Okay, it’s been about half a week now. I feel comfortable talking a little about “Infinity War” in detail, and especially my biggest point of contention with the film: Thanos, the Mad Titan.
Be warned; I will be dwelling on key story beats and spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about to get ruined for you.
I’ll just pop a picture here to hide the spoilery text a little further down.
Okay, let’s get this party started.
I do not care about Thanos.
The villain of “Infinity War” is arguably also the movie’s protagonist. He’s the only character to get anything approximating a story arc, as he makes sacrifices and looks sad a lot.
It’s clear that the audience is meant to really care about this big prune monster, and I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy into his character.
Every time we’ve seen Thanos previously, he’s been portrayed as the biggest, baddest, most evil being in the galaxy. He smiles at the idea of courting death, he sasses Ronan the Accuser, and he’s just generally exuding the attitude of a cackling Saturday morning cartoon villain.
Right down to his inability to get off his backside and actually do anything.
Finally, Thanos is showing up and doing stuff, but the thing he does more than anything else is look sad.
Sad Raisin Man
Going into this movie, I didn’t expect to see the Mad Titan crying quite this often. We get several scenes of him pouting over Gamora, and while I’m fully on board with allowing a big, muscular man express his emotions, it all feels like a bit much.
It’s as if the movie is trying to push me to care about Thanos. As if, by showing him looking sad as he throws his adopted daughter to her death, I’m meant to empathize with him.
This feels like a weird change of pace for the MCU. Generally, these movies know when they’re being ridiculous, and it’s rare to get a scene that’s so hyper emotional. I couldn’t help but think throughout watching this film that I can’t take Grimace seriously.
Perhaps that’s a reflection of me, personally. Maybe I’m a bitter, heartless monster with a stone for a heart.
I just can’t see why the film tries so hard to get us to empathize with a guy whose plan is literally to kill half the population of the universe.
Sure, he’s trying to murder as many people as possible, but he just wants his daughter’s love, so he’s conflicted!
This in and of itself feels shallow, but then there’s Thanos’ plan itself.
Let Me Tell You My Evil Plan
The Mad Titan intends to wipe out half the universe. In the comics, this is because he’s Evil with a capital E, but here, it’s because he’s worried about resource scarcity.
This really does feel like an evil plan that could only possibly be concocted by people working for the world’s largest media empire. Only rich people could possibly think that it’d make sense to solve overpopulation by killing half the population.
Why doesn’t Thanos use his powers to make more resources, or to redistribute the wealth that already exists? Surely the Infinity Gauntlet is capable of much better solutions than simply wiping people out.
To be clear: I’m not mad because Thanos’ plan makes no sense. I’m mad because the movie expects its audience to believe that the plan is, in any way, even vaguely rational.
Basically, Marvel is trying to make Thanos into a Magneto; a bad guy whose actions make sense from a certain point of view.
Frankly, I’d rather have the comic book storyline where Thanos is in love with the literal embodiment of death. It’d make more sense.
There’s already a literal embodiment of death in this movie series. What if Thanos’ big goal was to wipe out half the population of the universe as a gesture of love towards the recently deceased Hela?
But What About the Bad Guy’s Feelings?
“Infinity War” was always going to be an insane juggling act, and I’m not surprised that its villain lacks depth.
In all honesty, though, I’d have preferred if the Russo Brothers had tried to put these emotional beats elsewhere.
I’m tired of being told that I need to see things from the villain’s perspective, because they’ve suffered too.
In real life, as in movies, this is a stupid argument.