'Avengers: Endgame': Here's Why Thanos Waited for This Villain to Die First

So this might be why Thanos waited until the last minute to strike.

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In terms of raw strength, Thanos may be one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But shortly before his arrival in Avengers: Infinity War, there was another villain who could have given his purple alien ass a serious run for his money: Hela, Thor’s secret sister and the villain of 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. So, here’s a thought: Did Thanos wait until Hela was gone before he began collecting the Infinity Stones?

This is just one Inverse String Theory, but it could be true. So consider yourself warned about potential Avengers: Endgame spoilers.

Here’s the thing about Thanos: The guy isn’t just big and mean. He’s villainous.

We know this from his very first impression (not counting his cameo in 2012’s The Avengers). During his brawl with the Hulk, he targets weak points in the big green monster’s anatomy to take him down.

Watch it closely: Thanos is about the first time anyone besides the Abomination who could match Hulk punch-for-punch. And it was the first time anyone took on the Hulk with tactics, not fury or instinct. (Even Thor, Hulk’s “friend from work,” didn’t know how to fight him without resorting to bar room brawling.)

Fighting the Hulk is when we learned Thanos isn’t just strong. He’s a master tactician, and his inclination for precision may have also influenced him to wait twenty-ish movies until Hela was gone to finally strike against the MCU.

If this theory is correct, it informs us a little more about the psyche of Thanos ahead of Endgame.

Thor Ragnarok Hela
Hela, in 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017).

Hela vs. Thanos

We don’t know for sure if Thanos is aware of ancient Asgardian history. Even the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblumer), an ancient Celestial, didn’t know what or where Asgard was. (“Ass-berg,” remember?)

It appears that the intergalactic community of the MCU don’t really keep in touch with each other. But Thanos somehow knows a lot more about the MCU than we presume an estranged, exiled figure from Titan would. He somehow knew Tony Stark’s existence, possibly from intel that his former underling Loki provided him. And while Loki didn’t know Hela existed, Thanos probably did.

So it may be no accident that Thor: Ragnarok, which sees Hela (Cate Blanchett) fail in her play to rule Asgard, came before Avengers: Infinity War. (Black Panther, the film immediately before Infinity War, doesn’t deal in the same cosmic scale as the Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor movies.)

While the real world reason may be due to a million reasons related to Marvel Studios’ production pipeline, the in-universe reason may be because Thanos didn’t want to have to compete for the Stones against Hela, one of the most powerful Asgaridans kept at bay only by Odin.

Watch: Thor vs. Thanos in 'Avengers: Infinity War.'

Stack up the villains of the MCU (movies only — sorry Vincent D’Onofrio, a.k.a. Kingpin in Daredevil on Netflix) and it’s easy to see how, in terms of power levels, most everyone is small fry compared to Thanos.

Iron Monger (Iron Man) and Whiplash (Iron Man 2) would have been crushed by the Mad Titan. Killmonger (Black Panther) and Yellowjacket (Ant-Man) would not have stood a chance in a one-on-one fight. No one remembers Malekith (Thor: The Dark World). Crossbones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) couldn’t even survive an attack from Wanda. And Dormammu (Doctor Strange), though powerful, didn’t have the foresight to predict Doctor Strange’s tricks.

Thor Ragnarok Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett, in 'Thor: Ragnarok' (2017).

The only other villain equal to Thanos in terms of raw power was Cate Blanchett’s Hela from Thor: Ragnarok. Here are a few points that prove Hela was, in gamer speak, “OP AF” (overpowered as f*ck):

  • Wiped out almost all of the Valkyries without a single scratch. The Valkyries were the ultra-elite “Special Forces” of Asgard, and she got rid of them like ants to a boot.
  • Wiped out Asgard’s army, also without breaking a sweat.
  • Pretty much whupped Thor, and had his number until his Deus Ex Lightning Machina came through at the last possible moment.
  • Was only killed after Thor revives Surtur, a motherfreaking Norse demon who ushered in “Ragnarok” — the total destruction of Asgard.

Of all the villains, Hela could have been a worthy opponent, and roadblock, to Thanos and his journey to the Infinity Stones. Granted, she showed no interest in obtaining the Stones, but she was attracted to power. And that’s what the Infinity Stones give to those who can wield them.

Avengers: Endgame is in theaters on April 26.