I think most fans would agree that Thanos is by far the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. When he first popped up in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers, he just appeared to be a power-hungry Titan in search for the Infinity Stones. However, the Russo brothers along with scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely took that character and turned him into one of the best villains in comic book movie history. He was unbelievably strong but also a smart and nuanced pragmatist whose motivations were always clear. The layered writing of his character enabled us to understand and even feel for him, even if we didn’t necessarily agree with him.
What’s interesting is that Avengers: Infinity War was more of a Thanos movie than an actual Avengers movie. The Avengers were constantly on screen, but the spotlight was squarely on Thanos, which resulted in a thoroughly intriguing picture. And according to Joe Russo, it could’ve been so much more compelling. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Joe Russo mentioned that the initial drafts of Infinity War even explored Thanos’ childhood.
“We did a lot of drafts of Infinity War that involved Thanos’s backstory. We even had a draft where you saw ten minutes of his backstory. You saw him as a child, you saw him try to convince his planet that it was doomed and recommend that they randomly kill half the population to save the planet. He gets sent to a prison off-planet and eventually watches the planet destroy itself.
It is a whole other film, but sometimes that’s the value in a story room, of writing that draft in the script because you go ‘alright, at least I have that in my brain now. And I understand that and I can pitch it to Brolin, and he can hear that intimate level fo detail so we all know what his story is and how he feels about his past. He’s a very tortured character who’s sociopathic, but ultimately it’s benevolent sociopathy.”
OK, now I desperately need a Thanos prequel film. Ever since I watched Infinity War last year, I couldn’t stop wondering why Thanos felt like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Why did he feel like it was his destiny — heck, burden — to find the Infinity Stones and wipe out 50% of all living creatures, “saving” the universe in the process. Joe Russo’s explanation makes perfect sense.
When Thanos suggested mass killings to save his planet, he was, of course, treated like a megalomaniac terrorist and rightfully tossed in prison. Funnily enough, Thanos was right. Overpopulation destroyed his home planet. He probably had to witness the death of his friends and family because none of them listened to him. The catastrophic incident probably traumatised Thanos, turning him mad.
Avengers: Endgame is currently running in Malaysian cinemas.