[Welcome back to
Fact or Fiction!
Today, Chas Andres, Brad Nelson, Mark Nestico, and Emma Handy render
their verdicts on five statements about the movie no one can stop
talking about –
Avengers: Infinity War!
Don’t forget to vote for the winner at the end!]
1. After Doctor Strange used the Time Stone to view millions
of possible futures, you believed him when he told Tony Stark that
there’s only one in which Thanos loses.
I see no reason to doubt the master of the mystic arts here. Plus, there
must be a reason why Doctor Strange gave the Time Stone to Thanos instead
of defending it with his life like he was doing back when Low Rent Magneto was
poking him full of needles. Does he seem like the sort of person who would
forsake his sworn duty on the off-chance that Thanos might spare Tony
Stark? Doctor Strange doesn’t even like Tony Stark! He’s no
Captain America, who absolutely would have risked half the people in the
universe to save one of his buddies. (In fact, he kind of did.)
No, Doctor Strange picked the one moment where he knew he could give the
stone to Thanos without drawing the Mad Titan’s suspicion. In Magic, we
call this “playing to your outs.” Doc took the only line of play that might
lead The Avengers to a win, and I suspect we’ll see it accomplished at some
point next May.
Brad Nelson: Fact
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” – Albert
Does it matter? Even if you’re in Tony Stark’s shoes, would it matter? The
only question that would need to be answered is whether Doctor Strange was
on your side. The battle over information is not one we, or even Iron Man,
can win at this point. Iron Man has quickly went from a King to a Pawn in
this scenario, and he will have to make the choice to trust Doctor
Strange’s alliance or not. That’s all that really matters. Doctor Strange
must have a reason not divulging everything to Tony Stark right from the
get go. Tony must trust this and so do we.
Now if we want to look at this more from a statistical standpoint there’s
probably more than just one scenario where Thanos does in fact lose, but
the cost may be too high for Doctor Strange to try to go down those roads.
Even in our own history, war has come with hindsight scenarios where
decisions have been scrutinized as inhumane. One of the most blatant
examples of this was Winston Churchill’s decision to execute strategic
bombing against Germany in World War II. He decided his air force was best
used to break the morale of the German people by bombing civilian homes
even though it was later found that strategic bombings didn’t negatively
impact morale. It just killed a lot of innocent people and wasted a
Doctor Strange doesn’t have this issue with hindsight given his ability to
see all possible conclusions to this situation. He might even know that by
telling Iron Man there’s only one future where they win is somehow a
self-fulfilling prophecy that motivates the mastermind to achieving the
goals. After all, there’s evidence that backs the psychology behind “one
chance” opportunities. Simply telling Iron Man what needs to happen could,
in fact, cause it not to.
Mark Nestico: Fact.
To think for a moment that Dr. Strange’s plan wasn’t carried out to
perfection is sheer lunacy. A full-frontal attack and disarmament of the
Infinity Gauntlet while Thanos is lulled into a haze by Mantis working is
ridiculous at best and insulting to the Mad Titan at worst. Strange said it
best when he told Tony that they were “playing for the end game.” This
means the good Doctor likely explained to the team that to beat Thanos,
they must first let him win. Dr. Strange knew Iron Man for about 15
minutes, and in that time, there’s a zero percent chance he’d give up the
Time Stone just because Stark was getting the screws put to him. My
prediction is that Dr. Strange and company formulated a plan in which
Thanos achieved the level of victory he desired, but think for a moment:
Iron Man’s suit is made entirely of nanites. That punch…that hit that made
Thanos bleed? My bet is that Iron Man planted the seeds within Thanos
himself for a battle down the line, and when it happens, Iron Man is going
to cash in. Strange knew Tony would survive the purge, and in doing so,
knows that he and those left can finish what they started. There is one
outcome in which they are victorious…but it’s in the next movie.
Emma Handy: Fact.
