Thanos Is Irredeemable In Avengers: Infinity War (Almost)
Avengers: Infinity War dives into Thanos' backstory for the first time, offering viewers an explanation for why the Mad Titan does what he does. The movie also reveals how Gamora became his adoptive daughter, depicting Thanos and his army on her home world, slaughtering half the population, including her mother and the rest of her family. Thanos takes Gamora for himself, giving her a special switchblade and raising her to be an assassin - a tool for him to use. And based on Guardians of the Galaxy, where it's described that Thanos "lent" Gamora and Nebula to Ronan, Thanos seems to treat his daughters as tools, objects to be lent out, more than people in their own right.
The scene of how Thanos found Gamora also displays his cold, ruthless tactic of wiping out half a planet's population in his quest to balance the universe. Infinity War, of course, reveals the reason for his mission: When Thanos still lived on Titan, the planet was threatened by catastrophic overpopulation. He suggested killing half the population at random in order to save the planet and their race, but his idea was rejected and Titan fell to their overpopulation, with the planet becoming uninhabitable and the race nearly extinct. In Thanos' mind, his mission is a righteous one, saving other planets and races from themselves by killing half their population. He views the job as thankless, but necessary.
Avengers: Infinity War explaining Thanos' motivations is essential to developing the Mad Titan as a three-dimensional villain. Similar to Black Panther's Erik Killmonger, in his mind Thanos has a righteous mission - protecting the universe from the same fate that befell Titan - but his methods are irredeemably evil. Infinity War never frames Thanos' actions as anything but evil. But when the movie attempts to humanize the villain through his relationship with Gamora, Infinity War takes it too far.
Gamora & The Soul Stone Humanize Thanos
In addition to revealing Thanos' motivations for his decimation of various planets and races, Avengers: Infinity War develops the relationship between Thanos and Gamora. This development is used both as a way of humanizing Thanos, and as a story point later on in the movie. Infinity War attempts to establish that Thanos truly cares for Gamora, that he saw strength in her from the time she was a child and grew to love her as his own daughter as he raised her to one day inherit his throne. Despite her betrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy, in Infinity War he believes Gamora can still be loyal to him and help him in his mission.
Avengers: Infinity War lays it on thick, attempting to depict a softer side of Thanos through his relationship with Gamora, but that love and devotion also becomes the reason he must sacrifice her on Vormir in order to obtain the Soul Stone. Looking at it from a story point, if the Soul Stone requires someone wishing to obtain it to sacrifice the person they love most, then Infinity War must establish a character Thanos loves enough that killing them would be a sacrifice - and Gamora is chosen to be that character. Certainly, there are seeds of her being his favorite daughter as far back as Guardians of the Galaxy, but until Infinity War, there's no real hint that he loves her as more than his favorite tool. And Infinity War itself must rush the characterization of their relationship so much that it doesn't actually make sense.
Throughout the entirety of the MCU, Thanos is portrayed as a psychopath. He's unrepentant about the atrocities he's committed, he doesn't feel guilty for or empathetic to the millions - potentially billions - he's killed. And even his relationships with his daughters lack love, as evidenced by the way he tortured them as children and adults. He treated them with little to no empathy and then once they became the assassins he trained them to be, lent them out like tools rather than treating them like people in their own right. These are all traits typical of a psychopath. The lack of emotional attachments is another trait, one that Thanos displays up until the writers and creatives behind Avengers: Infinity War need him to have an emotional attachment in order to move the story forward.
Although Infinity War attempts to establish that Thanos actually does have an emotional attachment to Gamora, it doesn't make sense for his character. He isn't capable of love, until he needs to be capable of love to move the story forward and obtain the Soul Stone. But his type of love still isn't what many would call love and, in fact, the implications of this particular character and story beat have an underlying message that potentially ruins the MCU for certain viewers.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019