A lot has happened in the eight years since Thanos made his big screen debut in The Avengers. While the mid-credits scene was essentially an ingenious way to keep an audience invested in a vaguely-defined future release, it was also one of the most memorable and bold moments in blockbuster cinema – a thrilling mystery to close a world-changing event movie. Thanos’ smile promised something greater to come, but his central role in Avengers: Infinity War this year gave us more than we anticipated.
Following a streak of well-written villains from Marvel Studios’ rapidly expanding cinematic universe – with Ego and Killmonger leaving the likes of Malekith and Whiplash in the dust – as well as his own prolonged build-up across multiple movies, Thanos had plenty to live up to. Yet rather than give what comics fans were expecting – a mad nihilist hopelessly seeking the approval of the physical embodiment of death – we got something a little more human.