Look, I haven’t posted in 15 days, and I’ve gotten a little busy (more of an excuse than anything, shut up), so here’s another repost from my personal web-page. We were promised an Avengers 4 trailer over the Thanksgiving holiday, except that we weren’t, and the release date was all speculators. Regardless, I was all sorts of pissed that the trailer wasn’t released. Since we’re still waiting, I figured this older article was acceptable to post. So…whether you read all of this or not, may God have mercy on your soul.
ALRIGHT!! Here we go! I just clicked a link by ScreenRant titled "15 Brilliant Thanos Hints You Completely Missed In The MCU". I'm not even going to dignify them with linking to the original article. If you wanna read it, go find it on your own. It sucks. I originally thought maybe some big website did a little digging to uncover some shit that a huge fan like myself might have overseen or not noticed. So of course I clicked the link, and yeah...I should have known. It was click bait. But it's not even the "what happened next will change your life" kind of click bait. It was...good God, it was the absolute worst.
Okay, sure. There are different levels of fans. There are people who catch the films on HBO or Netflix, enjoy them for the duration, then completely forget about them. This doesn't really concern that type of fan, but if that's you, please keep reading if you want. Then there are people who go see every single one in theaters because they've seen every film thus far and feel they've invested too much time in the Universe to not miss an installment, but seeing it once is enough. There are people who do the second thing I talked about, but also pick them up on DVD on account of some misplaced sense of sentimentality (I'm like this with Resident Evil and SAW). There are those who buy tickets the day they go on sale, read every article they can, watch the films over and over and over again, study them, research them, search IMDB for trivia and actor backgrounds, spend way more time on them than they rightfully should, and show up to Best Buy right when they open to pick up the Blu Ray the day of its release. This is me with the MCU. I love it. Personally, I think it's the greatest shared Universe of all time. Star Wars is second, only because they were originally three sets of trilogies, and only now have they started ding stuff like the Han Solo film. Not a shared universe, but a linear story told non linearly. But I digress.
The MCU is and will probably always be the greatest shared Universe of all time. Intricate. Subtle. But also very obvious. So what does this have to do with he aforementioned ScreenRant article? Because even if you're one of those less insane fans, you're aware of Thanos. If you don't know his name, you at least know the Angry Purple Guy.
First introduced in the mid credits scene of The Avengers in 2012, he's told by his little alien friend (The Other) that humans are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled. "To challenge them is to court death." Thanos turns to the camera, and smiles. Here's why it's a perfect introduction for someone who has no idea who Thanos is: You don't need to know anything else. It's established that this guy gave Loki the scepter, and when he grins menacingly, you know that he's not done, and he's crazy enough to not care that humans are a crazy bunch. You don't need to know who he is, you don't need to know of his infatuation with cosmic balance, or his longing to impress/marry/date/whatever Lady Death. You know that some purple shitbag is pulling the strings and causing the chaos. That's it. You get it, it's done. It's him.
Two films later in Dark World (arguably one of the weakest in the MCU), we're introduced to the Reality Stone in the form of the Aether. In one of the credits scenes, we first hear the phrase "Infinity Stone". Cool. More seeds planted. Two films after that, we meet the Guardians of the Galaxy. The power stone plays a significant role in the movie, and Thanos gets fully introduced. He argues with Ronin like an old married couple. He plays a BIG role in the film. At this point, if you're barely paying attention, you're aware of the guy. You know him a little better.
From this point on, everything keeps unfolding, stones are uncovered (Soul Stone's in Wakanda...it HAS to be [4/27/18 edit: I was totally wrong on this]), and Thanos is mentioned repeatedly. So if you only see the films once, you've seen/heard it all. If you only catch the movies on cable or a streaming service, you probably wouldn't have clicked on the link I should never have wasted my time on. So WHY? Why is this article called "Fuck ScreenRant" and why am I taking so long to get to the point? Because I want you to know just how stupid the article is titled, but even more importantly, I want you to know how dumb the people who write these articles think other people actually are.
Here we go, "brilliant hint" by "brilliant hint", with me telling you why you should avoid articles like this at all cost. It's about to get long winded.
