‘Civil War’ Post-Mortem: But What About Thor?


Character progression in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been a big part of what has made the Marvel Studios’ films so successful, and has set them apart from the competition.  We don’t just get the same character every time out – they evolve, they mature, and as seen in the recently released Captain America: Civil War, they drop their shield, effectively abandoning their very identity (more on that in a moment).  However, with Thor, this progression hasn’t extended to all of the primary protagonists.

We’ve seen Tony Stark/Iron Man go from being a cocky, arrogant, billionaire who saw first-hand how he was profiteering off of misery in Iron Man, to a man dying from the very thing that saved him in Iron Man 2, to him suffering from post-traumatic stress from the events of Marvel’s The Avengers and asking the question “does the suit make the man, or does the man make the suit” in Iron Man 3.  That doesn’t even touch on his Avengers progression – from the guy who doesn’t play well with others constantly, poking at Captain America, then deferring to Captain America’s leadership after the iconic circle shot of the team coming together, and later ostensibly sacrificing himself to save Manhattan by carrying a nuke through a worm hole.  In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see a man who carries the weight of global security on his shoulders launching an ill-fated attempt at permanently saving the world.  A weight that his suit alone, can’t carry.  Civil War gave us a Tony Stark, still suffering from post-traumatic stress, and the guilt from seeing his best intentions still causing so much death and destruction.

Now let’s talk about Steve Rogers/Captain America.  When first introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger, he was a scrawny little guy, desperate to serve his country, volunteering for an experimental procedure just for the chance to do what many more able-bodied men were being forced to do – serve.  Unsure of himself, and what he was capable of, Captain America went up against the Red Skull, not because he was the world’s first superhero, but because of his character, his morals, and his unwillingness to give up, no matter how daunting the odds.  In Avengers, we see a Captain America, freshly thawed, surrounded by a world he doesn’t know, yet is still compelled to do what he can to protect it.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows a more seasoned, more skeptical Captain America, catching up to a world he doesn’t know, yet continues to defend.  We find him in a similar position in Ultron, but by the end, when asked by Tony if he was alright, he replies, “I’m home,” with the Avengers and their new facility, having found his place in what is to him, a new world.  Civil War takes this stability and turns it on its head, with Cap’s resistance to the Sokovia Accords, and the ensuing, very personal, struggle between him and Tony – two men who just want to do what’s best, but with very different approaches (see my recent editorial on why neither of them are wrong, philosophically). Of course, the schism grows deeper by the end (if you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t give it away here, but what’s wrong with you?) when Cap lays down his shield, effectively abandoning the mantle of ‘Captain America’ in favor of his lifelong best, albeit lost, friend Bucky.


Wes Harden

Wes Harden

An avid fan of all things Disney/Marvel, Wes hails from Virginia, and is an analyst and veteran. IG @weshardeniv

  • Thanostic

    I think, while he hasn’t used the godforce or anything like that yet, he has been properly portrayed as the 2nd strongest Avenger, behind Hulk. I like how some people talk about how Thor went toe-to-toe with Hulk in the Avengers, but fail to point out that he was only holding his own in the beginning; as Hulk got angrier, he got stronger, and by the end of that fight Hulk was throwing Thor around like a rag doll. Funny how that never gets mentioned….

  • Grimnir13

    My thoughts exactly. Despite the fact that I loved all the casting choices for Thor, the portrayal of his character was lacking. (through no fault of Hemsworth)
    I hoped we would get the mythical, epic side of the character and instead the movies tried to go with the comedic angle. I can only say that if by the end of Infinity War part 2 we won’t see Thor shout “HAVE AT THEE!” and unleash some major asgardian wrath on some unfortunate villain I’ll be really disappointed.

  • Mark

    I agree with your article. I’ve waited for Thor to be offered as more than referred to as a god, but perhaps his arc will be to obtain or discover his full abilities and power, just in time for Thanos. His portrayal has been lacking in the movies thus far. As the only immortal/god with the Avengers, I wanted him to be viewed as the primary, indispensable force the Avengers need to deal with Thanos as a team. I keep having this vision of the movie with Thanos facing off against almost every Avenger out on the plains, exclaiming their hopes are pointless against a god like him. But there’s one Avenger not in attendance yet – and seconds later a hammer from the sky smashes the ground between them, with a huge dust cloud obscuring his vision. As it clears, a shadowy figure walks forth in front of the other Avengers – and the hazy outline shows a billowing cape and a helmet with the familiar wings. Captain Rogers reminds Thanos that “we…have a god” followed by a Stark quipping angrily “….and he’s pissed”. And that’s the beginning of the end for Thanos.

  • Darthmanwe

    Superman problem. It’s always the Superman problem with these type of characters.

    Writers need to depower them or make them less bright so that there is a story. Why Thor is lackluster is why Clark didn’t simply fly around city and Xray the whole place to save his mom.

    You don’t get a movie otherwise. Same problem exists with speedsters ( we all said Quicksilver would pretty much end DoFP in a heartbeat) and certain psychics.

    Writing for these ensemble movies require dumbing down or depowering these characters. So I wouldn’t hold out much hope for Thor.

  • Tom Bacon

    In the MCU, the Asgardians are aliens. We’re not going to see the “Godforce”, nor will we see some of the more OTT abilities. Hopefully, we *will* see a consistent and effective portrayal.

  • Math

    I don’t really know Thor outside of the movies and the cartoons, so excuse me if I’m saying nonsense here… I would imagine that being a god and being very very old, he would have pretty much learned most of his life lessons by now no? I mean, when we observe old people, they don’t really evolve much anymore. People reach a certain point where they are set in their ways, they know who they are and they nearly stop evolving. It’s not always true, but when you reach a certain level of maturity, it takes a lot to change the way you perceive things. So I would guess at his age, it would take a lot to change the way he perceives the world. It already took him so long to learn to be worthy of Mjolnir so clearly he’s a slow learner. 😉 I’m not surprised he’s not evolving as fast as his other colleagues. Just a thought.

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