In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos can

badly hurt The Hulk

so we know that his punches are lethally powerful. However at the near end of that movie, when

Cap attempts to hold Thanos' hand and gets a punch to the face

Why doesn't Cap's face become a mess or have any crack in his skull?

Again in the fight scene near the end of Avengers: Endgame,

While Cap is lying on the ground, Thanos punches seriously at Cap's face. Given that version of Thanos is crueler in this fight, and doesn't seem to hold back his power like in Infinity War.

Although Cap is a super soldier, I don't think Cap's body is more durable than Hulk. If Thanos' punches can hurt Hulk, I guess they should blow up a normal person's head.

  • 19
    That helmet helps a lot, I guess. ☺
    – Paulie_D
    May 9, 2019 at 10:42
  • 19
    Also I think Thanos was holding the Power Stone when he smacked the Hulk around.
    – Paulie_D
    May 9, 2019 at 10:45
  • 53
    Not that helmet!....the plot-helmet in his plot-armour. ☺
    – Paulie_D
    May 9, 2019 at 10:53
  • 4
    I think the only answer you're going to get to this one is "because he's Captain Frickin' America."
    – Nathan K.
    May 9, 2019 at 14:44
  • 8
    In Endgame, at least, Thanos didn't have the infinity stones May 9, 2019 at 15:20

6 Answers 6


In addition to the effects of the super-serum that gave him his abilities, at the time in question Cap is holding Mjolnir. It is well established in the comics and MCU that the wielder of Mjolnir gains the power of Thor.

Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

Thor, The enchantment placed on Mjolnir.

Asgardians are continually shown to be extremely resilient to physical damage, Thor more so than most. Given the stacking and interacting of powers and abilities as well as Steve's own force of will it's no surprise he was unaffected. Imagine punching a hellbent god on super steroids.

  • 14
    This answer assumes too much. It is never stated in source material that his powers (cap+thor) stacked. Occam's razor, just being Thor-ized might be enough to survive. I +1'd anyway. May 9, 2019 at 19:10
  • 20
    I guess you could say it's all Thoretical.
    – zero298
    May 10, 2019 at 12:56
  • 5
    @TheLethalCarrot was Thanos aiming to kill then? Because I can't remember at the moment. IIRC, Thanos was mostly focused on recovering the last of the stones and using them towards the end, rather than killing anybody. Well, killing them himself (his army was still doing that) and only before the getting the stones. Still, point was - it seemed to me that he was not fighting to kill but to keep people away for long enough.
    – VLAZ
    May 10, 2019 at 13:41
  • 5
    @glaux Correct but he wasn't holding or in possession of Mjolnir at that point. In fact Mjolnir was destroyed so Steve having Thor's powers has nothing to do with the IW fight because Mjolnir wasn't around so he couldn't have been using it.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 10, 2019 at 13:46
  • 4
    Whoever posts this answer, has the power of epic! @Mindwin The only people who say "It's never stated in sources, therefore I am right" are naysayers. What's actually true is "It's never stated in sources, therefore I have a big bag o' nothing." May 10, 2019 at 16:48

The super soldier serum that was used on Steve doesn't just make him stronger and more resilient but also gives him regenerative powers.

Steve Rogers: Dr. Erskine said that... the serum wouldn’t just affect my muscles, it would affect my cells. Create a protective system of regeneration and healing. Which means um... I can’t get drunk. Did you know that?

Captain America: The First Avenger

On top of that Steve seems to be very badly wounded in both fights against Thanos. In Avengers: Infinity War Thanos actually seems to knock Steve unconscious for a bit.

Thanos knocks Steve unconscious

In Avengers: Endgame Steve, and Tony/Thor, are all really hurt by Thanos but Steve carries on with the fight even though he is hurting. It isn't the case that he isn't hurt as bad as Hulk, it is that when he gets hurt he carries on. This has always been the case since before he was even given the serum and this is what makes him worthy.

Steve is exhausted and wounded after fighting Thanos

Also note that Steve has survived falls from great heights before throughout the films, not always landing on his shield, so it is safe to assume he is more durable than you are giving him credit for.

  • 5
    also also... there's another additional possibility.. Mjolnir healed Thor.. So i guess that's what it did to Cap too? just a guess though.
    – Shreedhar
    May 9, 2019 at 12:48
  • 1
    @Shreedhar When did Mjolnir heal Thor? May 9, 2019 at 19:49
  • 14
    @MartianInvader in Thor the first 2011 movie when he’s almost killed by the Destroyer. Also, Stormbreaker heals him in IW when he almost dies the second time. So I guess the dwarves make those all hammers like that
    – Shreedhar
    May 9, 2019 at 20:27

In The Incredible Hulk Blonsky is given an incomplete form of the super serum that Captain America took, with it he takes a full body kick from the Hulk that sends him flying into a tree and mangles his body. He's up and about a short time later. Cap with the full serum is more resistant, even if he was hurt his healing factor would mean he wasn't down long.

