One of the biggest issues within the Marvel Cinematic Universe are the villains. Most of the villains come across as pretty flat characters such as Malekith and Yellowjacket or inconsistent and confusing such as Ultron. At the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the universe will face a threat that has been there since the end of Phase 1: Thanos. Thanos is considered one of the most dangerous villains in Marvel Comics but will he be that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
At the tail end of 2016, Marvel Studios will start filming Avengers: Infinity War, which will be a two part movie with the first installment released in 2018 and the second part in 2019. These movies will officially mark the arrival of Thanos, who made his first appearance during the mid credits scene of The Avengers in 2012 and he was only glimpsed and never actually named. Sine that appearance, he has only made one small appearance in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and another cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In Guardians of the Galaxy, we learn a little about his character. He is someone who cares nothing for his “daughters”who are implied to be child warriors he abducted and learn that he is after the Infinity Stones but not actually willing to do the job himself despite being referred to as one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy. In the mid credits scene of Age of Ultron, Thanos makes another cameo and donning the infamous Infinity Gauntlet and proclaiming that, “He’ll do it himself” and grinning.
The screenwriters of Infinity War mentioned how they might not have to do any work to make Thanos a credible threat. However, the opposite is true. There needs to be a lot of work done for that to come across. Loki, Ronan, Gamora and Nebula are all of the characters who have interacted with Thanos within the movies have betrayed or failed him yet he only raises his voice. His plan in The Avengers in retrospect makes no sense. Thanos is on a quest to retrieve the Infinity Stones yet he sends Loki with a staff that has the Mind Stone within it to retrieve the Tessaract, which has the Space Stone within. Why would he risk the only Stone in his possession?
It is presumed that Thanos is someone of immense power and resources. We see that he commands a vast army in the Chitauri. Ronan The Accuser, who is stated to be one of the most powerful beings in the universe visibly trembles when confronting Thanos. The only problem is that we never actually see Thanos do anything. In two of his three appearances, he’s mainly sitting in his floating chair and grinning. When he finally states that he’ll do it himself in Ultron, it is supposed to resonate but instead rings a bit hollow. At that point there had been eleven films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and he’s probably had only about two minutes worth of screen time.
Even though it is stated that he will only appear in the Infinity War two parter, it wouldn’t be unfair to presume he will appear in some movies before those. Within the Thor series, those characters are in possession of the Space Stone. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume he might make an appearance or have some sort of presence. It is stated that he also won’t appear in the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy but he was stated to not be making an appearance in the first movie for the longest time before being revealed to be in the movie months before it was released. There are also other movies that will be exploring the cosmic side and mystic of the MCU such as Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange and seeing as Thanos is a cosmic level threat, his presence can be felt.
Josh Brolin, an acclaimed actor, has been portraying the character since Guardians. He portrays the character through motion capture but there are little hints and touches that show that it is definitely Josh Brolin. He is known for playing characters that have a certain intensity to them and one can sense that in his short scene in Guardians. But there is going to have to be more to the character than just menace. In the comics, Thanos is in love with the personification of Death and thus wants to end all creation. Will this carry over into the movies? More than likely but who knows as to what extent. An actor like Brolin can certainly show a character who is one of the most feared in the galaxy and probably back it up but is doing it all for love. Only the future will tell if Thanos rises to the top of the ranks of the best villains in the MCU or the sinks to the bottom.