He’s been built up quite heavily for the past six years, so Thanos needs to be by far the most dangerous, evil and formidable antagonist Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have ever faced when he goes on the hunt for the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War. While that does look to be the case, it also seems that Josh Brolin’s ridged-chinned villain will have some unlikely shades of grey as well.
In an interview with Fandango, co-director Joe Russo was asked who the most surprising character in Infinity War will be. He decided on Thanos, as the villain will be a mix of both “horrifying” and “empathetic.” Joe revealed that he and his brother Anthony think the Mad Titan sees himself as the hero of his own story.
“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.
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Continuing on, he said:
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.”
A few details have already come our way which suggest how Thanos might be “empathetic” in Infinity War. Chief amongst them being that the villain’s motivations and goals from the comics have been swapped for an almost noble quest to save the universe from itself. It just so happens that his extreme method for this is to wipe out half of all life in existence.
The recent trailer for the movie also hinted at a slightly softer side to Thanos. Though he is depicted as brutal and ruthless in his fight with the Avengers, a flashback showed him holding hands with his young adoptive daughter, Gamora, suggesting that he’s capable of caring for others.
Given all this, the Russos’ bold claim that he’s the “main character” of the film is beginning to make more sense, and we’ll finally get to see Thanos leave his mark on the MCU when Avengers: Infinity War slams into cinemas on April 27th.