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Infinity Wars’ Thanos Dispels the Myth of CGI

Infinity Walls ThanosSource:

Infinity War has arrived and it’s doing the numbers. But it’s not just doing the numbers, it’s killing it at the box office. I have no doubt that the receipts from Blu Ray, Ultra HD and DVD sales will be favourable to say the least.

Infinity Wars has enjoyed immense success for a number of reasons. It’s part of the MCU’s (Marvel Cinematic Universe) world-building project that’s the culmination of 10 years of work. If this movie was released without the incredible foundation upon which it has been built, it would almost make no sense. However, if there’s one thing that this movie has going for it that solidifies its status as one of the great ones, it’s the villain, Thanos. Accentuating the issue further is the fact that Thanos is a CGI villain/character and generally speaking, CGI characters don’t hold much water when it comes to delivering conviction. If we were to just briefly touch on CGI villains of the past, it quickly becomes apparent as to why.

Those Who Didn’t Cut It

Now in all honesty, this is one of those lists that’s likely to change over time, but I’ll tell you this much, it will never be short of contenders. You see, while CGI has changed the face of the film industry forever, it is still not fool proof. It still cannot completely render realism useless. This is why when you see it, no matter how good it looks, all polished and shiny, you can still tell it apart. The list of those who didn’t cut it is long and thus I’ll just touch upon what should have been iconic villains.

Doomsday, the bastard experiment of Lex Luther who kills Superman at the end of 2016’s Dawn of Justice should have been an iconic villain. After all, this is one villain who put old Supes 6 feet under. Instead what we got was an inconsistent abomination that looked more like a cave troll from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

DoomsdaySource: Pinterest

I enjoyed 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and I felt that James Spader was the ideal candidate for the job, but the CGI of Ultron, the villain he portrayed, was simply too shiny and thus too apparently computer generated. One felt robbed of the actor’s performance as it got lost under layers of digital make-up.

I’ve often touted the combination of prosthetics and CGI effects. Why not combine the best of both worlds? It didn’t pan out that way when X-Men: Apocalypse was released in 2016. What should have been the toughest villain the X-men faced off against was done a disservice through an aesthetic that was uninspired and made worse by choosing a small actor to portray the villain.

Lastly we have Steppenwolf. The main villain in 2017’s heavily anticipated and heavily underwhelming Justice League.  Steppenwolf doesn’t work in any way. His motivations are two dimensional and he looks like he’d be more at home as one of the lead characters in Mortal Kombat II.

Why Thanos Works

The odds were not in Thanos’ favour. If history had taught us anything, it was that this was going to be yet another villain embossed in average CGI, accompanied by poor characterisation and rounded off by a lack of a backstory.  The makers of Infinity War disproved any concerns audience members may have had by delivering a villain that was compelling in every way despite having been created completely in CGI. Thanos works because great care has been taken in crafting his digital demeanour.  His reasons and motivations are fleshed out to make it all believable while his characterisation, delivered by the actor Josh Brolin, is perfectly enmeshed with the digital effects to make the entire representation all the more realistic.

Why We Need Good Villains

Good villains make good oxymoron’s, but let’s move on.  If you make a movie and you’ve got a good protagonist, then the only way to get the audience completely invested is to give them an antagonist of equal value. A good villain will appeal to the audience member on some level. A good villain will against all your best intentions, endear him or herself to you. A good villain will make you see things from his or her perspective. A good villain will make you know that he or she’s got to go, but you’ll not want them to go.


All mediums of entertainment that use the hero’s tale or provide a protagonist, need an antagonist. This is the case in movies, books, radio shows, cartoons and even casino games, or to be more specific, in video slot games. That’s right folks, villains are even required in games of chance! Prime examples are The Kurgan in Microgaming’s Highlander™ slot game or the Black Knight in Avalon II, another slots game by the same company.  Yesiree-bob, we need villains, but only in our entertainment, not in our real lives.