15) Neb and Gam's Fight in Vol2 - This is where ScreenRant starts their list of hints you completely missed: by stating that the purple giant is "widely mentioned and alluded to in several scenes". So clearly they don't know what they're talking about, unless the whole lot of them think they're smarter than you. I promise you they're not. In this scene, it's revealed that Nebula wanted a more normal life. All she wanted was a sister. Gamora wanted to win in their fights. Fights that Thanos orchestrated. This is all made abundantly clear. If you're in the theatre, and you lean over and say "What fights? Who's Thanos?" and your girlfriend or boyfriend leans over and says "The purple thing pitted them against each other for funsies." You're caught up. Simple as that. Remember...different levels of fans. But there's that easy access the MCU has established among newer fans. If you want to jump into any film at all, you totally can. They're all self referential enough, that you can pick up on context clues. So...the website in question is already off on the wrong foot. Thanos is mentioned explicitly in this particular conversation. Verdict: Wrong. All wrong. Not only is it not a hint, it's not brilliant, and you didn't completely miss it. From here on, these verdict things will be a little longer.
14) Ultron's vision - I don't know how I feel about this one, because I hate everything else on this list. "When the dust starts to settle, God throws a stone. And believe me, he's winding up." This, to me, sounds like a robot that's dug to the deepest trenches of the internet, read the entire bible, looked at the history of the world, and made a conclusion of extinction based on our current trajectory. ScreenRant seems to think that Thanos is God with their claim that Ultron is foretelling the coming of the Mad Titan. No. I don't believe so. Ultron doesn't care about anything beyond himself, hence dropping an entire city onto the earth to kill absolutely everyone. Including me. So fuck Ultron. Dick. But seriously...Verdict: This film, even though it's part of a larger picture, is fairly self contained. This has nothing to do with Thanos except for the Mind Stone embedded in the vision. There's no hard evidence that Ultron knows of Thanos when he breaks into the scepter. All we know is Ultron's done his research. And with that statement, I might have proven myself wrong. Either way, if you claim Ultron is stand up comic before Thanos' Pink Floyd, it's flimsy at best, and I'm 100% correct at better than best. Also, I don't think Thanos is God, and I think Ultron's a pouty little bitch who doesn't care about what else is out there. He uses the stone to his advantage and that's it. And...I'm right.
13) Black Order teased in GotG - Yeah, this one's semi-decent. I'll admit that. But it's more character development and history driven than it is a hidden hint. Not exactly a throwaway line, but Guardians was there for one reason: to connect the Terra based crew with the cosmic crew. And with that comes personal avenues that you're not expecting. Gamora talks about Thanos repeatedly in the first film, and it's established that she's Thanos' favorite. Nebula surely harbors some resentment. And with her line "of all our siblings, I hated you least", yes there are more. There's a whole family there. But shit's shifted. Nebula's out for blood, probably (definitely) due to jealousy, but her reference to the other siblings only serves to display her disdain for her green sister. How she hated Gamora the least, and yet here she is trying to kill her. Verdict: A rabbit hole more than a hint, Guardians was in the middle of phase 2. The universe was still taking shape, and characters were being molded. So if you expect the writers of these films to not make a dirt road to some day be paved over, then you're insane. You can call this line a brilliant hint that you completely missed, or you can call it character history. Yeah, there might be some things that you can choose to research, or you can take it in the context of the scene, and realize that Gamora has fallen from Nebula's good graces. Also, ScreenRant calls this a "clear reference" to the Black Order. So...if it's a clear reference, and this is a list of hints you completely missed, then they think they're better than you, and they're assholes. I think this is on par with someone who exclusively drinks craft beer that makes fun of someone who acknowledges that craft beers are a thing but instead chooses to drink domestic. Watch your tone, ScreenRant. We don't all need to spend $12 a beer to feel good about ourselves.
12) Thor's opening in Ragnarok - Oh my god. Thor mentions Thanos. He talks about the Infinity Verdict: So. fucking. stupid. That's all I have to say about that. Stones. The skeleton's jaw drops. Probably because it's a very overt reference to Thanos, and not a hint you completely missed. It's also not brilliant. It's a solid way to connect Thor from his exit from Age of Ultron to his current predicament in Ragnarok. Storytelling. We'll get into that more as this way-too-long article progresses, but right now I'll say that when you have a constantly expanding universe, you have to keep the core characters connecting to the core story.
