There are a lot of factors that go into what makes a great movie villain, especially the comic-based supervillain. They need a good performance, cool dialogue, a memorable look, an exciting plan, and a motivation that balances understandable intentions and despicable behavior. For all the movies’ success, Marvel villains have been a mixed bag for sure, but with Avengers: Infinity War featuring Thanos as the be-all/end-all of cosmic threats (until Galactus is allowed to become part of that universe), the people behind the movie really need to make sure there’s some real substance to him.
In comics, Thanos’ go-to motivation is his love for the literal Grim Reaper and desire to prove his worth to her. The Silver Surfer cartoon made it a little more kid-friendly by having him be in love with the goddess of chaos. Lesser cartoons have simply made him a megalomaniac for the hell of it. But despite being around since the first Avengers movie, we haven’t had a concrete reason for why Thanos does what he does. All we’ve been able to tell is that he wants to wipe out half of the universe’s population and it’s his way of bringing balance.
Anthony and Joe Russo recently sat down with The Telegraph India to discuss the upcoming film. It was mentioned that the movie will mostly be shown from Thanos’ point of view because he is the one threat that unites all the various factions of heroes. Joe Russo explains where Thanos is coming from in his horrific plan:
“Thanos is this virtually indestructible character who’s stronger than the Hulk, and has invincible skin. He’s from a planet called Titan. Many years prior to the film his planet was experiencing a cataclysmic shift. They were running out of resources, and they were overpopulated. Thanos made a recommendation that they exterminate half the population randomly in order to save the rest of the population. Of course, the Titans rejected his notion, branded him a mad man, exiled him, and the planet ended up dying. So he has taken it upon himself to go planet-by-planet throughout the universe and wipe out half of the population of each planet as a way to correct the planet and bring it back into balance.
Once he hears about the stones, he realises that if he can get hold of all of the Infinity Stones he can control the entire universe. With the snap of his fingers he could correct the universe permanently by removing 50 per cent of life from it. So, these are incredible stakes for our characters. If the Avengers were built for anything, it’s for stopping Thanos from completing his goal.”
It looks like that ending quote from Avengers about courting Death was just a playful Easter egg after all. No, Thanos won’t be trying to get his groove on with Death. Instead, he’s a pragmatic fool who’s taking, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few,” too far. It’s a good origin that explains why he is the way he is, but doesn’t excuse his actions.
What’s interesting in this is that his plan is similar to previous Avengers villain Ultron. Ultron also wanted to control the self-destructive population via cataclysm, though he was only focused on our planet. It also adds a little bit to his quote about God throwing stones. As Loki’s fearful superior and an escalated take on Ultron, Thanos appears to be the perfect next step for the series.
Avengers: Infinity War will be released on April 27.
Gavin Jasper’s motivations for obtaining the Infinity Stones are to get Metalocalypse Season 5 made. Follow Gavin on Twitter!