Having been built up as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s end of level boss for six years, Avengers: Infinity War had to make sure that Thanos lived up to such a lofty billing, with the very opening scene of the movie setting the tone that the Mad Titan was a force to be reckoned with, one unlike anything or anyone else that the franchise’s roster of heroes had ever faced before.
It was a bold strategy to effectively position Infinity War as Thanos’ story first and foremost, with the bulk of the narrative focusing more on his motivations and attempts to recover the Stones, rather than the Avengers trying to prevent him from doing so. It definitely paid off in spades, though, with the first half of the massive two-part event hauling in more than $2 billion at the box office.
However, one person that needed to be won over was Thanos creator Jim Starlin, who revealed in a new interview that he was worried Infinity War could turn out to be as terrible as Joss Whedon’s Justice League after he discovered Joe and Anthony Russo had cut 30 minutes of backstory to trim down the running time.
“I had been down to the set for the cameo shoot, and sat and talked with the two screenwriters, Markus and McFeely, and quite a bit with Joe Russo. In the Infinity War, they had a half-hour that they had to cut, which was going to be Thanos’s backstory. There was going to be a half-hour without the Avengers, apparently. So, I thought, ‘That’s pretty cool’. Then I was on a plane and I watched the Justice League movie, and they just sort of threw Steppenwolf in there at the end, and he does his thing. All in all, it was kind of a bad movie.
So about a month or so before the Infinity War came out Russo let me know that they had to cut the half-hour of Thanos. All I could think of was, ‘Oh my god, that’s going to make it into the Justice League movie’. I thought… I’m going to have to go the interviews and go, ‘Oh yeah, I love it. It’s great. That’s terrific’. Then the heart going, ‘Oh, it’s a piece of sh*t!’.”
The MCU’s villain problem has largely been overcome, but there was more than enough groundwork already laid to avoid any comparisons to the maligned theatrical edition of Justice League anyway. After all, Kevin Feige had painstakingly crafted his interconnected series over the course of a decade so that even the most minor plot beats of Avengers: Infinity War held dramatic stakes dating back years, while the DCEU’s all-star movie was butchered in post-production following the departure of Zack Snyder, leading to a woefully misjudged and crushingly disappointing effort.