11) Tony's vision in Age of Ultron - This scene has always been interesting to me. It feels like a mid credits scene in the middle of the movie itself. You see all the established Avengers, but there are also shadowy figures implying their team has grown. This was also at a time when RDJs future with the MCU was uncertain. It was unsure after Iron Man 3, and the man has restricted his contract at the top of every film. He no longer has a multi-picture contract, but he bounces from film to film. No one can blame the Godfather on that business practice. So this scene could have been a cop out in general. If Downey Jr didn't continue, there could be an impending sense of doom, but they'd figure out how to pick up the slack, or his decision to go on would instill hope for future battles. Either way, this scene doesn't mention or reference Thanos at all. This is not a reference to the looming magenta threat, but instead a generalized vision of what MIGHT happen if the team doesn't stay together. Verdict: Not a worthy inclusion. The only thing it solidifies is that some characters will eventually die, which is a promised upheld by the upcoming Infinity War films. This scene is also smack dab in the storyline. You can't miss it. It's not a hint at Thanos. And, I can't stress this enough...this is a tongue in cheek scene that has more to do with Iron Man's uncertainty than it does any bad guy in the MCU up until that point. It's a glimpse at the Chitauri in the past, the Scarlet Witch's powers in the present, and how things will turn up if the team falls apart. More of a foreshadowing to Civil War than anything.
10) Nebula's Monologue in Vol 2 - Does your face hurt yet? From being slapped right in it by all this shit about Thanos? No? Oh, well it's probably because YOU COMPLETELY MISSED one of the greatest monologues ever delivered by a Marvel character toward the purple giant. Nebula tells Kraglin exactly what she plans on doing to Thanos when she comes face to face with him. Was this speech not badass? Of course it was. Did you miss it? If you did, then you picked the wrong time to go to the restroom. But even then, Vol2 was so good, it deserves to be picked up on digital or Blu Ray. Or not. Personal preference. I think the point I'm trying to make here is...Verdict: you didn't completely miss it because Nebula acknowledges Thanos by name several times (not specifically in this monologue), and she's so venomous and acerbic about it that it's like opening a door and having a bucket of water dropped on your head. It's there, and you have no hope of escaping it. This shouldn't be on the list at all.
9) Team Thor - Here's where ScreenRant really and truly misses the mark. The Team Thor short that details what Thor was up to during Civil War is legitimately fucking hilarious. Seriously, if you haven't seen it...GO. But come back. This is the kind of thing I love about the MCU. They take films seriously, but they do new and fresh stuff to keep the actors, writers, directors, and audiences involved and engaged. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I love it. The only thing wrong with this is its inclusion on this list. Team Thor, funny as it may be, is completely non canonical because "it contradicts the established movie continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and thus should not be taken as a part of the "real" MCU world". The quote was taken from the MCU wiki page. Even thought fan run wikis aren't the most reliable sources, you have to take the dedication of the MCU fans into consideration. A) Thor leaves Earth after Age of Ultron to learn more about the stones, their origins, and the shadowy figure moving the chess pieces around, B) To imply that Thor was on Earth during the events of Civil War and wouldn't help out on either side suggests Thor lacks loyalty and a willingness to keep some sort of peace, which ALSO suggests that even though a wise king never goes looking for war (which yeah, if he ignored the civil war, he technically does just that), a true king would be willing to fight to protect those he cared about. Considering all that, he'd be unworthy to hold Mjolnir, completely undoing the first film, and putting him mat square one for Ragnarok, which is not beneficial to a franchise like that. C) Secretary Ross asks where Banner and Thor are, yet Banner is on the phone with one of the Avengers during Team Thor, and Thor tries to get in on the convo. D) It's been stated that Ragnarok happens at the same time as Civil War. Verdict: Anything mentioned about Thanos in Team Thor is non canon, therefore is not really meant to be seen by anyone who doesn't immediately go to the special features of their newly purchased blu rays. Also, while the short does say that Thor is doing research of the mad titan, him being on earth and not helping out the other heroes is simply absurd. For ScreenRant to say this has anything to do with anything is to say that you're not smart enough to know the fluff from the storyline. The Beautiful Mind reference with the yarn and the connections of Infinity Stones to Thanos is pretty clever, but it does nothing to progress the primary story. You probably "completely missed this" because you're working, taking care of your family, maybe getting outside in the sunshine. I didn't miss it because I have $11.30 in my bank account, and this sort of thing IS my existence. Life is pretty funny, innit?
