SPOILER ALERT: Avengers: Infinity War spoilers lie ahead if you have yet to see the movie, and plan on doing so, you may not want to keep reading. Thanks for clicking though!
Tom Brady and Thanos both set out on a quest to become the most powerful being in the galaxy.
Thanos achieved his goal by accumulating the six infinity stones in Avengers: Infinity War. Brady achieved his by accumulating six Super Bowl rings (so far). So, when Brady posted a picture to Twitter wearing Tony Stark’s infinity gauntlet, and the Patriots then posted one with the stones replaced by his Super Bowl rings, I had to weigh in on which ring replaced each stone. Thanks to SlotMachinePlayer for the idea!
Let’s start, as most stories do, at the beginning.
Tom Brady earned his first ring in Super Bowl 36 against the St. Louis Rams. The infinity stone that he acquired that day was the Mind Stone. The reason? It’s simple: with St. Louis stealing momentum away from the Patriots and scoring 14 straight points to tie the game, the Patriots got the ball back, deep in their own territory, with only 1:21 left to go. Some quarterbacks, especially at Brady’s young age, would not be able to handle the pressure of that situation. But Brady calmly avoided a sack on the first play and led his team down the field to set up Adam Vinatier’s game-winning field goal.
There’s an interesting parallel here, one that we may explore a little later (that’s called foreshadowing, people). When Thanos acquires the Mind Stone, he rips it out of Vision’s head, but not before using the Time Stone to turn undo Scarlet Witch destroying the stone before he could get to it. Luckily, Brady didn’t have to kill anyone to get his Mind Stone. Unless, of course, you count the hopes and dreams of 30 other fan bases (that’s not a misprint, the Houston Texans weren’t formed until 2002 — seriously, look it up).
Up next is another last-second win: Super Bowl 38, against the Carolina Panthers. That day, Brady acquired the Soul Stone. The reasoning here might be a little more abstract than the first one, but it’s pretty simple. The soul goes beyond just the mind, and goes to the intangibles of greatness. By authoring another comeback on the game’s biggest stage, Brady was proving that he wasn’t just a one-hit-wonder, but that he had what it took to be continuously great.
Brady wasn’t perfect in this game, he threw a costly fourth quarter interception that allowed the Panthers to take the lead on the ensuing drive. He overcame it though, leading a touchdown drive, with a successful two-point conversion to go up by seven again. Then, after the Panthers tied the game, he got the ball back with 1:08 left. Again, Brady led the Patriots down the field to set up another Vinatieri game-winner.
Thanos acquired the Soul Stone in a much more gruesome fashion. Forced to give up what he truly loves, Thanos cries as he has no choice but to throw Gamora off the cliff to her death. After she remarks about Thanos’ tears, Red Skull says, “They’re not for him,” and it is one of the most haunting lines of the entire movie, as the audience and Gamora find out simultaneously that her fate has been sealed by her terrible father.
Brady obviously didn’t have to throw anyone off a cliff — *cough* Max Kellerman *cough* — to acquire his second infinity stone, but it did require an extreme amount of effort to achieve it nonetheless. 24 total points were scored in the final seven minutes of the game, and 37 total points in the fourth quarter. In fact, all 61 points were scored in just two quarters, the second and fourth. That’s a lot of points in a short amount of time.
Up now is Tom Brady’s favorite ring, the next one (I promise I won’t make that joke again): it’s Super Bowl 39, against the Philadelphia Eagles. A close game by score, but a game that never really felt in doubt. By winning this game, Brady acquired the Reality Stone. With this win, the NFL had to accept the reality that the Patriots were truly a dynasty, winning back-to-back Super Bowls and three in four years, and also that Brady was an all time elite QB.
Thanos, of course, acquired the Reality Stone when he went to Knowhere and destroyed everything to steal the stone, which was held by the collector. He then tricks the Guardians, minus Groot and Rocket, using the stone. A scene that ends with Star Lord firing bubbles at Gamora since he promised to kill her, while Mantis and Drax watch in literal pieces on the ground.
