Thanos beat Spider-Man so easily in Avengers: Infinity War, but why? On the face of it, the question seems absurd; Spider-Man is a street-level vigilante, and Thanos is a cosmic villain with the power to take down the Hulk - without even using an Infinity Stone to do so. And yet, the best Spider-Man stories have always been underdog adventures in which the wall-crawler is seriously outclassed. That even includes a couple of occasions in the comics where Spider-Man really was the deciding factor in a battle against Thanos.
It's important to remember that, in the MCU, Spider-Man is actually one of Earth's most powerful heroes. He's strong enough to catch the Winter Soldier's punch with ease, and that strength is compounded with a remarkable degree of agility. In Avengers: Infinity War, the Titan team decided to play to Spider-Man's strengths, teaming him up with Doctor Strange. That allowed Spider-Man to leap through a portal, land a punch, and then vanish before Thanos had a chance to grab him. It was an effective enough strategy to land a few good blows, and left Thanos visibly irritated. Watching the movie, it's easy to wonder why the attack didn't last longer.
Ironically, Spider-Man's problem was that he divided his own attention by cracking wise even as he attempted to beat down an ancient alien with the power of the gods. "Magic," Spider-Man quipped as he struck. "More magic. Magic with a kick. Magic with a..." Had Spider-Man kept quiet and kept focused, Thanos wouldn't have been able to predict his attacks and Peter Parker would have been able to land quite a few more punches. Potentially, Tony Stark wouldn't have been the first one to draw Thanos' blood.
This is, of course, completely in-character. In the comics, Spider-Man's jokes began as a coping mechanism that helped him deal with the fact he feels very much out of his depth. Over time they evolved into an actual battle strategy, as Spider-Man realized he was irritating and distracting his enemies. But the MCU's Spider-Man is still pretty new to this hero gig, and he's never faced anything quite like Thanos. So it's understandable that he made light of the situation, desperately trying to avoid thinking about the stakes of the battle.
That isn't the only reason a more experienced Spider-Man would have been more effective against Thanos. In the comics, Spider-Man has learned to instinctively trust his spider-sense, jumping when it says jump, whether he can perceive an actual threat or not. It means he's even fast enough to dodge bullets. Teamed up with Doctor Strange in a similar strategy, he'd have been almost impossible to catch. But the MCU's Spider-Man still finds his hyper-senses pretty confusing, and he's not yet cultivated that deep trust in his danger sense. Where the Spider-Man of the comics can crack wise while dodging even the Mad Titan, trusting in his spider-sense to avoid Thanos' grasp, the MCU version of the wall-crawler was taken down with ease.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019