Dr. Strange’s prophecy involves him dying. Reality as it currently sits is
hardly something that Steven Strange would desire. He had to swallow his
pride by giving up the Time Stone to save Tony and then literally cease to
Theoretically, Strange could be a double-agent for Thanos, but that’s
getting into some really deep comic book logic.
On top of the aforementioned points, has Benedict Cumberbatch ever been
scripted to act in a way that isn’t correct in the long run?
2. If it weren’t for Peter Quill’s inability to control his
emotions, Strange, Stark, Nebula, and the rest of the gang would have
been able to get the Infinity Gauntlet off of Thanos.
Look, Peter Quill is my man. If I could do anything with my life, I would
wander around space with a misfit crew while listening to seventies music.
In fact, here is a link to my
Awesome Mix “extended version” playlist on Spotify
which includes all the songs on the first two Awesome Mixes plus a bunch of
others that I wish had made the list. Did I punch the air and tell
everybody I knew when I predicted at least a third of the songs on Awesome
Mix #2? You bet I did.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are like
a goofy D&D campaign
that has somehow stumbled into the Marvel Universe. I love them for that,
but they have all the chill and situational awareness of real-life
emotional teenagers sitting around a table in somebody’s wood-paneled
basement. Plus, PETER ALMOST SHOT GAMORA like, three hours earlier. Oh…and
THANOS JUST THREW A MOON AT THEM! Should he REALLY be shocked that Thanos
sacrificed her? I can understand Gamora being surprised at what Thanos did
since she knew the guy, but why is Peter so shocked? (Side note: Gamora’s
soul is still totally alive inside the Soul Stone, right?)
Anyhow, the rest of the Far-Out Space Nuts almost had Thanos’ glove all the
way off before he regained consciousness, so I suspect they could have
succeeded if Peter had even halfway understood the stakes he was dealing
with. The counterargument is that Doctor Strange must have foreseen this
and could have sidelined Peter, of course, so we’ll just have to assume
that Thanos would have just picked the gauntlet back up or something.
Brad Nelson: Fact.
This question goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Now that Doctor
Strange has set us on a proverbial fate-driven story arc, it’s easy to
assume all actions must play out the way they do. If Star-Lord (who calls
him by his real name Cedric?) doesn’t punch, Thanos is his stupid face then
the rest of the squad gets the gauntlet. What then? Well most likely Thanos
loses this battle, but eventually gets them without the Avenger resistance
in his way. He does what he’s set out to, but without a team assembled to
stop him. Maybe he just gets it back right here and now but kills Iron Man
in the process. Maybe Tony’s needed and Doctor Strange knows that. Who
really knows, but Marvel made us go down this path so now we just must
assume Doctor Strange set things in motion the way they needed to happen.
It’s not the greatest way to tell a story, but it makes sense when one of
your characters can literally see into the future.
Mark Nestico: Fiction.
Star-Lord might be the most annoying, albeit entertaining, hero in Marvel’s
gallery, but an idiot he is not. Striking Thanos was the catalyst for him
gaining “leverage” over Dr. Strange. Sure, they might have gotten the
Gauntlet off Thanos…but then what? They couldn’t destroy it, and Gauntlet
or no Gauntlet Thanos massively outguns and overpowers the heroes he was
fighting against. His feats without the Gauntlet throughout comic history
are still on par with galactic-busting abilities, and he’s easily one of
the most ferocious physical combatants and strategists in all the Marvel
universe. Getting the glove off was all part of the master plan. Notice how
no one gave Star-Lord the business after his outburst? He was just
Emma Handy: Fact.
This question is somewhat loaded.
The short answer is probably. We see Spidey start to slide the gauntlet off
and Thanos catch it with his finger at the last second, so given a few more
seconds he theoretically would’ve muscled it away.
