41

In the scene on Titan with Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos said,

With all six Infinity Stones, I will simply snap my fingers and it would all cease to exist.

Then again, in the very first scene with Thor and Loki, when Maw gave Thanos the Space Stone, he said that no one has ever worn two Infinity Stones together.

So how come Thanos knew about the power of the Snap? Because as Wong puts it to Tony, the Big Bang hurled the six Infinity Stones across the universe.

So if no one had collected all the six stones before Thanos, then how did he know about the ability to "Snap"?

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    Worth pointing out that the snap was really just used to demonstrate it being simple to do anything when you have all the stones - Thanos could have clapped or just made a fist to achieve the same result. – Dave Jan 23 at 16:54
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    He could have killed everyone from what I know, at least those not above him but he just wanted to kill half (randomly), he didn't need to snap his fingers, could have just used his mind really but as Dave pointed out it was made like for dramatic effect. – Victor T. Leal Jan 23 at 17:03
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    Hurled across the universe... and yet somehow half of them ended up on one insignificant little blue-green planet far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy. Go figure. – Mason Wheeler Jan 23 at 20:26
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    @MasonWheeler I wonder why is that? I also wonder why he, being omnipotent, didn't double the resources instead of halving life forms? – ChatterOne Jan 24 at 13:39
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    People put way too much stock into "the snap". Snapping his fingers didn't actually do anything ... using the power of all the stones is what did something. – only_pro Jan 24 at 16:59
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It seems to be general knowledge that with the all the Infinity Stones the wielder (if he is strong enough) can do...

Anything.

Certainly the Asgardians seemed to be aware of it...even Odin had a fake Gauntlet made up.

In addition, both Wong and Dr Strange are both aware of the Infinity Stones and their inherent nature and the power of individual stones is well documented across the previous MCU movies.

Wong: [Using magic to show the universe and five out of six Infinity Stones] From the dawn of the universe, there was nothing. Then, boom! The Big Bang sent six elemental crystals, hurtling across the virgin universe. These Infinity Stones each control an essential aspect of existence.

...

Tony Stark: [Speaking to himself] This is it....What's our timeline?

Bruce Banner: No telling. He has the Power and Space Stones, that already makes him the strongest creature in the whole universe. If he gets his hands, on all six Stones, Tony...

Doctor Strange: He can destroy life on a scale hitherto undreamt of.

Wikia Transcript

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    Also worth pointing out that there doesn't seem to be any gesture, ritual or other requirement for Thanos to use any of the individual stones when slotted in the gauntlet. He created portals with seemingly as much as a thought. So, we can guess that once all stones are combined, there really isn't any one thing Thanos needs to do in order to activate their combined power. A snap of a finger is dramatic but not the real trigger needed. – VLAZ Jan 23 at 20:10
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    Actually, the rules of the MCU seem to require that he makes a fist to activate the Gauntlet but that's about it. – Paulie_D Jan 23 at 20:15
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    @vlaz, well yeah, the focus on the open-palm was so they could get the glove off. (Given Thanos' personality, I'd guess he just liked to clench his fists a lot, not that it was a requirement for objects of vast cosmic power.) – ThunderGuppy Jan 23 at 20:33
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    @ThunderGuppy But, as soon as he had his hand free, he closed his fist and started using the power of the Infinity Stones to attack the Avengers et al - if he didn't need to close his fist, why didn't he just Reality Stone them into ribbons? – Chronocidal Jan 24 at 10:00
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    Maybe some finger have to be in contact with the palm in order to "clause the circuit". – Drag and Drop Jan 24 at 15:47
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There is no power in the snap. That is just a gesture that - for all we know - Thanos himself picked arbitrarily.

This is all based on folklore. Magic and superpowers quite often have some kind of activation gesture, command word or other specific "on" switch. Which makes sense as you don't want to turn them on or off randomly. So there needs to be something that tells the Infinity Stones "ok, NOW" - and for Thanos, that was a snap of his fingers.

In a movie (or comic), of course, this is doubly true. You need some kind of visual gesture for the watcher/reader. While activating a power by thought alone might work for powers that are themselves visual, this specific one isn't, so you need a visual activation gesture. The "snap of a finger" is well-picked for that as it shows that the true power is in the stones, not the gesture. If it had been some kind of elaborate ritual, it would have had less impact in demonstrating just how powerful the stones are. Fingersnapping is considered a "mimimal" gesture in our culture, so using it to power the opposite - the maximal effect - is quite effective in a story-telling way.

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    Just to further this "with a snap of my fingers" is not exactly a spoken idiom but still often used to describe something extremely easy. For example, you can say "I can win the ice cream hotdog eating contest like that" and snap your fingers timed with the emphasis on the last word. Meaning, it's easy. Occasionally you can also express the action verbally to similarly show how easy it is - like Thanos and other characters did by describing something happening with a snap of fingers (rather than mimicking the action). – VLAZ Jan 24 at 8:43
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    What amazes me is that he can snap his fingers while wearing a metal gauntlet that covers his fingertips. – MarkTO Jan 24 at 15:21
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    @vlaz what do you mean? It is absolutely an idiom and quite a common one. See 1, 2, 3. . . – terdon Jan 24 at 15:28
  • @MarkTO Did he? I'd have to go back and rewatch, but I thought he snapped with his other (un-gauntleted) hand. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 24 at 15:29
  • @MarkTO He had all the infinity stones, he can do whatever he wants. – Chris Jan 24 at 15:51

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