I’m Convinced That Thanos Did Nothing Wrong … And Here’s Why

Thanos Did Nothing Wrong

I’m Convinced That Thanos Did Nothing Wrong … And Here’s Why

If you’ve seen Avengers Endgame, you probably know what I’m talking about. In the grand scheme of things, Thanos did nothing wrong.

For everything that Kevin Feige and his MCU has done, for all the heroes and villains they’ve introduced, and for the record-setting hauls at the box office, none of it would’ve been possible if not for one of the most compelling villains Marvel has ever produced.

Good characters…good villains are the ones that stop you in your tracks and make you think about them. They create a debate about how “good” they are. Although debating how good a villain is may seem absurd, it actually isn’t. 

Good villains don’t come around too often. They make you empathize with them. They make you believe that what they are doing isn’t necessarily wrong…or at the bare minimum questioning if what you believe is right.

The MCU’s Thanos is a good villain. Sorry, the MCU’s Thanos is a great villain.

And it’s his greatness that separates him from most other villains in the MCU. Sure, the movie giant has had a few great villains, Hela, and Loki for example, but neither comes close to Thanos. Thanos is the definitive great villain and an argument can be created that Thanos did nothing wrong.

Thanos

His story is fairly well-known. 

Thanos is a member of beings known as the Deviants. The Deviants are an offshoot of the Eternals and the Eternals are perfect beings created by the Celestials. For context, the Celestials are the highest order and power within the Marvel Universe. They’ve actually been referenced multiple times in the MCU and will almost certainly make an appearance in the upcoming Eternals movie. Deviants, while eerily similar to Eternals, lack their outward appearance. This means that the Eternals have what could be defined as a perfect appearance, whereas Deviants are often grotesque and misshapen. For example, Thanos is a Deviant and his brother Starfox is an Eternal.

Thanos hails from one of Saturn’s Moon’s, Titan. He is the child of Titan’s King, Mentor, and Grandchild of Kronos. Of all the beings born of Titan, Thanos was one of the very few to receive the Deviant gene. This didn’t mean that his family loved him any less, however. Quite the contrary. Despite his outward appearance and heightened abilities, Thanos was treated very fairly by his family. Unfortunately, not everyone shared their sentiment. Those who are outside of his family feared him. This caused Thanos grief and as such, he grew up angry at those who feared him. 

As Thanos aged and changed, so too did his morals and values. Whereas Eternals stood for peace and harmony, Thanos started to become interested in death. Not the process of death but rather the physical embodiment of Death. That is, after meeting Death, Thanos became obsessed with her. From this point forward, Thanos vowed to do whatever it took to win her affection. 

Over the next many years, Thanos’s understanding of magic, mysticism, and sorcery caused his father to banish him from Titan. Filled with hatred and rage, he left only to return with an army big enough to level Titan into the ground. It should be noted that during this time, he also began to absorb Cosmic Rays around him. The absorption transformed him from a normal Deviant into one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. 

With his army by his side, Thanos delivered on his promise to return to Titan. Once back, he leveled it. As a consequence of his attack, millions were killed, including his mother. With no place to call home, Thanos continued to live out his life trying to prove his love to Death.

The MCU version is slightly different in a couple of ways. First, he’s not really given a backstory, although his power is about the same. And second, rather than trying to prove his love to Death, Thanos craves balance. This means that he goes from planet to planet decimating half the population.

And why?

Thanos sees the population overgrowth as a detriment to the Universe and the only way to correct it is to wipe half of it out. 

Don’t let that sway your opinion of the Deviant, however. As different as the two versions may seem, neither is what truly makes them different. 

Not even close.

What separates the two is that one believes himself to be a savior sent down to cleanse the Universe. The other one, for lack of a better word, does not. 

Thanos as he appears in comic books, is a genocidal maniac bent on proving his love to another through mass destruction. He is motivated by his own desires and as such, does not care about others. The Infinity Gauntlet story, the same one that the MCU is based around, sees him amass the 6 Infinity Gems. He does this not to create balance but rather to prove his love. Again, this version is motivated by love and all that he gains from it.

Infinity Gauntlet

The MCU’s Thanos is the exact opposite. He’s driven by a desire to correct what has already happened. He sees that the Universe’s population has reached a tipping point and that it cannot sustain itself anymore. Although he already goes from planet to planet cleansing half of the population, the pace at which he does it is not fast enough. According to Thanos, creatures and beings starve, water is in short supply, and catastrophes happen because the Universe cannot produce enough resources. He sees that the only way for survival is to cull the population in half.

This very thought…this very notion makes Thanos different, not only from his comic book counterpart but from so many other villains throughout history. MCU architect Anthony Russo said this of Thanos, “Even though he’s despicable on so many levels, there’s a part of Thanos that is very empathetic.” And it’s the empathy that makes Thanos so compelling. 

