Thanos stole the show in Avengers: Infinity War with his imposing presence and deadly plan of killing half the universe. He was unlike any other villain we’d seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and judging from the early test footage released, that’s exactly why Marvel executives gave the movie the thumbs up.
The short snippet posted on Twitter by a Marvel fan account shows Thanos, portrayed in motion capture by Josh Brolin, in an early version of the character. We can see why Marvel execs were won over by how the Russo Brothers were planning on bringing the character to life.
Prior to his turn in Infinity War, we had only seen brief glimpses of Thanos throughout various MCU movies, be it his smirking scene in The Avengers or his interactions with Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was mired in darkness and covered up by his helmet. The latest Avengers movie got rid of all that and put him front and center, and he stole the show.
Unlike the version of Thanos we got in the movie, the test footage of Thanos is very different. Brolin’s portrayal in the final version is more measured and precise, as opposed to the playful version he portrayed in the test footage.
Some of the dialogue Brolin recites seems to be an early version of Thanos’ first encounter with Loki. At the end, he gives a weird nod—something we never once saw in the movie—while excusing himself as the “just the messenger” for having to kill him by breaking his neck.
This slight change actually helped the film in a major way. Instead of Thanos being some crazed lunatic looking to kill people for sport, he was instead very eloquent and convincing about his crusade to eliminate half of the known universe.
The footage just shows that sometimes it takes a while for a character to fully develop. It’s interesting to think how different Avengers: Infinity War would have turned out if Brolin had kept the playfulness seen in the test footage.