When Avengers: Infinity War's script was coming together, Thor: Ragnarok's story didn't exist yet. It wasn't until the latter film came together, that the writers of the former found their starting point.
On the commentary track attached Avengers: Infinity War's digital download, the writers and directors opened up about how they arrived at Thanos having destroyed Thor's ship in the opening scene. Originally, they only knew Thanos would encounter Loki and the Tesseract but Taika Waititi's Ragnarok gave them a perfect starting point.
"We're starting this script in January of 2016," Infinity War writer Stephen McFeely said. "There's no Ragnarok script. They are in various stages of development so the first scene of this movie changed a bunch. Until we found out that they were gonna end on a trip off of a destroyed Asgard, we didn't know where Thanos would find Loki."
"We did know we wanted Thanos to come to Loki," Infinity War writer Christopher Markus added. "We have drafts of it in any number of places."
With the film starting by putting Thanos at the forefront, the directors had a full intention of making him the movie's central character.
"It's told from the point of view of Thanos," co-director Joe Russo said. "The movie begins with Thanos, the movie ends with Thanos. It is his hero's journey. All the major beats of the journey are Thanos beats."
Quickly, Joe Russo goes on to credit the film's visual effects team for the movie being a success. "We knew that we were sunk if we couldn't get Thanos to be photo real and get all of the nuances of Josh Brolin into that character," Joe Russo said. "They literally are playing with technology, mapping him to the molecular level, which is why I think Thanos is so interesting in the movie. All of the subtleties of Josh's performance are being outlined...We might have spent two years working on Thanos."
Ahead of Infinity War having a story or script, Thanos was already thoroughly in development. "People are working on how to create Thanos before we even had an outline of the movie because we know that he's gonna play a major part in the movie." McFeely said.
"We knew it was so central to what the movie was going to be and also the level of difficulty was the highest," co-director Anthony Russo said.
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