When you think of Thanos, you think of a villain who is big and bad and powerful. You think of someone who has to be taken down by the Avengers. But do you ever think of a victim of bullying?
I fell in love with the Marvel Movies when Captain America: The First Avenger () played in theatres – sorry Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man. Ever since then, I’ve been watching the movies nearly religiously. (Except Deathpool and Black Panther. The first, because I really don’t like him. The second, because I never had the money to go to the theatres.)
While I waited this week for Avengers: Infinity War (2018) to finally appear on the big screen for us small folk, I wanted to do something special to show my nerdiness and appreciation to Marvel for making such action-packed and comedic-filled movies. But, between bad timing and a lack of a great editing software, I wasn’t able to do an episode of Weird Words covering the mythology behind Thanos’ name. However, when I was researching the big baddie, I discovered something shocking.
Thanos, the villain, is the product of bullying.
In all honesty, I thought it was just me reading too much into his backstory at first. But then, as I sat, slurping up a chocolate milkshake, I realized I wasn’t. Whether knowingly or not, Thanos’ creators made him not just a victim of bullying, but a prime example of what happens when bullying isn’t stopped and its effects aren’t treated.
Let me pull my evidence straight from Thanos’ own backstory.
No love or respect from his family.
A few seconds after he was born, his own mother wanted to kill him due to his misshapen face and discolored skin. Before she could, doctors sedated her and took baby Thanos away from her.
As he grew up, Thanos was never as good as his brother, Eros (or Starfox). His brother did play with him, but they grew distant during the years. Thanos could never live up to his father’s expectations. And his mother, who had been emitted into an insane asylum, still hated him. He was never able to gain respect or love from either parent.
Thanos never had a stable home environment. And in order to fill a void that was growing from not being loved at home, he decided to look elsewhere.
In his childhood, Thanos was still alone. He was the smartest one in school and a pacifist, but people avoided him. Except, that is, for a few friends who played with him. However, when they all went to explore a cave together, everyone except Thanos was killed by a cave in. When Thanos tried to dig them up, all he found were lizards eating away at his friends.
Society shuns Thanos
When his community got word of the death of his friends, people started to blame him instead of listening to him. They called him a cold-blooded killer, among other things. It was due to this that Thanos locked himself away, and would not face him.
Thanos murders for Mistress Death
Without the love of his family or community, Thanos turned to more violent ways of grabbing for attention. In his teens, he started getting into nihilism and death, even worshiping Mistress Death (the personification of death in the Marvel universe.)
Since Thanos didn’t know what love actually meant, he started trying to find it himself throughout the universe. He traveled with a group of space pirates as their navigator, finding many lovers and bearing many children along the way. However, he never stays with the women for long, not fully knowing how to be a good husband or a good father. And why didn’t he know? Because he never learned from the two people who should have taught him: his parents.
In fact, Thanos was still infatuated with Mistress Death through all of this. And he started to think that the only way to win her affection is through killing others – making sacrifices to her. This came to the surface as the captain of the ship accused him of being too soft on others. The captain beat him and Thanos blacked out, only to awaken to having killed the captain. After this, he traveled across the universe to kill the women he had loved and the children he had sired as a gift to Mistress Death.
In fact, the reason why the creators of Avengers: Infinity War have Thanos collecting the Infinity Stones, is because once he gains them, he will have the power to destroy half the life in the universe to fulfill a request by Mistress Death. However, even if this does happen in the movie – it does in the comics, but you never know – Mistress Death will still not see Thanos as an equal. The love and respect he wants from her will never come because she will see him as someone above her from that moment. And, due to this, they could never rule the universe together like he wants.
Society has to take the victim down
In Infinity War, the Avengers, Revengers, and all their allies will have to fight to defend Earth from Thanos’ invasion. There will be not “sit down and talk” with Thanos about his past and figure out a solution. And why? Because Thanos has already hit the point of no return way before this movie in the timeline. There might have been a way to talk Thanos down and get the help he needs so badly. But because of neglect to fix the problem at its root, Thanos is now the villain his mother and community said he was. By the world’s standards, there is no way Thanos could ever be saved. So, the only thing to do with a victim-turned-villain is to make sure he doesn’t cause anyone else harm. And if you look at society today, and all the problems with shootings and violence throughout history, you can see how true this is. When the victim of bullying and neglect gets to a point where he/she can’t take it, they break down completely. And in Thanos’ case, he broke down to become the “evil villain”.
A Lesson from Thanos’ Story
When you really look into why Thanos kills, it is truly sad. All he wants in life is love and respect. But instead, he is bullied by everyone around him because of his looks and his need for love. Just think, if his parents had given him love, he wouldn’t have sought it elsewhere. If his community had shown compassion for him, he wouldn’t have turned his back on them. If Mistress Death hadn’t used him for her own needs, he would have no need to destroy half the universe. And if Thanos would have allowed himself to see the love that at least one of those women had for him – the first one he murdered – he wouldn’t have gone on a killing spree. It is true that Thanos’ actions are his own. He is responsible for all those deaths. However, the way he was bullied through life was what led him to hate life itself.
Thanos’ story can show us that bullying doesn’t just happen at school. It can happen in every aspect of a person’s life. And, if a person doesn’t get help to combat the bullying in a peaceful manner, that person will start bullying him/herself. And why? Because it’s the only thing he/she was taught. If left out of hand, the victim of bullying will start to turn to self-harm, or harm others outright.
As a community of nerds and fans, we need to start asking ourselves how we can help change the world and stop bullying. What can we do to help the children who have been rejected by everyone else in their lives? We can start by showing them a little kindness and build from there.