That being said, Dr. Strange saw 14,000,650 different futures and there’s
only one in which they defeat Thanos. Given my belief that they’re
currently on that path, it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t some
futures that Quill didn’t last out and interrupt Tony and Peter’s
To take it another step further, before Dr. Strange had investigated the
future, Gamora made Peter promise to kill her if Thanos captured her. His
emotions forcing him to hesitate had given Thanos time to use the Reality
Stone and prevent Quill from fulfilling his promise. If he’d looked past
his emotions and been able to do what he promised before Thanos could
react, that could’ve changed Strange’s prophecy entirely.
Tl;dr: “No,” in the spirit of the question, and “probably” if we look at
the entire movie.
3. If you were the Black Panther (#WakandaForever), you would
have left the forcefield up around Wakanda…forever.
The real question here is what sort of mind control Scarlet Witch was using
on Captain America, Black Panther, and literally everybody else in this
section of the film.
Loki gave up the Space Stone because he thought he could outsmart
Thanos-makes sense for his character. Doctor Strange gave up the Time Stone
because he saw the future-great. But Vision was the only character in his
section of the film who had the right idea about the Mind Stone: destroy it
I get why Scarlet Witch didn’t go in for that because love makes you do
crazy things, but at what point do the rest of them just say, “yeah, okay,
enough is enough”? To me, that point comes well before thousands of proud
Wakandans must give up their lives to save a single robot. At the very
least, grab your dang dropships and drones and use them to deploy
and patrol around your barrier!
This is part of why I found the ending of Infinity War so
satisfying, by the way. At no point were most of The Avengers willing to
make a sacrifice to stop Thanos; they just kept doing Big Dumb Hero Stuff
and assuming that they’d stop him eventually because that’s what happens in
movies like this. The only person who understood the stakes and made the
necessary sacrifice without flinching was…Thanos.
Brad Nelson: Fiction.
I mean, the movie told us why they couldn’t. The monsters were getting in
whether they liked it or not, and being flanked was worse than the
alternative. I really don’t know what else so say so I’ll choose to save my
strength for the next question.
Mark Nestico: Fiction.
It was already demonstrated by the hellhound army that their sheer numbers
could push through the forcefield, leaving thousands dead but still
allowing a suitable amount to pass through. If they surrounded the field
like T’Challa realized they were doing, they’d have had the Wakandan forces
surrounded on route to overrunning the palace and potentially stopping the
operation to remove Vision’s stone. Opening the shield provided a
bottleneck for their forces to funnel through and a point to target.
Besides…they just went under the shield anyways.
Emma Handy: Fiction.
Killmonger was right on many accounts and was likely the first true
“Antihero” that we saw in the movies. His extremism was horrid, but the
idea that Wakanda’s greed had had a net-negative impact on history is
T’Challa ending Wakanda’s age of isolationism was such a fantastic ending
to the story that Black Panther had to tell.
4. Much like Eric Killmonger in Black Panther, Thanos is a
villain one could sympathize with. After all, overpopulation is a real
Overpopulation is a lazy way of thinking about a series of much more
complex issues. On one hand, there’s enough space in the state of Texas to
give every person on earth a 10 by 10 room of their own. On the other, if
everybody on earth were to live like Americans do, you’d need the resources
of at least ten or eleven planets. Either Overpopulation isn’t a problem at
all, or it’s a far bigger problem than even Thanos thinks it is.
(Incidentally, there isn’t a lot of consensus on how Earth’s population
curves are going to play out in real life. Some scientists think that the
population will keep rising until we all choke, but many others point to
shrinking birth rates throughout the developed world and believe that we’ll
peak and level off on our own.)
Regardless, the real issue-at least for now-isn’t overpopulation, it’s
resource allocation. There’s plenty to go around right now, but it tends to
be hoarded by a small group of rich and powerful corporations. Killmonger
understood this and wanted to turn the tables. If Thanos had his way in our
world, however, the world’s current mechanisms of oppression would remain
in place. If anything, the haves would grab even more from the have-nots
during the resulting chaos, fear, and mourning.
