Avengers: Infinity War co-director Joe Russo says that fans may empathize with Thanos (Josh Brolin) in the film. It's an interesting idea considering that he's billed as being the biggest and baddest villain that the Avengers have ever faced. The Earth's Mightiest Heroes need all the help they can get if they want to stand a chance against the Mad Titan, who will stop at nothing to collect all six Infinity Stones to execute his universe-altering plans.
Despite the MCU's unparalleled success, their villains are still their weakest link, but that's something that seems to be changing if recent villains such as Hela (Cate Blanchett) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) are anything to go by. And creating a memorable villain is one thing that the Infinity War's creative team wants to ensure, so much so that audiences may actually come to empathize with the new supervillain.
In an interview with Fandango, Joe Russo discussed the complexities of Thanos as a villain - promising an empathetic but scary character at the same time - and he even agreed that the forthcoming Avengers' foe is similar to Black Panther's Erik Killmonger in some ways, who's regarded as arguabaly the best MCU villain thus far:
"Who's the most surprising? Let's take Thanos. I don't want to keep defaulting to him but I think people will find him at turns horrifying and at turns empathetic. ... Certainly, we love villains with depth and it was really, you know, in Winter Soldier what motivated us to work on that film is the fact that Captain America was unwittingly going up against his best friend. As a villain it’s an incredibly rich backstory and potential for real drama there, so we love complicated villains. Civil War, Zemo is a victim, he was victimized by the Avengers. His family was killed and he blames them for it, so we always try to find the human side of a villain because in every villain's story, they're the hero in their own story. Their point of view is that they're right. And I find that when I watch films where the villain is more complex I find that it makes the heroes more complex and ultimately in the story more interesting."
To back up Joe's claims, it was very clever for Marvel Studios to reveal hints of Thanos' backstory in Avengers 3, which is why the latest Infinity War trailer shows Gamora as a child (pictured above), with Thanos "adopting" her as his daughter. At that point, the intergalactic villain was nothing more but a father figure to a young kid, granted that he kidnapped her from her real parents. The juxtaposition of seeing Gamora's small hand grabbing the Mad Titan's and knowing that those same fingers can kill half of the universe with just a snap of his fingers is both heart-wrenching and frightening.
Furthermore, giving Thanos a new backstory and motivation in the film is a good move for Marvel. For a time, fans believed that the Russos would adapt the Mad Titan's comic book inspiration (wooing Mistress Death) for wanting to obliterate half of the universe, especially after his creepy post-credit scene in The Avengers, which talks about "courting death." While the print arc was certainly fascinating, giving him a more justifiable cause, so to speak - to prevent another extinction like what happened on Titan - is arguably much more understandable for general audiences than a supervillain wanting to win the affections of Death incarnate.
Despite the several dozens of heroes appearing in Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos will undoubtedly be the most important character in the movie. Marvel Studios needs to nail his big-screen adaptation in order for the whole movie, and its still-untitled sequel, to work. Otherwise, their 10 years' worth of stories won't have the pay off that fans have been hoping for if the Mad Titan isn't any different from all the other MCU villains that came before him.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018