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In Avengers: Endgame (2019), Tony Stark says about Thanos:

Tony Stark: I didn't fight him. No, he wiped my face with a planet... while the Bleecker Street magician gave away the store.

What is the meaning of "wiped my face with a planet"?

  • 9
    Doesn't he say "stone", as in the Time Stone? – F1Krazy Dec 1 at 11:38
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    @F1Krazy it is store but referring to the Stone aye. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 1 at 11:42
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    The colloquialism is actually "gave away the store". As in, did something that was ostensibly against their interest. – Machavity Dec 2 at 13:34
  • 3
    Looks like word play on "wipe (something) off the face of (a planet)". – Nat Dec 3 at 9:40
  • Wasn't this supposed to mean "thrown me face-first into the ground"? I don't remember if something like that happened though. – crueltear Dec 3 at 13:32
72

"...wiped my face with a planet" means exactly what it says, from when Thanos brought a planet (actually one of Titan's moons1) down on Tony during their battle in Avengers: Infinity War.

Thanos brings down Titan's moon on Tony and the Guardians

As mentioned by @systemexit in a comment below it could also be a play on the American idiom cleaned one's clock meaning "to trounce one’s opponents". Thanos won (even if largely because of Star-Lord and Strange), he then proceeded to Snap and so did trounce them.

To "give away the store" is an expression that means to have traded/negotiated poorly. He says this because Strange gave up the Time Stone to Thanos in exchange for Tony’s life in Avengers: Infinity War something he said he would never do.

Doctor Strange: Alright, Stark. We go to him. But you have to understand... if it comes to saving you or the kid or the Time Stone... I will not hesitate to let either of you die. I can't, because the fate of the universe depends on it.

[...]

Doctor Strange: Stop! Spare his life... and I will give you the stone.

Thanos: No tricks.

Tony Stark: Don't...!


1It's not too relevant but to clear it up from the comments, yes this specific Titan in the MCU is a planet. The object Thanos brings down is one of Titan's moons.

  • 7
    In addition to literally bringing down said planet/moon, the "wiped my face" part seems evocative of the idiom "cleaned my clock". – systemexit Dec 1 at 21:08
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    @Hashim The planet in "Infinity War" is known as Titan and is outside of our solar system. However, in the comics, Thanos was indeed native to Saturn's moon Titan as found in our system. marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com/wiki/Titan – SpaceWolf1701 Dec 2 at 1:05
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    I'd agree that it's about being thoroughly beaten in that fight. Tony did get smashed into the ground a number of times, bits of a moon dropped on him... but the idiom suggest to me a saying I've heard in Aikido: "Aikido is the art of hitting people with planets". By which we mean smashing people into the ground, rather than moving the actual planet, but Thanos of course could do either. – Matthew Walton Dec 2 at 11:09
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    @Hashim You are incorrect. The battle with Thanos shown above does not take place in our Solar system. The Titan in question is a planet, and has nothing to do with the Solar System body of the same name. – T.J.L. Dec 2 at 13:18
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    @Martha: I'd agree that the planet under their feet would be a valid though loose interpretation. But given that Thanos pulled a moon on Tony, it's much more likely that Tony was hyperbolically referring to that moon as a planet. Otherwise, pretty much every fight (not in deep space) would be "wiping someone's face with a planet", which detracts from the message Tony is trying to get across. – Flater Dec 3 at 8:34
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Normally, you wipe your face with a towel or a napkin. Also, you normally wipe your own face, unless you are a child. Tony is emphasizing that this "fight" was not a fight at all. Thanos treated him like a child by wiping his face and was powerful enough that he did it with a planet (moon, technically) instead of a towel

  • 3
    This isn't always in context of treating someone like a child. Think of usages like "it wiped the smile off my face". You're not saying that [it] treated you like a child, you're just saying that [it] had an impact on or did something to you. – Flater Dec 3 at 8:32
  • The emphasis is firmly that they were effectively children fighting an adult, and he utterly dominated the fight against them because among other things he had the power to hurl a moon at them. "Wiped my face" is something an adult generally does to a child, which in this case is rather nicely melded with "cleaned my clock" as an idiom for being defeated in combat. – Ruadhan2300 Dec 3 at 15:52
  • @Flater hence my usage of the word "normally" and not "always" – Kevin Dec 3 at 19:42
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It can also be a frame challenge. If we are talking about the area in general, Tony was hit so hard his face slid along the ground. If we are talking about a Tony focused concept where he is the center, the planet moved and he was still. Therefore the planet was wiped across his face by Thanos who had the power to move planets. "if the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain" The line works in more ways than one. Such is the hallmark of good writing. @thelethalcarrot was right about the store.

  • This is the clearest explanation, since it doesn't rely on prior knowledge of a narrowly-used colloquialism to derive the meaning of the phrase in question. – Rich Dec 3 at 21:26

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