8) The Avengers Post Credit Scene - Again...you didn't miss this. How could you. It's the rug in the Dude's apartment. It tied the whole film together. During the course of the film, the thing that gave Loki the scepter could have been anybody. And given that the MCU wasn't as commercial and accepted as it is today, this was meant as nothing more than a gift to the die hard fans. Back in 2012, I wasn't near as big a fan of Marvel as I am now. I had to get online to figure out who that was. I remember Thanos from comics back in my physical youth, but I wasn't sure who the purple faced dude was. It's like when I saw Split, and had to look up "Mr Glass" after hearing Bruce Willis say his name. Except when I look up Thanos, I wasn't severely disappointed. So...Verdict: Split was a good movie up until the last 30 seconds. Even the supernatural aspect of Kevin's 24th personality was plausible. But when it turned into a plea for audiences to remember the past credibility from M Night and became a sequel to a movie released 17 years prior, I was over it. Also, Thanos' appearance in Avengers was a gift to the audience. Possibly a hint, but you clearly couldn't miss it. It was spelled out for the audience as a possible direction for the universe. To say you "completely" missed this is to imply that you left the theatre before you were aware of the budding post credit scene trend and then never got on the internet again.
7) Infinity Gauntlet in Thor - Easter Egg. Not a hint. I can't stretch that enough. See #5 for why this was retconned, but phase 1 was the infancy of the MCU. It was a time to tease the future while the future was still uncertain. Iron Man 2 made reference to Wakanda and Atlantis, homes to the Black Panther and Namor respectively. Even in Phase 2 these "blink and you'll miss it" nuggets are there. Sitwell mentions Stephen Strange as a threat to Shield in the middle of Winter Soldier. So these little nods to other characters are peppered throughout the films in general. The gauntlet in Odin's vault was a tease to the possible direction. Given how films are made, and how Avengers was released a full year after Thor, it stands to reason that the Thanos arc wasn't even really a fully materialized idea at the time. Not possessing the time stone, and therefore not being able to see the future, Marvel Studios probably just put it in as an inside joke among the crew and die hard comics fans. "If we don't ever get a chance to tell this story, at least we brought this particular item to life". Verdict: I'm doing this backward from number 1, and I'm getting tired of typing this, but this is NOT a hint. This is nothing more than a hopeful glimpse at an uncertain future. Time and place means everything. Only now that Marvel is one of the most bankable franchises in the world and have 20 movies planned after Avengers 4, can be a little more solid in their plans. This is not a hint at Thanos you definitely missed. This is gratitude from Marvel to their fans for making these first four movies possible.
6)Age of Ultron Post Credit Scene - HOW. COULD YOU. POSSIBLY. MISS THIS? This is Thanos, fully visible, grabbing the as of yet powerless gauntlet and declaring he'll do it himself. This is probably the closest thing to a hint on this list. Not because it hints at what's to come, but because it implies that every villain has been under Thanos' influence. ScreenRant kind of gets this right, but they give a lot of the credit to the fans of the Universe. Mainly because "do it myself" means he's relied on other bad guys to do his bidding, but they've failed. But my question is...if Thanos gave the Scepter to Loki, how do we know he didn't give the Tesseract to the Red Skull? I'm sorry, but I think the folks that think Thanos has called on others to fuck shit up for him are wrong. Not only does Johann Schmidt state that the Tesseract was once the crown jewel of Odin's treasure room, therefore implying that Thanos never had it, but it doesn't make sense for Thanos to keep giving away Infinity Stones when he's trying to catch them all (POKéMON!). No, but seriously. He made the mistake by giving Loki the scepter, and even though that happened decades after WWII, it doesn't make sense for Thanos to hand out the stones willy nilly, hoping someone else will be more successful than him. EXTRA FACT!! Thanos has an underlying fear that he's not good enough, and therefore never realizes his full potential. MAAAAAAAAYBE that means he'd entrust the stones with some other douchebags. I don't know. I don't write these scripts. I digest though... Verdict: Not a hint. Not brilliant. You didn't completely miss it. Shocker. This is just Thanos tired of other people failing and taking matters into his own hands. He knows the stones are out there, he knows he needs them, and he knows he has to go on a galaxy wide scavenger hunt to find them. BUT AGAIN!!...by this point the MCU has weeded out the ones that only catch these films on TV, and this is a reward for an audience that's more or less followed along. Also...you really can't miss this one. HE'S THE ONLY SPEAKING CREATURE ON THE BIG ASS SCREEN.
