Although these spoilers are minor, if you don’t want to see them, don’t read beyond this point.
Within the last few days, online complaints and protests about how a character who developed PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, has been portrayed in Avengers: Endgame. The complaints come just days after the film’s world premier, and just before the film’s official release date in theaters.
The problem that has caused these complaints is that the character who has developed PTSD is portrayed in a purely comedic light, and is made the butt of the joke. In the film, the character Thor (spoilers) is the one who develops PTSD, and isolates himself following the events of Infinity War. He turns to alcohol as solace, causing him to gain weight, which further adds to the comedic nature, which has sparked the complaints by people.
The fact that the trauma and alcoholism is used as a joke instead for a movie that is destined to be a global box office hit is a low blow. Rather than exploring such topics, they de-legitimize the issues by treating it as a running joke.
The interesting fact is, while they make Thor’s trauma out to be a joke, they at the same time portray another character with PTSD in a serious light. Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man, had developed PTSD throughout the films, and it becomes increasingly visible through his reactions and his behavior. Tony is portrayed with his traumas in a serious light, although it may not be immediately noticeable, as it only shines to the forefront at certain points.
The contrast in portrayals creates a paradox for the Marvel company, placing it in a confusing position regarding portraying the nuances of mental health.