The Marvel Cinematic Universe took a very successful turn for the galactic this year with Guardians of the Galaxy, which is currently the second highest-grossing movie of 2014, and no doubt already making a killing in toy sales. While Phase Three might be kicking off with a more Earthbound tale in Captain America: Civil War, overall the massive slate of upcoming Marvel Studios movies seems set to expand even further into the cosmos.
Everything is leading up to a major confrontation with the very big, very bad supervillain Thanos, who has thus far been acting as something of a puppet master rather than a direct adversary to Marvel's heroes. Josh Brolin appeared as Thanos for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy, but thus far it's been uncertain when he'll next reprise the role. Luckily for Marvel fans, Brolin is currently doing a press tour for upcoming crime caper Inherent Vice, which means that he's being peppered with Marvel-related questions in interviews.
Nuke the Fridge offers a decent idea of when Thanos will next appear onscreen in an interview that quotes Brolin as saying, "It’s like, yeah, in 2016 and ’17, what am I going to be doing? Oh, I'm going to be doing [Marvel movies]." Since the only Marvel releases set for 2016 are Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War, it seems likely that Brolin is referring to his filming schedule rather than the movies' release schedule. Therefore when he says he'll be back to work for Marvel in 2016, it likely means that he'll appear in Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy 2 before arriving in full force as the main villain of Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part II.
With regards to his original casting, Brolin explained to CBM that it came about, "because of my good friend [Marvel producer] Louis D’Esposito... He called me up and started talking about this thing." The fact that he and D'Esposito were old friends made it easier to dig into the meat of Thanos: "It was nice because I could intimately talk to him about it. What I liked. What I didn’t like."
Brolin is no stranger to the sci-fi genre, but even in films like Men in Black III and The Hollow Man he at least had his real face onscreen. The experience of being a dangerous purple-skinned alien - if only for a few minutes of screen time - was pretty unusual and somewhat nerve-racking, Brolin told Cinema Blend:
"I love the idea of Thanos. Ultimately, it's Thanos against everyone. Why wouldn't you do that? It's a strange thing. I was more nervous doing that than I've been for a long time... I was sitting in front of 32 cameras and my face was sprayed with iridescent paint and all that. It was very, very different, but I like it. It's fun. It's different."
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019.