It has to be pretty stressful watching a character you created make their debut in a feature film – and a film you have no control over. How will your “baby” be interpreted? Will all of your hard work, your blood and sweat, be tossed out like bathwater in favor of a new director’s vision? Will it all turn out so very wrong?
These were the fears flowing through legendary comic-book writer Jim Starlin’s creative brain as Marvel Studios mounted both Avengers: Infinity War and its conclusion, Avengers: Endgame. The movies were going to be based on a story Starlin wrote in 1991 (The Infinity Gauntlet), and would be the first MCU movie to fully feature Thanos (Josh Brolin) as a significant character.
When we recently had the chance to sit down and interview Jim Starlin as Avengers: Endgame was making its way to DVD and Blu-ray, we asked him the moment that he realized that Thanos worked, and he could stop worrying. He told us:
Two minutes into the film. I didn’t even have to wait for the Hulk to get beat up, I said, ‘I’m fine. It works. Enjoy the film.’ He looked very cool right from the start. [Josh Brolin did an] unbelievable job, In fact, his movements and the cadence of his delivery was like, it seemed like he’d been reading my mind and studying the comic books on how he moves. The moving, in particular, is what impressed me the most.
If you can’t recall, Avengers: Infinity War begins where Thor: Ragnarok ends. Thanos and his Black Order have boarded a ship piloted by Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). He’s seeking the Tesseract, and he lays waste to a community of Asgardians. It’s a fantastic introduction for the iconic character.
So Jim Starlin admits that he was able to breathe easy almost immediately, as this opening scene – written by the brilliant Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – eased him mind and made him realize that Marvel Studios was going to do justice to the Mad Titan. Even though the MCU required some major changes to the Infinity Gauntlet story, due to characters the studio does not own (like The Silver Surfer and Mephisto).
But there was another concern lingering in Jim Starlin’s mind as he approached the release of Avengers: Infinity War, and it had to do with the way that DC had tried, and failed, to being their major team to the big screen in Justice League the year prior. As Starlin told us:
I had pretty good faith in it because I’d seen Civil War, I’d seen what Marvel had done so far. But Joe Russo called me up about a month before Infinity War had come out and said, ‘Well, we gotta cut out all of that stuff about how – there was a Thanos backstory – because the movie was going to be two-and-a-half hours long, and they only want two hours on this one. And I had made the mistake of watching the Justice League movie about a week before. And you know, when he told me this, all I could think was, ‘Ah, it’s going to be just like the Justice League, where Thanos comes in, and… oh my goodness…’
Yeah, that’d be cause for alarm. Much like Steppenwolf and Darkseid in the DC universe, Thanos is a complicated character with a rich backstory. We get hints of it in Avengers: Infinity War. But the movie could have used more, as the books lend more layers to the dominant villain.
Want to watch our full interview with Jim Starlin? Then press play on the video down below: