Now that Thanos’ plans have come to fruition, let’s look back. How much knowledge and/or influence did Thanos have on the events before INFINITY WAR? Let’s see if we can determine how much of Thanos’ influence affected the MCU prior.

Thanos’ Influence/Knowledge – The Definite and Direct Events

Let’s start with the MCU events that we know without a doubt Thanos is a part of (besides INFINITY WAR). The big ones would be the first AVENGERS and the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film.

After the first AVENGERS, we know that it’s Thanos who supplies Loki with the scepter and army to invade Earth. Loki would have control over Earth, and in exchange for his aid, Thanos would get the Tesseract (Space Stone) on Earth. If not for the Avengers prevention of their efforts, Thanos would have already had the Space Stone. We can also assume that the scepter was meant to be a loan, as the scepter holds the Mind Stone.

Thanos' Influences
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is another obvious film that Thanos influences due to the fact that he has a significant role within it. Working again with a villain in exchange for an Infinity Stone, Thanos offers his support in destroying the planet Xandar to Ronan the Accuser.

Ronan needs to bring him the Orb in order for that to happen. When Ronan discovers that the Orb is the Power Stone, he decides to use the Stone to destroy Xandar himself, breaking his deal with Thanos. After the Guardians defeat Ronan, the Stone is kept with the Nova Corps on Xandar.

It’s safe to assume Thanos knew it’s location as Thor reveals in INFINITY WAR that Thanos destroys Xandar a week before the events of the film in order to get it. Both of these films’ plots are driven by Thanos’ influence as a means to his ultimate and disastrous ends.

Thanos’ Motives: From The Page To INFINITY WAR

Thanos’ Influence/Knowledge – Indirectly Drawing the Stones Out

A good theory for why Thanos waits so long to initiate his quest for the Stones is that he’s waiting until the Stones are out in the open, away from where they are securely kept, making it easier to get ahold of them. It’s quite possible Thanos knew quite a lot about the MCU, and let certain things play out.

He might have even encouraged or manipulated certain events to happen in his favor. This is where we get into some speculations, but some form of these theories are probably true if not pretty close to being accurate.

Waiting for a Weakened Asgard

Thanos most likely knew about Malekith pursuing the Aether (Reality Stone) in THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Rather than involving himself and having to engage in battle with the Dark Elves and the Asgardians, it makes more sense for Thanos to wait and let the conflict sort itself out. If Malekith defeats Asgard, then that’s one less group of adversaries Thanos would have to deal with later.

Thanos would then just have to deal with Malekith and his smaller force of Elves. Instead of Asgard keeping both The Space and Reality Stones, they give the Reality Stone to The Collector. From Thanos’ perspective, it would be far easier to take from the Collector than to try and face the might of Asgard.

Thanos' Influences
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Using this same mindset, Thanos probably waits to go after the Space Stone until it makes strategic sense to do so before dedicating his forces to full on attack on Asgard. So, when Asgard falls due to Thor and Loki’s unleashing of Ragnarok to stop Hela in THOR: RAGNAROK, it’s the perfect time for Thanos to strike. He takes out their ship of refugees and gets the Stone from Loki at the beginning of INFINITY WAR.

Ultron is an Indirect Result of Thanos

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON opens with the Avengers taking down the last remnants of Hydra. They also get Loki’s scepter in the process. Again, the scepter contains the Mind Stone, and Hydra’s desire was to use it to create super advanced artificial intelligence.

Before Tony takes the scepter, Wanda Maximoff gives him a vision using her powers from the Mind Stone. Tony sees all the Avengers dead, with Thanos’ forces heading for Earth.

Thanos' Influences
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

After his vision, Tony decides to hold on to the scepter in order to study it with Bruce Banner. He sees its potential to create Ultron, a global peacekeeping program. However, the Stone makes the A.I too advanced, giving Ultron a mind and a sinister mission of his own. Ultron is born, and his plan is to reboot the world so that humanity can evolve. He wants to send a giant meteor slamming into the world to do so.

INFINITY WAR: A Path of Fears Made Real For Tony Stark

The Avengers foil his plans, defeating Ultron. The end result: the Mind Stone creates the Vision, a new Avenger, and rests on his forehead. Instead of the Mind Stone being more secure on Asgard, it stays on Earth. At the end of AGE OF ULTRON, Thanos takes the Infinity Gauntlet and says:

“Fine…I’ll do it myself.”

This line makes a lot more sense if you put it in the context that Thanos was hoping Ultron would succeed. If Ultron destroys humanity, it would be easy for Thanos to just take what he wants from the ashes.

Thanos' Influences
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Tony studies the scepter instead giving it to Thor right away like he should. He does so because of his PTSD from the Battle of New York in AVENGERS. In this way, Thanos’ influence is indirectly responsible for the events in ULTRON.

Not the Only One Cursed With Knowledge

Before Tony and Thanos have their one-on-one fight in INFINITY WAR, Thanos says his name: Stark. Tony asks if Thanos if he knows him, and Thanos confirms saying:

“You’re not the only one cursed with knowledge.”

Beyond what’s already been referenced, this line confirms that Thanos has eyes and ears with a large scope across the MCU. I’d like to think that he knew about events such as CIVIL WAR with the Avengers breaking up.

Perhaps even the Ancient One’s death, which would potentially mean the Time Stone would be easier to take since Dr. Strange wouldn’t draw power from the Dark Dimension. Assuming Thanos has lived for a long time, perhaps he knew of Red Skull’s endeavors with the Space Stone during WWII.

Thanos' Influences
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

As far as the means of which he obtains his information, I’d also like to think that Thanos sends his outriders as scouts like he does in the INFINITY storyline. In those comics, they are almost undetectable and sneak around Earth, getting the information their master desires. It’s a pretty cool and terrifying thought that maybe there’s an outrider listening in and watching during one of your favorite MCU scenes.

Thanos' Influence
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

In any case, there’s enough connective tissue and lines of dialogue to confirm that Thanos wasn’t sitting back eating doughnuts on his floating chair for the last decade. He wasn’t oblivious to the goings on in the MCU before INFINITY WAR. Thanos’ influence can be felt all over the MCU, and his knowledge is extensive, which makes him all the more terrifying.

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