It’s one of the enduring questions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: how did Thanos know Tony Stark? While most fans have assumed that Thanos’ knowledge of Tony stems from the Battle of New York in the first Avengers movie, a new theory suggests that the Mad Titan’s knowledge comes from something else entirely.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos recognizes Tony Stark pretty readily and, when asked, Thanos simply says he is also cursed with knowledge. It’s that knowledge that Reddit user “atradayse” suggests is the root of things, specifically that Thanos knows Tony because of how unique he is
The theory breaks down, first and foremost, why the idea that Thanos would be familiar with Tony thanks to the first Avengers doesn’t quite hold water. The main points are that Thanos sends people to do his dirty work for him — in this case the Chitauri and Loki. While details of the battle certainly would have gotten back to Thanos, that doesn’t quite explain his recognition of Tony. The theory goes on to explain that Thanos isn’t even familiar with Peter Quill, someone who actually was able to hold the power stone briefly and is the son of a celestial. Quill only gets a notice as The Boyfriend after keeping his promise to Gamora.
That lea back to the idea of Tony being special, and the theory points to a specific moment in Iron Man in which Obadiah Stane asks Stark Industry scientists to build an arc reactor the same size as Tony’s. They claim it can’t be done and then, when told Tony did it in a cave with a box of scraps, quip “I’m not Tony Stark”.
The takeaway? Even among the very intelligent, Tony is an anomaly. He’s unique, with the intellect that makes him incredibly powerful to the point that he stands out from the pack. In the theory’s reasoning, it’s that uniqueness that Thanos recognizes and, especially after New York, understood that Tony is willing to use his powers no matter his personal cost.
The theory goes on to suggest that this particular quality is why Doctor Strange gave up the Time Stone to save Tony from Thanos — Tony is critical to saving the world. Not only that, it also could suggest that it will be Tony himself who resolves the issue of running out of air and such on the Milano. Trapped in a life-threatening situation with limited resources and almost no chance of salvation is very much in Tony’s wheelhouse. He’s done it before when he built his first arc reactor in that cave. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see Tony come up with something on the Milano — presumably with Nebula — to get them to safety.
With Endgame being the “end” of the story begun in Iron Man over a decade ago, having it all comes down to Tony in space with what amounts to a flying box of scraps, it would make for a very interesting call back to how it all started.
What do you think? Does this theory explain how Thanos knew Tony? Let us know in the comments below.
Avengers: Endgame opens in theaters April 26th.