Is Avengers: Infinity War's Thanos In Love?

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Thanos sure looks lonely... Marvel Studios

Thanos might just be the most overcooked villain in the history of movies. He’s made minor cameos in three of 17 Marvel movies, an Emperor perpetually trapped in Empire Strikes Back mode. Even Blofeld didn’t hide this long in the shadows. So whatever comes out of the oven in Avengers: Infinity War better have been worth the wait. A new CNET interview with Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo points to how they’ll finally introduce the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most consequential supervillain.

“He’s almost one of the leads,” Anthony told CNET. “We’ve shaped an interesting narrative around him that, in some ways, leans heavily on a heist film in the fact that he’s going after the Infinity Stones in a much bolder, successful way than he has in the past. The entire movie has that energy of the bad guy being one step ahead of the heroes. We looked at a lot of movies that had that heist-style energy to them. That brought some inspiration.”

Anthony’s answer gives some idea of how the plot will be constructed; the tone of Avengers: Infinity War. In October, Josh Brolin described the character as “complex” and named The Godfather as a reference point for the character.

We’re still waiting on one word: “Love.”

Back in April, Kevin Feige spoke to Collider about Thanos’ motives, saying they will be “similar to what they were in The Infinity Gauntlet in various ways.” I n the 1991 six-issue series, Thanos is motivated by, you guessed it, love.

Or, at least, his psychopathic infatuation. With his Infinity Gauntlet complete, Thanos can exercise perfect control over the universe. He only deigns to fight the Avengers, allowing the normal flow of time and normal physics in order to prove himself to her:

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Thanos and Death in The Infinity Gauntlet. Photo: Marvel Comics

Indifferent to his cloying persistence, Thanos suffers from an galaxy-scale case of the unrequited. Being a supervillain, he’s a huge dick about it.

Love, such an important part of the human experience, has always been treated like a pesky distraction in the Marvel movies. Jane Foster got shuffled off-stage after Thor: The Dark World. Doctor Strange is a cad. Pepper Potts and Tony Stark are doing okay, but it’s not a romance to set the world on fire.

Thanos and Death’s relationship in The Infinity Gauntlet isn’t exactly the most narratively compelling, since Death is silent, more a symbol of an eternal principle and Thanos’ death drive than an actual woman. But love would be such a compelling motive for a Marvel villain to have, especially after all the variations on megalomania, insanity, revenge, megalomania, world domination, global fascism, interstellar fascism, spiritual fascism and revenge.

With an untitled Avengers 4 in the works simultaneously, it’s likely that Thanos will stay “one step ahead of the heroes” for all of Avengers: Infinity War, successfully accruing all the Infinity Stones and establishing him as the true threat in the universe, finally making a worthy threat of the misanthropic Eternal. But a big guy coming in and stomping all the heroes is what we’d expect from something like Suicide Squad. If Thanos truly is the complex character promised, he’ll have to have other motivations than destruction and death for its own end (even though that’s kinda Thanos’ signature thing). Why not love?

Avengers: Infinity War comes out April 25, 2018.

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