WARNING: The following articles contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, currently playing in theaters
Jim Starlin is one of the architects behind many of the best elements in Marvel Comics' classic cosmic stories. He's the creator of such characters such as Gamora, Drax and, most notably, Thanos. With so many of his creations rising to prominence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Starlin has had to adjust to audiences not only knowing his characters but also being keenly aware of who he is.
During an interview with CBR, the legendary writer/artist spoke about his reaction to Avengers: Endgame, whether Thanos received a fitting death, and what it's been like as a creator to see his characters take on such a larger life.
Starlin, who attended the world premiere of Endgame, described the blockbuster as "terrific."
"You know, I knew a lot about it beforehand from talking to the writers and directors, but not everything," he said. "So a lot of it was actually a really pleasant surprise. The scope of the ending is just amazing. The roller coaster, emotionally, to reach that point, it's astounding. I think they did a terrific job."
Talking about the film's twists, Starlin admitted that he was surprised by who dies.
"I had some guesses," he said. "You know, when the writers and directors talked to me, I mainly wanted to know the Thanos stuff. All the other peripheral things probably went in one ear and out the other, if I heard it at all. So who lived and who died came as a big surprise to me. Especially some midpoint stuff, I'm not going to get too specific ... I don't want to go too specific. There are some people who probably won't see the movie for weeks. I'm very good at this dancing around spoilers without being specific. This has almost been like Groundhog Day the last couple of years."
The Thanos of the comics was ultimately a different character than the version depicted in the MCU.
"Well, there were different writers, and I sort of approach the character in a way I learnt from Jack Kirby," Starlin explained. "Jack told me early on that the Hulk was 'stupidity. The harder you beat on it, the stronger it becomes.' That's the basis of the Hulk. So when I came along and decided to do characters like Dreadstar or Thanos, I came with a theme ...
"Thanos is desire that can never be satisfied," he continued. "So basically, his quest has always been 'Get what he wants no matter what the cost, and once he gets it it's not satisfying enough.' I mean, throughout his books he's managed to acquire omnipotence on multiple occasions. One time he left the Cosmic Cube around for Captain Marvel to smash, another time he let Nebula put it out of his hands. Other times he's just abandoned it because it just wasn't he wanted. These last stories I'm doing, these Thanos graphic novels, are approaching that on a whole new level. It's about him 'becoming' rather than 'acquiring,' which I find a little interesting way of approaching the problem."
"But basically he's not the same character in the Marvel Universe and the movie universe because the writers had different proprieties as to why they were doing him," Starlin added. "They wanted him to help continue and conclude these 22 movies, whereas I had 50 years to play around and develop him in different ways. I may have not had the budget, but I had the time."
Starlin also considers the ending of the film, and how it treats Thanos, to be fitting, "for no other reason, Thanos' attitude in those last couple moments of life. I just thought those were classic. That look on his face? They couldn't have done it better. It's exactly where he would have come from, and that's exactly how he would have accepted that end."
Asked about what it's like as a creator to see his work presented to the largest possible audience, Starlin pointed out that Stephen Colbert does jokes about Thanos on television. "It's a double-edged sword, like everything else in life," he said. "There are some strange downsides to it, like loss of anonymity around my neighborhood. But at the same time, it's nice to be appreciated. I mean, you work at something and you're sitting at this desk by yourself, year after year, drawing these stories. I'm not a person who goes out seeking a lot of attention, but, like I said, the recognition is nice.
"I've learned to adapt to having bigger crowds at the conventions than I used to be comfortable with," he continued. "Thanos and I were both cult characters, but we've been shoved into the mainstream. And we're learning to adapt, we're getting pretty well along with it, enjoying our 15 minutes of Andy Warhol fame. And I'm at least prepared to drift back into bitter obscurity after a while, but I don't know how Thanos is going to take that. He'll kill someone."
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.