If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, we’d recommend not reading any further. We’d also recommend staying in the happy little bubble that exists before you step into the theater, you’ll miss it once it’s gone.
It’s no surprise that Infinity War was an emotionally taxing film. It’s been painted as one for the entirety of the time fans knew it was coming. Thanos is the biggest threat the Avengers have ever faced, it would take the combined effort of each of our favorite heroes to stand a chance against the villain.
While it’s hard to look at him as anyone but the personifaction of evil hell-bent on world domination, the Russo brothers made it clear that Thanos had a heart. They wanted to make him more than just a gauntlet weilding, infinity stone collecting psychopath.
That’s not to say that he didn’t come off as a heartless villain for the majority of the film. His quest for domination led to death and destruction. Neither of which phased him at all. He was able to shrug away the importance of life by finding value in balance instead. Those who fell victim to Thanos were nothing more than weak links.
Until of course, the life of a loved one was in question.
We’ve said for months that we weren’t sure we’d be able to see the heart in Thanos, but we were wrong. It turns out, we’ve seen the heart of Thanos before. In fact, we’ve loved the heart of Thanos for some time now.
As he realized what must be sacrificed for the soul stone, we see a vulnerable Thanos for the first time. We weren’t able to leave the theater having sympathized with him, but we have to give credit where credit is due. Thanos had a moment where he understood that possessing the soul stone meant handing over a soul.
Not just any soul, either. The soul of a loved one.
This was a turning point in Infinity War. His search for the stone brought him to the first real decision he had to make. Bringing tears to his eyes, he had to sacrifice love. Gamora, who tried to kill Thanos and was captured by him instead, almost laughs in his face. Saying he knows no real love, the universe has judged him and deemed him unworthy. With tears falling from his eyes, her mood shifts.
She realizes then, that his tears aren’t for himself. Gamora immediately tries to sacrifice herself, with a weapon given to her by Thanos himself, but it proves nothing more than a trick.
Thanos sacrifices Gamora and wakes with the stone in his grasp. Solidifying that even love isn’t a force strong enough to stop his quest.
The heart of Thanos was found in the little girl he “saved” as her. Seeing her strength and ability to find balance, she quickly carved out a place in his heart. Knowing no real concept of compassion, his love for Gamora was born of a cold and calculated place.
For Thanos, it was the only love he ever knew. Her bright eyes and wild spirit grounded a part of his soul, too small to stop him from evil, but big enough to matter.
Although the loss of Gamora was impossible to watch, as was Quill’s reaction to her death, it was poignant. We knew his heart all along, she was the beautiful, strong, sassy, and compassionate woman that we all fell in love with ourselves.
One who deserved a lot more.
‘…but I knew him’