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Although James Spader’s Ultron was, of course, the primary antagonist in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film also met up with another notable Marvel evildoer: Thanos. To refresh everyone’s memories, after the genocidal robot was defeated and the Avengers established their new team, the Mad Titan (voiced by Josh Brolin) was then seen retrieving one of the Infinity Gauntlets and saying, "Fine, I’ll do it myself," as he slipped the imposing gold glove on his hand. In case you missed it, the HD version of the scene leaked online earlier this week, so you can watch those 20 seconds in crisp clarity on repeat. However, as cool as that scene was, it does have us us questioning what he said and why he said it at that moment.
The problem isn’t his actual words. It’s clear that after the failures of his subordinates, Thanos has decided to hunt for the Infinity Stones personally. Once he obtains all six, he will achieve ultimate power. What’s confusing is why this is happening after everything that went down in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Granted, the Mind Stone did play a key role in the story, and Thor did learn about the Stones after experiencing his cave-bath vision. Other than that, however, there wasn’t any connection to Thanos’ overall plan, making it odd that Marvel would include this moment after the Avengers took down Tony Stark’s flawed creation.
The previous times we’ve seen Thanos, he tasked Loki and Ronan with retrieving one of the Infinity Stones, both of whom ended up using their respective Stones for their own goals. That wasn’t the case with Ultron. He wanted to use the Mind Stone for himself, but he didn’t even know who Thanos was, and certainly had no plans to somehow get the gem off the planet and into Mad Titan’s hands. Hell, there was no indication that Thanos was involved with Ultron gaining sentience. The Mind Stone was near Tony Stark’s computers, but Ultron becoming self-aware was alluded to being a freak accident (unlike Vision’s birth). Most importantly, however, is how Thanos’ line in the mid-credits scene could be misunderstood. To the regular moviegoer, it makes it sound like Thanos’ mission is to destroy the Avengers, but it’s not. That was Ultron’s mission. Thanos will simply be fighting Earth’s Mightiest Heroes because they’re blocking his path to getting those multi-colored rocks.
If Marvel wanted to establish a tighter sequence of events, they should have included the Thanos Infinity Gantlet scene in the Guardians of the Galaxy credits last year. In that movie, we saw Thanos task Ronan with finding the Power Stone in exchange for helping the Kree fanatic destroy Xandar. As most of us saw, Ronan reneged on the deal and decided to use Stone himself to accomplish his mission. With Ronan dead and the Nova Corps holding the Power Stone in their vaults, at that point it would make sense for Thanos to decide to take matters into his own hands. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it just felt misplaced, although still important.
The only logical reason why this scene was included in Avengers: Age of Ultron was to remind the Avengers-viewing audience that Thanos is still around. As popular as Guardians of the Galaxy was, the studio can’t assume that everyone saw it. There might be a few stragglers who didn’t watch the antics of those galactic rogues, but decided to see Avengers: Age of Ultron after enjoying 2012’s The Avengers. To make sure those few viewers are up to speed, that’s why Thanos’ cameo was included, which is especially important considering that the upcoming Infinity War films are Avengers films. A reminder is needed that the purple-skinned throne enthusiast is on the loose.
Either way, it’s clear that Thanos is done relying on others to find the Infinity Stones. Although he doesn’t have any of them yet, we’ll see him wield all six in the Avengers: Infinity War movies, although don’t be surprised if there are some check-ins on Thanos and his mission in one of the preceding Phase Three films between now and 2018.