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Ways Thor can kill Thanos

When Avengers: Endgame hits theaters, everyone is going to be gunning for Thanos, and it's hard to think of a character who has a bigger score to settle with the Mad Titan than Thor. Over the course of Infinity War's opening scenes, Thanos destroyed Thor's people, killed his brother, and left him for dead in space, and when the two characters come face to face again, we expect that Thanos is going to find out that pissing off the God of Thunder is a very bad idea.

Of course, the two characters have already had one encounter at the climax of Infinity War, and that didn't go so well for Thor. Still, don't count the Odinson out just yet. There are plenty of ways that Thor could get his revenge and take down Thanos once and for all.

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Vengeance and valor

Everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — or at least the half of the universe that was still breathing after the end of Infinity War, anyway — has a pretty good reason for wanting Thanos dead. Thor, though, has a better reason than most. With the exception of Nebula, the "daughter" that Thanos abused, belittled, and literally dismantled on his quest to find the Infinity Stones, there's no one who has as big a stake in seeing Thanos pay for what he's done. Why? Because Thanos made it personal.

While he was lurking in the background of the MCU since his 2012 cameo in The Avengers, Infinity War marked the first time that Thanos stepped into the spotlight himself, and the very first thing we see him do is lay waste to the ship containing the last remaining Asgardians. It's especially heartbreaking after the character arc that ran through Thor: Ragnarok. While it had plenty of comedic moments, the film was, at heart, about Thor learning to let go — of his father, of his hammer, and even of Asgard itself, which he destroyed in order to stop Hela. The only consolation was the lesson that he learned from his trials: "Asgard isn't a place, it's a people."

And now those people are dead. While it's hard to believe that fan favorites like Valkyrie and Korg are gone forever, Infinity War's opening shows us Thor as the sole survivor of the Asgardian refugees. Everyone else was murdered by Thanos and the Black Order, including Heimdall, Thor's last true friend from the Asgardian pantheon, and Loki, the brother that he was just starting to get along with again. That's the kind of trauma that results in a lot of anger, and for Thor, intense anger tends to end with mountains being leveled and literal rains of blood.

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Back to 100%

It's worth noting that while we've seen Thor face off against Thanos twice already — which is one more round than anyone else in the MCU, since Thanos doesn't usually leave survivors — the God of Thunder has never actually had the chance unleash his full strength on him. Their first battle comes about ten minutes after Thor has gone toe-to-toe with the literal goddess of death, and their second is right after he's cut down a literal army of Chitauri after being marooned in space. Plus, you know, new hammer and all. You've gotta have a few swings in before you really get used to the balance.

We don't know how long the gap is between the end of Infinity War and the beginning of Endgame, but it's at least long enough for people to print up flyers and start support groups to deal with The Halfening. That means that Thor has had plenty of time to rest up, do some push-ups, and watch a few tapes to figure out where his first couple of fights went wrong.

That means that when the Avengers finally encounter Thanos once again, whether they go to his idyllic outer-space farm, or whether he comes to Earth, he's going to be getting a much more dangerous version of Thor. How dangerous? Well…

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"Strongest Avenger"

Infinity War goes out of its way to make sure we know that Thanos is virtually unstoppable. Throughout the movie, he weathers the worst the heroes have to offer and still comes out on top, and one of the most compelling examples happens right at the start of the film. After he and the Black Order take out the Asgardians so effortlessly that it happens offscreen, Thanos, with the aid of the Power Stone, proves that he's more than a match for the Hulk. In fact, he beats down Bruce Banner's alter ego so badly that the big green powerhouse refuses to come out for the rest of the film, even when it looks like Banner's about to be killed. If Thanos can do that to the strongest Avenger, can Thor really stand up to him?

Except that the Hulk's not actually the strongest Avenger, at least going by what we see in the movies. Not to sound too much like the back of a trading card here, but in the big fight that they have in the Grandmaster's gladiatorial games, Thor is well on his way to a lightning-powered knockout victory. The only reason he loses the fight, as far as we can tell, is due to interference from the Grandmaster himself.

