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Thor is going to have a lot to deal with in 2017 with Thor: Ragnarok. In addition to his brother Loki still being alive (and disguised as Odin, to add insult to injury), the titular apocalyptic event threatens to destroy all Asgardians. That’s not even taking into account whatever new villain they bring aboard (my guess is Surtur). It’s safe to say this will be the God of Thunder’s most explosive solo adventure yet, but it has more importance beyond his series of films. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has gone on record saying that not only is Thor: Ragnarok an important Phase 3 movie, but it will impact everything that comes after. What are the biggest MCU projects in 2018 and 2019? The Avengers: Infinity War movies, of course. This leads to a question on our minds: Will Thor end up fighting Thanos in Thor: Ragnarok?
To start, let’s look back on where we left off with both these characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron. After defeating the titular antagonist and his robot army with the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Thor returned to Asgard to learn more about his visions and the Infinity Stones. As for Thanos, he was seen in the mid-credits scene retrieving one of the Infinity Gauntlets so he could personally retrieve the Infinity Stones. The Mad Titan’s quest for unlimited power will eventually take him to Asgard since that’s where the Tesseract is being kept, so it’s inevitable that he’s going to have an encounter with one or more of its inhabitants. That particular individual could be Thor in the 2017 blockbuster, which hits only a year before Thanos takes center stage.
Make no mistake, a fight between Thor and Thanos would certainly be epic. Even if he isn’t controlling an Infinity Stone, Thanos is incredibly powerful, with abilities ranging from super strength to telekinesis. He even went head-to-head with Hulk in the comics and gave him a severe beating. As "mighty" as Thor is with his own strength, lightning conjuring, and Mjolnir, it’s doubtful he would be victorious in this brawl. Whether he’s critically injured or just pushed aside as if he was a gnat, Thor would likely fall to Thanos, then be forced to deal with Ragnarok or spend the time between this movie and his next appearance recovering. Thor could return to Earth either in the first or second Infinity War movie to go another round with the Mad Titan.
All this being said, while this is a great encounter to play out in our heads, it’s not very plausible in the grand scheme of things. With Ragnarok on the horizon, and whatever Loki and the new villain are up to, it’s difficult to believe that Thanos will be thrown in as another major threat for Thor to deal with in his threequel. Hell, I’d go so far as to say it would be overkill. Also, as much as we may want to see more of Thanos, it’s doubtful Marvel will let him cut loose before the massive event he’s unleashing in two Avengers films. The son of Odin will have enough on his plate in Thor: Ragnarok. Adding a purple-skinned, throne-enthusiast warmonger in a major capacity isn’t necessary.
If Thanos does appear in Thor: Ragnarok, we probably shouldn’t expect anything bigger than a minor appearance or cameo. What’s likeliest is yet another post-credits scene appearance where he steals the Tesseract. My guess is the cube is either now unguarded thanks to the events of Ragnarok, or Thanos has the means to steal it without drawing attention or dealing with too much resistance. Perhaps a certain God of Mischief is involved somehow. In any case, while whatever happens in Thor: Ragnarok will have repercussions for the rest of the MCU, don’t get your hopes up of seeing the God of Thunder tangle with the Mad Titan…even if it would be amazing to watch. Besides, there’s always room for a one-on-one showdown in the Infinity War movies amidst Thanos battling the other Marvel heroes.