With Jonah Hex, Men in Black: III, Oldboy, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcoming Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, actor Josh Brolin has been in five comic book movies in the last four years. Some have been more successful than others. It goes without saying, but the less said about Jonah Hex the better (we say more here). Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy and A Dame to Kill For aren’t movies you’ll want to forget once you’ve left the theater. That’s especially fortunate for Marvel’s latest ‐ which made just a little bit under $100m dollars this weekend ‐ because the Guardians and other supporting players are a key piece of the puzzle for Marvel’s future.
One of those characters is Brolin’s Thanos. He appeared not-yet-Brolinized in the end credits of The Avengers, but has a much more prominent part in Guardians of the Galaxy. His role as the puppet master villain of villains in the universe is now established so the comic book non-readers will no longer ask, “Who’s the square-faced purple dude?”
With that big douchey smile, the egomaniacal chair, and the fact that he’s purple, he’ll be hard to forget the next time he pops up in future Marvel movies. It also helps that Brolin is doing more for the part than providing Thanos’ voice.
We spoke with the actor recently, and he expressed unsurprising excitement for the role. “That was very loosely planned,” Brolin tells us with a big grin, after we mentioned his fun Comic-Con appearance alongside The Avengers. “It was crudely planned. I just kind of went with it. It was one of those things I didn’t really understand that well. I don’t mean the reaction to Thanos, but Thanos himself until I went out there. I realized with Robert [Downey Jr.] the whole rivalry that goes with it. It’s a lot of fun. As someone who’s stayed away from that kind of thing for a very long time, I feel very confident in making the decision of this being the one.”
We didn’t have to ask Brolin why he would stay away from another superhero movie. Even on a smaller comic book adaptation, like Jonah Hex, it was fraught with problems. More than that, it’s a huge commitment to star in these movies. Plenty of actors have turned down these kinds of roles, afraid of being locked into a nine-picture deal. What if you’re not happy with how the film turned out, and it’s a hit? What if you grow sick of the character? Not to mention the amount of potentially great films you’ll miss out on after committing to movies five years or more down the line. What if they don’t even want to act in five years? Those kind of questions must come with the territory.
Then again, considering the finanical reward of a successful franchise, there’s worse things than being tied down to a franchise for an extended period of time. And luckily for Brolin, Thanos is one of those characters that doesn’t have to the be the main villain of a movie. As he does in Guardians, he can call the shots from the background. That’ll likely be his role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which Marvel’s Kevin Feige has said isn’t prominent. Whatever the case, Brolin is confident Thanos has put any worries to rest.
Our Thanos talk with Brolin was minimal, but the highlight was his laugh when we mentioned Kevin Feige’s quote that he could play Thanos without the makeup. Even he doesn’t know what to make of that compliment.