As successful as Marvel Studios has been, there has arguably been something that seemed to be the weakest link in its films: the villain. Examples of this are Malekith in Thor: The Dark World or Yon-Rogg in Captain Marvel, according to fans.
Thankfully, things have gotten better over time. While not every villain is a homerun, Marvel now has at least a good handful of spectacular villains such as Loki, who now has his own show.
Then, there are the likes of Ultron, Killmonger, and Mysterio. These villains were all phenomenally done and received well by critics and fans alike. However, Marvel has had one villain that ended up being leagues above the rest: Thanos.
Thanos has essentially become the Darth Vader of this generation: a character that is known by people across the world and a name just as familiar as the MCU's biggest hero, Tony Stark's Iron Man. If there's any villain Marvel knocked it out of the park with, it was the Mad Titan.
The creator of Thanos, Jim Starlin, has been a vocal advocate for how Marvel has used his character. However, at one point, he thought that the villain's debut movie, Avengers: Infinity War, was going to be as bad as 2017's Justice League.
AS BAD AS JUSTICE LEAGUE?
In an interview with Comicbook's Brandon Davis, Jim Starlin was on hand to discuss his time talking to the creatives involved with Avengers: Infinity War.
More specifically, Starlin thought things weren't going to turn out well for the debut of his star character. Apparently, it all stemmed from an entire half-hour of the film that "they had to cut which was going to be Thanos' back story:"
"Though I did have a few bad moments just before the Infinity War! I had been down to the set for the cameo shoot, and had shot ... Sat and talked with the two screenwriters, Markus and McFeely, and quite a bit with Joe Russo. In the Infinity War, they had a half-hour that they had to cut, which was going to be Thanos's back story."
Starlin elaborated, saying that he thought the idea of thirty minutes dedicated to Thanos' backstory was "pretty cool:"
"There was going to be a half-hour without the Avengers, apparently. So, I thought, "That's pretty cool." Then I was on a plane and I watched the Justice League movie, and they just sort of threw Steppenwolf in there at the end, and he does his thing. All in all, it was kind of a bad movie."
After he had made the comparison to Steppenwolf in Justice League, Starlin was set on the idea that Avengers: Infinity War was going bomb, panicking in thinking that the move by the Russos was going to "make it into the Justice League movie:"
"So about a month or so before the Infinity War came out Russo said... Let me know that they had to cut the half-hour of Thanos. All I could think of was, 'Oh my god, that's going to make it into the Justice League movie.'"
This immediately led Starlin into comparing it to a situation that he claimed occurred with Batman in the '60s, saying he "suddenly had Bob Kane on [his] mind:"
"So, I suddenly had Bob Kane on my mind all the time, because back in the '60s they did this really bad Batman. Well, at the time, it was the best Batman that had been out there because it was the only Batman. It was very campy. It was the antithesis of what Bob had created. But he was getting a piece of it, with his residuals, with all the Batman stuff. He had made a pretty good deal that others hadn't, so I imagined him having to go on interviews and saying, 'I love it.'"
Starlin thought that he was "going to be in the same damn position" and that he'd have to go around during interviews and lie about how much he loved the film:
"I thought, "I'm going to be in the same damn position. I'm going to have to go the interviews and go, "Oh yeah, I love it. It's great. That's terrific." Then the heart going, "Oh, it's a piece of sh-t!"
Thankfully, as everyone knows, Avengers: Infinity War turned out to be quite the opposite of a bad film. That was a relief to Starlin who was happy to say that he has "been the luckiest cartoonist out there:"
"So I'm in line for the premiere and going in there and practicing, 'I love it. I love it. I love it.' Three minutes into the movie, even before the Hulk shows up, I'm going, "Hey, I'm not going to have any trouble with this at all. This is going to be one that I'm going to easily say, 'I love it,' and mean it.' It has held true. I have been the luckiest cartoonist out there. Three, four times up to bat, if you include the Infinity Gauntlet, and they've hit it out of the park with my characters every time."
THANOS, THE GOLD STANDARD
There's no denying the immense popularity. With the success of Loki, a solo project focused on the Mad Titan would be a dream come true for many. It's something that isn't as impossible as some might think.
In fact, rumor has it that not only is Marvel thinking of using Thanos in more upcoming projects, but the Mad Titan has a connection to the upcoming team in Eternals. Hopefully, there are still plenty of stories about Thanos to come.
With how successful Thanos was, it will certainly be hard to top not only his popularity but his quality as a character. Hopefully, Marvel Studios can pull it off with its next big bad in Kang the Conqueror, someone who fans might be seeing sooner rather than later.