Why Thanos Has a Different Motivation in ‘Infinity War’ Than He Does in the Comics

     April 27, 2018


In 2012, in the post-credits scene for The Avengers, Thanos is cautioned that to challenge humanity would be to “court death.” That seemed like a reference to the comics where Thanos is obsesses with the metaphysical representation of death. The assumption was that his goals in the movie would be similar. But that was 2012 and a lot has changed since then.


Image via Marvel Studios

Speaking to Vulture, the filmmakers behind Avengers: Infinity War explained that trying to introduce the concept of Death into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would create some serious headaches:

“It’s our responsibility to carry forward the story as it’s been set out,” said Anthony Russo. “You’re spending two-and-a-half hours with this many characters, so then adding in some character that the audience has no relationship to, having to explain the backstory of that character, making you care about that character, making Thanos care about that character, making that character interesting to the other characters … ” He trailed off, shaking his head.


“That would also be creating another level, another plane of existence, that the MCU possibly hasn’t gotten to yet,” said Stephen McFeely, who co-wrote the film with Christopher Markus. “Do we even have metaphysical characters yet?”


Image via Marvel Studios

The solution was to make Thanos care about balance, and make his motivation more about population control than love for a metaphysical representation of Death. The emotional connection part of his story would be handled by Gamora, who had already been introduced:

“If you tell me that he’s got a relationship with Gamora that’s important and has been touched on in two movies, that’s really valuable to us,” said Markus. Added McFeely, “Focusing on that kind of relationship, rather than the death obsession, does humanize Thanos and make him more understandable than bonkers.”

On the one hand, I can understand why they made these decisions. That being said, a love-sick Titan who wants to appease a mad deity would match the insane, epic scale of the movie being sold. To make Thanos just really passionate about overpopulation renders his motivations sadly mundane, and also too narrow. His plan feels less about balance than shaking things up and letting the chips fall where they may. At least when it comes to love, we as viewers understand doing dumb things for love.

And what’s frustrating is that they didn’t need to introduce a new character. They already had her: Hela, the Goddess of Death from Thor: Ragnarok. Watching Thanos try to appease Hela and seeing the two of them have this bizarre interplay as the universe is as stake would have been impressive. But I guess that will have to remain an intriguing, “What if?”

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