'Avengers: Infinity War' Thanos and Star-Lord

By now, we all know Thor should’ve aimed for the head at the end of in Avengers: Infinity War, even though Star-Lord shoulders a lot of the blame for Thanos wiping out half the universe due to his meltdown on Titan. But if you believe Doctor Strange’s talk about one successful outcome and his alleged “endgame,” then maybe Star-Lord’s freakout was actually an essential part of the plan. At the very least, the alternative could’ve been so much worse.

A new Infinity War theory emerged on the /r/FanTheories subreddit Monday from redditor Riobhain that specifically analyzes the significance of Star-Lord’s seemingly irrational behavior.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but the core of the theory is simple: “Quill’s freakout actually stopped Thanos from killing all of them.” This might seem a bit extreme, but it’s totally legit. Here’s the how and why.

'Avengers: Infinity War' Star-Lord
Star-Lord in the fight against Thanos on Titan during 'Avengers: Infinity War'.

Thanos might’ve killed trillions of people at the end of Infinity War without much remorse, but he did that with noble intentions related to population control. In a piece of audio commentary for Infinity War, co-director Joe Russo explained that for most of the movie, Thanos doesn’t actually try to kill anyone — unless he has to: “It’s interesting because as Thanos moves forward in the film from this moment, once he disposes of his armor, he almost becomes a holy warrior where he doesn’t spend a lot of energy intentionally trying to murder people, unless they’re in some way a threat to his agenda.”

Thanos only kills people when he has to or in direct response to something: Thanos kills Heimdall after he transports Hulk to Earth with the Bifrost, he kills Loki after the God of Mischief tries to stab him in the throat, and he kills Gamora because he needs the Soul Stone. This last one he actually cries about. Plenty of fans also think the Soul Stone humanized Thanos even more, making him even less likely to kill. Redditor Riobhain refers to this popular theory as “feedback” from the Soul Stone.

Also note that in almost every fight scene, despite being powerful enough to kill even the Hulk if he wanted to, Thanos pulls his punches. “No, let him have his fun,” Ebony Maw says to Cull Obsidian when the brute considers interfering in that very fight. Thanos later slams down Spider-Man on Titan, calling him a “pest.” But does he kill him? No. Even when he stabs Tony Stark with his own Iron Man sword, he talks about having “admiration” for Earth’s defender.

“Fun” might not be “something one considers when balancing the universe,” but it’s definitely on Thanos’ mind whenever he’s fighting the Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy. He’d rather turn Mantis into fake ribbons and make Star-Lord’s gun shoot bubbles than actually have to kill anyone.

'Avengers: Infinity War' Thanos and Doctor Strange Fight
This is what "having fun" looks like for Thanos.

But what if, on Titan, they’d actually managed to get the Infinity Gauntlet off of Thanos? This new theory assumes that “he’d have to go all out on them with the same level of force that floored the Hulk, which I don’t think most of them can take.” Thanos would probably panic, kill some or all of them with brute strength, and then take the Infinity Gauntlet back. If any of them tried to wield the Gauntlet, it would probably kill them. Same end result.

“Keeping the gauntlet on him would therefore be essential,” redditor Riobhain assumes, “either to allow him to maintain the illusion of control or to keep him in contact with the Soul Stone, and Quill’s freakout was the most convenient route to doing that.” It might’ve seemed like Quill’s freakout was the only thing preventing them from winning when in reality, it was probably an essential piece to the sequence of events that’ll lead to victory in Avengers 4.

We’ll likely never learn what happened in the 14,000,604 other timelines that Doctor Strange peered into, but there’s probably more than one in which they got the Gauntlet off Thanos and the Mad Titan killed them all.

Temporary death by turning to ash seems way better than getting bludgeoned to death by massive purple fists, so let’s wait and see if these sacrifices paid off before we pass judgment on Star-Lord for acting like a hothead.

Avengers 4 will be released in theaters on May 3, 2019.

Photos via Marvel Studios