incredible story they set for Thor. It helps me immensely to see Thor, reduced to a dad-bod, a drunken shell of the warrior-god he used to be, get some encouragement from his mom and get back into another fight. It helps me to see Thor celebrate the moment Captain America lifts Mjolnir, with no rancor or bitterness in his demeanor.
That even after so much failure, I can be worthy.
He's still a guy. He still razzes Starlord about who's in command of the ship. He still gives Cap the little one. He remains a dude, but a warrior, and nothing, not failure, depression, near-death or soul-crushing grief, could keep him down.
Do you agree? Tell me your favorite moment from the films in the comments, and why it inspired you.