A major portion of all the buzz about Avengers: Infinity War revolves around Thanos, the bad guy of the movie, who arrived on the scene after a number of teases in the previous films, and also is a powerful element in various Marvel Comics stories.
All this new-found fame and popularity might mean that Thanos is the new Joker. What we mean is that Thanos might be the most popular, box-office draw that also drives up the comic book sales, as the next mega-villain in the comic books and movies based on them.
The Joker is the most famous and long-term Batman enemy who is extremely popular and has become a big screen icon for decades, with or without the Batman in the frame. In fact, the Joker is one of the most respected characters in the comic books and movies, whose comics and movie tickets are always sought after by fans.
Consequently, the Joker has been featured in scores of books, teased on TV show Gotham for years, and has had half a dozen cinematic reincarnations. Legendary actors have played the character, and some have become icons after portraying him.
All of a sudden, Thanos is turning out to be the equivalent of Joker in terms of popularity. One simple criterion would be just to recall the number of Thanos memes you have seen on social media in the last two weeks? The popularity of the purple villain would see millions of fans throng the theaters to watch Avengers 4 in less than a year. But, will Marvel Studios put the villain on the sidelines after that? Or will Thanos become what Joker is for Dc and will keep coming up with occasional appearances, reboots and various versions of the character will attract moviegoers and comic book lovers?
There is no lack of stories available at Marvel Studios’ disposal related to Thanos, in the comic books already published. The Infinity Gauntlet seems to be his most famous adventure, but, there are other stories such as The Infinity Revelation, The Thanos Quest, and recently the impressive Donny Cates series’ Thanos. Irrespective of whether Josh Brolin wishes to be Thanos long-term or not, the character makes great business sense for Disney and Marvel Studios to be featured in more MCU stories.
However, we must acknowledge that these stories don’t depict a legendary rivalry, the sort of which we saw in The Killing Joke, The Man Who Laughs, or some other famous DC stories based on the Joker (maybe Infinity Gauntlet is a solitary exception). The Joker is also not an incredibly powerful villain with lofty goals such as Thanos, which makes him more conducive to realistic and self-centric stories.
The Joker also has a much longer history in comic books and movies, but, Thanos has apparently entered the competition recently. Warner Bros. is reportedly planning to make a Joker solo film (ignoring the fact that Suicide Squad might have negatively impacted the character), but, Marvel Studios hasn’t made any mention of a future movie titled by Thanos. But then, they haven’t mentioned anything about their Phase 4 plans. Since it is going to introduce the 90s based Captain Marvel, who will bring back the other cosmic heroes, the villain might even be a part of the heroine’s origin story.
Just look at the way Marvel Studios used Iron-Man. The character became an icon after Robert Downey Jr.’s 2008 blockbuster, leading to sequels and an Avengers film, However, he was hardly limited to his own franchise and went on to become as big as Captain America himself was in his own Civil War film, before playing a cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming to enhance the movie’s appeal for the viewers.
With the incredible popularity of Thanos, we wonder if Marvel Studios should feature him in more movies after Avengers 4, the way the Warner Bros. has used Joker in so many films?Thanos is quite a dominating force in the Marvel Comics stories, so he might become equally or even more popular than the Joker. Or maybe it is just a bubble, which will burst down the line.