This weekend, The Mad Titan finally takes his rightful place upon the throne of the MCU as Avengers: Infinity War opens wide. But even though the seeds for his takeover were planted long ago, Marvel had to wait to give Thanos his deserved spotlight, because there just weren’t enough heroes to fight him.
Back in the post credits scene of Joss Whedon’s Avengers film (2012), Marvel introduced audiences to Thanos, grinning madly when a Chitauri leader tells him that to underestimate humans is to “court Death itself.” But though we’ve known since then that he was a huge power broker within the MCU, his machinations were only made in shadows, and he’s only now coming into the big baddie light.
While speaking with Slashfilm, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige explains why: “… we always knew that if we were gonna do any justice to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline there had to be more characters. So Thanos was never gonna be the bad guy in Avengers 2. He was never gonna be the bad guy in Guardians of the Galaxy. Because there weren’t enough heroes to fight him.”
Now, 19 films in, with heroes representing multiple factions of the Marvel Universe, Thanos is getting his big blue due.
Interestingly, Feige’s revelation above came after being asked if the first idea to do Infinity War stemmed from that initial introduction to Thanos, as set up by Whedon.
“It was an evolution,” said Feige, who then went on to explain how the first Captain America movie was part of that evolution as well.
“…we really wanted to do Captain America as a World War II film. That was considered a risk. A period… there’d never been a period piece superhero film. And one of the ideas that we had was to include the Cosmic Cube in it so that the villain could have all sorts of weapons and a more science fiction alt history version of World War II. We then started to build the Cube into the mythology of the other movies, we started to realize that a lot of these films required MacGuffins like the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy, the scepter in the first Avengers film. And the notion that all of them could be a Stone started to come about right around the time Joss wrote that little tag in Avengers 1.”
If that’s the case, that makes the first appearance of the Infinity Stones that much more of an Easter egg, having been teased in 2011’s Thor, when the full set lined what appeared to be the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s treasure vault (if you don’t own a treasure vault, if you have the means, we highly recommend picking one up). Of course, Thor: Ragnarok made it clear the glove was actuall a fake, clearing the way for Infinity War.
Regardless though, these chess pieces have all been in play for a very long time. And even if they’ve been aided by a MacGuffin or two along the way, it’s that kind of long-play story telling that allows for so many heroes in one movie. Pardon us, it doesn’t allow for it, Avengers: Infinity War demands it.