The MCU is filled with excellent actors putting their distinctive stamp on beloved comic characters. No casting choice is better proof of that than Josh Brolin in his career-defining take on the Mad Titan Thanos. Yet initially, Brolin was a complete novice when it came to the kind of motion-capture performance that Thanos required. In an interview for the Team Deakins podcast, Brolin revealed the one aspect of playing the Mad Titan that convinced him to take the villain's role in a high-budget, GCI heavy franchise.
"I turned down quite a bit of those things and again people were like "money!" When I said yes to Avengers it was a small thing. It was basically a cameo, so there was not a lot of money involved. So that wasn't the reason. But when they came to me they gave me a big bible. I loved that it was all [of them]. If it had been one of the Avengers - and I don't mean this, I probably shouldn't say this but I'm just gonna say it - I probably wouldn't have done it. But the fact that it was all the Avengers against this one guy. I liked that aspect of it."
In the beginning, when Josh Brolin as Thanos was introduced in the first Avengers movie in a small cameo at the end, non-comic book audiences wondered how a purple guy sitting in a chair could possibly be a threat to a team that included Thor and the Hulk. But comic book fans recognized that Brolin was playing a character so powerful he had single handedly unmade and remade the universe for his twisted ends in the comics.
Playing such a powerhouse of a character in a franchise filled with superpowered characters clearly appealed to Brolin. In turn, the actor was able to strip away the power and mystique of Thanos to find the emotional core, and present audiences with a character in Avengers: Endgame that they could sympathize with and even root for. Brolin credits the filmmaking duo of the Russo brothers for getting such a nuanced performance out of him for Thanos, even going so far as to throw shade in comparison at Deadpool 2, where Brolin played the role of the mutant Cable.
"'Deadpool' was hard. Even though it was funny, it was harder. That was more of a business transaction, it was more, 'We need to make this like this,' which I didn't feel that way with 'Avengers.' With [the Russo Brothers], they would constantly go back and reference 'Scarface' or 'Dog Day Afternoon.' Whether or not it was a manipulation, they knew what to throw out there to bring it back into something inspired."
Clearly, playing Thanos turned out to be a much more rewarding experience than Brolin had anticipated, and he rose to the challenge, crafting a movie villain that many fans claim belongs right up there with other cinema icons like Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter. Hopefully, given the nature of comic book movies, Thanos' death in Avengers: Endgame will not prevent Brolin from reprising the role of the Mad Titan at some point in the future in the MCU. This news comes from Team Deakins podcast.