Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Thanos Didn't Need An Infinity Stone To Defeat The Hulk

Avengers: Infinity War is a nonstop ride of block-rocking shockers, from the unexpected deaths of almost everyone fans love to the crushing finale in which the villain clearly wins — at least, until Avengers 4 comes out. But one of the movie's most shocking moments comes within minutes of the start of the adventure — and we're not just talking about Loki croaking.

We're speaking, of course, of the thorough beatdown that the Mad Titan administers to the Big Green Guy on the Avengers' squad, who pops out of nowhere on the Asgardian ship to ambush Thanos, with hopes of solving the problem the villain presents before it even starts.

What actually happens, you'll recall, is that the Hulk gets beaten down and more or less given the full "Puny God" treatment after his attack on the purple man with the grossly-ridged chin. As a matter of fact, Hulk gets beat up so hard during the fight that for the first time ever, he's actually left unwilling to come out of Bruce Banner's shell, and spends the rest of the movie unwilling to emerge again.

"But wait!" you say, reaching for an explanation as to how Thanos could have broken the Hulk's will so completely. How did the Mad Titan manage to hold his own against the Hulk before acquiring enough Infinity Stones to make him effectively unbeatable? Is the Power Stone Thanos gets from his destruction of Xandar before the movie begins really all it takes for him to get one over on the Hulk?

The answer, according to behind-the-scenes material on the movie's home media release, may surprise you. It turns out, when Thanos fights the Hulk for the first time, he's not using the Power Stone at all. He's just that insanely powerful all on his own.

Evidently, the filmmakers behind Avengers: Infinity War made a conscious decision to leave the power-increasing Infinity Stone out of the first clash of the titans, confirming on a commentary track for the movie that Thanos was not using it to boost his strength during the fight. For the sake of maximum intimidation, Thanos starts off the conflict at his base strength — a classic Dragon Ball sort of move if there ever was one.

Movie co-director Joe Russo and movie co-writer Stephen McFeely have a little back-and-forth on the film's commentary track regarding Thanos' formidable, unassisted power level. 

McFeely raises the issue during the Asgardian ship scene, saying, "Here you see the early establishment of just how fearsome Thanos is even without — he's got one stone here, and I don't think he's even using it." 

"He's not using it," Russo replies. "This is to show that Thanos, the Genghis Khan of the universe, is unbeatable in one-on-one battle. He's conquered thousands of worlds. He's a much more polished fighter than the Hulk, and he dismantles the Hulk fairly quickly. 

"And Thor," says Joe.

"And Loki," Anthony adds.

"We want to announce Thanos as the biggest villain in the MCU," McFeely previously said during an interview with Collider. "He takes out the previous reigning champion, and by defeating Hulk relatively savagely and easily, hopefully, there's a sense of dread over the course of the rest of the movie for anyone who will come up against him, and so that's just sort of a scene design."

Anyone who's seen the movie would likely attest to the fact that the early ass-whooping Hulk takes from Thanos goes a long way toward proving the villain's threat level bona fides. Not only does he have the strength of the Hulk, he also has a brilliantly ambitious mind that runs circles around the Hulk's gray matter. He's strong, which makes him threatening — but it's his brain that makes him terrifying.

But really, even with McFeely and Russo's comments taken into consideration, the answer as to why Thanos proves to be more than an even match for the Hulk comes down to something simple: Because it's extremely cool. Make 19 movies' worth of a convincing comic book universe on screen, and you've earned the right to occasionally throw in something awesomely unexpected like an extra-strong Thanos. No one expected Space Grimace to be able to wipe the floor with Hulk like that. Even on rewatch, it's a heck of a way to start a movie.

Avengers: Infinity War will be out on Blu-Ray, 4K Blu-Ray, and DVD on August 14, with digital copies already being available for purchase right now.