Fans and critics spent years discussing the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "villain problem," and when the situation was broken down it was pretty logical. After all, we're talking about a franchise built on the backs of its heroes, and, with some exceptions, it left the one-shot adversaries feeling temporary, disposable, and sometimes straight-up uninteresting. Fortunately, that is an issue that has fell by the wayside recently thanks to strong, compelling, and dynamic baddies, and it was this past summer that we saw the brand's best antagonist yet, Josh Brolin's Thanos, get his moment in the sun after six years of build-up.
This by itself creates an interesting new conundrum, however. Thanks to a powerhouse part in Avengers: Infinity War, the Mad Titan is now one of the most popular Marvel characters around, and because he's not a hero we expect to be leading his own eponymous blockbuster in Phase 4, the future for him after the untitled Avengers 4 is entirely unclear. That being said, it would be crazy for the studio to not try and tell more stories about the compelling, violent alien warlord -- and the good news is that the potential avenue has already presented itself. Late last month saw the news that Marvel is now developing a new feature about The Eternals, directed by Chloe Zhao, and it's this project that would be absolutely perfect to bring back Thanos after the end of his adventure with the Infinity Gauntlet in 2019.
Though it has not yet been fully established as canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos is actually part of the third generation of the Eternals -- a race created millions of years ago when alien beings known as Celestials visited Earth and performed experiments on proto-humanity. He was raised on Titan as part of the ruling families, with his father, Mentor, serving as the leader of the colony, and as he grew stronger and smarter he began to not only understand flaws within the society, but also develop a fascination with death. Thanks to a brief bit of exposition in Avengers: Infinity War, we know that he had serious conflicts with planet's leadership and eventually watched them destroy themselves, but there are still plenty of details that we still don't know about his world and experiences, and The Eternals could be the perfect place to do some exploration of those events.
It should be noted that the expectation wouldn't be to have Thanos be the lead of the film -- as previous reports have suggested that the relationship between Ikaris and Sersi will take center stage -- but he could certainly be included as a key supporting character in the plot, given his significance and importance in the world of the Eternals. This would not only allow us to see his race and society through fresh eyes, but also offer whole new perspective on his personality and philosophy, letting us to watch him become the universe-changing monster that we saw in full force this summer and possibly gain a new understanding of him. And as a special bonus, the fact that the story would have to be a prequel also makes it totally safe from whatever happens to the character at the end of Avengers 4, so even if he dies the franchise wouldn't have to bother with any fake-outs or miraculous resurrections to legitimately bring him back.
When you look at this whole situation ignoring the specific details of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Thanos in The Eternals would be a classic Hollywood move. There's a long tradition of studios pulling out stops to try and develop projects for special breakout characters, and that's absolutely a way to describe the Mad Titan, who stole the show from 20-plus beloved heroes this summer. The company could just choose to move forward without him, as they have with most of their villains, but that would be squandering an awesome opportunity. Just as he's had in the comics, Thanos has immense potential, and the perfect way to take advantage would be including him in Chloe Zhao's upcoming film.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.