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Does Anyone Actually Care About Avengers: Infinity War’s Villain, Thanos?

Stop trying to make Thanos happen.

Josh Brolin as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War

It’s fair to say that we’re all looking forward to Avengers: Infinity War, whether or not we think the movie is going to be any good—Age of Ultron left a bad taste in our mouths, and Captain America: Civil War was a bit of a sloppy recovery for large-scale Marvel movie crossovers. That aside, this movie is the culmination of what Marvel has built for its cinematic universe in a lot of ways, including finally paying off all the teases of the eventual, overarching Big Bad, Thanos, who we’re all very excited about. … Right?

We’ll have to see the movie for ourselves, later this month, to really be sure, but so far, it feels like Thanos is kind of the embodiment of the Marvel movie villain problem that we’re all well acquainted with by now. Right now, he just seems like the next cataclysmic event for the Avengers to react to, more than he seems like a relatable character along the lines of some of our favorite movie villains from Marvel and beyond. From Gamora’s lines in the trailer, his whole thing seems to be a desire to wipe out half the universe, and there are only so many “even more powerful villain wants to destroy even larger scale of existence” plots we can go through before it wears thin.

But just as post-credits scenes and other teases have done over the years, the team behind the movie seems set on making Thanos A Thing, when we’re all pretty much prepared to be much more interested in how he affects our favorite characters than in the big purple plot point himself. Just look at some of the reactions to Josh Brolin saying the character will be the smartest in the movie:

There are also plenty of people in those same replies pointing out that Brolin is likely correct, judging by what we know about Thanos from the comics, but that completely misses the point that no one really cares that much. It’s not much different from saying Thanos is the strongest character in the movie; whether or not it’s true, it’s just not all that interesting compared to characters whose abilities and personalities we’re actually invested in.

And that makes it feel really strange when Co-Director Joe Russo says, “Thanos has an incredible amount of screen time in this film, in a lot of ways I would say it’s his movie,” and that “the story is told from the point of view of a villain.” He also acknowledged that it’s a risk to do things that way, and while I’m all for fleshed-out villains, that sounds more like doubling down on something that’s not likely to work, rather than playing up what will.

After all, everyone has been pretty content to just turn Thanos into one big canvas for jokes:

I’d certainly be happy to be proved wrong and find that centering things on Thanos’ perspective adds something to the way we look at the characters we know and love in the Marvel cinematic universe, but right now, I’m having a hard time imagining that working as well onscreen as marketing efforts are trying to convince us it will.

Are we (there have been murmurs among the Mary Sue staff) alone in this? Certainly, Thanos is meaningful to longtime Marvel comics fans in bringing yet another momentous element of the comics they love to the big screen, and he’ll have a massive effect on characters we do care about, but is anyone actually invested in him, personally, as a character?

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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