“This is not love,” Gamora says, as Thanos turns on her. In the theater watching the scene on Vormir for the first time, in which the murderous villain Thanos with the goal of murdering 50% of all life in the universe is told that he must destroy that which he loves to receive an all powerful Infinity Stone, I thought she was right. Thanos did not love his “favorite daughter” Gamora, not truly. If he did, in so much as someone like him is capable of loving anything, it was as a possession, or a trophy a serial killer might take. He massacred her people, her family, forced her to be an assassin for him, tortured her, and her adoptive sister, and her found family after she defied him. The Guardians of the Galaxy truly loved Gamora. They had a whole climax of the first Guardians movie about it.
“This is not love,” Gamora says, and I was so sure she was going to be right that I wasn’t concerned for her safety as Thanos grabbed her and she struggled futilely in his grip. Even if he threw her off the cliff, I reasoned, the Infinity Stone would reject Thanos. Or maybe Gamora would be saved at the last moment by the Guardians coming in at the last second. But, no, surely it was more likely that the Stone would save her, because Thanos was Gamora’s abuser at his very best, and the Stone wanted him to throw away something he loved. Like a fairy tale, he should have had to give up his goal, or his strength, or some integral part of him that would ache like missing a limb.
But that is not what happened.
The universe does not agree with Gamora, a daughter of Thanos only through kidnapping and threat. Thanos gets the stone for his murder of a woman whose life has been haunted and tormented by his greed, his cruelty, and his ambition.
Gamora was fridged so that Thanos — whose arc in Infinity War is explicitly defined as that of the protagonist by the directors — would feel bad in his quest to (checks notes) commit universe-wide genocide. She is quite literally his sacrifice to achieve his goals, a rich female character we’ve grown with over two movies distilled down to nothing more than an obstacle to a man’s goals, and then later an excuse for another man to be too emotional to complete the plan to save the universe.
As an aside: I am, for the record, extremely sympathetic to Peter Quill’s actions in Infinity War (and I am well aware that not everyone is). His reaction is absolutely in character, especially given that Peter is victim of a man fridging a woman in his life so that they, the murderer, could continue on with their murder plans without her getting in the way but, like, totally feels bad about having had no other choice but to kill this woman they supposedly loved. His reaction to the murder of a woman he loves for the “greater good” twice now is understandable, and echoes my grieving rage at the situation. The movie however, frames his grief as the “weak point” of the heroes, and the wrong thing to do as it ultimately prevents our heroes from beating Thanos. The narrative seems to say that anyone loving Gamora dooms the universe, one way or another, and we’d all be better off if she was never loved at all.
Thanos quite literally trades a woman for a shiny gemstone, and Infinity War not only lets him get away with it, but says that his definition of love is more correct than that of his victim. To steal a quote from a fantastic SYFY Wire article on the subject: “It’s okay, though, because Thanos cries. Yes! You heard me right. When Thanos decides to murder his adoptive daughter Gamora, who he abused for most of her life, a redemptive tear rolls down his cheek. WORTH IT.”
The next film brings back a version of Gamora, still serving Thanos, without the development of either of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. Her only real scene with anyone who isn’t Nebula from her found family is to knee Peter Quill repeatedly in the balls (but ha ha he learned she was murdered by Thanos literally five minutes ago and is relieved she’s back but the joke’s on him). I hope there is a way to restore Gamora’s memories of this universe, and that direction is the one they’re going in the next films, but I am extremely skeptical after her treatment in Infinity War. Many fans are similarly frustrated, and have dubbed it the MCU’s Gamora Problem.
Unequivocally, Gamora deserved better. I will always wonder what could have happened if Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was her next movie and not Infinity War. And, if anyone deserved to ultimately defeat Thanos and kill him, it was her and her equally abused sister Nebula. Unfortunately, Gamora became a footnote in a story arc that ought to have been more focused on her than the Avengers, shifted off to the side so that people who had first heard his name the day before could have the big beef set up with him that bleeds into the next movie.
The only thing that makes me angrier than Gamora’s unjust death, and the fact that they wiped her character development slate clean just as she found true happiness within a life she built for herself free of abuse, is that they did it twice.
Both prominent original only female members of otherwise all-male superhero teams were killed for the exact same reason, for the exact same thing, and next month, I am talking about Natasha Romanoff.