Plus, Thanos’ solution to overpopulation isn’t even permanent-it would
likely have to be repeated in every generation, which would only lead to
more chaos, fear, and mourning. He’s like that one dude who read The
Fountainhead during his freshman year of college and based his entire life
philosophy on a bunch of half-baked twitter threads from misguided
ideologues with usernames like xXJOHNGALT420Xx.
Plus, the Infinity Gauntlet can kind of do anything, right? Why not make a
million new planets and stick half the universe’s population on there?
Brad Nelson: Fiction.
I’m going to try to keep this as short as I can. Thanos is just wrong all
the way down to his hypothesis that overpopulation is a serious issue that
can cause extinction. This is a commonly used narrative that’s backed by
the Malthusian trap which states that excess population would stop growing
due to shortage of food supply leading to starvation. While it’s true that
population can grow exponentially while food supplies grow arithmetically.
For example, you have a group of rabbits eating from a field of grass.
They’re going to produce enough rabbits until there’s no more grass to eat
causing them to starve. Then because there’s less rabbits the grass grows
back which lets the rabbits grow back. The rabbits continue to go up and
over the carrying capacity of the field of grass. Humans don’t work this
way though. We’ve seen a population decrease in the First World even though
we have increasing resources. It takes a civilization reproducing at a
minimum of 2.1 per generation to sustain their current population, yet that
is not what we’re experiencing here in America.
Thanos’ preventative actions to stave off suffering can also be argued to
be misguided even if his understanding of how overpopulation works was
correct. Thanos believes it to be more humane to painlessly extract a
person from existence than it is to allow them to experience potential pain
and suffering. In this case that would involve starvation, disease, and
many other horrible things that come with famine. He makes the choice for
all of existence and wipes out half of it to save the rest.
First of all, how can he be omniscient enough to know every planet is in
need of this “service?” Surely overpopulation isn’t an epidemic throughout
the cosmos. Maybe, to him, it will eventually be, but that would be oddly
careless of his character if he was in fact acting as a virtuous being.
It’s just all too sinister when you consider that he has taken the choice
away from people.
It also doesn’t make any damn sense. Population growth is exponential and
would only take roughly 30 years for Earth to repopulate after Thanos’
finger snap. Who knows what other species are capable of! Does that mean he
stops looking at sunrises long enough to do it all over again?
Mark Nestico: Fact.
Thanos in the movies is significantly different than Thanos in the comic
books, but a single thread remains: Pragmatism. Being a pragmatist in the
Marvel Universe is a superpower in its own right, and even though it sounds
troubling, Thanos always has had the interests of the Universe at heart. In
the film he expressed to Gamora that her planet was on the verge of
collapse before he arrived, and now, years after his genocide of half the
planet, it is flush with life, peace, and security. Thanos in Infinity War isn’t trying to impress the woman he loves, Mistress
Death, so his motives are seemingly more simplistic to deduce. The universe
has a finite amount of resources, and over however millennia populations
expand, those resources will continue to get swallowed up, leading to
eventual extinction. This is observable and entirely possible, and Thanos
is only trying to prevent that. Although, to be fair, he could have just
snapped his fingers and wished for infinite resources…but what fun would
Emma Handy: Fiction.
In spite of poor methodology, Killmonger’s final goal was to unite humans
on a global scale.
Thanos wants to kill people because his people died.
Firstly, Thanos’s problem isn’t even a solution. It’s a band-aid. He snaps
his fingers, wipes out half of life on Earth (in the universe, but for the
sake of this example, we’ll stick to the life forms with which we’re
familiar), and then what? Do people stop reproducing? A quick google search
tells me that we have 7 billion people on the planet, and we reached 3.5
billion in the mid-sixties. Is Thanos just gonna wipe out half of Earth’s
population every half-century? That hardly seems realistic.
[Yeah, let’s break out the unrealistic card at this point. – Danny,
Most species will eventually repopulate to their current numbers, and then
we’re right back where he started.
Secondly, and risking a political slant in this discussion, there seems to
be more of a resource distribution problem on Earth than there is an
overpopulation problem. There are more houses than homeless; more food
thrown away than there are hungry people.
