Thanos did eventually succeed in his plan to wipe out half of the universe, but we couldn’t help questioning his early moves to round up the Infinity Stones needed.
One particular act that always stood out for Marvel fans is how The Avengers eventually reveals that it was Thanos (via his lackey, the Other) who gave Loki the scepter (with the Mind Stone inside) in exchange for the Tesseract, aka the Space Stone.
Thanos was effectively giving up an Infinity Stone in order to acquire another one, when he could have just cut out all the middle men and gone to Earth himself to get the Tesseract. Loki’s hardly the most trustworthy of people and against the might of the Avengers, he was likely always going to fail too.
It may have worked out for Thanos in the end (until the Avengers reversed everything, anyway), but it looked like he was stumbling at the start… or was he? A new Avengers theory has suggested that he knew exactly what he was doing.
In order for Thanos to execute his plan to wipe out half of the universe, he needed a key piece of equipment: the Infinity Gauntlet. (Yes, we know he had one in Age of Ultron, but maybe it was a practice one, and that other one in Odin’s vault was fake, remember?)
Thanos knew where he could get one crafted for him – Nidavellir – but the realm was under the protection of Asgard. If Thanos attacked it, then he’d be facing the might of Asgard (including Odin at this point in the MCU timeline) and likely reveal his hand too early.
So the theory from Reddit user TheMediocreCritic argues that Thanos sought out Loki for the invasion of Earth. He didn’t want him to acquire the Tessaract – he wanted to destabilize Asgard, leaving Nidavellir unprotected.
“Thanos locates the recently ostracized prince of Asgard and tempts him with a conquest that defies Odin’s will, and pits Loki against his brother Thor. Thanos knows the risk that he’ll lose the mind stone, but he doesn’t care, the stones are of little use to him until he has the Gauntlet that allows him to wield their full power,” it states.
“Thanos opts to play the long game and manipulate Loki into destabilizing the Asgardian royal family. His plan works, the rift between Loki, his brother, and his father grows and the Ragnarok destruction prophecy begins.”
It ties in with another recent Marvel fan theory that the reason Thanos waited for so long to enact his plan was because there were beings out there that could oppose him. One such powerful being was Odin, with the others being Hela, the Ancient One and Ego.
Loki’s betrayal sets in motion a series of events that leads to Odin’s demise in Thor: Ragnarok and although Hela comes back, she (and Asgard) are destroyed in the same movie. This leaves Nidavellir unprotected and allows Thanos to go there, kill everyone but Eitri and force him to make the Infinity Gauntlet.+
With all the powerful beings in the universe out of the way, Thanos now had his Infinity Gauntlet and could collect up the final stones to carry out his devastating plan. (Sure, he forgot about Captain Marvel, but she was clearly busy elsewhere.)
Pedantic fans would point out that the real reason Thanos didn’t go to Earth and give Loki the job was that Marvel was still building the MCU at that point. The Avengers was still a risk and they needed a known villain, rather than relying on a character who was largely unknown outside of comic book fans.
So Thanos wasn’t biding his time, it just wasn’t the right time for him in the MCU and at the time of The Avengers, not even Kevin Feige could have known for sure that they’d get to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.
However, as retcons go, this theory holds water as you could imagine that Thanos would bide his time and wait for the right moment to strike. There’s no point going all out for the Infinity Stones if he’s going to encounter major resistance along the way, especially with no equipment to wield their combined power.
So the idea that Thanos was playing the long game with his move to give Loki the scepter makes sense. Shame for him that he couldn’t see the surviving Avengers deciding to bring everybody back five years later.
The Avengers and almost every other MCU movie are available to watch on Disney+.
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