Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
"Thanos: Titan Consumed"
First, in case you have not read the book and do not want to be spoiled, there will be spoilers for Thanos: Titan Consumed as well as Avengers: Infinity War.
For those of you who have been reading my articles, you probably know that I talk about movies. A lot. And while I do love watching movies, I also love reading and literature in general. Heck, I am an English major after all. So, I decided that I am going to talk about the books that I read, starting with my most recent, Thanos: Titan Consumed.
Yes, the book is good. It is well written. It is engaging. I heavily enjoyed it and how it delved into the backstory of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's best villain. What I really want to talk about today is: Why is this book not canon within the MCU? Should it be? What are the reasons for why it should be and why it shouldn't be? Well, let's talk about it.
Why It Should Be Canon
Upon release, this book seemed to have the intention––according to both the author, Barry Lyga, and the publisher––of being the first canonical novel within the MCU. However, that bird was quickly shot down for an unexplained reason. Now, we can theorize why, and I will get to that later. But it does seem that Barry Lyga had every intention to tie the story in with the MCU's Thanos.
First, the story opens and ends with perfect retellings of events that happened in Infinity War: Thanos beating Hulk, Thanos killing his daughter, Thanos snapping his fingers, etc., etc. Everything lines up perfectly. The story even recaps Thanos grabbing the gauntlet and saying, "Fine, I'll do it myself." The story itself works to explain how Thanos ended up on his Infinity quest. We are given the details of how he learned about the Stones, how he received the Mind Stone and staff, and how he obtained the hive-mind Chitauri army. The book even explains how Thanos gained his followers and his daughters. It even retells Thanos' attack on Gamora's planet, but I will get to that later.
The book's main focus is, of course, on Titan (hence the title). Thanos' origin stems from the loss of his planet––a planet that could have saved themselves if they had heeded Thanos' warning. The overpopulation that destroyed Titan is what drives Thanos to complete his Stone quest and eradicating half of all life in the universe. Yes, Thanos is mad in thinking that killing half of all life is the best way to go about things, but, like Infinity War, the book allows the reader to somewhat empathize with Thanos. Just like Infinity War, this is Thanos' story, even if he is wrong on so many levels.
Theorized Reasons For Why It Isn't Canon
While we don't know for sure, there is a part of me that wants to say that Marvel is waiting to put Thanos' true origin into a movie, perhaps even the upcoming Eternals film. If that is the case, Marvel probably wants to keep that a surprise and would rather not have fans already know it because they read the book. Again, that is just my theory.
There are some instances in the book where I can somewhat understand why they wouldn't want this story canon. For starters, Thanos appears somewhat weak. A guy who beat Hulk in a fistfight without using any stones is constantly getting hurt by blades and punches of all kinds. He gets back up, yes, but after taking on the fricken Avengers and only getting a small scratch on the cheek by Iron Man––and I guess being stabbed nearly to death my Thor, but that was a magic blade––I expected less damage to be taken by him. However, I do understand why this was done, through a storytelling point of view: it's no fun if your protagonist is invincible. That's a fact. Although we know Thanos won't die, it still helps the story to see him get hurt a little bit.
Another point to make: The scene where Thanos meets Gamora on her home planet (as his army kills its people) is slightly different from the one we get in Infinity War, especially the dialogue. This could be a possible reason for why it is not canon.
Thanos also learns the whereabouts of each of the stones pretty quickly, and I am only left to wonder why the heck he didn't go after them sooner. So, maybe that's another reason why Marvel said no to it be canonical.
To express some things I didn't quite enjoy about the book––in order to be able to label this as a review––I will say that the introduction of Nebula, Ebony Maw, and the other children of Thanos was quite fast––so fast that it really didn't give an origin. They kind of just showed up, just like how they were just there in Infinity War. Out of everyone, I was hoping we would get more background on Nebula, but after being randomly taken upon Thanos' request, Thanos chooses to keep her around because her skin reminds him of his own. It's understandable, but I guess I was expecting and hoping for a little more backstory there. The book just feels really fast-paced at times, constantly skipping years. Trust me, I understand space travel takes a bit of time––even if the movies don't really show that––but I got kinda tired of seeing that years were passing again and again. We don't see Thanos' training. We only are told that years passed and he trained. The book is over 400 pages long, but maybe it could have been longer. I, personally, am interested in Thanos as a character, so I would have been okay with a book that was a little longer.
Even if the book is non-canonical with the MCU––and I don't fully understand why––it was still enjoyable to read. Even though Marvel has declared it as non-canonical, I am still going to picture this origin the next time I watch Infinity War. I do think the book explains Thanos' origins very well, and it works really hard to make Thanos a protagonist to empathize with, even if he does do some pretty shit stuff (I feel bad for Nebula even more after reading this). I think it could have been longer and gone a little more in-depth, but besides that, it was an enjoyable read that delved deeper into Thanos as a character.
Overall, I did not get bored reading this story, and Barry Lyga kept me engaged the whole way through. Therefore, I will be giving Thanos: Titan Consumed a 9/10. I would definitely recommend this novel to any Marvel fans, even if it isn't canon.
Read it and let me know what references to the wider Marvel universe you caught while reading. It's easy to tell that Lyga did his homework.
© 2020 Benjamin Wollmuth