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At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thor delivered a mortal chest wound to Thanos with Stormbreaker. Thanos survived long enough to 'make the Snap', ending half of all life in the universe before he died.

Yet after the Snap he was suddenly and completely healed. Shouldn't he have died of this mortal wound?

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    If using the infinity stones can kill half the life in the universe could it not also heal the users mortal wound at the same time – Revenant Oct 29 at 23:29
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    "...before he died." Citation needed. – Darren Oct 30 at 9:33
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    @Darren Avengers: Endgame technically... and twice at that. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 30 at 9:33
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    @Darren He didn't and yeah the sentence is assuming he should die which isn't necessarily the case. I was just having a joke :) – TheLethalCarrot Oct 30 at 9:40
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Two things to consider here.

First, the Stormbreaker blow, while obviously very powerful, was not an insta-kill for someone as strong as Thanos (who's already powerful with or without Stones). Hence Thanos' line about how Thor "should have gone for the head". The slight delay between the blow and the resulting death, if not dealt with, allowed Thanos to snap.

Obviously the most likely that happened after that is that Thanos combined snapping half life in the universe with self-healing. The Time Stone can probably do that, as it managed to bring Vision back to life.

Not only is it likely, it actually fits well into Thanos' plans: if he allows himself to die, with the Stones still around, anyone1 can erase what he just did. To ensure this doesn't happen, he has to be able to protect the Stones, and later destroy them, as we see in Endgame. Note that the destruction seemed to take a great deal of effort, which once again wouldn't have been possible if Thanos hadn't first ensured he got healed.

Note that as mentioned in TheLethalCarrot's answer, that healing didn't occur exactly while snapping, but possibly a tad bit after. In either case, Thanos still has to make sure he's fit for what happens next. It's possible he recovered without using the Time Stone, though he had good reasons to.


1 Well, not anyone, but almost every superpowered hero in the MCU is located in a one-mile radius, and they're the most likely candidates.

  • Didn't he use the Time stone to reverse the injuries from the axe? – Shreedhar Oct 30 at 7:30
  • Wasn't he himself suprised that he survived? – Kami Kaze Oct 30 at 7:58
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    @KamiKaze That would have made "Endgame" rather short: Thanos accidentally snaps himself, Hulk brings everyone back, Thor aims for the head. Less of a film, more of a post-credits scene... – Chronocidal Oct 30 at 8:37
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    -1 Thanos still has the wound and Stormbreaker in his chest after the Snap. I agree he used the Time Stone to reverse it but the timing you give is off. (Temporary DV if you correct it.) – TheLethalCarrot Oct 30 at 9:24
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    Wouldn't the Reality stone allow Thanos to heal himself? He doesn't need to turn back time, if he can change the reality of the wound. – tbrookside Oct 30 at 16:50
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Yet after the snap he was suddenly and completely healed.

I challenge this assertion. After the Snap, he still had Stormbreaker in his chest, it falls out when he uses the Space Stone to teleport away, presumably to Titan II.

Thanos after the Snap, just before teleportation, with Stormbreaker still in his chest

There are a couple of things to note about this image here:

  • The wound is still clearly visible with Stormbreaker in his chest and so he had not yet healed himself.
  • There is a slight green tinge effect around the wound which could mean Thanos was currently using the Time Stone to reverse Stormbreaker hitting him which could also be why it fell from his chest.

Therefore, to answer your question he survived the attack because he used the Time Stone to reverse it and so it "never happened".

How he survived the initial blow is well, he's Thanos. He's a Titan, a race already incredibly strong, and on top of that he's a mutant amongst them. The blow simply wasn't enough to kill someone as strong as Thanos. Note that in Avengers: Endgame Thanos pushes Stormbreaker into Thor's chest and he also survives even without reversing it's effects on him. So it seems that Stormbreaker isn't that powerful in terms of hitting someone in the chest.

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    Stormbreaker was way deeper in Thanos' chest in IW than it was in Thor's in Endgame. – Shreedhar Oct 30 at 9:47
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    I don't think SB even reaches Thor's chest, it just penetrated his armor – Azor Ahai Oct 30 at 14:17
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    @AzorAhai I thought it did, I'll have a look back later on when I can. Either way that's a side piece of evidence to the main point there. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 30 at 14:22
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    Rewatching the last scene greatly supports the time stone theory. When thanos settles on Titan-2, even his armor is repaired. He can have the best healing capability but I’m sure he can’t heal his armor 😜😜 thus, time stone. @TheLethalCarrot – Shreedhar Oct 31 at 16:27
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    @T.E.D. The apple scene in Doctor Strange and Vision in IW are two off the top of my head. In the IW example we see Wanda is unaffected by the Time Stone. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 31 at 18:23

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