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Thanos actor says the villain might return to the MCU – here’s how it could work

Published Feb 6th, 2024 9:59PM EST
Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos
Image: Marvel Studios

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The MCU is currently in the Multiverse Saga, which will end with Avengers: Secret Wars. You don’t have to follow Marvel spoilers closely to expect these final Avengers movies to be massive events where we might see plenty of familiar characters.

Not just the superheroes that dominate the post-Endgame MCU, but also some of the ones that died or retired. Also, some of the Marvel characters from non-MCU universes might appear in these movies. The groundwork is already being laid in recent movies and shows.

With that in mind, I’d absolutely love to see Thanos (Josh Brolin) return to live-action MCU projects. And it looks like Josh Brolin thinks that it could happen, according to rumblings he has heard. Mind you, some spoilers might follow.

We’ll see Josh Brolin next in Dune: Part Two when it hits theaters next month. In the lead up, the actor is making the rounds on the movie’s press tour, and it’s no surprise that some reporters feel the need to ask him about a potential future for Thanos.

During one such interview with ComicBook, Brolin said he heard that Marvel would bring Thanos back: 

“You know, I hear kind of like through the grapevine, that they’re gonna bring him back,” Brolin said. “And there’s the What If…? series and that’s a different kind of Thanos and all that. But I don’t know in the Marvel world whether they’re going to bring him back, but I didn’t know that he was the most killed-off Marvel villain … You learn something new every day.”

Thanos in Avengers: Endgame final battle
Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Endgame final battle. Image source: Marvel Studios

Brolin noted how Thanos has already returned to the MCU. Indeed, we saw the Mad Titan several times in the What If…? animated series. On top of that, a quick Thanos cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness showed Avengers variants toppling the villain.

Since we’ll be exploring the multiverse with movies like Deadpool 3 long before Avengers 5 and Secret Wars roll out, we could always see Thanos pop up in different realities. 

Also, let’s not forget that Marvel brought Thanos back to life in Endgame. The original Earth-616 villain died early in the movie. We then saw a different Thanos travel to the main MCU reality to fight the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And that Thanos died as well.

How Thanos should return

It would be amazing if Marvel found a way to bring either version to Secret Wars. This time, however, Thanos might reluctantly join the Avengers, fighting a version of Kang to save the multiverse. That’s all speculation, of course. 

But think about it: Thanos was always a puppet for Kang. He was never supposed to take over the world on the Sacred Timeline. Kang used Thanos to advance his own agenda. That is, getting Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to develop time travel, which is the same thing as multiverse travel — a technology that a future version of Kang needs.

There’s another reason why Thanos could never truly win. Kang would have risked not being born if one of his predecessors died because of Thanos. As a reminder, Kang hails from about a thousand years into the future.

Word on the street is that the TVA will pick and choose superheroes from the multiverse to fight Thanos. That’s Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) TVA, and we might see the agency start its work as soon as Deadpool 3 hits theaters later this year. 

That would give Marvel a perfect excuse to pick up Thanos from the past. Maybe the former villain will hitchhike a ride to the present when the TVA grabs Tony Stark. 

Whatever the case, having Thanos join the Avengers against a greater threat would be an amazing development for Secret Wars. Also, they’d have to put this Thanos back from where they grabbed him, so he’ll eventually die, fulfilling his destiny.

All of this is speculation, however. We have plenty of waiting to do until Avengers 5 and Secret Wars come out. Marvel is likely to delay the two films again, though we’re still waiting for news on that front. 

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.