48

In The Avengers, the main plot is that Loki is trying to conquer Earth on behalf of Thanos so that the latter can get hold of the Tesseract and put his "restore the balance" plan in motion.

But in later movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War) we see that Thanos was perfectly capable of doing that himself, or sending Nebula and Gamora to do it. He never really needed a complicated plan like the one Loki was scheming to get the Tesseract.

Moreover, we see that he is perfectly capable of moving his army from one part of the galaxy to another in a timely fashion. So why did they need the portal to bring the Chitauri to Earth?

  • 2
    Tony needs Gary, and Gary needs Tony. Same deal with Thanos and Loki. – Paul D. Waite May 1 at 9:43
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    Why do you think he needed Loki? Skilled leaders delegate. – Luaan May 1 at 12:25
  • because it was too soon to introduce Thanos ...lol – Nigel Fds May 1 at 23:34
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    Come on dude, Marvel needs movies! The bigger question is, why does Thanos need to wipe out half the population of the galaxy? When you decimate half the population of rats there is a suddenly room for more rats and they breed like mad "the population can grow from 2 to 15 000 in a year". Thanos would need to be clicking his fingers like he's listening to a swinging rockabilly track just to keep up with the rats :D But why bother, is he the ultimate environmentalist? But halving the population of the earth would not help the environment at this stage and not for long (see rats example). – CpILL May 2 at 1:54
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    @PaulD.Waite no spoilers! – CpILL May 7 at 2:31
64

Thanos was presumably trying to be hidden in the background until he was ready to reveal himself so he would face less opposition. Thor seems to twig onto the fact that someone is working in the background for this purpose.

Thor: The Mind Stone is the fourth of the Infinity Stones to show up in the last few years. It's not a coincidence. Someone has been playing an intricate game and has made pawns of us. And once all these pieces are in position...

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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    As I recall, there was a reference to Thanos being personally concerned about early interference from a handful of others, including Odin, which was part of why he was working through pawns. I don't remember where I saw/heard that, but I'm pretty sure I did. – Upper_Case-Stop Harming Monica Apr 30 at 19:25
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    @Upper_Case There was a theory going around some time back that Thanos attacked when he did so that he wouldn’t have opposition from beings like Odin and Ego. IIRC it was debunked by the Rousso brothers. – DonielF Apr 30 at 22:08
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    @Upper_Case I see that theory was discussed already here – DonielF Apr 30 at 22:58
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    I wonder if Dormammu was somehow Thanos' doing now. – tox123 May 1 at 2:13
31

Here's what my theory is (spoiler alert if you haven't watched Captain Marvel yet):

We had Captain Marvel at Earth's defense in '95. Ronan The Accuser already faced her then and fled the battleground. When Ronan came to serve Thanos, he might've told him about Captain Marvel.

So, I think Thanos sent Loki only to fail. Just to scope out the situation to see how strong Earth's defense is. As Captain Marvel seems to be a formidable enemy (remember, she punches through spaceships). Therefore, Thanos wouldn't take any risks. So, Loki was just a recon.

Edit: I think he was planning for a second strike. Remember tasking Ronan to acquire the power stone? The stone has the capability of single-handedly eradicating the whole population of a planet.

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    This does seem to make a lot of sense in hindsight! – Ruadhan2300 May 1 at 8:44
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    One point against this theory is that Thanos would have been unlikely to risk the Mind Stone in a reconnaissance he expected would fail. – Vigil May 1 at 15:00
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    @Vigil Good point! But remember, it's a relatively small sacrifice to achieve a bigger goal. He had to gather all six infinity stones anyway. – Meraj al Maksud May 1 at 15:02
21

In The Avengers, Loki isn't dealing with Thanos, he's dealing with The Other. From the script:

THE OTHER (V.O.): The Tesseract has awakened. It is on a little world. A human world. They would wield its power, ...

THE OTHER (V.O.): But our ally knows its workings as they never will. He is ready to lead. And our force, our Chitauri, will follow.

THE OTHER (V.O.): The world will be his. The universe yours. And the humans, what can they do but burn?

So, the Tesseract is on Earth, Loki knows how to use it, so they give him the Scepter and the ability to lead the Chitauri and set him loose. All Loki wants is to rule the Earth, which is nothing in comparison to Thanos's ambitions.

In other words, it's not that Thanos needs Loki, more that Loki and The Other have hatched this complex plan, and Thanos doesn't stop them from attempting it. Thanos is actually doing nothing here, he's just letting his servants try to serve him. He ends up losing an Infinity Stone in the process, but he doesn't seem too worried about it (and see this answer, he's not actually worried about gathering all 6 stones until he knows where they all are).

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    I was under the impression Thanos/the Other told Loki how to use the Tesseract. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 30 at 18:53
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    @TheLethalCarrot ah, maybe, that was not how I interpreted it. I figured since it is Asgardian that he would've learned about it himself. – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 30 at 18:59

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