Why didn't Thanos reverse Gamora's death?

Infinity War - The background to the comic book saga

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Infinity War has been in theaters for two weeks and has broken all records. The surprising twists and turns of the film left some viewers at a loss. Don't worry - we'll shed light on the origins of the Infinity saga for you and answer some of the most common questions about the story. Beware of comics and film spoilers!

Sometimes it's the simplest gestures that make a big impact. A bow, a kneel, a handshake, or even a snap of your fingers. With the latter, the Avengers opponent Thanos has just wiped out half the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There has never been such a tragic end in superhero films - even Helmut Zemo's move in Civil WarBreaking the Avengers in two was nowhere near as extreme. The Avengers have been reduced almost to the original team, numerous recently introduced characters have literally made the dust, Thanos has achieved his goal: the universe has been half depopulated.

Especially the casual viewers who do not know the comics are now at a loss: What's next? Is that it now for the MCU? Where does this Thanos come from and what is his goal? We bring a little light into the darkness, but for that we first have to go back 27 years in time. Dr. Strange, would you be so kind?

Table of Contents

Where's Thanos? Who is Thanos? Why is Thanos?

Infinity War is based on the so-called Infinity Trilogy, a series of comic crossovers published between 1991 and 1993: Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade. Three cohesive stories that brought together countless Marvel heroes and showed an epic conflict of cosmic proportions. Despite the identical name, the film has more to do with the first story, Infinity Gauntlet, together. Also in the comic, Thanos acquires the six mighty jewels (called Infinity Gems here) and wipes out half the life in the universe. Yet while this cosmic genocide in the MCU is the Titan's ultimate goal, his comic-book alter ego sees such drastic acts as a means to an end. Indeed begins the Infinity Gauntlet-Event even with the snap of your fingers and the subsequent disappearance of half of all living things. And all just to impress Mistress Death. Who please?

That should be the biggest surprise for Marvel newbies. MCU-Thanos acts for socio-economic reasons and sees himself as the savior of the universe, but Comic-Thanos is just a selfish, amorous stalker who goes after the wrong woman. Since his youth, the Titan was obsessed with death, a cosmic entity that he encountered in the form of a beautiful woman. Thanos acquired a morbid fascination with killing other living beings through his lover, but his people, the Eternals of Titan, considered him insane because they could not perceive the manifestation of death.

Because Mistress Death kept rejecting him and he couldn't win her love, Thanos tried to impress her with more and more cruel murders. When he attains godlike powers with the Infinity Gauntlet, the Titan builds his beloved a mighty cosmic throne in space. But since she is unimpressed, he snaps his fingers. The resulting halving of the universe is registered by both the Avengers and cosmic beings such as Eternity, Galactus and above all Adam Warlock ...


Death follows him like a shadow

Thanos and his unhealthy obsession with death are far more complex than this brief summary and could fill many more pages. What is important, however, is that the insane titan has been in Iron Man # 55 (1973) developed into a multi-layered character who repeatedly switched between the roles of villain and antihero. Especially in the more recent story Infinity from 2013 this becomes clear. In it, Thanos leads an intergalactic crusade of annihilation to Earth, only to find his missing son.

The directing Russo Brothers have adapted this duality and adapted it for a modern cinema narrative. Here are a few similarities and differences between comics and film:

  • Thanos' motivation: The extinction of half one's life, in the comic just a casual gesture of murderous infatuation, becomes the actual goal in the film. Thanos ’belief that overpopulation will destroy the universe has sparked an unprecedented genocide. Thanos’s Malthusian theory would be strongly questioned by most earthly economists and biologists (see below). In the comic, many of Thanos' decisions are influenced by the advice of the demon Mephisto, who gives him advice on how to deal with Mistress Death. In the film, Thanos acts on his own.


  • The Black Order: These followers of Thanos play a key role in the hunt for the Infinity Stones in the film, but are never mentioned by name and otherwise remain rather one-dimensional opponents. In the film, the team consists of just four members who are killed one after the other by the Avengers. In the comic, the Black Order is larger with 6 members and survives several events. We also learn more about the characters there: Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight are married. In the film, the two fight Vision and Scarlet Witch. A couple against couple fight would have been exciting, but there was not enough time for so much background.


  • Adam Warlock: The gold-colored cosmic hero, who lives in the soul gem and occasionally develops godlike powers, is regularly the top problem solver in the comic when it comes to Thanos and the six stones. Nobody else knows Thanos inside and out, so Warlock often manages to exploit the Titan's personal weaknesses. Warlock explains in Infinity Gauntletthat Thanos subconsciously suspects that he is not worthy of the power of stones and that there are therefore weaknesses that can be exploited. The cosmic hero has not even appeared in the MCU. Only in a post-credit scene from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Priestess Ayesha looks at a cocoon in which there is a being that she calls "Adam". The role of Adam Warlock in the film Dr. Strange, by the way, similarly frustrating, because both seem to know a winning strategy that they don't share with the other heroes.


  • Nebula and Gamora: That a monster like Thanos can feel love is part of the great characterization by the Russo brothers. Although he kidnapped Gamora as a child and she hated him all of her life, he loves her like his own daughter, which makes the sacrifice all the more painful for the Soul Stone. His other adopted daughter Nebula tries to stop him, but is late and survives on Titan with the traumatized Tony Stark. In Infinity Gauntlet, Gamora only appears at the end, after Thanos has already been stopped. Nebula, on the other hand, is present all the time and is tortured by Thanos to the amusement of Mistress Death. In contrast to Gamora, she is not the adopted daughter, but supposed granddaughter of Thanos. Nebula has a special, all-important role at the end of Infinity Gauntlet.


  • The remaining heroes: As already mentioned, half of all living beings in the universe disappear right at the beginning of the comic. This also applies to heroes like the Fantastic Four, Luke Cage, Daredevil and numerous X-Men. What remains is a group of Avengers led by Captain America and Dr. Strange, reluctantly endorsed by Doctor Doom. At the same time, Adam Warlock gathers a coalition of godlike cosmic beings such as Galactus, Master Order, Lord Chaos, Eon, Kronos and the mighty Silver Surfer. These "gods" are absent from the film, Thanos' atrocities must be undone by mortal heroes. By the way, already after that Infinity War-Trailer many fans speculated that Bruce Banner could take on the role of the Silver Surfer. This breaks down in the comic in Dr. Strange’s house and warns of Thanos. The fan theory was confirmed. Silver Surfer and the mutants Wolverine and Cyclops do not appear in the film because Marvel does not (yet) own the film rights to them.