Why Thanos Will Be More Interesting Than Other MCU Villains, According To Infinity War’s Writers

Josh Brolin is Thanos

Needless to say, there will be spoilers in this article, so stop reading now if you want to go into Avengers: Infinity War knowing nothing.

He is the "Big Bad" of Avengers: Infinity War (and possibly Avengers 4... we still don't know for sure). And Marvel Studios has been teasing his arrival for years. But Thanos (Josh Brolin), the Mad Titan, has really only been shown as a ruler on a throne, or a giant purple dude who has a Gauntlet in storage, and plans on "doing" something himself. Hardly intimidating. So when CinemaBlend traveled to Atlanta to visit the set of Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War, we asked screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely how they plan to help Thanos stand out from previous villains in the MCU, and they told us:

Christopher Markus: Well, part of it is motivation, where if you have a villain who just wants to kill somebody or just wants to take over the world because it seems like a fun thing to do... that guy isn't very interesting. He's pathetic. But, we take this from [Thanos creator Jim] Starlin. Thanos is an amoral philosopher. He's not the Devil -- although he does sometimes have the Devil standing next to him. We wanted that all the way through. To have a villain with understandable motivations and emotions. Thanos has family. Thanos has two daughters that we know of. Thanos has 8 million back stories in the comics but they're all kind of sad.Stephen McFeely: What I want to point out, is that my favorite two [villains] in the entire MCU are Loki and Kilgrave, because he's creepy and awful, but really cares in a strange way.

The screenwriters went on to elaborate that they like the fact that some characters in the MCU who are painted as villains don't really SEE themselves as evil. They have a point to make, and it sets them at odds with the heroes, but they understand their motivations, and they think they are right. This sounds a bit like Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) from Black Panther. And it will establish a thread for Thanos. Stephen McFeely continued:

Chris [Markus] is right, they both have these weird family relationships. So Thanos will get the benefit of both of those things. He's got daughters that he clearly has to deal with, and James [Starlin] did a nice job of setting the table for us, but we're certainly going to run with that. And screen time. This is not an origin story. Very often, in the screen writing weeds, we're trying to get a character up and off the ground, and so the bad guy tends to be a foil for the development of the hero, and that's not the case here. If anything, it's the opposite. Our heroes are foils for the villain, whose story we need to tell at large.

In the process, they also wanted to create an actual character, and not just an empty threat. Stephen McFeely summarized:

One of the big challenges is how to make sure he's not just a relentless machine collecting stones like he's going shopping. So we want to give him a full, weighted emotional story. You can kind of say this is Thanos' origin story, so that he will get the weight of any of the previous heroes in terms of the decisions he has to make in order to get what he wants.

And from the looks of these trailers, they certainly are telling Thanos' story on a large scale.

We will have plenty more from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Also, all of our Avengers: Infinity War set coverage can be found here. And you can bookmark our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide to stay up to date on all of the future happenings in the MCU.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.