All Hail the Mad Titan. All Hail Thanos.
This is my (Mostly) Spoiler-Free review.
Ten years of movies has led up to this moment, and…well, damn. That happened.
Most fans walked into the movie with two concerns. One, can you possibly cram this many heroes into a single movie and still tell a cohesive story with effective character development? Two, would the MCU deliver on the Mad Titan fans deserved for their decade of dedication?
The final answers: Yes, and OH HELL YES.
The reason why Marvel was able to get away with this big of a cast is because we’ve got TEN YEARS worth of movies that have already established a lot of the backstories, character quirks, and connections between all of the characters. When Captain America looks at Thor and says, “You cut your hair” and Thor replies, “You copied my beard,” that isn’t just witty humor. That is a connection between two characters who have fought and bled together and know each other well enough to make those sort of comments. When Rocket mutters to himself that he is going to steal Bucky’s arm, it isn’t a random comment but a real part of his character. This tiny lines of dialogue are able to carry an enormous amount of character development weight because we already know these characters.
And then there is THE MAN himself: Thanos.
One of the weak spots of Marvel has been the motivation of their villains. With the exception of Loki, the majority of Marvel bad guys have been rather flat and their motivations disjointed and convoluted. The glory of Thanos is that his motivation is crystal clear and, if you suppress your basic human empathy for a moment, actually makes perfect sense. Thanos had watched his own homeworld die due to overpopulation. The universe, as vast as it is, has finite resources. And when populations don’t live within their means, the entire planet suffers.
Thanos vowed to never let such a tragedy happen again and begins his quest to “save” the galaxy but wiping out half of all life, leaving the survivors with the ability to better manage resources and flourish. The idea of randomly killing HALF the people on Earth is repulsive to us on a visceral, human level. But is it really all that different of an idea from wildlife management? Humans regulate the populations of animal species all the time through wildlife management programs designed to keep local populations in check. What’s good for Bambi should be good for us, right?
So for a Darkside character like myself, a part of me was cheering for Thanos to succeed. If there was a flaw in his logic, it was that he had decided to be “fair” and make the destruction random. I would have opted for a more targeted approach…
But quibbles about methodology aside, in Thanos we have a villain with the same strength of conviction as our heroes, which makes for some very interesting interactions between them. Despite being the “Mad Titan,” Thanos never comes across as anything other than pragmatic, measured, and reasoned. He’s dismantling heroes that we have known for ten years in the process and thus we would appreciate it if he would JUST STOP OH MY GOD YOU MADE TONY CRY YOU MONSTER GET YOUR HANDS OF MY THOR DON’T LET THE ANNILIATION WAVE EAT WAKANDA T’CHALLA JUST OPENED THE BORDERS AND WHAT DID YOU DO TO HULK?
Deep breaths. Deeeeeep breaths.
The turn “roller coaster” is overused in talking about movies, and really seems inadequate for the range of emotions you go through in this film. When we left the movie theatre, there was this stunned silence. In the lobby, people spoke in whispers about what they had seen, as if trying not to draw the Mad Titan’s attention. Others stood quietly, processing what they had just witnessed. Strangers made eye contact and simply nodded.
Our ten year investment in the MCU has paid off.