The Return of Josh Brolin’s Thanos Would Be a Good Thing for Marvel Movies


The Marvel heroes have been defeated. Captain Marvel and her fellow heroines didn’t have the power. Thor lies on the ground, embarrassed. Ant-Man and the Wasp, unequal to the task. Through the wreckage strides the Mad Titan Thanos, ready to reclaim his position.

“I am inevitable,” he declares.

That scene from Avengers: Endgame feels more and more prophetic as the MCU’s popularity continues to slip. Decreasing returns have plagued the franchise since Endgame, with audiences showing less interest with characters both new (Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel) and familiar (Ant-Man, Captain Marvel). Even strong post-Endgame entries, such as the second season of Loki, seem to fade away quickly from the conversation these days.

And so when Thanos actor Josh Brolin told in a new interview about the Mad Titan’s potential return, some fans sighed in resignation. “You know, I hear kind of like through the grapevine, that they’re gonna bring him back,” said Brolin, which isn’t the most confident statement in the world. But still, it’s enough for some fans to give up on the MCU altogether. Surely, only a desperate cinematic universe in decline would resort to this kind of cynical strategy?

And yet, Thanos’s inevitable resurrection might be just the thing that the MCU needs, bringing back the universe’s most recognizable big bad to usher in the franchise’s new era… as long as he doesn’t stick around forever.

Thanos Marches on a Broken MCU

Against those who dismiss the idea of Thanos part two out of hand, Brolin did note that he had made two other appearances post-Endgame, first in the delightful What If… episode “What If… T’Challa Became Star-Lord” and then on Earth-383 in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Still, those two instances happened in alternate realities, not in the mainline MCU. Brolin acknowledges this, in fact, clarifying, “I don’t know in the Marvel world whether they’re going to bring him back.”

Brolin is hardly the only person talking about Marvel revisiting its glory years, though. Reportedly, people at Disney have considered re-assembling the original Avengers as a fix for the franchise’s current woes, even if that means resurrecting Robert Downey Jr.‘s Tony Stark, Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow, and Chris Evans‘s Steve Rogers (the last of whom called these reports “news to me.”).

While it’s easy to see why film executives would pitch such a financially viable but creatively bankrupt idea, those of us who want to see good Marvel stories don’t share the enthusiasm. We don’t want Marvel to simply repeat stories we’ve already watched and enjoyed. Sure, they pulled off that trick with the time heist section of Endgame and in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and plan to do something similar with Deadpool 3, but multiverse ‘member berries are already starting to bore us.

If Marvel does bring someone back from the dead, then it needs to be in service of a new story, one that stands on its own or pushes the overarching narrative forward. And more than any other deceased Marvel character, Thanos can do exactly that.

The New, Unimproved Thanos

For one, Thanos could serve as a one-off villain or a reoccurring antagonist for just one corner of the MCU. Sure, he took on the entire universe in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, but those entries found him relatively late in his ascension. By the time he’s re-introduced in Infinity War, he’s powerful enough to take on and beat all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as well as those from Asgard and beyond. But if Thanos were to return on the new playing field of the Multiverse Saga, he wouldn’t have the Stones or the Infinity Gauntlet. In fact, to the TVA and He Who Remains, those Stones are just desk paperweights.

In other words, a resurrected Thanos would have to start from scratch, with a much lower power set. That would probably make him a poor antagonist for another Avengers-sized movie. However, MCU boss Kevin Feige doesn’t have to bring back Thanos in the same way. As we already saw in the aforementioned What If…? episode, Thanos can be reimagined as another kind of character (a hero in What If‘s case). Moreover, the Thanos of the comics is a different character, with a slightly different motivation. That Thanos does indeed seek to kill half the universe, but he does so to impress Death, with whom he is hopelessly in unrequited love.

While this endeavor sometimes brings him into conflict with the entire Marvel Universe or at least the Avengers, he most often tangles with Adam Warlock. And by “tangle,” I mean “has long philosophical debates with the superhero.” In comics written and sometimes drawn by Thanos and Warlock creator Jim Starlin, the enemies probe the nature of life and the meaning of existence. Sure, that task seems outside of the ken of the cosmic version of Adam Warlock that Will Poulter played in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but the MCU Warlock already started to mature by the end of that film.

Big Bad No More

Of course, one can’t help but notice that all this talk about Thanos redux occurs right around the time that Marvel lost his replacement. Jonathan Majors’s off-screen actions have cost him his job in the franchise, leaving his character Kang the Conqueror in limbo.

The MCU positioned Kang as the central villain of the Multiverse Saga, even seeding his Variants He Who Remains and Victor Timely in Loki and pitting him against minor heroes in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. That movie ended by promising an onslaught of more dangerous Variants, such as Immortus and Rama-Tut, but in the final episode of Loki, the reimagined TVA talks about the Variants with the same disregard as they do the Infinity Stones.

In other words, the MCU currently lacks a central villain to focus its narrative on. Marvel could simply recast Kang, as different looks are already baked into the whole multiverse concept. However, Feige and co. may want to wash out the bad taste left by Majors and Kang by bringing back an old favorite as a bit of a reset before jumping into the next phase of storytelling.

To be sure, there’s a long precedent for stories of Thanos’s return. Nearly every single comic book baddie has died and come back again, Thanos included. And often, their resurrection adds a new wrinkle to the character’s development. For example, when Drax the Destroyer killed Thanos in 2007’s Annihilation #4, he returned with a renewed anger and desperation in 2010’s Thanos Imperative. Ripped away from his beloved Death, Thanos wants vengeance as much as he wants to win Death’s affection again, giving readers an angrier version of the gloating mastermind.

Even better, Marvel could tell a great Thanos story by giving him what he wants: Death. One of the most powerful Thanos moments occurs in the 2015 Secret Wars crossover, in which Thanos tries to assert himself as the ruler of the recreated Earth but then gets his spine ripped out by a God-Like Doctor Doom. Long-time comic book readers understand well the trope of having a tough getting trounced to show how tough the new guy is (poor Wolverine and Colossus, always the first guys taken out in an X-Men event). But for those who only know these characters through the MCU, a quick death for Thanos at the hands of a new big bad would effectively pump up the next major saga-spanning villain.

In fact, many comic fans wondered if Marvel always had such a plan in mind. Originally, the fifth Avengers movie was titled The Kang Dynasty, suggesting that the Avengers would assemble to fight Kang. But the sixth Avengers movie, the closer to the Multiverse Saga, was titled Secret Wars. Although Kang does appear in the first Secret Wars from 1984, he gets knocked out pretty quickly. And who takes him out? The big bad from the more recent (and much better) Secret Wars: Doctor Victor Von Doom.

In other words, Thanos could come back to take the place of Kang in the Multiverse Saga, either brought back to life or as a character from the multiverse. And while that could lead to some great stories, his return and death would serve as the type of introduction that Doctor Doom deserves, especially if Doom is not the main villain in the upcoming Fantastic Four film.

That would be an inevitability we all would enjoy.

The post The Return of Josh Brolin’s Thanos Would Be a Good Thing for Marvel Movies appeared first on Den of Geek.

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