The collective Marvel movie news membrane is still trembling after this week’s hard headline that fan-favorite director Edgar Wright dropped out of directing Ant-Man, a project he single-handedly pushed for just about a decade. While fans wait for the official word on Ant-Man‘s new director, they can feast on some HUGE casting news surrounding the MCU: the actor who is playing Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy – and maybe even beyond to films like The Avengers 3 – has been announced, and it’s none other than Josh Brolin.

Latino Review first dropped a rumor that has since been confirmed by Variety.

Thanos first appeared in the mid-credits scene of The Avengers (a motion-capture performance by actor Damion Poitier). It has since been teased that Thanos is acting as an over-arching villain whose machinations and presence will be felt all throughout the MCU – especially in a film like Guardians of the Galaxy, which further introduces Marvel’s cosmic characters and storylines. Following comic book canon, Thanos’ plot seems to be gathering together “Infinity Stones” like The Tesseract or The Aether, in order to form his Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon that essentially gives him the power of God.

After the events of Thor: The Dark World, we spoke with Marvel head Kevin Feige about Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet plot possibly coming to fruition in Avengers 3, where the Mad Titan will presumably take center stage, at last. We’ve also heard that Thanos will appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but how (and for how long) remains unclear.

Feige suggested about a month ago that the Thanos actor had already been cast, and at that time, we questioned what that late-in-the-game information meant in regards to how Thanos will be realized onscreen in Guardians. Will it be through CGI and voice work (like Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon)? Or perhaps through motion-capture performance (like Vin Diesel’s Groot)? Or, if they’ve had Brolin for some time, could they have already developed makeup and prosthetics for a traditional performance (like with Alexis Denisof, who played Thanos’ henchman The Other in Avengers)? And will the method used in Guardians stay consistent through future MCU films – or will the tactics change based on screen time, performance etc.?

Brolin in ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’

Since we don’t know yet how long Brolin has been with camp Marvel, the finer details about the nature of Thanos’ appearance in Guardians remain unclear for now – as does the question of whether or not this is a longterm casting, or simply more star power being put behind Guardians. However, knowing Marvel Studios, this chess move was almost definitely made diligently, with thought towards the future.

On a side note: this casting also knocks down one of two big rumors about Vin Diesel possibly having a bigger role in the MCU; now, with everything happening regarding The Kree alien race and mythos, it’s seeming more and more likely that Diesel could snag that Black Bolt role in Inhumans. Could Comic-Con 2014 be that very reveal?

For Brolin, this marks a fifth comic book role he’s taken on in the last few years. He played DC’s Jonah Hex (2010); stepped in to play the young version of Agent K in Men in Black 3; was the lead in Spike Lee’s American remake of Oldboy; and he will soon play a pre-surgery version of Clive Owen’s character in the prequel/interquel film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Of course, when it comes to playing an iconic villain like Thanos, Brolin is definitely stepping to the next level of comic book flicks. However, it’s pretty safe to say that he’s doing so as an actor likely to have the majority of fan approval at his back.

Let’s test that theory:

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TRAILER

Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America 3 on May 6 2016, and unannounced films for July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.

Sources: Variety & Latino Review