Marvel legend Jim Starlin confides: “My black ideas inspired the stories of Thanos”

At 70, Jim Starlin savored. This veteran of Vietnam, responsible for the revival of Marvel in the 1970s, has become in recent years one of the icons of pop culture. Creator of Thanos in 1973, he discovers today with joy his character acclaimed worldwide thanks to what is now the biggest success in the history of cinema: Avengers Endgame.

“It's surreal,” says the cartoonist and scriptwriter, all happy to go to Comic-Con de Paris, where he was to give this Saturday, October 26 an exceptional conference on his saga of the infinite. “I thought, seeing him at the end ofAvengers (2012), that he was only going to have his fifteen-year Warholian celebrity, but we managed to extend this adventure for seven years! We deserve now to return to the depths of the cosmos. It will happen sooner or later. “

Jim Starlin has always been drawn to the depths of both the cosmos and the soul. That's how Thanos was born in the early 1970s:

“It was at a time when I was putting together a portfolio to get work in New York.I was enrolled in university and during a psychology class, a teacher told us about the Freudian concepts of eros and thanatos, the impulses of life and death present in human nature … Of course, I was more attracted to the dark side, “recalls the designer.

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Entered Marvel in 1972, he creates the next year Thanos in the series Iron Man: “I was talking to Jack Kirby when he told me that Hulk represented stupidity: the more you hit him, the stronger he gets, I wanted such a strong theme to cross my character, so I imagined that ambition Thanos could never be satisfied, that's how it all started: all my psyche could contain dark thoughts inspired the stories of Thanos. “

“Evacuate what is negative in your life”

Starlin himself has often said that drawing and writing stories helped him manage his anger: “To a certain extent, yes, I often joke about it,” he says again today. “Everything that you live resurfaces in one way or another in what you draw or write.It is a good way to evacuate what is negative in your life,” says the one who was aerial photographer for US Navy during the Vietnam War.

We understand better the origin of the snap of fingers, this famous gesture that makes Thanos to eradicate half of the universe in the comics The infinity Gauntlet and the movie Avengers Infinity War“It's a very scornful gesture, that's what coffee boys in South America were called years ago, and I've always thought it was inappropriate for me to do that. Thanos had to do when erasing humanity, it came naturally. ” In The Infinity GauntletThanos acts in this way to seduce Death, who remains insensitive to his advances. Death and suicide, but also mental illnesses are recurring themes in his work:

“These stories are about characters facing the greatest challenges that humanity faces, and I thought to myself that they have to lose from time to time, we can not succeed in everything we do. the most interesting stories, and not many comics were killing superheroes when I started, it was a good time: the old generation of the 1940s was retiring and the youngest were stimulating each other to move the lines. “

From Captain Marvel to Batman

In 1982, Jim Starlin inaugurates at Marvel a new collection dedicated to graphic novels. With The Death of Captain Marvel, he is inspired in part by his father, who has just died of cancer, to complete the title character. A kind of therapy, he will say years later. Rare fact in the history of the publishing house, always quick to resurrect the dead superheroes: this version of Captain Marvel still remains dead 37 years after the fact. The character now has the traits of Carol Danvers (and was incarnated in the cinema by Brie Larson). Jim Starlin retains great pride in this story:

“This is the only character in the history of comics to be dead!” All the others came back in one form or another This version of Captain Marvel could not come back because Jim Shooter (Editor-in-Chief of Marvel in the 1980s, Ed) did not want him to come back – and now there is also a female version of Captain Marvel and they do not want to create confusion. “

Jim Starlin did not just work at Marvel. He is also responsible for two of the darkest Batman stories. Mourning in the family (1988), designed by Jim Aparo, culminates with a scene of unnamed brutality in which Jason Todd, the second Robin, is assassinated by a Joker visibly ecstatic.

An atrocious end to the character and chosen after a vote by readers of DC Comics: “My idea was that fighting crime wearing a multicolored suit is a very bad idea, especially when you're a teenager,” commented Starlin. In The cult (1988), designed by Bernie Wrightson, denounces religious fundamentalism and plunges Batman into nightmarish meanders and a Gotham turned into a slum.

Covers of several comics written by Jim Starlin, Thanos's dad.

“For a day, I was a star!”

Since the 1990s, his relationship has stretched with industry and especially Marvel. His characters continue to experience paper adventures without him and are now transposed on the screen.

Thanks to Anatoli Knyazev, an obscure character used in Batman v Superman in 2016 he received a very large sum and congratulated himself on Facebook. He took advantage of his platform to tackle Marvel, which he accuses of paying insufficiently despite a film exploitation of several of his key characters like Thanos, Gamora and Drax the destroyer.

Since then, relationships have improved. Jim Starlin is thanked to the credits ofAvengers Infinity War and Avengers Endgame. The author was even invited on the set ofEndgame. On the spot, he was surprised to discover a script with his name:

“I got on the set, I thought I was going to be put in a corner, but no, I was told to learn my lines, well, I only had one, but it was very funny, everyone was very friendly, especially the writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and Joe, the director, with whom I shot my scene (that of the word group of Captain America, Ed). put me in a dressing room, dressed me, then put on makeup, for a day I was a star. “

The adventure is not over for Jim Starlin: Shang-Chi, character co-created with Steve Englehart after seeing the series Kung Fu with David Carradine, will soon be brought to the screen.


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