I am Iron-Man… – Tony Stark
There was an old saying that was always thrown around at weddings and family gatherings when we were young, and the reason we always remembered it was because it ran contrary to everything that we were taught in science class.
In spite of what Mrs. Grandowski taught us about the first law of magnetism, grandma used to insist that “like always attracted like”, and that two peas from the same pod would always find each other, no matter what obstacles the Universe placed in their way.
It’s that unbreakable rule of universal attraction that made fate do whatever it needed to in order to ensure that Stark and Thanos’ paths would eventually cross and that the actions of one would undo the damage that the other had wrought and restore true, natural balance to the cosmos.
If Stark hadn’t traveled to Afghanistan to demonstrate the Jericho missile to the US Army, he wouldn’t have been attacked and captured by insurgents, wouldn’t have built the first generation Iron-Man armor, and ultimately wouldn’t have had the change of heart (which, ironically, only happened after his was nearly obliterated by shrapnel) that propelled him, as a member of the Avengers, headlong into Thanos’ sights.
But being aware of Stark, and knowing him are two entirely different things, and during the course of Infinity War, and their encounter on Titan, Thanos comes to know Stark in a way that few other beings could, as he faces the raw, unfettered intellect of the man inside the suit, and the devastating power of the Mark 50 Iron Man armor.
When Does Thanos Become Aware of Stark?
Until the moment he became aware of Tony Stark, and what he was capable of, Thanos had assumed that Earth would be a push-over, a minor blip on the path that would eventually lead him to all six Infinity Stones and his ultimate objective.
Unfortunately, he didn’t plan for Stark and the last thing that he expected to see was the heart and soul of the Avengers fly through the wormhole that the Chitauri had opened and destroy it, and the command vessel on the other side of it in a suicidal gambit that shouldn’t have worked.
And probably wouldn’t if anyone else had attempted to do it.
The rash, impulsive actions that followed a barely logical, but brilliantly executed and mapped out battle plan, put Stark on Thanos’ radar and made him a target that the Mad Titan needed to eliminate if his long-game plan was going to succeed, Because he couldn’t plan for, or make any sort of allowance for what Stark might or might not do, as he sees Iron Man’s behavior as too unpredictable to, well predict, Thanos attempted to take Stark off the board as soon as he could, which is why Tony is the first member of the Avengers that he attacks in Infinity War.
Thanos knows that Stark is willing to do whatever it takes to defend his world, including giving his own life for it, and so needs him to be eliminated as the slim possibility that Stark’s mercurial nature could foil his plans, scares him.
That’s right, we said it. Thanos, while he might not show it, is frightened of Tony Stark. In fact, Iron Man is the only member of the Avengers that Thanos is scared of, which is why he attempted to kill him first.
In Order To Understand Your Enemy, You Need To Know Your Enemy
By the time that they face each other on Titan, Thanos has found the Soul Stone, which gives him the additional insight that he needs to finally know who Tony Stark is.
Whether what he learns actually benefits him is debatable, as his initial fears about Iron Man and what he was, and is capable of are finally borne out when Stark manages to do what no other Avenger could.
He makes Thanos bleed. This further reinforces the Mad Titan’s growing awareness that the only Avenger capable of actually defeating him, is Tony Stark, which is why he abandons him to his fate on Saturn’s moon.
The initial trepidation that Thanos felt when he first became aware of, and later came to know Stark was well-founded, as ultimately, he was right.
The only man who could, and would defeat him, was Tony Stark.
Again, how aware Thanos was of what might happen when he acquired the Time Stone is debatable, as he doesn’t prepare any sort of contingency for the one outcome that Strange was able to see but for some reason, the aforementioned Time Stone shielded and hid from the Titan.
Does that mean that the future is unwritten, does mean that Stark was too unpredictable for the Time Stone, or does it imply that the Infinity Stones when united in the Gauntlet can choose who and what course of action they want to follow, and by refusing to allow Thanos to see what Stark would do, made their decision to alter the possible outcome of a potential future?
The further down this path, you travel the more confusing it becomes, as it’s paved with fourteen million possible outcomes.
One And The Same
We mentioned earlier that like attracts like, and that’s one of the reasons why Thanos is so drawn to Stark, as he sees a creature driven by a sense of similar purpose.
Stark and Thanos are both futurists who are compelled to reshape the universe and make it better than it is, but that’s about all that they do have in common.
That’s why Stark has to destroy Thanos, as their visions of the future are so radically different, that neither of them can succeed without sacrifice and the only one who is really willing to give up everything that is precious to him in order to restore the chaotic balance that the universe needs in order to flourish, is Tony Stark.
How does Thanos know Stark in Infinity War? He knows him, who he is and what he’s capable of doing because he is him. Stark and Thanos are the flipsides of the same futurist coin, and that knowledge terrifies the Mad Titan.