Thanos, the god-like villain whose slow approach toward Earth has taken a full decade, is finally ready to kick some Avengers tuchus. After years of conflict tangential to the powerful Infinity Stones, Infinity War is here to play smash-and-grab with some impossibly potent forces. The guy doing the smashing and grabbing is a bad guy Marvel has put a lot of faith in.
In an interview with Empire magazine, co-director Joe Russo said he has high hopes for big MCU baddie Thanos, likening him to one of the greatest villains of all time.
“Darth Vader was the pre-eminent villain of my childhood, and we're hoping to make a Darth Vader for a new generation,” Russo said of the Titanian Eternal. “We're hoping he has that complexity to him, and that he strikes fear into the heart of the audience, but at the same time they go on a journey with him. Frankly, Avengers 3 is his movie.”
We’ve seen very little of Thanos’ intentions in the previews and teasers, but that doesn’t mean his raw, supergroup-reassembling power will remove the possibility of nuance. While Marvel’s villains have been getting more and more grounded (especially with Michael Keaton’s blue-collar turn as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming), it wouldn’t be shocking to see a bad guy operating in the gray area.
Another area that needed to be more realistic for the villain was in his look. While the purple, wrinkled giant has yet to prove completely fitting in the Avengers world, Russo said, “It's very important to us that Thanos has a level of photorealism that makes that audience believe him." No CGI bugs here. He needs to feel real.
The mauve terror may be more convincing than some of the blobbish, dark-and-stormy villains on the DC side of things, but to convince audiences he's worthy of Vaderdom, Thanos will have to channel much more of his comic complexity than the relatively simple snippets we've been teased within the MCU.
Avengers: Infinity War comes out on May 4.