Thanos doesn’t want to help people; he wants to kill people.
5. Hawkeye is actually the most powerful Avenger and his
arrow wielding prowess would have solved all the problems everyone was
having with Thanos.
Chas Andres: Fact.
I think Katniss Everdeen proved that arrows are still cool, and Thanos
might not have been able to snap his fingers, if, say HE NO LONGER HAD
EYEBALLS. Eh? Eh?
In all seriousness, I do think that Hawkeye’s presence was missing from the
team. He was pretty clearly writer/director Joss Whedon’s self-insert
character in the first two Avengers films, so I’m not surprised that nobody
invited him to the club, but I think he would have had a way of looking at
the situation that was somehow both empathetic and considerate of the
bigger picture. I don’t think any of Hawkeye’s arrows would have made much
of a difference once Thor showed up and started casting Chain Lightning on
that army of dogs or whatever, but he might have been able to get the gang
to see what had to be done with Vision much earlier on. Instead, we had
Captain America treating the whole thing like a tactical mission where
difficult sacrifices were completely off the table. There’s nobody I’d
rather want in my foxhole than Captain America, but you can kind of see
here why he was never promoted to General America.
Brad Nelson: Fiction.
I really wanted to go down the path of answering fact so I could then say
he gets all his powers from his wife. I’ve been in love with Linda
Cardellini ever since Freaks and Geeks. She was my first celebrity crush,
and there’s just no getting away from that. Of course I’d root for the
lucky guy that got to marry her!
That’s if any of it was believable. Every time Hawkeye or The Falcon are on
screen I just assume they’re going to die. I get Black Widow as she’s like
our planet’s best assassin, and even War Machine since he’s in an Iron Man
suit, but then that opens Pandora’s box. Why aren’t all of these “just
human” characters not fully protected in an Iron Man suit. I mean, even
Spiderman is in one now proving that you can have individuality and common
sense at the same time and still tell a great story.
Like seriously, there’s bad guys out there that are tearing holes into Thor
and Hulk’s skin yet we really believe Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Falcon
wouldn’t just get obliterated in one of these encounters. Humans are not
that durable. I mean for crying out loud my cat just jumped onto my lap,
and one of her claws “got me.” I’m currently bleeding a small amount while
writing words on a computer. Black Widow fights aliens whose only existence
is killing people. This is just wildly irresponsible!
Hawkeye never misses…at disappointing me as a character. Go back to
fudging your golf scores.
Mark Nestico: Fiction.
Hawkeye is an incredible physical specimen, but this comes down to the
Batman “how much prep time does he have?” In a vacuum, Clint Barton would
be murdered in a handful of seconds. Hawkeye is usually put up against
similar foes- Trick Shot, Taskmaster, Bullseye…guys that are peak human
conditioning as well as master strategists and weapon handlers, and sure-
in a few semi-canon instances Hawkeye has bested Iron Man or She-Hulk; in
the end he’s also been demolished by much, much weaker foes than Thanos.
Thanos without the Gauntlet has been able to hold his own against Hulk,
Galactus, Dr. Doom, and more. The power gap here is too freakish. While
he’d put up a valiant struggle, Hawkeye simply doesn’t belong in the
discussion of people who can potentially defeat Thanos. He doesn’t even
belong in the discussion of people who should be nominated to carry Thanos’
jock strap. Just remember: with prep time Hawkeye can probably shoot out an
eye. With prep time Thanos has become a god or omnipotent on several
occasions. Hello and Good Luck, Clint!
Emma Handy: Fiction.
Hawkeye was first introduced during the first Avengers, where he is
immediately captured and forced to attack droves of unnamed people. In the
time since he’s never actually done anything relevant to a character with a
So, on one hand, he hasn’t done anything useful ever, so why would he start
now? On the other, it feels like he’s just about due for some semblance of
I think it’d be too big of a twist. So false.