Marvel fixed it's long-standing "villain problem" by making an entire film about the villain. Josh Brolin brought Thanos to life in a way few have been able to do with motion capture characters, and we can apparently thank Benedict Cumberbatch for that. In a recent interview, Josh Brolin said that it was when he saw footage of Benedict Cumberbatch doing the motion capture work for Smaug in the Hobbit movies that he realized how serious motion capture work was, and that he wanted to do it. According to Brolin...
I saw Benedict Cumberbatch do, I think it was for The Hobbit, and I looked on YouTube when I was deciding whether I wanted to do it or not. And he [had] this mo-cap suit on, and he was in this big warehouse, and he's crawling around like a snake, snapping his tongue out, doing this incredible performance. And I saw that and I was like, 'Alright, that's the bar. This is not, like, bullshit. This is something you actually have to sink your teeth into.' Conviction, embarrassment, all that kind of stuff. Then I decided, yeah.
It's understandable that an actor might have reservations about doing motion capture work if they've never done it before. Traditionally they perform their craft with other actors on location or on sets that help create the atmosphere that gets them into character. When doing motion capture you don't even get to wear a costume that will make you feel like the person you're supposed to be. You wear a set of form-fitting pajamas covered in ping pong balls.
It seems that Josh Brolin's biggest concern, as he explained to Entertainment Weekly Radio, was that the part would somehow not be "real" acting, that he wouldn't be able to put himself out there the way he normally would due to the separation between him and the audience. However, when he saw Benedict Cumberbatch playing the part of a character that wasn't even human, and committing himself to it completely, he realized he could do the same.
Get a look below at one of the videos Josh Brolin may have actually watched himself to see Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Smaug.
We should all thank Benedict Cumberbatch for his inspiration, for it led to a remarkable performance by Josh Brolin. Thanos was a huge part of Avengers: Infinity War and if Brolin had been anything less than committed to it, it certainly would not have turned out as well as it did. We'll get another chance to see Brolin as Thanos when Avengers 4 arrives next year.