In Avengers: Infinity War, Josh Brolin plays Thanos, a giant purple villain who's looking to wipe out half the universe. Now, Thanos is hugely imposing and clearly a significant threat, but his specific goal means there's also a 50 percent chance that he'll do you no harm whatsoever. So there's room for maneuver here.
Let's take a look at whether Josh Brolin has ever been more threatening. The way we work this out is we look at three things for each of his roles:
1. How likely is it that the character will threaten you?
2. What is the scale of the threat?
3. How likely is it that the character will be able to follow-through on that threat?
We don't necessarily need to answer all of these on each occasion, but this is the basic framework.
For Thanos, he is 50 percent likely to threaten you and he is threatening to actually kill you — which I'm sure you'll agree is pretty much the top level of threat for you as an individual.
How likely is he to follow through? Well, he's up against what is by any measure a formidable array of people who are trying to stop him. Thanos strikes me as a very determined and resourceful individual, but there's a solid chance that he won't ultimately succeed.
All the same, Thanos is pretty threatening. Let's pick out a few more roles and see how they compare.
A very unthreatening Josh Brolin character — George W. Bush in W. (2008)
We don't really need to run through the questions for this one because George W. Bush isn't even the most threatening George Bush in this film.
At one point, W. tries to pick a fight with his father, George H.W. Bush, and while he certainly gets points for chutzpah, he is by some margin the less threatening of the two men in that confrontation. That is because George H.W. Bush is played by James Cromwell and James Cromwell does stern, sadistic, and intimidating like no one else on this earth.
James Cromwell is terrifying.
The Josh Brolin character most likely to threaten you — Young Agent K from Men in Black 3 (2012)
Agent K does not initially seem hugely threatening, but at one point in the film, he punches Will Smith's Agent J in the face for lying and then almost immediately punches him in the face a second time for telling the truth.
Agent K is highly likely to threaten you because every possible option available to you apparently warrants a punch to the face. Imagine having to work with someone that violent and unpredictable. Agent K is an incredibly threatening person to be around.
Agent K is less threatening than Thanos however, because of (2), the scale of the threat. All he is threatening to do is punch you in the face.
The Josh Brolin character who would appear quite threatening but, in practice, is not particularly threatening at all — Brand from The Goonies (1985)
I do not have an older brother, but as a child I did encounter other people's older brothers and they always struck me as being the most threatening people in the universe.
"I'm gonna hit you so hard that when you wake up your clothes will be out of style," Brand promises his younger brother at one point in the movie.
That's an overt threat, but context is important. Brand says this because Mikey and his friends have tied him to a chair with his own chest expander and have also let down the tires on his bike.
We can conclude from this that Brand is not threatening.
A threatening Josh Brolin character who is actually pretty easy to avoid feeling threatened by — Joe Doucett from Old Boy (2013)
Joe Doucett is kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for 20 years and he spends most of that time thinking about whoever imprisoned him and what they also did to his wife and daughter. The end result is that Joe Doucett becomes the kind of man who would put a hammer through the top of another man's head.
Doucett falls at question one, however. So long as you haven't kidnapped him and held him in solitary confinement for 20 years, and you haven't done anything with his wife and daughter (and you also aren't friends with someone who might have done any or all of those things), then Joe Doucett is highly unlikely to threaten you.
The most Josh Brolin character who is threatening in the most unexpected way — Cable from Deadpool 2
I used to work with a guy who said it was perfectly acceptable to give away the plot twist of any film over 10-years0old on the grounds that "you should have seen it by now."
Cable is from the future and therefore has it in his power to spoil any film for you. (1) How likely is he to threaten you with this? Well, we don't know too much about Cable's motivations and ambitions in Deadpool 2 yet, so it's hard to draw firm conclusions.
For the same reason, we don't know whether he has any interest in doing you (specifically) any physical harm. Nor can we confidently predict (2), the scale of the threat, which makes (3), the likelihood of success, largely irrelevant. We're just going to have to wait and see how this one pans out.
The most threatening Josh Brolin character — Matt Graver from Sicario (2015)
At one point in the trailer for Sicario 2, CIA agent Matt Graver says: "You want to see this thing through? I'm going to have to get dirty."
This really put me in awe of Graver's scale of dirtiness, because in the original Sicario he tackled drug cartels in a very, very dirty way indeed. At one point, he used a human being as bait and he also does some torture and kills a whole bunch of people.
Matt Graver was already pretty intimidating and if he doesn't consider that behavior to be in any way dirty, I've got to be honest, I'm not keen to go for a drink with him.
At another point in the Sicario 2 trailer, he tells Benicio del Toro's character, Alejandro, that he's going to start a war. "Against who?" asks Alejandro. "Everyone," replies Graver.
That is exactly twice as ambitious as Thanos.
1. How likely is it that Matt Graver will threaten you? 100 percent likely.
2. What is the scale of the threat? War being war, that's a pretty high threat level.
3. How likely is it that he will be able to follow-through on that threat? Based on Sicario 1, highly likely.
Matt Graver is more threatening than Thanos.
Thanos wants to buck his ideas up.