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SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. If you have not yet seen the film, read on at your own risk!
While Thor was one of the key characters who helped establish the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame leaves him in a very different place compared to some of the other Phase One heroes. Rather than getting a conclusive ending similar to Iron Man’s or Captain America’s, the God of Thunder is instead given a new beginning that will see him jet off into space for a new life full of cosmic adventures.
This may seem like a surprising direction for him, as many thought going into the film that Chris Hemsworth’s time with the franchise might be over, be there’s a very good reason for the choice – as I recently learned from Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
I had the wonderful pleasure of recently interviewing the two filmmakers for CinemaBlend’s HeroBlend podcast, and one of the many subjects we touched upon in our discussion was where the new movie leaves Thor at the end. I specifically asked if there were ever versions of the script that had a bit more “finality” for the character, but Christopher Markus explained why that was a direction for him that they felt ultimately didn’t fit:
He has suffered so much. He's lost family - his mom, dad, brother, newly-found sister that he had the murder himself, Asgard itself. And then lost to Thanos. He lost his eyeball. Killing him seemed gratuitous almost. And from Ragnarok on, he is such a joyful presence, to have him fairly well-adjusted and moving forward is just like candy. It's like you want to see more of it.
Following up, Stephen McFeely added that while Avengers: Endgame may not specifically kill Thor or turn him into an old man, what is accomplished with the end of their film is the conclusion of a specific journey that he’s been on ever since Kenneth Branagh’s Thor back in 2011. Ever since we first met the big screen version of the hero he has maintained a strong connection to his homeworld, and following the defeat of Thanos he sees an opportunity for a significant life change. Said McFeely,
Think about the journey everyone's on, to be serious for a second. Steve goes from selflessness to self-interested, and Tony sort of does it generally in reverse. And what is Thor defined by in his first movie, right? It's ambition and obligation to Asgard and the crown, right? So what's that journey over five to seven movies, right? It's releasing that burden. It's giving that up and being the person he is supposed to be, not the one who he's meant to be.
The final scenes of Avengers: Endgame see Thor not only pass on the responsibilities of being king of New Asgard to Valkyrie, but also join a brand new family: the Guardians of the Galaxy. And while nothing has been confirmed as of yet regarding Chris Hemsworth’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, what seems certain is that God of Thunder will have an entirely new outlook on life the next time we see him.
One thing that must have supported this choice for the hero is the fact that Chris Hemsworth’s perspective on playing Thor has changed greatly in recent years. The actor has gone on the record saying that he doesn’t love Thor: The Dark World (his word of choice: “Meh”), and admitted that for a time he was underwhelmed by what was being done with the character. That all changed, however, with the making of Thor: Ragnarok. Director Taika Waititi and screenwriter Eric Pearson crafted an entirely new kind of adventure for the hero, and in the making of it Hemsworth gained a brand new appreciation for the role.
This revitalization was something that Stephen McFeely directly referenced during our interview, noting that the choices made in Thor: Ragnarok very much supported the decisions that he made with Christopher Markus in the writing of Avengers: Endgame’s script:
We've given it a lot of thought, and I think a lot of it lines up, and partly, frankly, because Taika [Waititi] and Eric Pearson and Chris Hemsworth sort of reinvented him. There's a whole other delightful side to him that would be great to keep seeing.
Looking into the future, given where things end in the new blockbuster there is an assumption at large that Thor will have at least some kind of role to play in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – but it should be noted that the developments of Avengers: Endgame didn’t really come out of any kind of collaboration between the writers and Gunn. I specifically asked Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely if there had been discussions about Thor being with the Guardians, but I was surprised to learn that wasn’t really the case:
Christopher Markus: We did not talk much, to tell you the truth. We kind of just rolled it up in front of him and, yeah, I look forward to seeing what happens.
Stephen McFeely: That's right. I don't know. But I do think it becomes a nice... there's a lot of room for growth there, right? Now, again, I don't know what happens in Guardians [Of The Galaxy Vol. 3], but if they find [Gamora], that relationship is brand new. We the audience know what it could be, and there's a character that doesn't value it, or doesn't know, or whatever. I think there's some opportunity there.
This is only a small portion of my interview with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and you can hear the whole thing by listening to the latest episode of our HeroBlend podcast:
As of right now it isn’t entirely clear what will happen with Thor in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (new franchise announcements won’t be made until after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home), but you can be sure we’ll have all of the latest details for you as they become available.