I’m about to go into MAJOR spoilers for Infinity War, so if you haven’t seen it, turn back now. Just stop reading and go watch the film. It’s been a few weeks. Why haven’t you seen it already?
The best thing about this film is Thanos. It really isn’t even an Avengers film. It’s a Thanos film. This whole movie is getting the audience to understand why Thanos is doing what he’s doing, and the character as a whole. Josh Brolin is so amazing as this character. It’s resounding clear that he had nothing but fun in this role. He’s twisted, evil, but guided by clear motivations. You see the things that got him there and why he feels that destroying half of all life in the galaxy is a good thing.
Even when Gamora takes him to task for what he does, like how he lined up half of all the people of her home planet at random and killed all of them, he is able to justify his actions to her. He says outright that her family was starving to death, asking if that’s how she wanted to live. He points out that the planet is now a thriving world where no one is starving, all because he killed half of their entire population.
It ties into real-world issues. Overpopulation is something humanity is dealing with today, in the real world. There are too damn many people, and we do need to have the population start moving in the opposite direction. Our resources are finite, and for every baby that people have, the pollution just gets worse. We need to stop procreating if we are going to survive as a species.
But back to the film, I love how right off the bat they set up what a complete badass this character is. Me and my coworker were wondering what a fight between Thanos and the Hulk would be like. And the film heads off that fan expectation pretty handily, by having their fight be right out of the gate. Then it upsets your expectations by having Thanos beat his ass like a little bitch! We’ve seen the Hulk as this character who will fuck you up if you make him mad. He will fuck up your day. He beat Loki’s ass like a little bitch, and he’s a God. Meanwhile, Thanos fucks him up pretty handily right at the beginning. To the point that Hulk won’t face him again later on. He’s afraid of the Titan. As he should be.
This character is always engaging. The scene that really stole the film, in my eyes, and made me love this guy as a character, was the scene where he meets Gamora as a young child and adopts her. She is a scared little kid looking for her mom. Thanos sees her and asks here why she’s scared, and she says she wants to find her mom. He then offers to help her, and walks her away from the people of her town being lined up. Then, he takes out a little knife and shows it to her. While more and more people are being lined up, he has a tender moment with her showing her this little toy to play with, and inviting her to do so. As the massacre of her people begins, she turns to look, but Thanos gently turns her head away and keeps pointing to the toy he gave her. That scene made me feel a lot of really complicated shit. It was hardcore stuff. It sets up a genuinely tender side to this man, but all in the bounds of his twisted sense of morality. That’s awesome! It makes this character not just some cardboard villain who is evil because they are. He has depth to him.
It also makes Gamora a more interesting character too. I haven’t been a huge fan of her, outside of Zoe Saldana’s performance. She’s been kind of boring. But then you see her being pushed to her brink with this man who has been a father to her. When she believes she killed him with the same knife he gave her, and her tears that show that as evil and twisted as this man was, she did at least partially see him as a father to her. A cruel, twisted father who used his children in cruel and calculating ways. She was his favorite, though, and you could see where that came from.
Then we get to the second scene that really made me like this character, when he sacrifices her to get the Soul Stone. It genuinely brings Thanos to tears. We realize that as twisted and genocidal as he is, he isn’t devoid of empathy. He does genuinely care for this child, and to kill her does cause him legitimate pain. But he truly believes, with all of his heart, that his path is the right one, and he has to do what he has to do. When he is telling Doctor Strange about his back-story and the fate of Titan, you see it. So he is willing to push himself to whatever point he feels he must in order to achieve his goal. He will do whatever he needs, at the cost of his own soul, to finish his quest. It’s a hardcore moment that makes you feel some heavy feels.
What I love most about this character is that there is a constant juxtaposition in everything he does to a sense of purpose and morality that he has, to the barbarous, genocidal actions that he takes. It’s so beautifully twisted. Like when Scarlet Witch kills Vision, and Thanos actually talks to her. He has a human moment with her after she has had to kill the man she loves, telling her he understands. And while Wanda doesn’t realize it, he actually does understand. He had to kill someone he truly does love for his own twisted ambition.
Wanda isn’t the only character he has a genuine heart-to-heart conversation with. After fucking up Hulk and his crew, Thanos talks to Thor as well. He tells him the ugliness of the universe and advises him to accept it. There is the scene where he has his showdown with Tony Stark and I genuinely do like it. He knows who Tony is, and respects him. When Stark is throwing everything he has at him and still failing, after finally beating him down, Thanos tells him that he hopes humanity remembers him fondly and that he will not destroy them outright. In his own twisted way, he respects Stark and him trying to hard to defeat him.
Then, in the end, he gets to Earth, fucks up all the Avengers without a second thought. He even has Rodgers desperately trying to hold him back, and he looks down at him with a kind of gentleness. Like he understands why he is fighting, but is trapped by circumstances of fate. It’s a great dichotomy. Genuinely fantastic.
Finally, we see him coming out of a ramshackle hovel on some nameless planet. His arm is completely fucked up because he destroyed half of all sentient life in the universe, but he is smiling. It’s not a twisted evil smile. It’s a quiet, peaceful smile. Like he did what he needed to do and can rest peacefully now. It’s like if we had the massacre scene from Berserk, but afterwards we have Griffith just looking peaceful on some scenic villa. There again, that juxtaposition.
Thanos is an amazing villain. I love him in this film. It makes how boring he has been up ’til now redeemed. He isn’t just the best villain in the MCU, bar-none. He is one of the best villains of all time. I personally like him more than I do the Joker in The Dark Knight. In that film, it always seemed like the Joker was just trying to prove a point. Here, Thanos has nothing to prove. He explains his sense of justice to people with the hope that they will understand, but if they don’t, oh well. Their problem, not his. He bears no malice towards those who do battle with him openly and earnestly. Warriors who fight to the bitter end. Unlike Loki, who tries to be cunning and manipulative, which pisses him off as he sees the man as a pathetic little schemer and kills him quickly and brutally.
Hopefully you see him the same way. Let me know if you don’t. I love a good discussion.
Until next time, a quote,
“You’re not the only one burdened by knowledge.” – Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War