5) Fake Infinity Gauntlet - So we've already established that Odin had a Gauntlet in his weapons vault. At one point Kevin Feige, producer of all movies in the MCU and basically the daddy of these live action heroes, said there are two functioning gloves in the MCU. When a shared Universe like this starts to take shape, there will be plot points that change, storylines that don't work out, and little nuggets that will eventually be retconned (basically denying an already established truth within the scope of a tv series/film franchise/shared universe in order to go a different direction or fix a problem that occurred because of it). So when Hela pushes over the Infinity Gauntlet and proclaims it a fake, not only is it hilarious and exposes Odin as probably not as powerful as we thought he was, but it also fixes the problem of Thanos being taken down by a second gauntlet. Verdict: its not a hint at Thanos you completely missed. It's an easter egg wrapped in a retcon. Do you maybe grasp the whole concept of the "fake"? No. Is absolutely every fan meant to? Also no. This is a CYA move on Marvel's part. That's all. Its fixing slash erasing a visual gag in the first Thor film that would completely negate the power Thanos gains by completing the Gauntlet in Infinity War or the Untitled Avengers Sequel. If there were two fully functioning gauntlets, then Thanos' threat would be cut in half and not near as intense. Retcons are not brilliant hints. They're (almost sometimes) brilliant restructuring. This one happens to be funny as shit.
4) Thanos Playing Chess - more of a nod or an allusion than a hint. Thor acknowledges the how the Infinity Stones keep popping up and how it seems like someone is playing a game with Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He doesn't know about Thanos yet (how could he?), but he knows something, someone is out there. Which is absolutely more than enough. You don't need to mention Thanos by name. You, as an audience member, don't even need to know of Thanos from the first Avengers film or GotG. You just need to know that something's coming, and there's a reason for the stones. Verdict: It's not a hint. It's a character knowing very little about the situation at hand, which mean the audience doesn't need to know anymore about it. The only time the audience needs to know more than a character in a movie at any given time is when someone like Danny Ocean is heisting Terry Benedict. We're meant to know, they're not. We're part of the Eleven in that film. While the MCU is continuous, they don't make it so complicated that you can't join the party at any given moment. And if this intrigues you, you'll either go back and watch the other films, or you'll keep watching from there, or both. There's a difference between a hint and a characters lack of knowledge.
3) Thor's vision in Age of Ultron - This is a wrap up, a mini-culmination, of the Infinity Stone storyline up to this point near the end of Phase 2. It's a reminder that, oh yeah, the Tessaract, Scepter, Aether, and Orb are important objects in the Universe. The fact that they line up on a supernova shaped like the Infinity Gauntlet is not a hint. It's called an Easter Egg. A bit of foreshadowing. It's a storytelling device to suggest that these stones will come into play very soon. Diehard fans will catch it for sure, but even if you stumbled into the wrong theatre, half drunk and have a pulse, you'll understand the foreboding nature. Verdict: Easter Eggs do not equal hints but instead are rewards for the die hard fans who support the studio and the films either individually or as a whole. A brief recap of the Infinity Stone story thus far is not brilliant. It's very basic story telling. Almost every movie does in some way or another. The only thing SR got right in this mini-article is that it's not a very good scene in general. It's out of place. But if you read what the scene was supposed to be and why it was trimmed down, it's easier to understand and forgive. So far, 4/5s of the way through the list, ScreenRant has gotten ONE THING right, but they don't even explain why they're right.
