THANOS – The Mad Titan. We dedicate an entire episode of the podcast digging deeper into Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Is he the best villain in the MCU? Does he have a righteous cause? Is his purpose good and true? How does that purpose align with what we’ve seen people discuss about the God of the Old Testament in the Bible? Oh, yeah, we go THAT deep in this episode (special thanks to Monte for the question!).
Also, be sure to check out our LIVE Show… MCU Heroes vs. Villains – Bracket Challenge!
Can you relate to Thanos in “Infinity War”? Is he right?
Thanos is definitely an evil guy with a super evil plan. But…at the same time, the film does a good job adding a little nuance to his character and helping us understand why he thinks the way he does, even though he’s wrong.
Thanos believes the universe is overpopulated, and the solution he has come up with is to wipe out half of all life. In his mind, a smaller population means more resources to go around, and ultimately fewer people that have to suffer.
However, wiping out half the universe is definitely not a morally defensible action; no matter how good Thanos’ motivation may or may not be, one person cannot play judge, jury, and executioner for literally half the universe. Thanos has also drifted into madness by the time we see his character in “Infinity War,” and that makes him even scarier because at this point there’s really no way to reason with him. He’s going to accomplish his goal, whatever the cost.
If God had told Thanos to do what he was doing, would it still have been evil? How comparable is Thanos to some of the Old Testament stories about God?
Why does Thanos have so much more affection for Gamora than he does for Nebula? Does Gamora have any affection for him?
I feel like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” touches on this a little bit, describing how Thanos would have Nebula and Gamora battle each other, replacing more of Nebula with mechanical parts every time she lost. Thanos sees Gamora as the stronger of the two sisters, and therefore he loves her more. In his mind at least, she is more like him and more “worthy” of carrying on his legacy.
It seems strange that Gamora would have any affection for him, after all the cruel and terrible things he’s done. Yet when she attempts to kill Thanos on Knowhere, we see that she does experience some grief. Thanos doesn’t seem worthy of her compassion, but that’s what makes heroes stand out from villains, I feel. Heroes grieve the loss of life, even if the person they had to kill is evil and had to be stopped. Thanos does show some kindness to Gamora as a child, and perhaps she is grieving that potential for goodness within him that has now been almost completely snuffed out by his quest for destruction.
Thanos inspires dread in the hearts of several other heroes. Why do the following characters fear him?
- Tony Stark
- Wanda Maximoff
- Bruce Banner
- Peter Quill
Tony has a variety of demons haunting him, but I think one of the biggest, especially after the events of “The Avengers” and “Age of Ultron,” is the knowledge that there are dark threats out there in the universe that he may not be able to stop, no matter what technology he invents. This sense of powerlessness makes him feel both guilty and afraid, and he worries that he may not be able to protect the people closest to him, like Pepper and Spider-Man.
Vision and Wanda fear Thanos because he has the potential to end their dreams of a life together. If Thanos takes the Mind Stone from Vision, Vision will die, along with half the universe.
Loki fears Thanos because he knows what to expect, having served Thanos for a time during the events of “The Avengers.” He knows the army of Chitauri warriors that came to Earth are only a hint of the terrible power Thanos can command.
Bruce Banner fears Thanos because even Hulk fears Thanos; after being beaten by Thanos in the opening minutes of “Infinity War,” Hulk refuses to come out and fight.
Peter Quill fears Thanos because he’s fought a villain on this scale before: his own father, Ego. Ego also had the power to destroy planets, and Peter (understandably) fears that same power in Thanos. Thanos also is a direct threat to someone Peter cares very deeply about: Gamora.
Yet there are some characters who don’t seem to fear him. Why do the following characters react to him differently?
- Steve Rogers
- Doctor Strange
- Black Panther
By this point, Thor has lost just about everything he can lose, all within a tragically short period of time — his father and brother, his homeworld, his people, and even his eye. There are few things left for Thanos to take away from him. Empowered by a sense of justice and vengeance, Thor isn’t afraid to face Thanos and try to stop him from doing the same thing to the rest of the galaxy that he did to the Asgardians.
Steve Rogers has a similar motivation to Thor. He’s a man trapped in a time that isn’t his own, and many of the people he’s loved are now lost in the past. Steve also has become a little disillusioned with his past ideals and he’s struggling to find his new place in the universe. Thanos is the ultimate bully — a person who is unequivocally bad — and defeating Thanos is a concrete cause to fight for.
I feel Doctor Strange and Thor are the two Avengers with powers that are the most capable of matching Thanos’. Doctor Strange enters the fight well prepared to oppose Thanos. He’s also taken a peek into the future, and though we don’t know exactly what he saw, I believe events are playing out exactly as Doctor Strange intended, allowing the Avengers to ultimately win.
Black Panther doesn’t fear Thanos because Thanos is coming to fight him on his home turf. Wakanda is ready to engage with Thanos’ army, although once Thanos has all the Infinity Stones, no one is really powerful enough to stop him.
How do you feel about Thanos’ journey to gather the Infinity Stones? Does it change him in any way throughout the movie?
I actually feel that Thanos doesn’t change a lot throughout the “Infinity War” film. He has a very clear goal in mind, and he pursues that goal relentlessly. He wants to collect the Infinity Stones and destroy half the universe, and he does exactly that.
What does change, I think, is our perception of Thanos. As a massive fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who has not yet read the original comics, I didn’t know a lot about Thanos aside from the hints I’d seen in previous MCU films. He turned out to be a lot more nuanced villain than I was expecting. He’s still a REALLY bad guy — and he’s even more powerful/dangerous than I had imagined. Yet there are a few moments that add little flashes of humanity — a hint of what he could have been if he hadn’t fallen into madness and decided he was worthy of deciding the fate of the universe. I think some part of him genuinely cares about Gamora, and in his own mind, he’s doing what he thinks is right, even though he’s totally wrong.
Thanos is a fascinating villain, probably the best villain we’ve seen from the MCU so far. He was definitely worth 10 years of build-up.
What’s next for Thanos? What do you think he’ll do in Avengers 4?
I have no idea what’s going to happen in Avengers 4, and that’s really exciting for me. I feel like both the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes are in really interesting places right now, and I like that there’s not a clear-cut path forward for either franchise. I’d like the closing chapter of this portion of the MCU to be surprising, shocking, and fulfilling, and I don’t want to walk into the movie with too many expectations or theories.
That being said, it would be interesting to see Thanos reflecting on the consequences of his actions. Does he have any regrets? What does life look like for him going forward now that he has accomplished his goal? What will he do when he sees all the anger and pain that have resulted from his decision to kill half the universe?
I’m also really curious to see how the Avengers will (presumably) defeat him. Since he’s such a powerful villain, he deserves a really epic final battle. And as much as I would hate to say goodbye to some of the Avengers characters, I think an Avenger or two should die in order to defeat him.
Whatever happens, hopefully the next Avengers movie will be just as awesome as “Infinity War”!