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Talking Thanos: The Antagonist We’ve Been Waiting For?

Ten years and eighteen movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has lead us to the moment fans have been waiting for as Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters this weekend.

The trailers have revealed glimpses of all-out war, hence the title, along with the powerful infinity stones and the big purple bad guy who has been the looming threat over everything that has occurred in the MCU. Thanos is coming, and he is the ultimate evil in the universe.

However, Marvel has only produced a small handful of compelling antagonists. That can’t happen with the extraterrestrial warlord; Thanos needs to be the villain of the ages.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and more recently, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger are revered as the MCU’s standout bad guys. However, the two men in question have dabbled on both sides of the tracks.

Killmonger was exhibited as the antagonist in Black Panther. However, his intentions made him a sympathetic protagonist in the eyes of many.

Loki’s actions throughout his appearances have been a seesaw of darkness and light. The cunning trickster kept Thor in exile while plotting his siege of the throne in his MCU debut. The Avengers saw Loki lead the Chitauri to Earth and nearly decimated New York while wielding the blue energized Tesseract.

A revengeful Loki aided his brother in The Dark World to defeat Malekith, only to fake his own death and forged rule over Asgard. Loki’s ruse was discovered in Ragnarok, only to be jettisoned off world where he played both sides, helped save the people of Asgard before its destruction, all while reacquiring the Tesseract.

Loki is seen handing over the Tesseract in the Infinity War trailer. Thanos is the assumed recipient, however, could it be a ruse? Either way, the god of mischief will probably join whatever team can ensure his own wellbeing and survival. Loki’s dog eat dog mentality, while destructive, also produces some good-natured deeds. There can’t even be a whiff of anti-heroism with Thanos.

The source material always presents Thanos as a game-changing presence that requires every heroic asset available to stop him.

In the film, there needs to be no mustache twirling and no vague reasons for conquest. Everything about Thanos needs to be fleshed out, so we have a clear, deep-rooted understanding as to why Thanos embarks on his destructive path in Infinity War. It is possible though, however unlikely, that Thanos is a red herring.

Avengers 4 is allegedly not a continuation of Infinity War and the only two Marvel films before the fourth installment, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel go backwards in time as opposed to moving forward the story of the MCU. Maybe, Thanos is the setup for an even more dangerous threat.

Win, lose or draw in Infinity War, Thanos needs to leave an indelible impression on moviegoers.

Whether he dies or survives come April 27th, Thanos needs to be the Darth Vader of the MCU. His presence needs to be filled with memorable moments, unforgettable lines of dialog that will augment the character for years to come. Josh Brolin, who will play the “Mad Titan,” is a great actor with a great voice and has the talent to bring that ultra-dark intangible to the character. The question remains, will Marvel give him enough material to allow him to rise far above the pile of subpar villains?

Some will say it doesn’t matter if Thanos is just another disposable MCU bad guy. People don’t watch MCU films to see the antagonist rule the day or take over the world. People stream, rent and go to the theater to see Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Captain America do their heroic thing in specular fashion. After all, the movie isn’t called Thanos: Infinity War.

Yes, so far, Thanos has spent most of his limited screen time sitting on a floating throne in space. To paraphrase Tony Stark, however, those were previews, and April 27th is opening night. That is when the cosmic cube wielding, infinity stone wearing, death-loving titan will be unleashed.

Avengers: Infinity War will present the most extensive superhero assembly ever seen. That is the allure. That is what appears on the marquee. And that is what has drawn billions of dollars at the box office. Still, it takes two to tango, and it’s time for the MCU to up the ante with their villain game. Thanos is the perfect character for that objective. After all, he is responsible for this massive gathering of heroes, narratively speaking.



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