The Mad Titan may be showing his age.
The newest Avengers sequel, Avengers: Endgame, is almost upon us. And between the new trailer and recent toy previews, we finally have a good idea of what Thanos looks like in the movie. Not only is the Mad Titan reverting back to his original armored look, but he’s now wielding a nasty double-bladed weapon as well.
This “new” look for Thanos does raise an interesting question, however. Why does someone with access to the Infinity Gauntlet and its limitless powers need crude weapons? Shouldn’t Thanos be above such concerns by now? It’s possible that Thanos’ gear reveals a lot about the character’s physical and mental state in Endgame.
Thanos’ status quo was left up in the air in the final moments of Avengers: Infinity War. In his last scene, the Mad Titan was shown to be alive but clearly feeling the pain of having a Stormbreaker-sized hole in his chest. For all we knew at the time, he could have been dying from his wounds. It wasn’t even clear whether that scene was taking place in the real world or within the Soul Stone.
Based on the trailer, it would seem that Thanos is still alive and has recovered to the point that he’s ready for a rematch with Thor and the Avengers. But again, the fact that he’s now reclaimed the armor he discarded at the beginning of Infinity War (and seen displayed as a sort of scarecrow in the first Endgame trailer) suggests he’s no longer so confident in his own strength. Thanos wielded godlike power in the climax of Infinity War and still nearly met his end at Thor’s hands. The armor may be a way of protecting himself from another near-fatal blow. It may even be a psychological defense mechanism. As boastful as he seems in the new trailer, Thanos may well fear what could happen when he faces the full might of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
This also would seem to go with his new weapon, which appears to be a double-bladed sword of some kind. It appeared prominently in images of Thanos toys recently, but now we can glimpse it in the trailer too. Again, why would the Mad Titan need such a thing if he’s still all-powerful?
And what about the Infinity Gauntlet? The trailer and toys make it clear Thanos still has possession of this powerful artifact, but does it remain as formidable as it once was? It appeared in Infinity War that Thanos severely damaged the gauntlet when he used it to wipe out half of all life in the universe. The sheer power required for such an act seemed to have short-circuited it. The gauntlet looks to have been repaired in Endgame, but it’s possible it no longer works as well as it once did. Or it could be that Thanos is afraid to rely on the gauntlet again unless he has no other options left?
Basically, for all that Thanos looks bigger and meaner than ever in this sequel, the truth may be far different. We could be looking at a villain suffering from the physical and psychological toll of being a cosmic mass-murderer. He may be physically weaker from the combined toll of Thor’s attack and the strain of causing the Decimation. He’s almost certainly feeling the mental impact of sacrificing so much, including the one person he actually loved, for the sake of his grand mission.
Marvel’s comics have always made it clear that Thanos is his own worst enemy. As much as he projects the image of an all-powerful tyrant, deep down he’s still a lonely outcast who grew up shunned by everyone on Titan. He has a latent self-loathing streak that causes him to sabotage his own plans at crucial moments. That’s essentially how Thanos was defeated in the original Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Some part of him wanted to lose, and so he subconsciously gave the Avengers the opening they needed to separate him from the gauntlet.
That could be how the Avengers triumph in the movie, too. Thanos, burdened by the pain and regret of his own actions, may again turn out to be his own worst enemy. We could even see a scenario where Thanos, realizing that the Avengers have found a way of undoing the Decimation, gives up and agrees to help them in order to give his daughter another chance at life. Thanos retreating to the safety of his armor could be a sign that the Mad Titan isn’t the threat he once was.