In Anticipation of Thanos & Infinity War (No Spoilers, No Review)
I have to admit, I'm stoked!
I was 12 years old when my buddy Aaron came back from the supermarket with my first introduction to Thanos in hand. See, back then, you went to the grocery store to get your comic books (in our case, the local Food Fair was the pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow). The comic racks were often close to the other magazines and greeting cards, so when a hot item came in and you didn’t have a buck on hand you would have to find a stack of Vanity Fair or some other adult title to hide your issue behind until you could get the cash. Hiding places were essential in order to subvert the few other comic hunters in town from buying out the issue you need to complete a storyline!
I was almost exclusively an X-Men fan at this point, with the occasional Batman title filtering in and out of my collection, so I didn’t know much about anything else Marvel had going on. I didn’t even know much of anything about Thanos.
But, when I was finally able to crack open the pages of The Infinity Gauntlet #1 (over Aaron’s strict purview, of course, who often directed me to handle the comic in a very particular way, breathe in a specific direction, turn the pages delicately, etc.) and to be graced with an image of the Devil, Mephisto, bowing in fealty to the girth of the Mad Titan amidst a cosmic background with the word “GOD” carved out of the landscape . . . I don’t think any single illustration has ever made an impression such as that on my mind ever since!
Since its release in 1991, Infinity Gauntlet has always been one of my most favorite pieces of fiction ever written. To me, other comics have tried in vain to outdo the extreme nature of the story: the maniacal Thanos seeks to kill half the universe in order to prove his love for his mistress, the personification of Death . . . and succeeds! The result is a scramble by the heroes left over to take Thanos down, only to be swept aside like fleas bothering a god. Even the gods themselves work their way into the mix, only to fall at the hands of Thanos’ unlimited power as a result of the Infinity gems he collected to create the ultimate reality-warping weapon: the Infinity Gauntlet. I had never seen anything of this scale as a crossover event, and anything ever since has only paled in comparison.
My dream since that time period was to see Infinity Gauntlet on the big screen, to see the Mad Titan wield his glove and wipe away all of Earth’s mightiest with a single snap. Because comic book movies were a rarity back in the day (and even more of a rarity when done well, if at all) Aaron and I both laughed it off as a fantasy that Infinity Gauntlet would ever be a film to see the light of day. Besides, who’s ever heard of Thanos anyway? Most households never even knew what an Avenger was back then, let alone some cosmic madman that was never one of the regular top-tier villains in comic lore. I kept the dream alive, though. I did my best to imagine what could be done with Thanos if special effects and costuming would only evolve! What would Thanos look like with an actual budget?
So, it was exciting enough when the first The Avengers installment awed movie-goers with its consolidation of franchises streamlining Marvel’s heroes into one continuity . . . but, when that purple face showed at the end? It was interesting to see the majority of the audience scratching their heads at the smiling, glow-eyed alien on screen. I think I was one of two people in the audience that screamed in absolute glee.
I never thought would happen: the movie I have been dreaming about for 27 years is finally here! I don’t think most people in the world still know what’s waiting for them, if the filmmakers indeed remain true to Thanos’ quest of insanity. All I can say is I am 12 years old all over again and peeing my pants in anticipation for Avengers: Infinity War. I am normally more picky about my movies and getting sick of superhero blockbusters at this point, but to see Thanos on screen is a literal dream come true.
Thanos creator Jim Starlin deserves this. That man started writing and drawing comics in a day when being a comic creator was a thankless, poor man’s job. He has never given up his style and flavor of storytelling and, as a result, has endured a rocky industry full of back-stabbing publishers at every turn. He has already stated his viewing of the film was everything he had hoped for and more. To see one's creation make it this far, to reach this large of an audience, is every creator's hope.
My hat is off to you, Mr. Starlin! Now the whole world will be touched by your imagination! Thank you, sir, for giving us one of the greatest villains of all time! You have given us stars and infinite madness!