Nope, Thanos Is Still A Giant Purple A**Hole
Being Complex doesn’t mean everything you do is okay
*Spoiler Alert, if you haven’t seen Infinity War, stop reading*
Given Marvel’s great work creating a backstory that gives Thanos a Thomas Malthus sized justification for his moves to cull half of the population of the universe some people might be concluding that Thanos is heroic.
No, Thanos is not heroic.
Yes, I know that Thanos cried a few perfectly rendered purple CGI tears before he sacrificed Gamora but I am still pretty convinced that he is a gigantic Barney the Dinosaur colored A**hole.
Thanos doesn’t seem to totally grasp that what he has been doing was problematic, doesn’t seem to believe any of it was wrong, and absolutely doesn’t see how central he has made his own ego in the process of deciding life and death.
Why am I so certain that Thanos is bad?
- Thanos is trying to kill half the people in the universe and wants people to thank him for the honor.
Yup, Thanos literally tells the people he is preparing to kill to be thankful because he is showing them mercy.
That doesn’t even make sense…Death is death, and personally, I would prefer to live more years rather than be extended the tender mercies of the Titanic Lavender John Cena.
Thanos is like that guy who insists on coming to work with the flu, passes the flu to the entire office, then comes to your office and asks for a raise…Only the flu is actually Ebola.
2. The Torture of Nebula
Thanos, I get it, you love Gamora…but you have TWO daughters.
The daughter that you brutalized for years in order to make your other daughter Gamora stronger…the blue one…yup, her.
Remember when you used to force Nebula and Gamora to compete with each other and you would have your minions remove Nebula’s parts when she lost and replace them with cybernetics?
Did you keep pictures for the family album? How did Mrs. Thanos feel about that?
In fact, even during the movie Infinity War, Thanos had his minion’s torture Nebula just in order to force Gamora to tell him where she hid the Soul Stone. He didn’t even try another method first he just went straight to causing his own daughter massive pain.
Nebula will likely never give Thanos a “Father of the Year” mug for his desk, but he has never even shown a MOMENT of remorse for what he does to Nebula (much in the same way he spares Gamora from seeing the culling of her people, but doesn’t even seem bothered by it himself).
3. Unbelievable Narcissism and Catastrophic Instrumentalism
<Side Note: It is kind of funny that Iron Man is fighting against Thanos since they are both willing to sacrifice everyone, even the people close to them, to achieve instrumental ends (see Age of Ultron and Civil War)>
One has to wonder, for Thanos (or for Tony Stark), at what point “bare life” (mere biological life, the ability to continue breathing) was given priority over the way a life is, was, or can be lived?
Thanos embarked on his neo-Malthusian project because his own planet’s population destroyed itself in some kind of resource catastrophe and did so despite knowing in advance it was coming (they, like our US Congress, couldn’t seem to agree on a productive course of action, even in the face of total annihilation).
Generally, people will argue that quality of life can “be recovered” but that bare life, once lost, can never return.
But for the 50% of the lifeforms in the universe that Thanos is busy culling there will be no return regardless and for those who remain, who is to guarantee they don’t create a crisis that can’t be recovered from?
In addition, it would take a LOT of ego (and I don’t mean Anton Ego or Ego the Living Planet) for a being to assume that just because one planet lacked wisdom that all planets in the universe lacked wisdom but Thanos did just this. He decided both that he knew the problem and that he, and he alone, represented the final solution.
And who is to say, as suggested by Kubrick in Dr. Strangelove, that after the culling that the living wouldn’t ultimately envy the dead? We don’t even know how to correctly predict likely outcomes in these situations (see Chaos and Catastrophe theories, or just watch Jurassic Park).
In fact, the effects of the destruction of Thanos own planet caused him to embark on a campaign of mass-kill-to-save (where he would “sacrifice” the only being he loved to his campaign to cull).
In short, his raging narcissism prevents him from understanding his crimes against the universe.
4. He is Culling 1/2 of all the lifeforms in the Galaxy
But mass killing is not okay, regardless of the reasons.
I do prefer that villains are complex and after Marvel reduced Ultron to a caricature of what had been a great comic character, I am grateful. but let’s not confuse motivation with justification.
Thanos is no hero, he is a still a giant purple a**hole!
Oh, and by the way, why doesn’t it bother anyone that James Brolin is playing different villains in subsequent Marvel movies…am I crazy here (is there a shortage of people capable of playing villains in Hollywood in 2018)?
Josh is the co-host of the Decarceration Nation podcast and is a blogger and freelance writer who writes about criminal justice reform, television, movies, music, politics, race, ethics, and more.