Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Thanos' Motives and Actions (Infinity War Spoilers)

 I'm very much a newcomer to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), so I've only seen two of the previous movies (the first Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther) and a highlight video before watching Infinity War on Sunday. While I have enough background to follow the story, I'm sure there are a lot of nuances I missed. In particular, since this movie focused on Thanos, I feel like I need to learn more about his motivations to understand some of the actions he took (or didn't take).

For starters, it seemed to me that once Thanos obtained the Reality Stone, he could have eliminated his opponents anytime he liked. If he could turn their weapons into bubble guns, there are definitely plenty of other ways he could have made his path to the rest of the stones much smoother. Maybe I don't know enough about the stones' power to understand what, if any, limits they have. It does seem to me that their power increases exponentially as you acquire more of them.

Another question I have about Thanos' actions was inspired by a discussion I saw on someone else's Facebook feed. If Thanos wants to kill off half of the universe's population so everyone else has enough resources, why not double the amount of resources instead? Or why not set a cap on the sentient population of the universe to be below the total carrying capacity? There are plenty of other, more compassionate ways you can solve this problem without causing such a massive amount of genocide--though then you wouldn't have a cinematic-worthy conflict. I think I heard a line in the movie about a similar mass murder on Titan, so perhaps Thanos is just repeating something from his personal experience.

For me, part of the reason I'm obsessed with analyzing Thanos is because he's such a powerful antagonist. As a writer, it's important for me to develop the villain's motivations and actions as much as the hero's. The line between hero and villain can be very narrow at times. Just as the hero gets funneled down a particular pathway during the course of a story, the same must happen to a villain. Sometimes the only difference between a hero and a villain is what the character learns over the course of a story and how that influences her final choice.

If you saw the movie, what did you think about it? Did you feel Thanos made a good villain? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've seen all the movies but only read a few of the comics since I'm a DC guy.
Thanos had been killing off populations the old fashioned way for years. That's the way he knew to do it. I think by the time he started getting the stones, that way just the only way he knew how to restore balance.
He was a very complex character. In the comics, he just wanted to impress Lady Death by sending her half the universe. His motivation in the movie was much, much better, so I'm glad they changed it.

Maria Zannini said...

I'm so glad you wrote this! I've been waiting for someone to start a discussion on it.

Thanos made for a brilliant villain. His reasoning (in the movie) was noble albeit a bit rigid.

I'm not sure that creating more resources out of thin air is viable unless we're talking about reforming materials at the atomic level.

My thinking was that since space travel is so normal for him, why not move whole populations to other worlds. That in itself could have spawned a whole new series. People plucked from home and forced to pioneer in a new world.

There were some pretty big holes in the movie, but they had to be there for the rest to have continuity.

I wasn't as awed as most movie goers only because the ending was emotional manipulation. I don't believe for a minute they'll kill off their cash cows, so what was the point of the deaths?

Better to have killed off a really beloved character and keep him dead. But I guess the second movie will explain it all.

Andrew Leon said...

For the sake of brevity:
Though Thanos could have done literally anything once he had all of the stones, the STONES being all-powerful, he was limited by his imagination. He created a solution to a false problem and couldn't see beyond the solution he had already come up with.

Sandra Almazan said...

Complex characters are more interesting than simple ones, Alex.

Maria, I'm sure many of the characters will be resurrected, if not all of them. Moving people to new planets is a good idea, assuming there are some suitable for life that haven't been populated yet.

Interesting idea, Andrew!

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