Despite wiping out half the universe, including many of our most beloved Marvel heroes, there are some who still argue that Avengers: Infinity War‘s Thanos is just a bit misunderstood. Perhaps, in a certain light, the tyrannical genocide-happy intergalactic warlord is actually a good guy after all.
The latest to join his voice to this chorus is Kevin Smith, who argued his case on the latest episode of his Fatman on Batman podcast. The subject came up in response to a question from a fan asking which five characters would be on his ultimate hero and villain teams. Smith picked Thanos for his ‘hero’ team, arguing:
“Controversial choice, Thanos. From a certain perspective he’s a hero. He could have literally wiped out everybody with one snap. I call that mercy.”
Only killing half the universe as opposed to killing everyone is the better choice, yes. But let’s not go handing Thanos the Nobel Peace Prize just because he chose not to do the most monstrous thing you could. No matter how hard he tries to drape his quest in an aura of dignity and respectability, he’s still a brutal warmonger for whom the ends justify the means every single time. Others have pointed out that he proves he’s not a completely heartless monster by shedding a tear as he tosses his beloved daughter off a cliff, an interpretation that neatly skates over the bit where he tosses his beloved daughter off a cliff.
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Having said all that, I get that one of the reasons Thanos was such an effective villain is that he’s not some monologuing cliche out to enrich himself or just be evil for the sake of being evil. The Russo Brothers have explained that Thanos is, at least in terms of narrative structure, the hero of Infinity War. Or, in their own words (from the Blu-ray commentary):
That’s I think, one of the most unnerving things about Thanos, is that there is a nobility in him, you know? It’s not ego, it’s not power. He basically looks at himself as a servant and when he’s finished with his service, he rests.”
Obviously, we’ll be seeing more of Thanos’ story in Avengers 4 and while he might have some element of nobility to him, I can’t wait to see the Hulk’s fist smash him right in the snotbox for what he did to Spidey.