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Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War are ahead!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe's heroes have faced difficult challenges before, but none measured up to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Despite the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and other select protagonists joining forces to battle the Mad Titan and his forces on several fronts, he succeeded in obtaining the six Infinity Stones and wiping out half of life in the universe. Part of this was due to Thanos just being several steps ahead in the "game" and being a powerhouse even without the Infinity Stones, but in other instances, it was due to the heroes making mistakes, which co-director Joe Russo attributes to the intense emotional pain they went through. Looking back at why Thor stuck Thanos in the chest with Stormbreaker rather than behead him, Russo attributed that to the God of Thunder wanting the Mad Titan to know that he'd gotten his revenge. Russo continued:
Had he gone for a kill shot, that snap would not have happened. These are choices that characters who are feeling immense pain make and hopefully, the audience can learn to empathize with those characters because they can grow through stories. Stories can teach us things and that we should try to see every choice from the perspective of the character that made the choice.
While Joe Russo was speaking specifically about Thor during this portion of his Avengers: Infinity War conversation with Comicbook.com, this rationale also applies to Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord. When he, Drax, Mantis, Nebula, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Doctor Strange got the drop on Thanos on Titan and nearly succeeded in pulling the Infinity Gauntlet off the villain's hand, when Peter learned from Nebula that Thanos had killed Gamora so he could get the Soul Stone, he became enraged. The whole plan went to hell when Peter retaliated against Thanos, which broke Mantis' hold over the Mad Titan and allowed him to return to full power. And going back to Thor, having watched Thanos kill Loki, Heimdall and half of the Asgardian population at the start of the story, it makes sense to a degree that he'd want Thanos to know it was he who killed him. Unfortunately, that decision led to trillions of lives being lost.
It's easy enough to say that we would have made the "right" decision had we been in either Thor or Star-Lord's shoes, but the fact is that in situations where that much emotional suffering is happening, logic and reason tends to go right out the window. Plus, while we may not always agree with the decisions characters make in stories, their flaws and issues make them more compelling than if they were perfect and always right. Of course, one could argue that there were factors that led to Thanos' victory in Avengers: Infinity War, such as Steve Rogers not deciding that the Mind Stone needed to be destroyed sooner. Regardless, Thanos won, and Avengers 4 will see the surviving heroes, including Thor, living in the aftermath.
You can find out what we here at CinemaBlend thought of Avengers: Infinity War by reading our review. Avengers 4 will wrap up this story and the rest of the Phase Three slate on May 3, 2019, but before that happens, you can look forward to Ant-Man and the Wasp coming out on July 6 and Captain Marvel following on March 8, 2019.