Thanos Was Meant To Win From The Very Beginning And We Explain How
The MCU teased its viewers for almost a decade about the appearance of Thanos, which means that the Russo brothers had the immense task of creating a villain so amazing that he could be compared to Darth Vader, arguably the most fearsome bad guy in the history of cinema. They understood the complexity of Vader’s character and wanted to make the Mad Titan similarly. Let’s explore this idea better.
The parallels with Darth Vader
“If you took Darth Vader and multiply him times ten… Our job with Thanos is to make him the preemptive villain in the Marvel universe…And in order to be a preemptive villain you have to do some pretty bad things.” -The Russo Brothers
It is clear that Thanos did some awful things in his quest to find the Infinity Stones and even before then, but that is not the only thing that makes the villain in a film a great character. If the directors wanted to make him the next Darth Vader, as much as they could anyway, they had to understand that he was not just a simple bad guy going against the main leads.
He was much more than that. At some points, Vader felt like the hero of the story, especially when he felt empathy, and sometimes, he was almost the underdog in the Star Wars saga. The Russos had to understand that genuinely fearsome villains have many levels; a complexity that had not been shown in the previous films of the MCU.
The first appearances of Thanos in the franchise were almost empty. We saw him in brief moments and post-credits scenes as just another foe for the Avengers without much backstory, and he delivered one-liners that showed that the character had not been developed beyond the surface. The same can be said about the first scenes with Darth Vader.
However, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi showed an individual that was much more than initially imagined. Therefore, the challenge was to make a character so deep that people would understand where he is coming from and his raison d’être; to make audiences content with the villain’s win despite watching him commit unspeakable crimes against the good guys.
Whether or not you agree with his mission, everyone who watched this film understood the reason for his search of the Infinity Stones and the snap. Unlike other villains in cinema, his intentions are laid clearly and with a sincerity that made audiences almost agree with him. He truly believed he was doing a good thing, and he saw the Decimation as merciful.
However, we also saw the panic on the characters’ faces when the people they loved turned to dust. It is not hard to understand that Thanos is a politician, a dictator, who manages to indoctrinate his followers into this insane idea. Joe Russo said, “He’s an extreme sociopath with a messianic complex.” Furthermore, he not only defends his principles but himself too.
His every action is done with a confidence that only comes from believing oneself as a god, and that is what he is selling to everyone. He tells them he is a savior, everyone’s father, the Messiah that comes to end hunger and famine from the universe. But aside from his arrogance, he is also intelligent and even generous at times.
“The worst thing about Thanos is that there is nobility to him… he looks at himself as a servant.” -Stephen McFeely
The end of the movie showed him finally resting in a farm, where he had hung his armor and was watching the “sunrise on a grateful universe”. Like most heroes, he is not expecting anyone to actually be thankful, and he is not intending to fight anyone else because his job was complete. Things went his way, so he is happy and peaceful.
Of course, he broke that peaceful messiah image several times during the movie, but every time could be justified as a sacrifice for the bigger picture. Additionally, there were many characters that he could have killed easily, but he decided against it, simply subduing them and moving on to complete his mission. Thanos could have killed Star-Lord several times, but he chose not to.
The scene in Vormir showed his immense level of complexity, where we saw him cry when he realized that he had to sacrifice Gamora to obtain the Soul Stone. He almost hesitated and showed that he was capable of loving like a regular character and unlike others villains such as Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort. Of course, many could argue that his kind of love is not really love.
The main thing is that Thanos does not lie. He killed Gamora as part of his morals of never giving up, but he never deceived anyone. He was honest throughout the film. Even Captain America is dishonest at times. The Mad Titan treats the Collector, who is known for his trickery, horribly as well as Loki, and he despises both.
The scene in Knowhere showed how skilled the villain was at manipulation and trickery as well. He is always one step ahead of everybody, forcing them to give up their advantages until they are left with no options but to give in to him. The illusions where Gamora seemed to kill him proves that he understands emotions better than other villains.
One of the reasons some fans wanted him to win is not because he was invincible, but instead, because he was shown as the underdog at certain points of the film. In the opening scene, we almost felt sorry that he was taking such a beating from Hulk, and he was outnumbered during the fight in Titan, where Mantis exposed his pain over killing Gamora.
The movie tricked its viewers at this point, showing the Avengers as bullies, and the scene where Thor hits him with Stormbreaker, and he reveals about it is another example. If fans had not seen all that Thanos did before, then Thor would be considered the bad guy. After two hours of hard work trying to find the Stone, you almost want the snap to happen.
“He’s not dangerous because he has the stones…he is dangerous because he has the will to use them.” -Stephen McFeely
The fact that he shows vulnerability and a steely resolve that cannot be stopped is what makes audiences root for him. It’s a contrast that adds to his complexity. A villain that has no depth is not admired, and if he was too weak, no one would respect him. His determination in the face of so many obstacles makes him an impressive character.
“When Thanos decides to do it, he really goes for it. And he’s kind of one step ahead of our heroes through the movie. And he puts them through a lot of paint.” -Anthony Russo
He also expresses admiration to those that are just as determined to stop him as he is to complete his mission. When Captain America put all his might into stopping him from closing his fist, he was impressed, and when Wanda sacrificed her loved one to destroy the Mind Stone, Thanos empathized with her for doing what she thinks is right, which is like what he did with Gamora.
The theme of sacrifice is strong in Infinity War. Thor lost his people, Loki, and Heimdall. Iron Man saw his nightmares come true by losing his Avengers, and the people of Wakanda lost King T’Challa. However, the Mad Titan lost something as well. Gamora is his one precious daughter, though he had many “children”. He also regretted the loss of Ebony Maw, his trusted subject.
However, the existence of Gamora is what makes Thanos three-dimensional. Darth Vader had Luke Skywalker, who can bring out or at least, show a bit of the villain’s emotional side, and that is what Gamora did for the Mad Titan. Without her, the other aspects of this character would not matter. He thinks everything he did for her was out of love.
When he killed Gamora, he took the final step towards the dark side just like Darth Vader did at one point, instead of backtracking and doing the right thing for the sake of love. It was this deed that made him scarier, as it showed that absolutely nothing would stop him. Wiping out the universe does not seem that significant in the face of this.
He deserved to win
Because of all the reasons exposed above, Thanos deserved to win, to complete his mission. He was not redeemable in any way. He is pure evil, not a messiah coming to save the universe. That is not why he deserved it. The outcome the film showed was the result of an insuperable determination without hesitation even when it seemed impossible.
The Mad Titan fought all the heroes without rest, he was unapologetic in his quest, and he did not pretend to be anything other than what he was. If others thought that his goal was unreasonable, he did not care because he honestly believed in this task, even if it served to fuel his egomaniacal ways. He was almost honorable at times and lenient.
What did you think of this analysis of Thanos? Do you agree that the ending of Infinity War was deserved? The Russo brothers knew that the Mad Titan had to be more than just a bad guy to justify this outcome and satisfy viewers. If you liked this article, share it with your friends who loved the end of this film. See you next time!
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