Avengers: Endgame marked the second-to-final chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga, and appropriately, the longest entry in the MCU was filled with endings and beginnings in equal measure. While the 3-hour movie laid to rest some heroes’ stories, it also reassured fans of how much there is to look forward to down the line by changing other heroes’ narratives.
Because they were aware of the gigantic implications (and their required runtime), Avengers: Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely say that they worked to deliver the shortest Endgame draft possible to Disney the first time around — in an attempt, as they told SYFY WIRE at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, to keep the powers that be from “freaking out.” That resulted in 148 pages, which were then condensed and expanded over and over again as various behind-the-scenes teams laid out the details.
“Then you just have to stop counting pages because it’s too terrifying,” Markus says.
Despite all the drafts and questions of how to end a decade-long saga, hidden amongst those 148-plus pages was the gift that keeps on giving to fans, toy collectors and meme artists: Chris Hemsworth’s stoner Thor.
Since he was first introduced in Thor (2011), the eponymous Asgardian god and superhero has undergone his fair share of in-world redesigns — from spoiled princeling to capable, wisecracking king. Endgame resulted in arguably the greatest shift yet for the hero, who, after failing to kill Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, spiraled into depression and alcoholism.
In Endgame, when Rocket Raccoon and Bruce Banner (aka Professor Hulk) go to find Thor in New Asgard, they happen upon a drunk, overweight Thor with matted hair and an unkempt beard. Anointed “Lebowski Thor” by fans, Hemsworth’s comedic chops keep the audience laughing, but there’s an overwhelming sense of sadness and defeat. Thor has changed, but so have the other Avengers — Thor just experienced the most physical transformation.
"Late 2015, when we laid out the framework of both [Infinity War and Endgame], we were trying to figure out — because we have this 5-year break [in Endgame], and we wanted to push all the characters to an extreme over the course of those 5 years," Markus explains. "And… the kneejerk was 'Thor's on a mission of vengeance. He’s angry.' But he was on one in the last movie. And he failed. And you don’t just go in for more vengeance at that point. What would any of us do when faced with that much failure? You would more than likely just drink and try to forget that it ever happened."
It was a logical choice, but the magic was in the direction they took once the choice was made.
"And so we didn’t set out and go like, 'Thor needs to be overweight and in a bathrobe,'" Markus continues. "But he has gone to ground in a hole and is drowning his sorrows and he evolved into, effectively, Lebowski Thor from there.”
Because another of the original six, Hawkeye, was also on a revenge mission in Endgame, the team reasoned, Thor needed a different angle. And so, Thor became Lebowski Thor, with the Asgardian god ironically having the most human reaction to failure: overwhelming, all-consuming grief.
Markus adds that at the end of the day, they were looking for moments of symmetry over the course of the MCU, especially for the original six Avengers. He says, smiling: “Steve misses a dance and gets a dance; Tony saves his own life then gives it up; Thor has a very memorable shirtless scene in Thor 1 and we wanted to give him another memorable shirtless scene in this one to sort of round out the arc.”
You could say it really tied the MCU together.