This ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Scene Was Much More Controversial Than Fans Think
One of Avengers: Endgame’s most memorable moments came early in the movie, when events, shall we say, came to a head with Thanos. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out on streaming or get it on the disc, since it just arrived in that format this week.
Thanos was an easy mark at first
Marvel went into Avengers: Endgame knowing that Thanos would be the most talked-about character in Avengers: Infinity War. After his snap turns half of the Avengers into dust, Thanos harbored some regret, having killed his daughter Gamora to gain the Soul Stone. That’s not to say what he did was forgivable, but it was fascinating to see someone who was evil and thoughtful at the same time. Not for nothing did the very end of Avengers: Infinity War tell us: “Thanos will return.”
So that made it all the more surprising when Thor dispatched Thanos less than half an hour into the movie. Many fans had been convinced it would take another massive fight to put Thanos down, with an assist from Captain Marvel. Instead, Thor decapitated Thanos after learning he destroyed the Infinity Stones, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
Fans either laughed in disbelief or fell silent, thinking: “I thought this movie was three hours long. Did it go by that fast?”
How the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ decapitation scene came about
According to MovieWeb, Marvel Studios producer Trinh Tran came up with the idea to off Thanos early, and it was so unorthodox that she was afraid her colleagues would never go for it. She recalled:
“He defeated the Avengers in Infinity War. Where does he go from there? How do we continue a story where audiences are going to go, ‘Oh, this is new, this is different,’ rather than just tell the same story again? And we wanted our heroes to be able to go back in time, like that’s the fun of it, right? So I just went, ‘Okay, this is a crazy idea. They’re probably going to think I’m nuts for saying it, but let’s talk about it.'”
Once they talked about it, directors Joe and Anthony Russo embraced the idea, as did writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. So much so that it became a new engine for the story. That led to the time travel conceit, which “resurrected” Thanos so that he and the Avengers could have the massive fight after all. That way, it became doubly satisfying to see Thanos and his army meet the same fate they had doled out to the Avengers. Instead of the shoe being on the other foot, the glove was on the other hand.
Early movie deaths are not unprecedented
While it was highly unusual for a movie to “kill” its main villain early, this was hardly the first time a key character died unexpectedly. Probably the most famous example of this was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Indeed, that death was so unusual, it changed movie-going itself.
In 1960, Janet Leigh was the biggest name in that movie, and at first, the movie seemed to be about her character impulsively stealing money from her workplace. Then “mother” opened the shower curtain and everything changed. Hitchcock knew this would shock audiences, so he came up with one of the earliest demands for “no spoilers.”
Before Pyscho, moviegoers would often enter a movie partway through and stay until the point where they came in. That wouldn’t work with Psycho, so Hitchcock asked movie theaters not to let people in once the movie had already started. In turn, he asked the audience not to reveal the big secret. This heightened anticipation of the movie, which became one of Hitchcock’s biggest hits.
Avengers: Infinity War has tried a similar trick by having Spider-Man think up a way to defeat Thanos’ primary henchman Ebony Maw by referencing that “really old movie” Aliens that blew one out of the airlock. We can only imagine what Peter Parker would think of a movie that was 26 years older than Aliens.