Imagine you're the ultimate villain with unlimited powers and you have some big plans for the universe and the most crucial thing you need for your nefarious plans are infinity stones. You know one of them is on earth and you have the means to teleport yourself to within 10 meters of it. What will you do?

  1. Teleport yourself there rightaway, pick the stone and get back and be done with it?

  2. Send your most trusted generals (like the creature that was talking to Loki) to retrieve the stone and be done with it?

  3. Find an unreliable/unstable character with zero credentials and zero track record of being successful, more so someone who is already known to betray pretty much everyone he worked with (including both sides of his family). Educate him, give him powerful weapons, give him your own army so that he can win the earth and hope that he brings you the stone?

Why did Thanos need Loki's help at all? There were clearly better options and Loki is pretty much the worst possible choice.

Note: We do see Thanos doing #2 in Guardians of the Galaxy. He sends his trusted daughter/general to retrieve the stone and also recruits Ronan to assist her.

  • 1
    The enemy of my enemy is my friend is an ancient proverb which suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy. May be they follow this.
    – rahul
    Aug 29, 2016 at 8:58
  • 3
    While at its core a reasonable question, is there any chance to make this question sound less like a mere "I could've written a better movie in my sleep" rant?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 29, 2016 at 9:21
  • Maybe we should omit the "have to" from the question. Perhaps Thanos didn't have to, but doing so provided an amusement or served another purpose and so he chose to..
    – miltonaut
    Aug 29, 2016 at 11:26
  • @NapoleonWilson Apologies, that wasn't my intention. I figured explicitly mentioning the options available to Thanos would help me show where I'm coming from. Guardians of the Galaxy movie does it better in that Thanos does send his trusted general (in addition to recruiting an actual warlord Ronan with a big armada and everything).
    – Achilles
    Aug 29, 2016 at 12:20
  • 1
    @miltonaut Fair point. I've made the edit.
    – Achilles
    Aug 29, 2016 at 12:23

3 Answers 3


Reason 1) For the same reason he employed an agent in Guardians of the Galaxy - he's too powerful.

When powerful people act, other powers take notice. Thanos is powerful, but he's far from the only power in the universe.

The more critical an item is to your plans, the more you should try to prevent others from realising how critical it is. And don't forget, he needs all the stones for any real benefit - and he may not have known exactly where all of them are. After all, he gave away one of the stones to Loki - it's in the staff. Why would he give away one of the stones? Answer - because he doesn't need any of them until he has all of them.

If another power found out he what he was doing, all of the powers would gather against him. After all, even just sending Loki was enough to trigger an Asgardian reaction.

Reason 2) (Occam's razor) Maybe he was needed to create the link at the other end? You're assuming he could teleport to the stone - what if instead all he knew was there was a power pulse and he could link to that power to create a bridge long enough to send one person through. Who to send -

  • himself, as you suggest? How would he get back without his own power at the other end to act as an anchor?
  • his general? there needs to be a power source on Earth to open the bridge back up. It's unlikely he would be able to survive by himself nor does he strike me as the sort to be able to blend in.
  • Or Loki? Looks human enough to blend in, proven subversive and technological capabilities. Capable of hiding in the population and building a group to forge the bridge link on Earth.

Loki's the smart choice here!

  • Well said!! It makes sense when we think of Thanos as being a bit risk averse by simply using someone who he thought not important enough (in case he dies). Loki was happy to put in all of the effort and didn't really matter enough to Thanos if he is killed by earth's forces.
    – Achilles
    Aug 30, 2016 at 14:09
  • but then, why would he give away the infinity stone he already has to someone who he considers expendable ?
    – Dane
    Apr 24, 2018 at 8:39
  • What's the cost? If Loki fails, who on Earth would know what they have? He would know where two of the stones are, ready for collection from a primitive race, after he has pinned down the rest of the set.
    – Alan
    Apr 24, 2018 at 9:39

I would ditch the idea #1, because the other two - if successful - turn the Earth into a compliant, ally planet, with some weaponry that signalled that "Earth is ready for a higher form of war".

Loki is very passionately against Earth (his adoptive family, actually, but by the extension against Earth as well) and he knows his enemies (The Avengers) well. His original plan was not all that bad: basically, divide and conquer. Just look at what had to happen in order for our heroes to win:

  • Hulk had to become an ally to Dr. Banner's comrades, instead of a mindless wrecking machine,

  • Tony Stark had to lose his ego and become a team player, plus be immune to Chitauri Scepter,

  • Thor had to fight his brother, instead of just talking to him,

  • Clint Barton had to get his head properly hit. :-)

Apart from the latter, the first two points were reasonably unexpected (for Loki; not for the film audience ;-)).

As for Loki's betrayals, he did that to those he believed betrayed him, and it made even more invested in Thanos' plan.

Of course, having Loki lead Thanos' armies is too much. Becoming an advisor or a strategist or something similar would make far more sense, but how would we then get him to be the villain of the film?


Why? Because the movie character is true to the long history of his comic characterization. Thanos is a powerhouse who believes he's above the petty nonsense of the rest of the universe, and doesn't get personally involved if he doesn't need to. As mentioned, there are many warring powers in the Marvel Universe, and Thanos is one of the older and most powerful among them (the Titans being a group of God like almost immortal aliens). He's also a calculating bastard

He is also not omnipotent, so he doesn't actually know the complete state of Earth super powers. He used Loki for two reasons. If Earth is weak, an Asgardian like Loki is enough to take it over, so it's Beneath him. When the Earthlings defeated Loki, that the attacking the Earth would be like Courting Death, it piqued his interest and his backup plan went into effect (Ultron). When that failed, he finally finds them strong enough that while still an annoyance it would be worthy of his time.

Spoiler, he's only doing this to get a girl's attention. You don't get a girl's attention by beating up children.

  • What is the last sentence actually referring to? What girl? What attention?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 29, 2016 at 21:30
  • @NapoleonWilson do you want spoilers? Google Courting Death and Thanos.
    – cde
    Aug 29, 2016 at 23:24
  • Well, at least something, rather than an allusion without context. Where do you take this infromation from? I never noticed this mentioned in any of the films. Is this info from the upcoming movie? If it's relevant for the answer, you might want to elaborate on that and where you have this information from. And if it's not, well...
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 29, 2016 at 23:26
  • @NapoleonWilson this information and context has been provided by the 90s. I don't want to get too preachy or spoiler-y for a yet to be shown aspect of the upcoming movie. But it follows the Infinity Gauntlet/Infinity War/Infinity Crusade crossover events in the early 90s. Courting Death was specifically phrased that way because Thanos wants to kill the universe to get Death to love him. Death being an anthropomorphized female avatar of the abstract aspect of death.
    – cde
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:14
  • @cde Thanks, good well said. But ultron was Thanos' backup plan?
    – Achilles
    Aug 30, 2016 at 14:38

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