This might be the most difficult decision the MCU playoff committee has ever had to make. Thanos, ranked #1 through most of a dominant season, has now lost two extremely competitive head-to-head matchups with Thor and Iron Man. He now may be on the outside looking in at the MCU 4-Team Playoff.
We’ve never seen a 2-loss character make the top 4, but both of Thanos’s l’s are quality losses. And, to me, Thanos’s wins/strength of schedule are so impressive that he still deserves the #4 seed this year. With the top 3 seeds all locked up, let’s take a look at the contenders for this year’s 4th playoff spot and make the case for Thanos.
MCU Playoff Locks
Thor, in my mind, has locked up the #1 overall seed with an incredible resume. He continued his 1500 year win streak over his most hated rival Loki. Recently he got a huge win at home in Asgard in an instant classic revival of the Ragnarok Rivalry Shootout against Hela. Finally, he picked up an utterly dominant neutral-site win in Wakanda against Thanos’s army in Infinity War before closing out the season with an impressive overtime…head-to-head…victory against Thanos.
Iron-Man’s resume is nowhere near as strong as Thor’s on paper. Thor has dominated the Asgardian Cosmos Conference against mythical gods and aliens while Tony Stark plays in an extremely weak division. Stark’s resume is full of weak wins against opponents like Whiplash, Justin Hammer, The Mandarin – Slattery (not even the REAL Mandarin University main campus that people know), and…some old dude in a robot suit? WEEEEEEAK.
But let’s be honest, the committee loves a strong brand name for ratings and if there’s any chance to include a traditional blue blood like Iron-Man over smaller Group of 5 upstarts. Teams like Shang-Chi, Captain Marvel, or Doctor Strange, they’re always going to choose the classic powerhouse.
To his credit, Tony Stark did avenge his only regular season loss to Thanos by recovering and getting the aforementioned head-to-head win in the conference championship game. So I think he’s a lock for the 2 or 3-seed.
The other playoff lock, and my personal #2 seed this season, is Spider-Man. He was unranked in the preseason polls after a disappointing ending to last season. But after firing the coach last year, he came back on to the scene in a huge way. Peter reeled off an impressive win streak with W’s against Vulture, Mysterio, the Mysterio allegations, Doctor Strange, the admissions council at MIT, and out-of-universe wins against Doc Ock, Electro, Lizard, and former champion Green Goblin.
Parker would have the #1 seed if not for the fact that Thor and Iron-Man picked up wins against Thanos. There’s an argument about whether he’s #2 or #3, but he’s in the playoffs easily.
On the MCU Bubble
There’s 3 characters with legitimate arguments for the final playoff spot. Let’s hear the arguments for and against each of them:
After a rocky start to the season at the Battle of Sokovia, Wanda Maximoff has rounded in to playoff contender form as of late. After taking a loss with Ultron and switching conferences, she’s had an impressive streak of wins and was on her way to defeating Thanos head-to-head before an extended lightning delay caused a cancelation. She definitely passes the eye test after an impressive blowout of Agatha Harkness in the Battle of Westview.
No one is quite sure what to do with Black Panther’s playoff seeding. He’s more than earned a spot in the top 4. His 1 loss is at home against Killmonger, but he did avenge that in the Wakanda Conference Championship. He also picked up Top-10 road wins against Captain America and Winter Soldier along with a victory over Zemo that became more impressive after Zemo’s matchups with Falcon, Bucky, and the Flag Smashers. But it’s hard to know whether or not Black Panther will be able to play in the postseason. We’ll have to see what happens with the NCAA’s investigation, aka the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
With the uncertainty around Black Panther’s ability to play in the playoffs, I think Thanos becomes the easy choice for the 4th seed. He does have the 2-losses, but they’re the highest quality losses you can have. Wins on his resume include a dominant victories over the Hulk, Loki (+half the people of Asgard), most of the Guardians of the Galaxy, his own daughters (+ half the people of their home planets), most of the Avengers (including hitting Tony Stark over the head with a goddam moon), and then literally half of every living thing in every part of the universe. An OT loss to the #1 seed and an alternate timeline loss to the #3 seed are certainly not a great look, but they shouldn’t erase what we all know is an obvious fact. Thanos is 1 of the 4 best characters in the MCU. And he deserves a playoff spot.
My MCU Playoff Rankings at the moment are:
#5 Scarlet Witch
#6 Black Panther
Who would be your top 4 MCU characters in an NCAA football style playoff?
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