The MCU isn’t generally known for its memorable villains, but Avengers: Infinity War served as a rare case of a Marvel movie in which the bad guy was a genuine character of focus, rather than a vague obstacle for the hero to overcome, and most fans would agree that Josh Brolin’s Thanos made the best of the spotlight.
In Titan’s upcoming book Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years, producer Kevin Feige reflects on the purple tyrant and the lengthy build-up he’s had, observing how the foundations for the Mad Titan’s arrival were laid across multiple movies.
“Thanos has been lurking in the shadows with a desire to obtain these Infinity Stones, which has played a big part in our other films,” Feige says. “We’ve introduced the Tesseract, revealed to be the Space Stone; the Mind Stone, which came out of Loki’s scepter and then went into Vision’s forehead; and the Time Stone: the Eye of Agamotto that Doctor Strange wears is an Infinity Stone itself! And of course the Guardians dealt with the Power Stone.
“So these storytelling devices that we’ve seeded into every film will continue to play a part and come together. We’ve been teasing this for six years. That’s a long time to tease something cinematically before paying it off. Thanos has to be the greatest villain in our movies.”
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Plenty of fans would surely argue that the MCU has yielded more intriguing villains than Thanos – Loki and Killmonger being just two popular examples – but there’s no denying that the franchise has put the work in to build up Thanos as the biggest threat that our heroes have faced yet.
Of course, while the Mad Titan’s first starring vehicle has left this cinematic universe in a pretty grime state, it’s evident that we’ll be seeing a turning of the tables in Avengers 4. After that, you have to wonder which, if any, fresh big bad this franchise will be laying the groundwork for next – and what’s more, whether they should play this long game again. After all, it’s been argued Marvel’s “villain problem” stems partly from the need to build up the Mad Titan’s arrival as such an all-important moment, relegating other antagonists (Loki excepted) to the status of single-movie placeholders.
But before we worry too much about Marvel’s Phase 4, the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War will first be bringing this current, Thanos-centric era to a close when it hits theaters on May 3rd, 2019