Jim Starlin, who created Avengers: Infinity War villain Thanos for Marvel Comics, first imagined a deep-voiced actor like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Idris Elba bringing the character to life through voiceover before actor Josh Brolin won the role.
Brolin was “never” on Starlin’s list of potential actors to play the Mad Titan “because I always thought it was going to be just a voiceover job, you know, [an] animated character,” the comic book creator told Chuck Load of Comics during ACE Comic Con.
“That’s how they were doing it at that point, and the new technology was only being introduced that they first introduced him in The Avengers.”
Because Starlin expected the character to be wholly created through CG animation, he reasoned the actor’s voice was top priority.
“I was thinking somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Idris Elba, anybody with a deep voice,” Starlin said. “That was the only thing I had on the agenda as far as I was thinking who to have.”
Marvel Studios visual effects artists would later utilize state-of-the-art motion capture technology to apply digital “makeup” over Brolin’s on-set performance, allowing for what director Anthony Russo called a “very intimate portrayal and performance” from the actor.
“Now that Brolin has been on the screen and I’ve watched him move, I can’t imagine anybody else playing that character,” Starlin said. Starlin explained Brolin’s performance was so affecting it changed the way he reads Thanos’ voice in the comic books.
“My hearing of it, it’s a lot less gravelly than I had expected it in the past to be,” he said.
When visiting the set of the Avengers threequel, Starlin approached with little expectations, anticipating the changes the film would have to make when tailoring his Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War comic books to suit the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“No expectations, really, because I realized it was going to be a whole different thing than the comic book, because [there are] less characters [and] 18 movies’ worth of continuity,” Starlin said. “So when I went over to the set and then saw the show, I went there with a blank slate to soak it all up.”
Brolin next reprises his role as Thanos in Avengers 4, out May 3.