Thanks to its complex time-traveling plot, in many cases Avengers: Endgame features multiple versions of the same character. One of the most significant instances of this, possibly the most significant, is Thanos. At the beginning of the movie, the Avengers easily kill the present-day Mad Titan, who’s not only been gravely injured by using the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War but is also calmer and more at peace in himself.
Then, a younger Thanos from an alternate version of 2014 makes himself known for the grand finale, laying waste to the Avengers compound and facing the entirety of the MCU as he plans to get his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet and this time wipe all life in the universe out and rebuild reality in his image. To put it plainly, this Thanos is a lot meaner, crazier and more dangerous than the one from Infinity War.
For the Russo brothers, it was hugely important to see the young Mad Titan as his own character. While speaking to Empire, Anthony Russo revealed that the filmmakers even had a nickname to refer to the time-traveling Mad Titan, who they feel is more reckless and “self-confident” than his older “enlightened” counterpart.
“We refer to him as Warrior Thanos, the version of the character before he put down his armor and became enlightened and wanted to search for the stones. He’s angrier; it might be his flaw in the film, that he’s a little bit more precocious and self-confident, not quite as enlightened.”
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Writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus have previously explained why they killed off old Thanos so early into the movie’s runtime. When scripting, the pair struggled to work out where the villain should go next in the story when exec producer Trini Tran suggested they just kill him off – the idea of the present Thanos allowing himself to die then came from there.