Brady uses no trickery here, except, of course, when he thew the touchdown pass to Mike Vrabel. The NFL had to simply accept that the reality of the league having changed for good.
Up next is Tom Brady’s favorite ring, the next one (oh no, we might be stuck in a time loop): Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks. In this game, Brady acquired the Space Stone. The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history at the time, against, arguably, the greatest defense of all time? That is truly an out-of-this-world performance. See what I did there? Space, out of this world... nailed it. But seriously, erasing a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit against that team was something special. And then, Malcolm Butler intercepting the ball at the goal line was icing on the cake and made it one of the most memorable football games of all time.
Thanos acquired the Space Stone when he killed Loki, the God of Mischief, as he tries to trick Thanos into letting his guard down. It obviously didn’t work, and Thanos easily dispatched of Loki and everyone else on the ship, including Thor and Hulk, with ease.
Brady, too was plagued by a mischievous problem: ridiculous catches at the end of Super Bowls. Twice since his last win, he had suffered a loss because of one, and yet another one happened in this game. Luckily, the Patriots were not fooled at the goal line, and dispatched the Seahawks, all but ending their run of dominance.
Up now, is Tom Brady’s favorite ring, the next one (Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain): Super Bowl 51, against the Atlanta Falcons. In this game, Brady acquired the Power Stone. It’s probably the most unbelievable game in NFL history, and Brady showed off his power to overcome any obstacle he faces, even if it’s a 25-point deficit in the third quarter and a 19-point deficit in the fourth. With the Power Stone, Brady became, undeniably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, but to truly become the most powerful being in the universe, he would need that last stone.
To acquire the Power Stone, Thanos destroyed the planet of Xandar, where the Nova Corps has been keeping the stone since it was retrieved by the Guardians of the Galaxy. By the way, can we talk about how John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and all their friends and families were killed by Thanos off screen? I mean, Reilly was awesome in Guardians, and he had a cute alien family that Thanos just murdered in his pursuit, and it barely even gets mentioned. These are the things I think about.
Although Brady didn’t literally destroy a world to get the Power Stone, he kind of did. Every single person outside of New England was dancing in the street during the first half, thinking the Patriots’ dynasty was over, and then, faster than you can say “Omaha,” everyone’s good time was crushed by Tom Brady, again. Perhaps my favorite video of this is featuring Peyton Manning (I know it’s hard to believe that he would have a camera crew at his house, I like to think of it as a recreation, like the ones in Drunk History or Unsolved Mysteries).
The final ring was Super Bowl 53 against the Los Angeles Rams — and it looks like we’ve finally broken the time loop, which can only mean one thing: Brady acquired the Time Stone. The reasoning is easy: not only did he beat the Rams, but he also took down Father Time with his latest championship.
Thanos’ pursuit of the Time Stone brought him to Titan to fight Iron Man, Vision, Spider-Man, and most of the Guardians. The ensuing fight is one of the most memorable in the movie. Thanos throws a planet at Tony Stark, Spider-Man hits Thanos with a bunch of magic kicks, and they almost get the infinity gauntlet off his hand, before Star Lord ruins it. It ends with Thanos bearing down on Tony, not only threatening to kill him, but already being pretty far along in the process. Strange stops him and gives him the Time Stone, bargaining Tony’s life for the stone. When Thanos does finally snap, Strange tells Stark that there was no other way, and that they’d be “in the end game now.” Boy, does that pay off.
That is the single greatest difference between Brady and Thanos, other than the whole purple thing, Brady has the infinity gauntlet, but he hasn’t yet snapped his fingers. His haters remain alive and well, still saying he isn’t elite, and that his skills have fallen off. Still questioning how much longer he will be an effective quarterback. Still doubting his greatness and denying him his rightful spot at the top of every list.
Unless someone figures find out a way to travel back through the multiverse and get the stones before him, it’s only a matter of time until he snaps his fingers.
Let me know what you think of my list in the comment section or on Twitter @plane_pats. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, if you’re an MCU fan, check out my new podcast Armchair Superheroes for tons of fun superhero content.