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Please Stop Trying to Convince Everyone That Thanos Is “Complex”

“Thanos is a very complex character,” says the voice of the purple Titan himself, Josh Brolin, during a featurette for the Infinity War Blu-ray. “What he’s doing, from his point of view, is a very positive thing.”

To which I say:

(image: Paramount Pictures)

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed Infinity War. It’s probably the best of the Avengers movies because the first one got really out of character for some of our favorite heroes upon further rewatches, and Age of Ultron is trash, has always been trash, and will forever be trash. (Tony Stark would not want to bring back Jus Primae Noctis because one, it probably never existed, and two, TONY STARK IS NOT A RAPIST.)

However, the way the movie’s creative team talks about Thanos is really blah to me, because just having a villain with a motive doesn’t make that motive complex. It’s not complex to kill your daughter as a way to gain ultimate power. Just because you were in “agony” for a bit, doesn’t mean you’re not still an abusive dick, Hot Grimace.

We’ve often been told that every villain is the hero of their own story, and while that’s great for character analysis and for having a villain fave, it doesn’t mean we need act as if there is something noble or tragic about his “burden” of deciding to kill off half the universe’s population in order for it to survive.

Producer Louis D’Esposito described Thanos as “basically an eco-terrorist,” and director Antony Russo added on, saying, “Even though he’s despicable on so many levels, there’s a part of Thanos that is very empathetic. He has a very complex inner life, and he’s not all bad. Josh is a performer who’s capable of delivering that kind of complexity, where you have that level of violence in him, but at the same time you have that level of sensitivity.”

Oh yes, I remember that level of sensitivity when he flings his kidnapped adoptive child off a cliff, but he cried a bit doing it. So sensitive.

Creating a good villain doesn’t mean they actually have “a point.” They just need to have a good motivation. Callisto from Xena is totally evil and unhinged, but the place her darkness comes from (the murder of her family by Xena’s warriors back when she was evil) is a powerful motivation. Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender is motivated by the desire to prove herself to her father and her own sense of perfection.

Thanos being a death groupie is a plenty of motivation as long as the character is skilled enough to present a real threat. Thanos, even without his Poison Ivy/Ra’s al Ghul eco-terrorist slant, would still be an interesting villain as a warlord who can beat the shit out of the Hulk, as well as through his relationship with his daughters. The fact that he essentially believes in the myth of the population bomb doesn’t really add anything, in the end.

What do you all think after having to rewatch and re-process Infinity War? Does Thanos hold up? How would you rank the Avengers cross-over movies?

(via Comicbook, image: Marvel)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.