Thanos works because his character is not a matter of good vs evil or right vs wrong. Instead, his character is a matter of opposing beliefs. Thanos, like him or hate him, makes you question the current state of affairs and what will happen as a result of them. No, you don’t necessarily have to agree with what he stands for but you have no choice but to understand the reasons for his actions. And that’s why as the main antagonist of the MCU he works so well. It hasn’t had a villain that can do that.

And I could go on.

Thanos was different than anything the MCU has ever produced because he made the viewer question their own morals. At his core, he wants what many, myself included wants…a world without suffering. By this very logic, Thanos did nothing wrong, right?

Infinity War saw Thanos reason that Titan fell because of overpopulation. He claims that his actions are a by-product of not wanting other worlds to suffer the same fate. And because of this, he feels compelled to fix the problem and not treat the symptoms.

His thoughts aren’t without merit. 

Many studies, papers, and other literary works have been written about the problem of overpopulation. People die by the millions because of starvation, inadequate access to drinking water, and the spreading of disease. We suffer…the planet suffers because we take what we want and think nothing of what it affects. 

I’m certain that you’ve heard this before but there is a thought that explains that the Earth is no different than an elevator. It has a maximum carrying capacity and once the capacity is reached, problems arise. Since the Industrial Revolution, the worldwide population has continued to grow at an unprecedented pace. Just in the last two hundred years, the world has grown from a population of one billion to over seven billion. What’s incredible about this is that it took over ten thousand years to reach the first billion.

Thanos has watched world’s tear themselves apart and fears what will happen if the Universe is not held in check. In some regards, he’s no different than Tony Stark. Remember, it was Tony during the Civil War event who suggested that the team sign the Sokovia Accords as a way to keep the team, well, in check. He understood, just as Thanos does, that excess is dangerous. 

Think about it.

Captain America Civil War

The entire Civil War movie was based around the damage that unregulated superheroes cause. Remember, the Avengers dropped a city from the sky, put three massive Helli-Carriers into the water, destroyed New York, and killed a King. They did all of this to prevent the suffering of all those around them. In a sense, they aren’t much different than Thanos. In fact, they inadvertently gave aid to Thanos’s cause.

I ask you, is Thanos actually a bad guy? Does wanting to prevent suffering make him a villain? Is it safe to say that Thanos did nothing wrong? I might be reaching here but I’m not so sure he is.

Thanos and the Avengers fight not because they inherently hate each other but they fight because of their clashing ideologies. But that’s the interesting thing about the argument. The two sides aren’t that different. They both fight for the same thing…the protection of the Universe.

Much like Adam Warlock, Thanos is the MCU’s Jesus Christ. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. His creator, Jim Starlin, filled his stories with religious undertones. 

Just look at The Magus Saga

For Starlin, his work with Adam Warlock will go down as some of the best work to ever be put to paper. Through Warlock, he was able to comment on religious fanaticism and the consequences of blindly following the Church without actually saying he was doing so. Warlock dies so that others may live, then, when he’s most needed, rises from the dead to serve once again. 

While Warlock’s history paints him as Marvel’s Messiah, the MCU paints Thanos as their Messiah. Warlock believes that he should suffer so others can live. Thanos believes that some should suffer so others can live. 

Thanos believes that he is the savior of the Universe. He believes it’s his divine destiny to assemble the Infinity Stones and use them to bring balance. His mission is not one of personal gain or achievement. Instead, it’s one that will benefit the entirety of the Universe. He believes that mass death means that those who died have done so with purpose.

Don’t misunderstand this, however. 

He knows perfectly well that his intentions are cruel. He knows that genocide of any kind is inhumane. However, the very element of inhumanity is superseded by the humanity that the inhumanity brings. If people die, people live. But this isn’t what makes Thanos terrifying. Thanos is terrifying because his will is unbreakable and he will do whatever it takes to fulfill what he believes to be his destiny. 

Thanos MCU

As he so proudly states, he is inevitable.

It’s a combination of all the above that makes him one of the greatest villains in history. I’m not sure the world will ever see another Thanos. His calm, demeanor and conviction to his cause is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. He is the perfect villain because, at his heart, he doesn’t believe himself to be one. And if he doesn’t believe himself to be one, Thanos did nothing wrong. He merely did what anyone would do if they thought it to be best.

No matter which direction the MCU goes now that the Infinity Saga has come to a close, we should all be thankful that Marvel and Kevin Feige chose Thanos as their antagonist. His complexity is truly what drove the franchise for the better part of a decade. And without him, I don’t think Phases 1-3 would’ve been the success that they were.

So I ask you, is it safe to say that Thanos did nothing wrong?

Let me know.

Cheers,

Joel

Images © Marvel

  • I am a family man first and foremost. Everything that I do is for my family. They keep me focused and moving forward. I grew up loving comics, this hasn't changed and on occasion, I wonder if my wife thinks I'll never grow up. I hope you enjoy your stay at comicbasics.com.