The Moral Question Behind Infinity War

by Sean McDowell

[Spoiler Alert!]

This weekend I saw Infinity War. Actually, to be honest, I saw it twice. And I loved it.

There have been many helpful movie reviews, but surprisingly little has been written on the key moral question behind the film. Let me explain.

The Moral Question

The movie begins with Loki having to decide whether to give Thanos the tesseract, which contains the space stone that Thanos needs as part of his journey to destroy half the beings in the universe, or allow Thanos to kill his brother, Thor. Should Loki sacrifice one life to save the rest?

Scarlett Witch must similarly decide whether to destroy the mind stone embedded in the forehead of Vision, and thus end Vision’s life. Doctor Strange faces the dilemma of allowing Thanos to kill Iron Man or give up the time stone. And Star-Lord also has to decide whether or not to kill Gamora (at her request) rather than allowing Thanos to use her to get the soul stone.  

Although these various scenarios have subtle (and important) differences, Infinity War invites thoughtful viewers to consider a pressing moral question: Under what conditions is it morally just to sacrifice an innocent life (or lives) to save others?

The Question Matters

This is not merely an academic question. In fact, it underlies many ethical issues of our day: Are drones morally just even if some innocents will die? Is euthanasia permissible if it preserves resources to protect others in the future? Is abortion permissible if the life of the mother is in jeopardy?

I am not going to pretend to answer these questions in depth. But allow me to offer two key distinctions for thought…


The Moral Question Behind Infinity War