"Thanos has been lurking in the shadows with a desire to obtain these Infinity Stones, which has played a big part in our other films," Feige says. "We've introduced the Tesseract, revealed to be the Space Stone; the Mind Stone, which came out of Loki's scepter and then went into Vision's forehead; and the Time Stone: the Eye of Agamotto that Doctor Strange wears is an Infinity Stone itself! And of course the Guardians dealt with the Power Stone. So these storytelling devices that we've seeded into every film will continue to play a part and come together. We've been teasing this for six years. That's a long time to tease something cinematically before paying it off. Thanos has to be the greatest villain in our movies."
Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo have discussed Thanos' power as a villain in previous interviews.
"I think Thanos is a marvel," Joe Russo told IndieWire. "It really reflects every level of nuance in Josh Brolin's performance. You're watching Josh as a giant, purple alien, and you're seeing all of his movement, all of his facial expressions, on the most subtle level. I don't know that we've seen that level of photo-real performance capture before. Maybe in the Apes films, but this is really groundbreaking."
Anthony Russo added, "Even though he's despicable on so many levels, there's a part of Thanos that is very empathetic. He has a very complex inner life, and he's not all bad. Josh is a performer who's capable of delivering that kind of complexity, where you have that level of violence in him, but at the same time you have that level of sensitivity."
"We wanted to tell a story about a character with a really complex and empathetic interior life," he said in a Marvel featurette. "There's not a lot of actors who can give you both of those things. Josh Brolin brings a reality to the character."
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Avengers: Infinity War is now available on home media.
Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019; Avengers 4 on May 3, 2019; Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th, 2019.