The MCU's Thanos could secretly be a herald of Galactus, and it all boils down to his absurd plan to wipe out half of all life in the universe. Thanos was the climax of the MCU to date, the greatest villain the Avengers had ever faced. Avengers: Infinity War essentially focused in on the Mad Titan, an inverted Hero's Journey arc that meant viewers could actually empathize with his insane plan to erase half the life with a snap of his fingers.
The MCU's Thanos was very different to the character in the comics. Where the comic book villain is obsessed with Death, attempting to woo her by committing genocide on a cosmic scale, the cinematic version of Thanos truly believed that he served life. His experience on Titan had convinced him that exponential population growth would outstrip resources, and ultimately lead to the end of all life in the universe. This change meant there was a twisted logic to his villainy.
But Thanos has been defeated now, and naturally viewers are beginning to wonder just what should come next. There's a desire to see the story continue, and the threats escalate. And there may be an easy way for Marvel to do this - by subtly recognizing the flaws in Thanos' logic.
Thanos' Plan Doesn't Make Any Sense
Thanos' plan is flawed on many levels, but there's one aspect that hasn't really been examined in detail. The truth is that his approach - to wipe out half the life in the universe in a single instant - fails to take into account the fact that population growth is indeed exponential. Take Earth, for example; current global population stands at somewhere around 7.7 billion. That means Thanos reduced it to 3.85 billion, approximately where it stood at in the late 1960s.
It will probably take a little time for humanity to begin to recover, and to get on with their lives again, but Avengers: Endgame made it clear that people had gathered together in new communities, such as those at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. That means relationships will begin again, and population numbers will rise again. Assuming a similar growth rate, it will take roughly 60 years to get back to present-day levels. And that's only on Earth; the snap affected the entire universe, and some planets are further on that growth curve, meaning their numbers will replenish even quicker.
Making matters worse, Thanos chose to destroy the Infinity Stones, viewing them as nothing more than a temptation for others who would seek to reverse what he had done. The snap was just a temporary fix, and he had destroyed the only things that could repeat it. Even by his own logic, Thanos hadn't saved all life in the cosmos. He had just delayed the intergalactic extinction he believed is coming.
The Snap Was Only The Beginning Of Thanos' Plan
The logic gaps in Thanos' plan probably aren't intentional on Marvel's part. The truth is, Marvel needed a supervillain who would pose a threat beyond anything the Avengers had ever seen before. They wanted to reproduce the classic Infinity Gauntlet comic book story in which Thanos used the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy half the life in the universe, and they attempted to give him a more relatable motive than a desire to hook up with the Avatar of Death. Logic gaps are pretty much inevitable when dealing with someone like Thanos. But the problems do exist, and there may be a way to make sense of them. The easiest fix is to suggest that the snap was just the beginning of Thanos' plan, a way to reduce population so something - or someone - else could keep it down.
If this is indeed Thanos' plan, then that essentially means he's the forerunner for a cosmic evil that's beyond him. The Disney/Fox deal has given Marvel Studios access to just such a force of chaos; Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, a being who could ensure population levels never outstrip resources again. He feeds on the life force of entire worlds, and as such he'd be drawn to the more heavily-populated planets, the ones where exponential growth will allow recovery at too great a speed.
Thanos Operates On A Similar Scale To The Heralds Of Galactus
Galactus tends to choose so-called "Heralds", beings who he charges with the Power Cosmic and who go before him, helping him choose planets to consume. In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos single-handedly matched some of the mightiest Avengers, and displayed power levels that frankly seem comparable to those of the Heralds of Galactus in the comics.
It's interesting to note that Thanos also wielded a weapon, a mysterious double-edged sword that was actually able to hack apart Captain America's Vibranium shield and match Thor's Stormbreaker. The latter is quite a remarkable feat, given Stormbreaker was the greatest weapon forged by the Dwarves of Nidavellir and has the potential to destroy planets. There's clearly a story behind Thanos' overpowered sword, and it may well lie with Galactus. A number of Galactus' Heralds have been given specific items to channel the Power Cosmic, imbuing them with remarkable abilities; the Silver Surfer's board is the most famous example, but there's also Terrax's ax. Thanos' sword could easily be retconned to be another of these.
Galactus Could Have Been Thanos' Endgame
All this raises the intriguing possibility that Thanos wasn't operating independently, but rather that he served as a Herald of Galactus. If that's the case, then it's entirely possible the Infinity Gauntlet served multiple purposes. Every time Thanos used the combined power of all six Infinity Stones, he generated a surge of cosmic energy that could have served as a beacon, drawing Galactus to new feeding grounds. What's more, by destroying the Infinity Stones, Thanos would have removed what could potentially be the one weapon that could defeat Galactus.
But Thanos' plan has gone wrong, and the snap has been reversed in a manner that he never expected. Ironically, that may make Galactus more dangerous than ever before; he consumes the life energy of entire worlds. Thanks to Thanos, he'd have been coming to a galaxy where he could enjoy some good meals; now, with population levels restored to roughly the same level they were at in 2018, he's coming for a banquet. And the more Galactus eats, the more powerful he becomes. If this theory turns out to be true, if Thanos was indeed serving as a Herald of Galactus, then the Avengers are soon to face their greatest challenge.