It’s been six years since Marvel Studios’ Big Bad Thanos first appeared in the credits of The Avengers, but this week’s Avengers: Infinity War marks the first time audiences—and critics—get to spend real time with the giant, blueberry-colored villain. This means the entire critical establishment is facing an Avengers-sized problem: How do you describe a character who is, essentially, Josh Brolin reimagined as a purple-headed warrior without getting too vulgar about it? Here’s how America’s top film critics responded to Marvel’s most unfortunate writing prompt yet.
Sam Adams, Slate: “… the movie’s mauve madman has a point about overpopulation.”
Justin Chang, the Los Angeles Times: “ … a genocidal megalomaniac who likes to visit different planets and wipe out half the native population.”
Jake Coyle, Associated Press: “Thanos, the indestructible Titan warlord, who rules over much of space but would like all of it.”
David Edelstein, New York: “The menace behind the massacre is Thanos, a giant with a gruff voice … sporting a chin like a giant ball sack.”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: “ … a towering armored walking-statue demon with a chin sculpted like Abraham Lincoln’s beard, and a demeanor of soft-spoken Nietzschean intelligence. … like Hellboy, the Hulk, Darth Vader, and Oliver Stone rolled into one eloquent sociopath.”
Eric Kohn, Indiewire: “… a hulkish monstrosity buried under wrinkly purple CGI.”
Todd McCarthy, the Hollywood Reporter: “… a brooding tree trunk of a man whose stated goal is to achieve universal dominance by acquiring all six Infinity Stones.”
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: “…. a CG Josh Brolin, kind of recognizable behind an oversized granite chin, Hulkian muscles, and Booberry-hued skin.”
Michael O’Sullivan, the Washington Post: “ … a purple alien (voiced by Josh Brolin), created from CGI motion-capture technology, with skin that looks like a cantaloupe.”
Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice: “ … a tyrant whose chin might be lumps of grape mashed potatoes scored with a fork to resemble Devils Tower.”
A.O. Scott, the New York Times: “ … a large purple fellow named Thanos” with “vague Malthusian principles.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: “ … an intergalactic tyrant with a purple face and a chin the Star Lord insists looks like a nutsack. (He’s not wrong.)”
Stephanie Zacharek, Time: “Josh Brolin, in the form of a giant dude with a pronounced, corrugated chin, like the cow catcher on an old railway engine.”
The critical consensus is clear: Whether you love or hate the newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can’t deny that Thanos is really, really weird-looking, especially around the chin area. Avengers beware!