Of course, Thor is the one with his name in the title of the movie, and if the fight had happened in a film called, say, Planet Hulk, then it might've had a different ending. Still, considering that Thor was still getting used to tapping into his mastery of lightning without channeling it through Mjolnir, the fact that he could level the Hulk with a single punch shows just how much force he can bring down on Thanos when he's focused.  

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Raw Power

In the comics, Thor has a long history of taking on the kinds of epic threats that you'd expect from the literal, actual, hammer-swinging God of Thunder. If you really want to see an example of how brutal things can get when he really gets going, though, consider this: he once fought Jormungandr the World Serpent, and hit it so hard that he broke every single bone in his own body.

No, really. It happened in Thor #38, as part of the legendary run by Walt Simonson, the writer/artist who provided the definitive Thor stories at Marvel in the '80s. If you're familiar with Norse mythology, you might already know that Jormungandr is the beast prophesied to kill Thor (and be killed itself) during the final battle of Ragnarok. Needless to say, Marvel's version went a little differently. Simonson, Sal Buscema, and John Workman instead gave readers an issue of nothing but full-page shots of one of the most senses-shattering battles of all time, including a shot where Thor shattered all of the Serpent's teeth from the inside after the Serpent tried to swallow him whole.

The Thor of the MCU has fought some pretty impressive battles, including slugging it out with the Destroyer, busting up army of fire demons in Surtur's realm, and a pretty brutal round in the gladiatorial arena against the Hulk. Still, we've never quite gotten to the heights of a battle "drenched with blood and fire" like we see here. If Endgame is going to live up to its name, it's going to have to give us a bone-crushing moment like that, and odds are pretty good that it will. Especially since Thor has a whole new hammer with which to hit things.

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Stormbreaker

Of all the weapons that we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mjolnir was probably the most devastating one, at least among the accessories that weren't directly powered by an Infinity Stone. That makes sense — it was forged of mystical uru metal by the dwarves of Nidavellir, enchanted by Odin the Allfather on more than one occasion, and allowed Thor to channel his mastery over thunder and lightning almost effortlessly, all while having enough sense on its own to choose only the worthiest of wielders. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in Ragnarok, finally fulfilling the prophecies that the great sage Stanley Burrell wrote in 1990 by putting an end to Hammer Time.

The good news? Thor got a new one, and from what we can tell, Stormbreaker isn't just new, it's improved. In the comics, Stormbreaker was the hammer Odin created to be Mjolnir's equal for Beta Ray Bill, but in the movies, it's gone way past equal. In addition to having all of the original Mjolnir's mystical properties, Stormbreaker also allows Thor to teleport across the galaxy by controlling the Bifrost. Plus, the back half is an axe, so, you know, it can cut things. You can't really do that with a hammer.

There's one other quality that Stormbreaker brings to the table, though. It's the product of the sci-fi fantasy elements of Thor, literally held together with a piece of Groot, the tree monster from an outer-space action-comedy whose best friend is a talking raccoon, brought to bear in a battle in Wakanda that features something like 800 superheroes. In a lot of ways, it represents the entirety of the MCU, brought together as one unified whole. Thanos might be able to survive it once, but it's pretty doubtful that anyone can get hit in the face with a billion-dollar franchise twice without being turned to atoms.

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Heads up

That brings us back to their fateful encounter at the end of Infinity War, when Thor smashes Stormbreaker, his new and improved hammer/axe/teleporter, directly into Thanos' chest. For anyone else, that would be a killing blow, but for Thanos, it's an opportunity to drop a one-liner ("you should've gone for the head") before snapping his fingers and committing galactic genocide.

It's certainly a badass moment for the villain that reminds us how tough he really is, but it's also the kind of line that raises a question for the audience: why didn't Thor go for the head? He's a seasoned warrior who has smashed his way through Jotunheim, land of the Frost Giants, and he knows how to take someone out if he needs to, so why would he even take the chance?

The in-universe explanation is pretty obvious from the way that scene plays out: Thor is so consumed by his hatred for Thanos and his desire for revenge that he wants to look him in the eye while he kills him and let him know exactly who did it. If he put one in the computer, so to speak, he wouldn't have had the chance… and Thanos wouldn't have had the chance to snap his fingers. There's another answer, though, and it has less to do with character and more to do with writing a script. That sort of memorable line is the kind of thing that almost begs for a callback the next time those two characters encounter each other. If Thor gets another shot, it's pretty easy to imagine that he takes Thanos' advice to heart and just decapitates him without a word.

