Although some might argue that Thanos kind of sucks at being a supervillain, I would counter that we’ve barely seen the big guy get going since he’s had less than five minutes of total screen time over the course of ten movies. He’s going to be the culmination of a massive balancing act, and while it may all fall apart, Marvel at least has a great actor playing the part. While doing press for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Josh Brolin was asked about playing Marvel’s Biggest Bad, and if it was similar to the Emperor from Star Wars. “That sounds awesome, I love that,” said Brolin. “It’s what he is.” He also said that Apocalypse Now‘s Colonel Kurtz is also a source of inspiration, although Brolin noted he was drawing primarily from the comics.
Hit the jump for Brolin talking about how he prepared for playing Thanos, the character’s relationship with Death, his dynamic with Robert Downey Jr., and when we’ll be seeing Thanos again.
When it came to researching Thanos, Brolin tells IGN that after he accepted the role, “they sent me so much frickin’ research. I was in the middle of doing Everest, and I was focusing more on Thanos than I was on Everest. But it’s an exciting prospect, truly.” So remember, kids: If Brolin isn’t good in Everest, blame Marvel.
The best part of the interview is when Brolin talks about Thanos’ relationship with death. Although his quest for the Infinity Stones is now on the record with Guardians of the Galaxy, in the comics, Thanos has a crazy crush on Death. That’s why when Thanos is told at the end of The Avengers, “To challenge them is to court death,” he smiles. So if you want to start up your casting sweepstakes, it sounds like Death will be a physical character in the MCU:
“His relationship with Death, who is actually the woman, I love that,” Brolin enthused. “You can take Sin City [in which Brolin plays a man obsessed with a dark-hearted woman] and pump it full of steroids, and then you have Thanos. I like that he’s motivated by that — not just motivated by destruction or death or this or that. He’s motivated by a very identifiable, human trait.”
And honestly, if they’re going to make Thanos interesting, that’s the essential part of the character, not how many Stones he’s collected.
Brolin also said that Thanos’ relationship with the Avengers was illuminated, unexpectedly, at Comic-Con and the little bit they did there (Downey handed him a rose, and Brolin ate the bloom):
“Not that I’m ever 100-percent sure, but we had constructed this small thing, Kevin Feige and I and Robert, and going on-stage at Comic-Con. Then it became something else. Once I got on-stage, it sort of became its own improv. I knew at that point, because I saw the rivalry between Robert [Downey Jr.] and I, and I thought, ‘I get this. I suddenly really get it.’ So I feel like I’m more inside it than I was. It was more a display to me before that. It was more cosmetic. Now I think I’m starting to get who the guy is a little bit.”
So when do we get to see Thanos surface again? Where can he fit in for future Marvel movies? And how many times will we see him?
“I know what one appearance is going to be for sure. There’s one or two that I don’t know.”
The easy assumption is that the one appearance he knows is The Avengers 3, but I’ve found it’s best to avoid assumptions when it comes to Marvel. At Comic-Con 2013, we assumed Thanos would be the big bad of The Avengers 2, and we got Ultron. We’ll get the purple guy eventually, and he may even have some Infinity Stones by that point. My bigger hope is that when we see him, he’ll get to be a more active character rather than chilling out on a throne.