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At the end of Avengers: Endgame, when Tony Stark

snaps the Infinity Gauntlet v2, all of Thanos's ships also get disintegrated. The Chitauri Leviathans are living beasts, so it makes sense, but the Outrider Dropships are clearly mechanical, as seen in Avengers: Infinity War.

We did not see this with the snap in Avengers: Infinity War, where

only living things were dusted.

Why is it different this time around?

See 2m35s of this clip, ignore the Chitauri Leviathan in the foreground.

  • “the Infinity Gauntlet v2” — I think it's kind of version 3 at that point, or at least 2.1. – Paul D. Waite Aug 21 at 10:10
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    The clothes of the people who disappeared were not living things in most cases, yet they disappeared as well. – Blueriver Aug 21 at 13:55
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The Snap just performs the wielder’s will which is made quite clear over the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. It’s made the most clear when Tony asks Smart Hulk what to do with his Snap.

Tony: You remember... everyone Thanos snapped away five years ago and just bringing them back to now, today. Don't change anything from the last five years.

Avengers: Endgame

Later on when Smart Hulk has done his Snap he again makes it clear that he had control over what the Snap did because he tried to bring Nat back.

Smart Hulk: You know, I tried. When I had the gauntlet, the stones, I really tried to bring her back.

Avengers: Endgame

Just to be complete Thanos’ Snap was only to kill half of all life and so that is why it didn’t affect ships or the like.

Gamora: The entire time I knew Thanos, he only ever had one goal: To bring balance to the Universe by wiping out half of all life. He used to kill people planet by planet, massacre by massacre...

[...]

Thanos: Little one, it's a simple calculus. This universe is finite, its resources finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correction.

Avengers: Infinity War

The implication is then that Tony’s Snap was to destroy Thanos, his forces and equipment so that they could win the battle. A deleted scene shows Gamora is still alive and she was originally on Thanos’ side and so the Snap must have only been for those loyal to Thanos at the time of the Snap.

And of course the Snap can affect none living things as we see in all of the Snaps. In Thanos' first one it destroys clothes and "personal items" of those who are Snapped. In his second one he destroys the Infinity Stones.

Natasha Romanoff: Where are the stones?

Thanos: Gone. Reduced to atoms.

Bruce Banner: You used them two days ago!

Thanos: I used the stones to destroy the stones. It nearly killed me. But the work is done. It always will be. I am... inevitable.

Avengers: Endgame

Then in Smart Hulk's Snap he just reverts Thanos' Snap which brings back the clothing, personal items etc. Lastly, Tony's Snap affects clothing, ships and the like.

  • Every instance of the Gauntlet's use has revolved around either killing life or bringing it back. Is the Gauntlet able to have the same impact, at universe-scale, on non-living objects? – Elle Fie Aug 21 at 3:43
  • @ElleFie That is what we are led to believe but yeah I don’t think we’ve seen that yet. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 21 at 5:43
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    @ElleFie Or reducing the stones to their constituent atoms (action not shown, but the aftermath was) – Chronocidal Aug 21 at 9:32
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    @ElleFie Thanos intended to use another Snap to destroy and remake the entire universe, so he, at least, believed they could do so. It is possible that he might have been mistaken about this (he hadn't experienced his "original" self almost dying from using the Stones to destroy themselves, and that might have made him think differently about things), but we can't be sure about that. – The Spooniest Aug 21 at 16:59
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    @TheLethalCarrot Perhaps. But it really wouldn't be rational in-universe if adding more infinity stones to the gauntlet made it less powerful. – tbrookside Aug 22 at 15:20
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The snap is just the trigger to have the stones carry out your will, whatever it may be.

Thanos wanted to destroy half of all life so that's what happened. Stark wanted to destroy Thanos' invasion force which included their ships and technology so that is what happened.

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    In the MCU it was also used to destroy the infinity gems. So of the 4 uses seen 2 of them affected inanimate objects. In the comics it was used for relatively mundane things like teleportation or adjusting the orbit of earth. There is no indication in the MCU or comics that the gauntlet can only be used to kill or bring back life. – John Meacham Aug 21 at 4:09
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    @JohnMeacham technically all the Snaps affected inanimate objects too as “close, personal” items were Snapped away too: such as clothes. (At least I think that was the wording used). – TheLethalCarrot Aug 21 at 5:53
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    @ElleFie Only because that's what Thanos wanted to do, and the Avengers wanted to undo. If Thanos' mission was to eradicate all machines then the Avengers snap would be to bring all the machines back, and you would be asking why Tony's snap was capable of killing Thanos and his army when so far it was only shown to affect machines. – Parrotmaster Aug 21 at 7:34
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    @ElleFie I think The Gauntlet can do whatever the writers wants it to do, considering it has all the infinity stones, covering everything possible in the entire universe. So it seems it's up the will/imagination of whoever wields it. – Gertsen Aug 21 at 11:34
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    @ElleFie the Gauntlet can do literally anything you want (within the confines of its home Universe). – Stop Harming Monica Aug 21 at 15:21
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There's no reason to believe the Stones aren't capable of eliminating non-living objects. When Thanos did his snap, it removed half of the population of the universe, yes. But it also removed their clothes, their smartphones, their nails and hair... all over the universe.

So yup, the Stones are perfectly capable of eliminating non-living stuff all over the universe, and they do what you tell them to do. Thanos wanted to eliminate half the life in the universe (including their clothes), Tony did what Tony wanted to do, which incidentally was on a much smaller scale (a few ships in close vicinity).

As a bonus, we've seen the damage a single Stone did in Guardians of the Galaxy - once, in the stories of how the Stones were used in the past (destroying entire planets), once in the destruction of the Collector's base, and finally, with the threat of what Ronan wanted to do to Nova Prime using just the single Stone (again, destroying the entire planet). We're led to believe that simply having the Stone touch the ground would be enough. We don't know if it would actually work and if the stories were accurate, so this is a side-note compared to actually seeing what Thanos actually did, universe-wide.

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They're Infinity Stones, not living creatures only Stones

While it's true the Soul Stone and Mind Stone are related to characteristics of beings, that hardly limits the Stones' ability. They could dust a Plymouth Duster if you set your mind to it.

Further, it's not clear that "dusting" means "annihilation", in fact, the return of the Blipped suggests that they went into some sort of purgatory.

It's possible that Stark sent them back in time from whence they came, while removing any knowledge of the Time Heist. Since everyone who knew about Nebula'23's incursion was present there at the Stark Snap, that should suffice.

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    I don't see any reason a "purgatory" is suggested. They just didn't exist in the interim. – mattdm Aug 23 at 12:12

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