Ever since his first appearance at the end of 2012’s Avengers, Thanos has been a subject of much speculation. What were his goals? What would his role be in future MCU films? Is he after the Infinity Gauntlet for the same reason in the comics or have his goals been altered to better fit the universe of the movie?
Six years later and two weeks before Avengers: Infinity War comes out we finally have some answers courtesy of the Russo Bro’s, the film’s directors. Their interview with Telegraph India revealed some details about the Mad Titan’s tragic pass and the shockingly, if arguably, altruistic plan to save the future that pits him against Earth’s mightiest heroes.
What we do for Love
In the comics Thanos only has one true love: Death. This is both figurative and quite literal; the Titan is so enamored with killing and so proficient at causing mass carnage in his wake that he attracted the attention of an ancient being, the anthropomorphized concept ‘Lady Death’. For Thanos, this is love at first sight and results in him stepping up his kill count in the hopes of winning his Lady’s heart.
His desire for Death’s love, along with a more typical lust for power, is what drives him to seek out and eventually obtain the Infinity Gauntlet and use it to eliminate half the universe’s population. Death remains mostly indifferent to his actions (incidentally, she is much more attracted to the unkillable mercenary Deadpool and even Wolverine at times), which results in more and more demonstrations of Thanos’s power against the many heroes and beings who seek to stop him until the unhinged Titan loses the Gauntlet and very nearly, his mind.
Fight for the Future
Most fans suspected that Thanos’s being driven by literal love for Death is both too dark and too ‘comic book’ to have a place in the Avengers movie. Some believed that Thor: Ragnarok’s Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Norse Goddess of Death could be the object of Thanos’s affections instead. But according to the Russo’s the Titan is driven not by love but by his dark past and fears for the future:
“He’s from a planet called Titan. Many years prior to the film his planet was experiencing a cataclysmic shift. They were running out of resources, and they were overpopulated. Thanos made a recommendation that they exterminate half the population randomly in order to save the rest of the population. Of course, the Titans rejected his notion, branded him a mad man, exiled him, and the planet ended up dying. So he has taken it upon himself to go planet-by-planet throughout the universe and wipe out half of the population of each planet as a way to correct the planet and bring it back into balance.”
Thanos now seeks out the Gauntlet to be more efficient and complete the depopulation plan in seconds rather than years.
This misguided plan and backstory, which is reminiscent of both Superman and Star Trek’s Captain Kirk’s backstories, shows an unexpectedly ‘noble’ side of the Titan. His genocidal plans stem not from selfish pleasure and desire for love but from a desire to save the universe from what he believes is inevitable overpopulation and extinction.
By changing both Thanos’s backstory and motivations the Russo’s have followed the tradition of the MCU in creating a complex and morally grey villain. While his goal for depopulation is despicable to us and to the Avengers, in the mind Thanos and probably many of his followers it is he who is the hero, the only one who can save the future.
Fans can see who will prevail when Avengers: Infinity War arrives in theaters on April 27th.