The Infinity Saga might be over, but it left a bunch of questions that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t answered yet, and one of the biggest ones is why Thanos gave the only Infinity Stone he had, the Mind Stone, to Loki in The Avengers. The events of the Infinity Saga are what shaped the MCU, and while its main players and objects are now gone, the impact of Thanos and his destructive plans can still be felt in the MCU’s Phase 4 – and while the MCU has been solving some mysteries and plot holes left by the Infinity Saga, there are many others that continue to be debated among viewers and making way for different theories.
Thanos was the main villain of the Infinity Saga, and his purpose was to acquire all six Infinity Stones along with the Infinity Gauntlet so he could bring balance to the universe by wiping out half of life in it. Thanos made his first appearance in the post-credits scene of The Avengers, but he was the real mastermind behind the conflict in the movie, as he was the one who planned the Chitauri invasion through an alliance with The Other and Loki. Thanos gave Loki the scepter that contained the Mind Stone, the only Infinity Stone he had at the time, which Loki used to control the minds of various humans, most notably Hawkeye and Erik Selvig. However, the newly formed Avengers defeated Loki and the Chitauri, and the scepter was taken by HYDRA under the disguise of S.T.R.I.K.E.
As the MCU evolved, Thanos’ decisions in The Avengers raised a bunch of questions, more so as his obsession with the Infinity Stones became clearer, and the biggest question is why he gave the only Infinity Stone he had to Loki. Thanos was controlling and always had a plan, so it’s strange that he would give the Mind Stone to someone he probably knew wouldn’t be able to fulfill the mission, and this has made way for different theories on why Thanos gave the Mind Stone to Loki and the real plan he might have had when he did so.
The more characters, events, and objects the MCU adds, the more confusion, retcons, and plot holes it creates, but at the same time, it offers more possible answers to this universe’s biggest questions. That said, one theory about why Thanos gave the Mind Stone to Loki links his reasons and plans to the Civil War conflict. The Battle of New York doesn’t make much sense anymore, as Loki and the Chitauri were sent to Earth so the former could get the Space Stone (contained in the Tesseract) and take it back to Thanos, but once he got it, he continued creating chaos on Earth. This can easily be seen as Loki being Loki and doing what he pleased, but it might have all been part of a bigger plan. Loki’s invasion exposed the hidden, negative feelings among the Avengers and brought out their weaknesses, which was an early sign of an inevitable fracture on the team. The Mind Stone was also responsible for the creation of enemies and allies of the Avengers: Ultron, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision, and while all but Ultron became heroes, Scarlet Witch accidentally triggered the events of Captain America: Civil War, and the Battle of Sokovia also turned Zemo into a villain, as he lost his family due to the Avengers’ conflict with Ultron.
The Civil War conflict worked in Thanos’ favor and he didn’t even have to get his hands dirty. The fracturing of the original Avengers team, and mostly the conflict between Iron Man and Captain America, left the team weak by the time Thanos launched his biggest attack in Avengers: Infinity War. With the team split in two, the Avengers weren’t able to respond against Thanos and his armies as they should have, which gave Thanos a major advantage, allowing him to fulfill his plans of bringing balance to the universe. Thanos, then, knew Loki would lose the Mind Stone and wanted him to do so, making Thanos an even more menacing and brilliant villain.
Another theory links Thanos’ reasons to give the Mind Stone to Loki to Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers’ debut movie is set in the 1990s, and it revealed that Earth was invaded by aliens years before the Chitauri arrived, all thanks to the Kree and the Skrulls. Captain Marvel also revealed that the Space Stone gave Carol her powers, and the use of the Stone on Earth back then could have alerted Thanos of its presence, making way for his plan involving the Mind Stone and a fallen Asgardian prince. Captain Marvel’s actions in her first solo movie, in which she saved Earth and established herself as one of this universe’s most powerful heroes, sent a powerful message to the galaxy that Earth had a powerful being protecting it – and given that Thanos had links to the Kree, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, he surely heard about Carol Danvers. Thanos, then, instead of doing things by himself at first, used others to get what he wanted, and in Loki’s case, he used him to see if the powerful woman who defeated the Kree was still on Earth, protecting it.
An alternative to the previous theory is that Thanos used Loki and the Mind Stone to test Earth and how weak or strong their defenses could be. Supposing Thanos never heard about Captain Marvel, Earth would have been a perfect target for a massive invasion, but the Mad Titan wouldn’t have thrown himself into it without knowing what he was dealing with – but he wasn’t going to get his hands dirty, either (at least not yet). Thanos would have given the Mind Stone to Loki so he could test how the inhabitants of Earth defended themselves, but to their surprise, their attack triggered the creation of the original Avengers team, making way for Thanos’ biggest enemies in the MCU.
Another theory, posted on Reddit, suggests that Thanos’ real goal when he gave the Mind Stone to Loki was destabilizing Asgard so he could get to Nidavellir and have an Infinity Gauntlet made for him. Nidavellir is one of the Nine Realms, homeworld to the Dwarves, and the place where weapons like Mjolnir were created. Nidavellir was guarded by the Asgardian army, and it was the only place where an object strong enough to hold the power of the Infinity Stones could be created. Now, with all this in mind, Thanos’ plan would have been to use Loki to destabilize Asgard by pitting him against his brother, Thor, and simply by allying with Thanos, Loki would have been defying Odin’s will. Loki’s actions on Earth with the Mind Stone and his battle against the Avengers would have been enough reason to distract the Asgardian army, allowing Thanos to invade Nidavellir and force Eitri to create a gauntlet for him. Surely, Thanos didn’t give the Mind Stone to Loki by mistake, but his real reasons and plans continue to be a mystery.