Thanos is an Idiot

So watched Avengers: Infinity War.


It was great, mostly.

Except for Thanos. Thanos was horrible.

Favorite moment: Dr. Strange using the Time stone to see the future battle(s) with Thanos.

But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about Thanos.

Thanos’s MO is, more or less, “The universe has finite resources (1) that will eventually be spread to thin (2) so as to create suffering for the masses. In order to prevent this suffering, the lesser sacrifice of destroying half (3) the population of the entire (4) universe must (5) be made.”

  1. Yeah, the guy after the INFINITY STONES says the universe has finite resources. These are objects that could literally power civilizations, entire planets. (Granted, the only person to actually use them for non-combative purposes is maybe Howard Stark, but that’s a different issue altogether.) And that’s also without considering the various magics of Dr. Strange, Scarlet Witch, Thanos’s zealous telekinetic guy, or any number of unmentioned wizards throughout the universe.
  2. In the short term (on a cosmic scale, that is), redistribution of weath goes a long way to minimizing suffering. I can grant that Thanos thinks this is too short-sighted a plan, but that only highlights other flaws I’ll get to.
  3. On the one hand, “half” of a population is such an arbitrary number. On the other hand, all Thanos does with this systematic decimation is a pruning. He cuts the stem but leaves the roots, and all that does is make him have to come to the planet again in another twenty, fifty, or one hundred years to repeat the process. In terms of civilizations and the universe, that’s no time at all. He’s done nothing to change his victims’ practices, just put off this anticipated Malthusian dystopia.
  4. Thanos says that he first proposed his depopulation strategy to his home planet, where, being generous, I would like to think that he at least considered all the alternative strategies for curbing population growth (and possibly some kind of global warming, given the desolation of the planet). However, he fails to take any kind of population control into consideration when dealing with other races. Perhaps killing half of the population of Titan was the only way to save the other half; but this is not necessarily true for other races, such as humans.
  5. But what really gets me (aside from Point #1) is that there are so many other methods for population control aside from genocide. Again, Thanos wipes out half of a planet’s population, but doesn’t even consider if (1) that population is even in danger of a Malthusian dystopia or (2) that their culture more or less remains the same after the genocide, their practices haven’t changed. Thanos could have done infintely more, and more ethical, work if is organization was focused on family planning, for example. Or sold/gave away devices for atmospheric stablization. But even without his interference, a great number of races and civilizations can be expected to avoid overpopulation — such as humanity, which is expected to rise to about 9-10 billion before beginning to taper off and diminish, just because people don’t want to have a lot of children.

So, yeah. I get that there are people that feel some sympathy for Thanos, but I have a hard time with that when his big plan is just so dumb and short-sighted.


One thought on “Thanos is an Idiot

  1. So, you’re not wrong. You’ve accurately stated Thanos’ central reasoning behind his actions (btw that’s not what MO means), and it certainly doesn’t hold up under careful scrutiny. The thing is, it’s not supposed to. For the plot to work, this villain also needs to be verifiably, unambiguously, even-the-pacifist-heroes-wouldn’t-feel-bad-about-killing-them, Evil. However, the villain for something the scale of Infinity War also needs to be powerful and intelligent, someone the audience will take seriously. Taken together, this excludes narcissism, short-sightedness, being fooled by some bigger evil, acting on past trauma, for “love,” for revenge, or anything else petty, misguided, or simplistic. The villain gets a carefully calculated raison d’être that it gives the impression of an intelligent, cosmic-scale villain, who the heroes can unanimously condemn, but still rings close enough to truth to give audience members pause – for the moment. It’s not surprising considering other movie villains’ reasons, e.g. Nationalists/Supremacists who believe life would be better off for the average citizen if their group ruled the world, or war generals who destroy a culture for the resources their race needs for survival (or believes they do), or, like, just pick a serious action movie bad guy. It ultimately doesn’t *matter* what Thanos’ reasoning is, and examining it critically and (rightfully) deciding that he’s wrong is kind of a long-form, serious version of explaining why a joke is funny.

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