Thanos & Erik Killmonger: Are They Right?
The last two Marvel movies have left me feeling conflicted. Whenever I watch a Marvel movie, I always root for the good guy and boo the bad guy. There’s always a clear cut cut distinction. Black Panther and The Avengers: Infinity War changed this for me. Although the plans created and their implementation were extreme and insane, the ideologies of Killmonger and Thanos were not. In fact, I found myself agreeing with them because at their core, both of these characters make sense.
Killmonger represents the descendants of the African Diaspora. The African Diaspora is the mass dispersion of people from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trade from the 1500s to the 1800s. We (the descendants of the African Diaspora) have questioned why our “brothers” and “sisters” in Africa sold us into slavery. We question why they never helped us in our struggle to break free of the repercussions of their actions. There are many descendants that are furious with the African nations just like Killmonger. I sympathize with his sentiments. We feel abandoned. We feel ignored. We suffer to this day because of our enslaved past. We deal with continuous racism and discrimination. We are oppressed. We struggle to get our voices heard and we are still considered less than. However Killmonger didn’t think his plan through. While I do agree that we do need to find a solution to advance in a society not designed with us in mind, Killmonger never thought about the damages it would do to our communities. Is it really a good idea to arm people that have yet to unite as one? Haitians hate Jamaicans. Dominicans hate Haitians. African Americans hate everyone that’s not one of them. Even within our respective nationalities, there’s still in house fighting. Killmonger intended for the Wakandan weapons to be used against the enemy but with the chaotic state of the African diaspora, we would bring more harm to ourselves than to our adversaries. I agree with Killmonger’s viewpoint, but I can’t agree with his solution. If he came up with a different way of helping his people, a way that empowers instead of harm them, can I in good conscious call him a bad guy? Honestly I don’t think I can.
Thanos is another villain that forces me to question myself. He said something that struck me. “The universe’s resources are finite.” He’s absolutely right. The human race would like to believe the resources on earth are abundant and we’ll never run out, however that’s not the case. We are already seeing water shortages throughout the world (think California). We are running out of space to house the billions of people on our planet. Oil resources are starting to become depleted. Famines occur more often now than ever before. There are too many of us and not enough resources. Thanos’ solution of population control is already a controversial concept that has been implemented in countries such as China, India, and Uzbekistan. There are many problems that stem from this, but others will say there are benefits. Thanos’ version of population control is more extreme. He goes from planet to planet annihilating half the population. In his mind, with half the people gone, the other half will be able to thrive on the leftover resources of that planet. He doesn’t think about the other side of the argument-the loss of life and loved ones can be unbearable for the people that remain. They will grieve forever. Gamora said her people were happy despite their living conditions. In Thanos’ eyes, people can’t be happy if they are starving but he never stopped to think that all they needed was love to bring them peace. His “final solution”-destroy half the population of the universe- doesn’t factor how devastating the loss of many important and influential people will be on the universe. While we do need to think of alternative solutions to save our resources, this extreme form of population control is overboard. However if Thanos created a way to save and replenish our resources, would people praise him instead of fear him? It is probably likely.
These characters perplex me. I want to hate them. I want to root against them. I can’t…at least not wholeheartedly. Their actions make me despise them, but their viewpoints make me question real life issues. The feeling of confliction is unusual to feel from a Marvel movie. There is a clear cut good guy and bad guy. In these cases, there is none. What are we supposed to do when the villains start to make sense?