After all, he's done it before.

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Thor vs. Thanos, Round 1

Thanos has been defeated before. He's even died a couple of times, once at the hands of Doctor Doom and most recently as the result of a sword to the chest from Gamora. He's even been defeated by the unbeatable Squirrel Girl, with the Watcher himself showing up to confirm that it was the real Thanos and not any kind of duplicate or hoax. None of those losses, however, have been quite as bone-crushingly brutal as the one that Thor handed to him back in 2000.

In that story, Thanos has gotten tired of being defeated by cosmic heroes every time he goes looking for the Infinity Gems, so he turns his attention to a handful of mystical artifacts instead. Over the course of a few issues, he gets his purple hands on the suitably impressive-sounding Illumination Stone, Chalice of Ruins, and Map of All-Ending, granting him the power to potentially "end all existence."

Things do not look good, and just like we saw in the films, Thor's first battle with Thanos ended with Thor on the losing side, beaten down on a barren alien world. Unfortunately for Thanos, that's not where the fight ended.

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Thor vs. Thanos, Round 2

In Thor #25, the God of Thunder had the kind of fired-up comeback that John Cena can only dream of. Over the course of a six-page slugfest, Thor beat the unholy mess out of Thanos, cracking him upside the head with Mjolnir over and over until Thanos couldn't even stand up, let alone conquer the universe. Then, standing over him, he promised that "should thou darest to rise," he'd continue beating him with the hammer "again and again and again, if need be." Oh, and also he destroys a nearly invulnerable villain named Mangog by shoving Mjolnir down his throat and blowing him up with lightning from the inside. It's almost enough to make you feel bad for the bad guys. Almost.

To be fair, Thanos hardly goes out like a chump in this particular battle. The first time he takes an enchanted uru mallet to the face — the same kind of blow that shattered Jormungandr's teeth back in the '80s — he responded to Thor's command to fall with a single, bold-print "No." The beating he takes in that comic isn't brutal because Thor's being excessive about it, but because that's how hard you need to hit Thanos to stop him. Anything else, as we saw in Infinity War, just won't get the job done.

There was one additional factor at play, though. In addition to his signature hammer, Thor's last-minute comeback was aided by a new set of mystical artifacts that Odin had spent the past few months crafting and enchanting with enough power to boost Thor's already godly strength to… whatever comes past godly. Odin put so much of his own power in them, in fact, that he had to go into a coma afterwards just to recover. It's a shame he's not around to do that this time. Unless… unless

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The Asgardian Arsenal

Norse mythology — and, by extension, the Marvel Universe — is about as full of intensely destructive magical weapons as you might expect. In addition to Mjolnir (and its cool new cousin Stormbreaker), there's the Jarngrepir and the Megingjord, a set of iron gloves and a belt that can double Thor's strength, the Gjallerhorn, which can summon all the spirits of vikings who died in battle, Gungnir, the spear of Odin… you get the idea.

Sure, some of those things were probably destroyed along with the rest of Asgard at the end of Ragnarok, but it's just as likely that they were scattered around the universe waiting for someone to gather them up, just like the Infinity Stones. (Thanks to a throwaway gag in Spider-Man: Homecoming, we know the belt is in upstate New York.) If things are as desperate as they seem — and if the sad music in the Avengers: Endgame trailer is any indication, they are — then it might be time for the last surviving Asgardian to gear up and go get revenge for his brother, his people, and the talking tree that he was hanging out with for a couple hours.

Of course, all that said, it seems unlikely that Thor is going to get a fancy new toy in Endgame, since he already spent the majority of Infinity War getting a brand new hammer. Everyone likes an upgrade, but thew audience can only take so many instances of the ol' deus ex machina (or in this case, machina ex deo). On the other, Thanos, as we all know by now, is the kind of threat that requires you to pull out all the stops — and it sure does help if "all the stops" includes a magic spear that will never miss its target.