The guys who wrote Infinity War, Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely, also wrote all three Captain America movies, and the thing that unites all of these movies together is a strong sense of, for a lack of a better term, “conspiracy theory thought.”
Each of the Captain America movies deals with some running theme you see a lot in these sorts of circles. First Avenger is the most obvious, since it deals with Cap’s origins in the super soldier program and all the Nazi/HYDRA super science stuff. By itself it isn’t saying much, since it’s hard to be a speculative story that takes place in World War II and not touch upon that sort of thing. But Winter Soldier gets into all sorts of “deep state” conspiracies, with drone assassinations, population control, and Project Paperclip bringing Nazis to the US post-WWII. Couple that with Civil War having world governments attempt to register those with superpowers and continuing many of the themes of Winter Soldier, and these guys seem to be deliberately playing in the conspiracy theory sandbox. They’re taking the stuff of late night radio and translating it into ultra-mainstream blockbusters– not that such shows are as far outside the mainstream as they once were what with many of these concepts and theories running rampant in certain political circles– and it all feels deliberate, especially in the wake of Infinity War.
Thanos’ plan to make half the universe cease to exist so that those who remain may prosper is continuing Winter Soldier’s population control ideas. The conspiracy crowd loves this one, and Thanos’ plan plays into what they see as the end game: reducing the population to a manageable point so that the elite will have an easy to control lower class, while they reap the rewards of the world’s resources. Be it FEMA camps set up to take away good white Christian folk, chemtrails made to sterilize country folk, or “lies” about global warming meant to curtail mass consumption so that third world countries can prosper while the USA weakens and is taken over, all of these population control schemes revolve around some “other” from another part of the world pulling the strings so that “we” are culled from the population– “we” being white, Protestant Christian, heterosexual, gender conforming, conservative-leaning “natural-born” citizens of the United States. These population control schemes never take the form of genocide and slavery in Africa, wars in the Middle East, coups in Central America, or the slaughter of Native Americans for their land– it’s always Obama, The UN, The EU, or The Illuminati pulling the strings trying to get rid of very specific people, all while being preached about as wholesale murder.
The conspiracy crowd sees the “perpetrators” of this scheme much in the same way that Thanos is presented. They see any form of social engineering or thoughts of “betterment” of the world as a guise to slip in these means of control unnoticed, and it’s the “brave” theorists who see through the deception and are trying to warn the world that there’s no compassion in these ideas. That paranoia is made manifest in Thanos’ genuine belief that he’s a compassionate, loving entity doing what’s right for the universe.
Much like how Redford’s Alexander Pierce was a perfect boogeyman for that post-Bush/current-Obama era of politics, tapping into all sorts of concerns with those presidents, imagined and legitimate, Thanos is the perfect personification of everything the pro-Trump crowd hates. He’s a literal overreaching arm telling everyone that he knows better, and if that means you cease existing, so be it. That’s legitimately what many of these types believe comes out of any hint of social welfare, and Thanos is the “logical” extreme conclusion of those fears.
Then there’s the fact that Thanos’ plan ends with The Rapture.
With a snap of Thanos’ fingers, half the population is whisked away to who knows where. Who stays and who goes is seemingly arbitrary, but in a sense a certain kind of judgement has taken place. Those who disappeared apparently no longer exist (or maybe they went to the afterlife, or are trapped in the Soul Stone, who knows?), but they’re spared the suffering of being Left Behind. It’s those who remain who will actually experience the real “Infinity War,” having to right this wrong, suffer and sacrifice for the sake of those who were lost.
I’ve said it more than a few times on Twitter and Facebook, but there’s a certain strain of fundamentalist right-wing Christian who really does think they can usher in the biblical Apocalypse by triggering certain events, and they believe when the time comes they’ll be the ones spared before the Tribulation by being Raptured to Heaven. They’re the same types who see most non-Trump world leaders as variants of Thanos, and I really do think some of them think this is exactly how things need to play out, hence their support.
Yeah, Infinity War is the perfect movie for this moment in time, as all this insanity is presented as the culmination of 10 years of mostly mediocre pop culture artifacts. It’s a masterpiece born out of the celebration of entertainment mediocrity, much like our currently maddening situation was born out of the mediocrity of society.
P.S. Ebony Maw is awesome.