Avengers: Infinity War VFX supervisor explains Thanos' drastic change in appearance

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May 8, 2018, 5:57 PM EDT

Six years ago, The Avengers’ end-credit scene teased the first live-action appearance of the Mad Titan, Thanos. Although Damion Poitier only portrayed Thanos for a few seconds of screen time, that may have been the most comic accurate version of the character. Josh Brolin took over the part in 2014, with a small appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy and a cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Each time he has appeared, Thanos’ physical features noticeably changed. According to WETA VFX supervisor Matt Aitken, Marvel gave the Avengers: Infinity War team the freedom to reimagine Thanos in order to ensure that the character could withstand the scrutiny of a leading role within the film.

Thanos in Age of Ultron

While speaking to ScreenRant, Aitken said that “it was a wonderful freedom” to be able to bring Thanos to the screen without trying to perfectly recreate his appearances in the previous films. 

“I think it’s one thing to have a Thanos who in those scenes was definitely more stylized, holed up for those short beats that he was in those films,” explained Aitken. “But when he had to be the lead character and hold film and appear in hundreds and hundreds of shots, it was great to have the latitude to refine his look, to make his facial appearance more natural, so he’s definitely more detailed and has a more natural shape to his face, to his lips, to his brow, his nose, and all those details we’re talking about in terms of the blemishes and the pores and the stubble.” 

Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy

Aitken also shared his belief that it would have been a mistake to simply match Thanos’ previous iterations for the new film. 

“If we’d been confined to those earlier iterations, it would have been too much of a limitation, I think, so that was never an issue,” recalled Aitken. “Right from the start, Marvel recognized the need to go to the next version of Thanos, and we were never asked to match that earlier version at all.”

Regarding Thanos’ next big screen role, Avengers: Infinity War directors Anthony and Joe Russo spoke to Uproxx and shot down a theory that the elusive name for Avengers 4 was spoken during the film. In a subsequent interview with, the Russos suggested that the title may not come from any previous Avengers comic.

“I don’t think there are any comics that correlate to it,” said Joe Russo. “I think we’re in pretty fresh territory with Avengers 4. If anything, I think it’s interesting after to go back and look at some of the Marvel films and view them through a different lens. But I can’t think of any comics in particular that would have value.” 

Presumably, Marvel will let everyone know what Avengers 4 will be called before it opens on May 3, 2019.