Thanos has been a looming shadow over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since his surprise appearance at the end of The Avengers, fans have been eager to see the big bad in his full glory. Unfortunately, he’s been relegated to the shadows for the most part.
And if he’s going to be the main thrust of Avengers: Infinity War, then Marvel should break the mold and make him the lead character.
We Need to Know More
As of now, Thanos’s appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy (above) is the most time we’ve spent with the character. He’s purposefully been left nebulous to the audience in order to build anticipation. That worked the first time in The Avengers as an amazing surprise and tease of bigger things to come, but seeing it replicated in Avengers: Age of Ultron felt weak and added nothing to the character.
All we know about Thanos is that he wants the Infinity Stones because… well, exactly why does he want the Infinity Stones? I’m sure you can ascribe typical bad guy motives to his motivation — conquest, accumulation of power etc. — but the actual material we’ve been provided hasn’t given us enough to go on. We need to understand his motives. And frankly, his motives are so enormous that they deserve a proper amount of focus.
And making Thanos the protagonist would allow for that necessary focus. It would also force the audience to see Thanos’s intentions through his perspective, and the best villains often have intentions that the audience can understand. It’s the way they act on those intentions that make them villainous. All the heroic figures in Avengers: Infinity War have had their backstories and characters well-defined. Why not do the same for the most important villain of the series?
Speaking of villains…
Marvel Could Use a Really Great Villain
A common complaint about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that its villain roster is pretty weak. Sure, we get the occasional Loki but the rest of their baddies are either killed off right away or are only there as dark reflections of the hero. I talked about this with Black Panther and I don’t see that particular issue going away.
However, Thanos offers a unique opportunity. He’s been played up as a huge threat to our heroes, so a lot of the posturing that MCU villains have to do upfront has been taken care of. Now, we could get a villain that isn’t just a physical threat to the good guys but a compelling one. Especially if we know he’s not going to be defeated right away. And if he causes real harm to the team, either through deaths or upheaval of the status quo, it would go a long way to making him a truly fearsome foe.
And positioning that awesome of a villain as our lead character would do something else…
A New Twist to the MCU
Probably the best part of making Thanos the main character would be that it’s a totally unheard-of take for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. These movies have always been held up by the heroes. So much so that the element that gets fans most excited is seeing how the different heroes interact with each other. Well, what happens when you change the point-of-view to what would typically be the antagonist?
Granted, we are still going to be emotionally attached to the heroes’ stories. That’s obvious and necessary. But, this is an argument for shifting that viewpoint to the one causing trouble for our beloved Avengers. Giving Thanos the lion’s share of the screen time and funneling the events of the film through his outlook would give us something we’ve never had in the MCU before.
Luckily, directors Joe and Anthony Russo seem to agree with me on some level. They’ve said that Thanos is “almost one of the leads” in the film. That sounds promising. Here’s hoping that’s the case when Avengers: Infinity War opens on May 4.