  • 2
    This. Plus I think the serum that turned Hulk into the Hulk was based on the super-soldier serum, so the super-soldier serum should make Steve as durable as the Hulk. But that may just be speculation on my part :)
    – Alex Wally
    May 9, 2019 at 22:42
  • 4
    @AlexWally excuse me, Hulk serum? What? What? That's not right... Unless they somehow rebooted the entire Hulk, he's radiation-powered?
    – Stackstuck
    May 10, 2019 at 1:20
  • 1
    @Stackstuck Huh, I'm not sure now. The fandom page* claims Hulk was injected with a serum enriched with Gamma Radiation, but I don't remember if the movies ever state that. * marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Super_Soldier_Serum
    – Alex Wally
    May 10, 2019 at 2:31
  • 2
    @Stackstuck It's definitely been there since The Incredible Hulk movie (though Banner didn't know - as Ross said to Blonsky, "Banner's work was very early phase. It wasn't even weapons application. He thought he was working on radiation resistance. I would never have told him what the project really was."). It's also been in some of the comics timelines (probably as part of tying the universe together). Banner was one of the people experimenting with making the super-soldier serum work, and in his case, it was "enhanced" with "gamma radiation" (while Cap's had "vita radiation").
    – Luaan
    May 10, 2019 at 6:30
  • 1
    @Luann wow, they really did reboot the entire Hulk. :/
    – Stackstuck
    May 10, 2019 at 16:11

The Russo Brothers said that Thanos did not intentionally kill anyone fighting him with 2 exceptions. Heimdal... because he was angry for sending Hulk away. Also Loki. One he has failed Thanos in The Avengers and then swore undying loyalty before attempting to stab Thanos. Not once did he use the stones to kill. He was going to light up Tony Stark with all 4 stones before Doctor Strange saved him. Russo's admitted as much. He only killed with the stones with the snap. No guilt involved. He just wanted fair and random. Stark just pissed him off.

  • 3
    Do you have the link to the interview and the quote you can edit in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 10, 2019 at 6:53
  • 5
    which obviously excludes all the people he killed earlier by hand or had killed... like on Gamorra's planet, but alas, brains of a mad megalomaniacs are great at cognitive dissonance May 10, 2019 at 9:21

I don't think there is a good answer because you are pointing out a flaw in the writing of the films. Not a fatal flaw but one that irks true, long term fans of the Marvel characters. I think the real answer is that the writers and directors want to give everyone their moment and it is very hard to do that if you play by the "rules" of relative strength or power mentioned in the question.

Any villain that can defeat Hulk or Thor in physical combat would kill Captain America, Spiderman and even Iron Man. And it would happen pretty quickly. Captain America can be killed by a bullet... and was in the comic world, lol. Hulk and Thor laugh off bullets. So, yes, there are huge inconsistencies between "power" levels in the MCU and also at times in the comics.

The idea that Cap had Thor's power when he was holding the hammer might be ok given prior stories. Certainly in the comics that has been true--- even if it is often a poor plot device--- it, along with the human alter ego of Don Blake, helped Marvel reign in a strong character. It was Thor's kryptonite in many ways. In the MCU, Odin says this in the first Thor movie. The problem is, the third Thor movie kind of gets rid of that. Odin says to Thor, "what are you, the god of hammers?" And the answer is no, the power has always been in him... not the hammer.

So unfortunately, as good as the MCU has been, there are inconsistencies between movies. 22 films I guess it was bound to happen. If they thought these relative power things through, or wanted to, they could have been consistent. But they are after big moments and entertaining the general audience. The general audience does not care about this stuff. Half of them would be ok if an unarmed Pepper Potts was able to trip Thanos with a kick, lol, as long as it looked cool or was funny.

One more thought in response to other's comments. The Russos specifically stated in interviews after Infinity War that Thanos was not using the Power Stone when he trashed Hulk. So keep that in mind as you consider all the scenes with him fighting people like Spiderman or Cap. And that level of strength pretty much lines up with the Thanos in the comics.

If you were a general at war you would not send these less powerful characters against someone like Thanos directly. They might choose to do it anyway, but they would be hurt badly or killed. The shame of the stories is that none of these people really do get injured in these battles. Very little consequences for their heroics. I'd like to see Spiderman with a broken arm and ribs after slowing down Thanos for a minute. But no, he just gets right back up.

  • 1
    This is more of a rant about "poor writing" than an actual answer to the question. Whilst there is potential for an answer in here it is lost in the rant. I suggest you edit it down to be more focused into an actual answer to the question.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 10, 2019 at 12:47
  • 1
    @TheLethalCarrot: On the other hand, inconsistent writing is itself an answer.
    – Joshua
    May 10, 2019 at 16:26
  • “true, long term fans” would probably remember that there's a hyphen in "Spider-Man". Jul 21, 2020 at 15:40

If you think about it, between Gamora's death and the snap, Thanos doesn't kill anyone. He wanted the snap to take the lives of everyone so that he had less guilt. He was probably holding back against everyone since he didn't kill war machine or black widow despite having the chance

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F! Do you have any evidence that Thanos was feeling guilt? Answers should be supported by some information from reputable sources. Please read How to Answer. (It seems strange for someone who is going to wipe out half the universe to even care about any individuals; it's so much less than rounding error it completely fails to register.)
    – DavidW
    May 10, 2019 at 2:38
  • @DavidW "A hundred deaths is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" - There's certainly an argument for it. Though I can't speak to its support in the movie(s).
    – Stackstuck
    May 10, 2019 at 2:45
  • 1
    @Stackstuck I'm not saying it's not the answer, I just want the poster to provide some in-universe support for the answer.
    – DavidW
    May 10, 2019 at 2:46
  • @DavidW yeah, I'm just going after the parenthetical there, this answer does need more support than it has.
    – Stackstuck
    May 10, 2019 at 2:51
  • @DavidW "He mourns!" -Mantis, while Thanos is trapped during the Titan fight. Maybe he was pulling punches due to that?
    – Waddler
    May 10, 2019 at 5:29

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