Nerd Factor: Let Thanos Win

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

While this edition of the Nerd Factor does not contain spoilers per se, it does reveal information about past Thanos stories that might give something away.

Thanos of Titan is one of the greatest antagonists in the Marvel Universe.  That’s not bad for a guy who was, by his creator Jim Starlin’s admission, a rip-off of DC’s Darkseid.  Like the best baddies from ole Marvel, Thanos does not see himself as a villain. Oh, he does terrible things, but he often sees these as actions taken for the best.  

Thanos is a truly dangerous opponent.  On his own, he is powerful enough to tangle with whole teams of superheroes.  He’s gone hand-to-hand with Thor and the Hulk. He’s traded energy zaps with the Silver Surfer and the original Captain Marvel.  Thanos is no brute. He deploys cunning strategy in every encounter. And he is one of those bad guys smart enough to employ an army of underlings.  The Blood Brothers, for example, might be big dopes. But they and a series of other expendable flunkies help rope-a-dope his mightiest foes into fatigue.  

Thanos also plays for big stakes on the cosmic scale.  He targets the major items – the Cosmic Cube or the Infinity Stones – anything that can get him to true power over reality.  Oh, don’t get Thanos wrong. He truly enjoys defeating his foes, but that’s only if he can grab something truly important along the way.

And that’s why the Nerd Factor recommends that the Avengers just let Thanos win in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The pro tip is let Thanos win.

How can that be?  Doesn’t the Nerd Factor know that Thanos’ plan is to destroy half of all life in the universe?  Has this column gone completely evil?

No.  It’s just that there’s a certain problem that this particular archenemy has.  While Thanos has many foes, he is his own worst enemy.

Deep down beneath that purple skin and wrinkly chin is a conflicted thinker.  Thanos spends a lot of time in introspection. And while he craves omnipotence, he is not together enough to handle it.  This leads to a lot of unforced errors.

Consider, for example, the first time Thanos got ahold of the Cosmic Cube.  Movie fans know this powerful doodad as the Tesseract, but in the comics the Cube is essentially a wish-granting machine.  You hold it. You think it. It happens. Once Thanos had clobbered a bunch of Avengers and taken control of the Cube, in his egotism, he used its power to merge himself with the universe.  Big mistake, as that left him without a body. Captain Marvel then destroyed the unattended Cube.

Likewise, when Thanos took the Infinity Gems and formed the Infinity Gauntlet, his true motivation was to impress his girlfriend, Lady Death, who is often simply referred to as Death.  Yes, you read that right – Death as in the personification of dying in the Marvel Universe. And she was impossible to impress. Killing half the universe didn’t get Thanos any kind of credit with her.  His resulting desperate moves left Thanos vulnerable to the manipulations of Mephisto (essentially Marvel’s Satan) and the plans of Adam Warlock. And in the end, Thanos lost.

So really, the best move is to just give Thanos what he wants, let him mess up and then find a way to restore balance of the Marvel Universe.