By now, each and every one of us knows how Avengers: Endgame ends, but I'll mention there are spoilers in this piece anyway. We were all there when the surviving Avengers teamed up, pulled off the time heist of the century, reversed Thanos’ snap from Avengers: Infinity War, and saved the day once and for all. But what would have happened if the events of the movie had never happened? What would Earth be like?
We’ll never know for sure because all of this takes place in a cinematic universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be precise, but it is something fun to consider. In this fun little thought experiment, we take a look at different aspects of life on Earth within the MCU, how they were affected by The Snap, and the long-term ramifications of each of them.
So, let’s get to it, almost as if it were an episode of What If...?
There Would Be More Resources For People Who Survived… Sort Of
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is hellbent on one and only one goal: bring balance by willing away half of all life throughout the entire universe. Upon his confrontation with The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy on Titan, Thanos basically explains that in order for life to move on and sustain itself, there needs to be a sacrifice. By eliminating half of the population with The Snap, did Thanos make life more bountiful for those who survived? Fewer people plus more resources means those who survived grow and prosper, right?
The remaining 50% of us left on Earth would have much more resources, but the means of turning those raw, natural resources into edible food and other goods would become much trickier. Sure, we have all the wild plants and crops (not to mention to room to grow them), but with fewer people on Earth, there are fewer people to plant, monitor, and harvest the crops. This leaves us back at square one, right where we left off before the Mad Titan came in to save us from ourselves and bring order and balance to the universe. Thanks, Thanos.
We haven’t even started to talk about animal life here. What about all the animals throughout the universe who disappeared in the blink of an eye when the Mad Titan finished his life’s work and saved us all? Well, they’re gone too. When asked by Birth. Movies. Death if The Snap wiped out all life, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said, “Yes! Yes. All life.”
The whole “Thanos killed all life” argument was further backed up in Avengers: Endgame when Scott Lang noticed several birds suddenly appear after Hulk undoes the initial snap with a snap of his own. That it, until 2014 Thanos blows those recently revived birds back to nothing.
So, if you take the lack of animals for food and lack of people to grow, maintain, and harvest crops, Thanos’ grand plan of sacrificing a few souls for the greater good sort of blows up in its face. Once again… thanks, Thanos.
The World Would Be A Mess
We can assume the post-Thanos world would be a lot like the morning after a rager of a party. There were once billions of people walking the planet, buying things, building stuff, and whatnot, but now there are half the number of inhabitants in any given place being forced to clean up the mess that was left behind.
Once the survivors got over the emotional garbage that was left behind following the disappearance of their loved ones, they were forced to clean up the physical mess from the chaos following The Snap. As far as we can tell from the opening scenes of Avengers: Endgame, the mess - physical and emotional - was just too much for people. Portions of major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco are literal dumps, with everything from boats to piles and piles of garbage bags being left by the wayside. If two of the largest cities in the world can be in that rough of shape, what’s a place like St. Louis going to look like?
Remember, the events of Avengers: Endgame take place five years after Thanos snapped away half of the population in an instant. It’s not like the scenes at Citi Field in New York and the neighborhoods in San Francisco take place in the days, weeks, or even months following the conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War. People have had time to come to terms with the extinction-level event, clean up what was left behind, and move on. We just have to accept that some aspects of life (like the New York Mets) would never go back to normal when half the population is gone.
The Survivors Would Have Been United Behind A Common Enemy
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as sometimes tragedies afford survivors with the rare opportunity to unite and stand together. After any given tragedy, be it local, national, or international, the masses come together, work through their grief, and sometimes come out stronger on the other side. This is even more true when there’s a common enemy to turn their pain, anger, and loss against. In this case, that person is Thanos.
Although most of the world’s population never sees Thanos throughout any of the movies in the Infinity Saga, people do know and accept his presence and The Snap at face value. This is brought up during the therapy scene at the beginning of Avengers: Endgame where Steve Rogers is talking about moving on in life. The Snap is also addressed during the student news broadcast that opens Spider-Man: Far From Home, in which it is referred to as “the blip,” so once again, people know about the actions of the Mad Titan.
And perhaps people could have used that knowledge of Thanos to fight for a reason to survive in a post-Snap/Blip world. It worked for The Avengers as they worked tirelessly on a way to reverse the effects of The Snap, so why couldn’t it work for Joe Schmo in a place like Ohio? Who’s to say that as time went by, the survivors of The Snap wouldn’t have banded together and started to treat each other better than before? They could have used the fear and grief that overtook them in the hours, days, and weeks following the events of Avengers: Infinity War and turned a new corner towards a better future. Let’s hope so.
Would The Earth Have Been Better Off If Thanos Won?
Thanos wanted to obtain the six Infinity Stones for one reason and one reason only: to bring balance to the universe by eliminating half of the population. Yet, when you consider the fact that half of all living creatures - both human and animals - were dusted in the blink of an eye, the Mad Titan’s big plan just leaves us where we started in a lot of ways. The only difference being we would have a harder time of cleaning up the mess - both physical and emotion - because again, we would have half the manpower.
Luckily, we don’t have to think about it too much because The Avengers, with the help from some friends, were successfully able to pull off a time heist, acquire all six Infinity Stones, have a blip/snap moment of their own, fight off 2014 Thanos, and then yet again, snap away their problems.
What do you think? Do you think in some ways the Earth would have been a better place if the events of Avengers: Endgame never happened?