2) Appeared in GotG Vol1 - This is the least brilliant hint you definitely missed. HE'S A PIVOTAL CHARACTER IN THE GODDAMN MOVIE!! He's the biggest thing on the screen in his scenes. ScreenRant itself calls this particular scene "one of the most intimidating scenes" in the MCU. Verdict: if it's so intimidating, and his presence is sprinkled all over the first Guardians film, it's not brilliant, nor is it a hint. It's part of the story, structure, and development of the film. This is a character. If the people at ScreenRant don't understand the basic fundamentals of a movie, they wrote this article for themselves (much like I'm doing with this one, but at least I admit it).
1) Ragnarok post-credit scene - Thor has just saved the people of Asgard. A giant ass ship looms doomingly over their ship. Is it spelled out that this is Thanos' ship? No. Are we aware that Infinity War is just around the corner and Thor knows about the Infinity Stones? Knows enough about them to essentially birth the Vision and school his fellow Avengers on the Mind Stone? Yes. Are we probably aware that Thor probably has some sort of target on his back? Answer: Probably. While this is an unspoken allusion to Thanos, it's certainly not a "brilliant hint" that you "definitely missed". You didn't need to know it was Thanos. All you need to know is that after the salvation of the people of Asgard, there's an immediate threat. Verdict: Not brilliant. You definitely didn't miss it (the ship was 5 times bigger than Thor's and featured prominently in the scene). It's only a hint. A hint at terrible things to come, Thanos or not. Even though it IS Thanos. But nevermind that because it doesn't matter that it is Thanos. It only matters that the threat was clear and present, however vague it may be.
Thus far, I've used 59% of my laptop's battery. According to my watch, I've burned over 150 calories typing this up over the course almost four hours. So why am I spending my time typing this in a blind rage? Is it because it's disrespectful to the MCU? Nah. Is it disrespectful to think they're better than the fans, both old and new, and can lie so brazenly in the title, then make you click from page to page in hopes that they might give you a legitimate hint to something you might have missed? YES!!
The truth is, unless it's something like a shout out to Atlantis or Wakanda that acknowledges other characters from the comics, we won't know what we missed until the Thanos/Infinity storyline has come to a conclusion.
Okay. I'm'a cool down for a second. I think what bothers me most about ScreenRant is the same thing that bother me about sites like Diply, TwentyTwoWords and Looper. Clickbait. They feast on undying curiosity (which isn't a bad thing), but they exploit it for page views, clicks, likes, shares and sometimes even money. There's never any real content, and they split it up to make it cover several different pages for the sake of the aforementioned clicks. I think when a host site doesn't have faith in their own content, creates a promising headline in an attempt to mislead their audience, and then splits up the story to keep you searching for a nugget that's not there, we have a problem.
And I legitimately think the people that run these sites think they're better than the rest of us. They think they've found the treasure-trove of internet traffic, but they never produce anything worth while. It's all "Why won't Hollywood cast so and so", "You'll never guess what happened next" or yada yada yada. When you click the link, you're immediately disappointed. Because they never follow through, they never live up to their promises, and THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THEIR AUDIENCE. That's why, and you've seen this on my vlogs and in my podcast, I prefer honesty over clicks, views and any of that shit. That's why this article is titled "Fuck ScreenRant". I want you to know what the article's about when you go into it. I want you to know exactly how I feel. I care so much about you, that I don't care about traffic. Call me the under dog. The underling. The barnacle. Or...no. Don't.
If you read this, you read this. Thank you for that. If you didn't, you probably have a meaningful existence. But I'm now at 34% and have spent almost 5 hours on this article calling people out on their shit. It's exhausting. I need a beer and a carb heavy meal.
One Last Thought: If ScreenRant had reordered this and called the article something like "What You Need To Know About Thanos Before Infinity War" or "Thanos' Most Notable Contributions To The MCU" or some other shit...I would have considered it the research I talked about above. Polishing my knowledge before one of the greatest movies of all time is released in 9 Days. But they couldn't make it seem beneficial. No. They had to pander to the lowest common denominator. That's some Hydra bullshit right there.
Editor's Note: I don't have an editor. This is not proofread. It only is what it will ever be. The message remains the same. Fuck ScreenRant.
Robbie Clark is a writer and contributor to Cinema Soapbox, which is a better website than ScreenRant and they can eat shit.