Avengers: Infinity War heavily adapted Marvel's original comics - and the biggest change was to the Outriders, not Thanos. Comic book readers often insist that superhero movies should stick close to the source material, but in truth, even Marvel Studios frequently play fast and loose with the comics. Avengers: Infinity War was a blend of Jim Starlin's Infinity Gauntlet and Jonathan Hickman's Infinity event, but was heavily adapted.
The MCU's Thanos is particularly different to the comics. In the comics, Thanos is motivated by an insane love of the avatar of Death, and he pursued the Infinity Gauntlet in an attempt to woo her. That led Thanos to snap his fingers and erase half the life in the universe, as a demonstration of his might and a sacrifice to Death. In contrast, in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is driven by an equally insane belief that all life will be rendered extinct due to explosive population growth. He seeks out the Infinity Gauntlet precisely in order to wipe out half of all living creatures. Thanos' motive makes about as little sense as the one he has in the comics, but it's directly opposite. The MCU's Thanos genuinely believes he is a servant of life.
Surprisingly, though, Thanos isn't the biggest change made in Avengers: Infinity War. The film also introduced the Outriders, savage creatures who are unleashed at the Battle of Wakanda and who depend on overwhelming force to defeat their foes. The Outriders have absolutely no sense of self-preservation at all, flinging themselves at Wakanda's destructive force-field in order to get to the Avengers.
The Outriders were originally created by comic book writer Jonathan Hickman in 2013, and they were envisioned as a genetically-engineered race of assassins and spies. An Outrider's genes are carefully manipulated to ensure it never develops a sense of identity; all it knows is its assigned mission, and upon completion, it expects the reward of death. Outriders possess the powers of invisibility and intangibility, meaning Thanos can send them to scout out worlds he intends to raze. In Infinity, he dispatched a single Outrider to Earth in an attempt to find his son, Thane. The creature was able to effortlessly infiltrate Xavier's Mansion, Avengers Tower, and even the city of Attilan. It used its psychic powers to probe Black Bolt's sleeping mind, and unwittingly prompted him to realize he was under some sort of psychic attack.
The MCU basically ditched the comic book version of the Outriders, sticking with the visual design and nothing more. It used the creatures as disposable minions, so that the Avengers could fight a new alien army rather than just the Chitauri again. While that's understandable, it's still something of a surprising choice; Avengers: Infinity War was envisioned as an heist movie, with Thanos striving to procure the Infinity Stones, and the comic book Outriders would have been useful in such a plot.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021