Mental health is a complex topic that affects people on different levels. While some are happy to talk about their struggles with disorders like anxiety, others continue to suffer in silence for fear of being perceived as weak. Within the world of comics, humans aren’t the only beings to suffer with their mental health. Gods are just as vulnerable, and even the mighty Thor has fallen victim to thoughts of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
The God of Thunder’s quest to improve his mental health has been the source of many recent Thor stories. Having lost the ability to wield Mjolnir and then fighting to prove his worthiness again, Thor’s struggles are relatable when filtered through the lens of emotional vulnerability.
Unworthiness and depression
Thor’s descent into depression began in 2014’s Original Sin arc, where the God of Thunder encountered a cosmically empowered Nick Fury, who told him a secret that shocked Thor to his core. As a result, Thor was deemed unworthy of holding Mjolnir. Emotionally broken, he gave up the title of God of Thunder and referred to himself as ‘The Odinson.’
This act was a sign of severe depression because Thor was willing to give up his identity, the core of who he was, because he no longer believed in himself. Years later, in a conversation with Beta Ray Bill, Thor revealed that Fury had said that “Gorr was right.”
The conversation referred to Gorr The God-Butcher, an enemy of Thor that appeared in Jason Aaron’s original God of Thunder run. Gorr had a vendetta against all gods because he thought of them as destructive and self-serving creatures. Fury’s confirmation of Gorr being justified in his belief caused Thor to not only lose faith in himself, but in all his kind.
“Gods are vain and vengeful creatures. Always have been. The mortals who’ve worshipped us for centuries…all would be better off without us. We gods do not deserve their love. No matter how much we fool ourselves. We are all unworthy.” – Thor
Thor’s depression has also been highlighted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Avengers: Endgame, Thor became overweight and emotionally scarred after failing to stop Thanos before he wiped out half of the universe. Instead of being the brave and self-assured warrior of past films, the Thunderer turned into a recluse who numbed himself with alcohol. In the context of mental health, it’s a heartbreaking sequence.
To be anxious is to be human
In both the comics and the MCU, Thor found a way to rise above his depression and reclaim his worthiness. This came about through him realising that he didn’t need to be defined by his hammer or a title to be a hero. True worthiness came from being able to defend the people he loved, through standing for Asgard and Earth.
The Odinson’s lack of self-belief is a feeling that many people can relate to. Poor self-esteem can strike at any time. In the sufferer’s mind, they feel they are unworthy and incapable of doing anything right. In some cases, this may lead to panic attacks or paralysis in social situations. It’s a scary and uncomfortable experience. But it’s also human. It’s natural.
Thor’s battle with depression is inspiring because it shows us that even the most powerful beings in the universe aren’t immune to depression or anxiety. Not only does it make him a relatable character, his story can help to lead the debate about having an open conversation about mental health.
The God of Thunder isn’t the only Asgardian who has struggled with his mental health. Learn how his brother Balder learned to cope with depression.