Thanos is a stunningly complex character. That’s why Avengers: Infinity War was such a great film; because it explored his journey in a way where, by the end of the movie, he is the winner and The Avengers have been terribly defeated, some even turned to nothing but dust before our very eyes.
And the reason for Thanos’s domination is for one reason, which is evident once watching Endgame: he was 2018 Thanos. I call him Wise Thanos.
Wise Thanos hails from a time when he has been defeated by The Avengers in 2012. When his puppet Ronan betrayed him to claim the Power Stone…and who was immediately squashed by the Guardians of the Galaxy, who he quickly learned about. Wise Thanos has lost his greatest nuisance in Loki. Both his daughters, Gamora and Nebula, are gone.
One has betrayed him and is part of the Guardians of the Galaxy, showing her allegiances have changed drastically. And Nebula almost prevailed in ending his life.
This Wise Thanos is the one who, at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, says, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
“Myself” is the keyword in this instance. No longer was he allowing his Black Order and his daughters or Loki to gather the Infinity Stones. He took the initiative, finding each and every one of them, and taking them for his own despite the mighty heroes and forces that stood in his way. All those years of conquest and destruction were parlayed for the conclusion of his mission.
Then, you have 2014 Thanos, who I call Egotistic Thanos.
Egotistic Thanos, who has been defeated by The Avengers in 2012, has no idea that his greatest daughter Gamora is on the verge of betraying him, that Nebula will end up being lost in the battle over Xandar, that the Ronan will betray him, that the Guardians of the Galaxy will rise and give the Power Stone to the Nova Corps, and that Loki will finally join Thor’s side.
Egotistic Thanos, in his mind, only lost the battle of New York in The Avengers because Loki led his troops. Remember, Thanos was nowhere to be seen, and as was evident in Infinity War, he can win with flying colors. So, technically, he still has never lost.
Then, to give him an extra boost of confidence, Egotistic Thanos sees the future via Nebula’s mind from 2023 and discovers that he wins. “I am inevitable,” Thanos says in the future.
“I” is the keyword in this instance. “I” assures him that he will continue to win and that it will come sooner by jumping forward in time and bringing the fight to The Avengers of 2023.
So when he successfully utilizes the Pym Particles in Endgame to travel to the future, he knows he will win. There’s no question. In his mind, his own words revolve into the constantly conceited mentality that prevents Thanos from being “wise”.
The biggest example of his overconfidence is when, after pummeling Captain America, he begins telling him of the enjoyment he will have to destroy Earth. This is not the same Thanos from 2018, who sums up the goal of killing half of all life in the universe as, “The hardest choices require the strongest wills.”
At this part in Infinity War, Thanos looks down, deep in thought. In a way, he doesn’t feel good about it, and this is directly after he sacrificed his own daughter for the Soul Stone. The blood is still fresh in his mind.
When Thanos says in Endgame, “In all my years of conquest…violence, slaughter, it was never personal. But I’ll tell you now,” Thanos says, turning to gaze at the destruction he caused to The Avengers headquarters, “what I’m about to do to your stubborn, annoying little planet, I’m gonna enjoy it very, very much.”
But, this is Captain America you’re talking to. He isn’t going to bow down to this purple, gigantic, maniacal warlord. Captain America gets up with a grunt, looks Thanos and his army dead in the eye, and with defiance makes the slow walk to his imminent demise.
And even as he sees Captain America, inhaling sharply, grunting and bloodied, he laughs at him. He doesn’t take this foe seriously. He’s going to win. He has already seen it.
Jump forward in the battle and the gauntlet holding every Infinity Stone is on the ground between Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Thanos. There’s a desperate race to claim it. Just as Thanos attempted to grab hold of it, Thor rushes to keep him from it, then Captain America jumps on him, but Thanos is formidable and defeats them both.
Captain Marvel then appears again, but he slings her away. He dons the gauntlet, the power of the Infinity Stones coursing through his veins. Just when he’s about to snap his fingers, Captain Marvel comes into the fray at the nick of time and grabs his hand. Quickly, Thanos discovers that, even with all his might, he is no match for her, so improvising, he plucks the Power Stone from the gauntlet and blows her away.
Now he is alone. There’s no one to challenge him. Standing atop the hill, victory is within his grasp. He places the Power Stone back in the gauntlet, a smile on his face and eyes closed as he absorbs the power of the Infinity Stones when suddenly Iron Man grabs his arm, tugging at the gauntlet.
Thanos fights with him for a moment, when he realizes that Iron Man is feeble, knocking him away indignantly. As Iron Man is lying on the ground, Thanos readjusts the gauntlet on his arm, looks to Iron Man smugly, and says, “I am inevitable.”
In his vainglorious moment, he doesn’t even realize that this “feeble” man has just taken the Infinity Stones from him, and watches as Tony Stark snaps his own fingers.
Thanos can only stare in horror as his armies, his mission, turns to dust before his very eyes. Egotistic Thanos suddenly dies away, replaced by the Wise Thanos we see in 2018. The one that understands defeat. That is the reason he sits knowingly on the rock, bows his head, and peacefully disappears into a heap of ash.
At this moment, he doesn’t realize that this only happened from a past mistake. The mistake of allowing Tony Stark to live. Wise Thanos only wanted the Time Sone at that moment. When Doctor Strange called out to him to stop from killing Iron Man and says, “Spare his life, and I will give you the Stone.” Thanos takes this deal instantly. What’s one man’s life over his mission?
Even after garnering the Time Stone, however, Wise Thanos could’ve killed both Doctor Strange and Tony Stark. But his mission, his goal, and the loss he had faced had made him so absorbed in claiming the Infinity Stones, that he had already lost.
I thank you for reading my sister’s analysis on this fascinating villain and I hope you have a beautiful day.