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How Thanos stands in for all of the Avengers' shitty dads

Strained father/child relationships are a big motif throughout the MCU. There’s Tony Stark and his tumultuous relationship with Howard Stark; Thor and Loki with Odin; and, of course, Gamora’s tense relationship with Thanos. Now, a captivating video essay from The Take by ScreenPrism is here with a concise analysis of Tony Stark’s relationship to Thanos that perhaps best exemplifies the franchise’s themes of fatherhood.

Part of a new video series called One Marvelous Scenein which a number of YouTube channels analyze one scene from the past 22 MCU films—this clip centers around the Stark and Thanos’ final battle, delving into just how deeply two are connected.


The Take describes Thanos as Stark’s “dark mirror,” in which he sees a worse version of himself. That twisted connection is made fully manifest when Thanos gently places his hand atop the defeated Stark’s head, producing a “paternal gesture” that’s a “perversion” of fatherly tenderness, one that can be read as a “grotesque embodiment of all the daddy issues that pervade the MCU.” Definitely not the type to teach you to play ball or give you kisses before bedtime, these dads.

It also touches on how Stark has been, until now, the epitome of the MCU’s spirit and heart. His character is all about what’s underneath the Iron Man suit—his mind, his heart, and his positive vision for the future. While Thanos sees only death and destruction ahead, Tony wants a family, growth, and another generation to carry on and protect. These parallels have helped form the thematic backbone of the franchises third phase, and it’ll be fascinating to see how these ideas evolve with the rollout of Phase 4 (and a whole gaggle of new characters) next year.

Watch the full essay below ahead of Endgame’s premiere this Friday.

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Alani Vargas

Alani Vargas is an entertainment writer and A.V. Club contributor. Her work also appears on Showbiz Cheat Sheet, INSIDER, Bustle, Refinery29, and Elite Daily.