The week prior to The Marvels’ theatrical debut, Disney and Marvel Studios released a trailer featuring callbacks to Infinity Saga characters, including Josh Brolin’s Thanos. While the teaser featured no new footage of the villain, it did include new dialogue that was never heard in Avengers: Infinity War or Endgame and suggested a connection between the Mad Titan and Dar-Benn, The Marvels’ antagonist.
This moment in the trailer began with a voiceover from Carol Danvers, saying, “We destroyed Thanos, but it’s not over.” This is followed by shots of Thanos who states, “My work is inevitable. There will always be more….” But before he completes his threat of “…to finish it,” the trailer cuts to a shot of Zawe Ashton’s Dar-Benn.
Further shots show the Captain Marvel 2 villainess in action, highlighting her use of the bangle (aka Quantum Band) and her hammer. While the timing of these shots, combined with the use of Thanos’ dialogue, led audiences to expect Dar-Benn to continue his mission in some fashion, The Marvels ended up being a strictly Phase 5 story with nothing to do with Brolin’s baddie or his inevitable “work.”
Now, in all fairness, apart from Dar-Benn being an Accuser like Ronan, a former Thanos associate, the two antagonists both wanted resources for their respective homeworlds. The problem is that their methods and solutions are so dramatically different and Dar-Benn never referenced Thanos’ work and the need to finish it.
Why Disney Lied About Thanos’ Role
In the weeks leading up to The Marvels release, box office projections were shockingly lower than with previous MCU films. This appears to have led to a last-minute marketing push to get the fan base’s attention which not only included The Marvels trailer referencing Thanos but also that sneaky X-Men tease and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie cameo.
While understandable at the time, and even appreciated by audiences craving stakes and connectivity, in retrospect, the use of Thanos in a Phase 5 project and alongside Dar-Benn not only seems desperate but deceptive. Yes, it’s true that Disney and Marvel Studios often use misdirection in their marketing. But this wasn’t a fake shot or an attempt to save a surprise for the theaters, it was a blatant bait and switch.
The Lasting Impact
The fact Disney lied using characters and material that Marvel fans so revere isn’t likely to be forgotten. And, unfortunately, it may have a negative impact on how audiences view future Marvel Studios trailers which have long been part of the MCU fan experience.
In conclusion, Disney’s misleading marketing of Thanos’ role in The Marvels has left fans feeling deceived and disappointed. The trailer’s use of Thanos’ dialogue and imagery created false expectations, ultimately leading to a letdown when the film didn’t deliver on the promised connection between the Mad Titan and Dar-Benn. While marketing misdirection is not uncommon, this instance felt more like a bait and switch, which may affect how fans approach future Marvel Studios trailers. As the MCU continues to evolve in Phase 5 and beyond, maintaining trust with the fanbase will be crucial for the franchise’s continued success.