Before Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters, Jim Starlin -- the author of the Infinity War comics -- was worried that the superhero team-up bonanza would suffer a fate similar to the Justice League movie that had come out the year before. That movie, which saw DC's top superheroes team up in a film credited to Man of Steel director Zack Snyder but actually produced by committee after his departure from the project, was as frustrating a mess as that sentence implies. The movie was such a source of embarrassment for Warner Bros. that they gave Snyder the film's keys back a few years later, to make Zack Snyder's Justice League, a four-hour director's cut.
No such issue arose with Avengers: Infinity War, though; the film remains one of the highest grossing films of all time, and a not-insignificant number of people would put it in their top five superhero movies ever made. But Starlin had no way of knowing that's how it would come out.
"I did have a few bad moments just before the Infinity War [release]," Starlin told ComicBook during a conversation in support of his upcoming graphic novel Dreadstar Returns. "I had been down to the set for the cameo shoot, and had sat and talked with the two screen writers, Markus and McFeely and quite a bit with Joe Russo. In Infinity War, they had had a half hour that they had to cut which was going to be Thanos's back story. There was going to be a half hour without the Avengers, apparently. So, I thought, 'That's pretty cool.' Then I was on a plane and I watched the Justice League movie, and they just sort of threw Steppenwolf in there at the end, and he does his thing. All in all, it was kind of a bad movie. So about a month or so before the Infinity War came out Russo said... Let me know that they had to cut the half hour of Thanos. All I could think of was, 'Oh my god, that's going to make it into the Justice League movie.'"
That fear put him in a very specific mindset -- he thought about how the Batman TV series from 1966 had impacted the public perception of the character for decades.
"I suddenly had Bob Kane on my mind all the time, because back in the '60s they did this really bad Batman," Starlin explained. "It was very campy. It was the antithesis of what Bob had created. But he was getting a piece of it, with his residuals with all the Batman stuff. He had made a pretty good deal that others hadn't, so I imagined him having to go on interviews and saying, 'I love it.' I thought, 'I'm going to be in the same damn position. I'm going to have to go the interviews and go, Oh yeah, I love it. It's great. That's terrific. Then the heart going, Oh, it's a piece of sh-t!' So I'm in line for the premiere and going in there and practicing, 'I love it. I love it. I love it.' Three minutes into the movie, even before the Hulk shows up, I'm going, 'Hey, I'm not going to have any trouble with this at all. This is going to be one that I'm going to easily say I love it, and mean it.' It has held true. I have been the luckiest cartoonist out there. Three, four times up to bat, if you include the Infinity Gauntlet, and they've hit it out of the park with my characters every time."
You can check out more from our conversation with Starlin, and find out more about Dreadstar Returns, here.