As those who have seen Avengers: Infinity War can attest, Thanos is a very serious villain. Not only is his gigantic and physically imposing, but he also has a disturbing intellect, and terrifying aspirations. There really isn't much to laugh about when he's on screen... but that wasn't always the case when filming. This is because Josh Brolin wasn't always just wearing performance capture suits on set, but also the occasional giant body part. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo recently told me,
Anthony Russo: The program we're using for Thanos is unbelievable. The techniques you have to use sometimes, though, to connect the actual physical performer with the character is really interesting. Sometimes we would have to wrap Josh Brolin in these very large body parts so people had to interact with his body...A thick arm, or a gigantic barrel chest.
Joe Russo: He looked a little bit like Grimace. Those were the days where it skewed slightly ridiculous.
I learned about the "lighter" side of Thanos late last month when I had the pleasure of sitting down with Anthony and Joe Russo at the Los Angeles press junket for Avengers: Infinity War. I had asked them about working with the performance capture technology, as well as Josh Brolin's lack of experience with it -- and it was within that conversation that they brought up the giant prosthetic body parts.
Hopefully we'll get to see some of this footage on the Blu-ray, because it's doubtful that we'll see it any time soon. Marvel is likely being very protective of Thanos' image right now while the film is still trekking its way to a billion dollars at the box office, and they probably won't want to officially release anything that will make audiences think he's too silly to see as a credible threat. Our fingers will definitely be crossed hoping that they include some of this amazing-sounding footage on the Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray/DVD that will be released in last summer/early autumn.
Steering the conversation back towards more serious territory, Joe Russo continued by noting the true care that went into the creation of Thanos via Josh Brolin's performance. The actor's movements were not only tracked and replicated to become Thanos' but the technology being utilized allowed them to have the Mad Titan fully express every emotion of the actor portraying him. Said the director,
Brolin would not only be captured by our cameras live so we can get his body movement - he'd have a bunch of tracking balls all over his body - but he also had face cams pointing at him so that we could capture his facial structure. So everything you see in the movie that Thanos does is Josh Brolin. And the nuances are pretty spectacular.
As I wrote in my review for Avengers: Infinity War, I couldn't agree more. There is an argument to be made that Thanos is one of the greatest performance capture creations of all time, as he is just endless impressive in physical form on screen. It's amazing to see how far this technology has come, and at this point it's hard to even imagine what the next level even looks like.