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The Important Marvel Cameo In Endgame You Missed

Contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame

When it comes to cameos, no film franchise does them quite like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans have come to expect to keep their peepers peeled while watching each new MCU entry, scanning the film for familiar faces in crowded spaces and voices they may have heard before coming from bodies may or may not have ever laid eyes on. The latest MCU movie, Avengers: Endgame, continues the long-standing tradition of cool hidden appearances, but it also features one very important cameo fans likely missed. 

The cameo comes early on in Avengers: Endgame, when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is meeting with the support group for survivors of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) Snap who are still dealing with guilt and pain in a post-Decimation world five years after the fact. Instantly, viewers are able to recognize that the man who is speaking, going into detail about how he went on a date and it ended with both of them crying over what happened in 2018, is Endgame co-director Joe Russo. Audiences may have been so preoccupied by Russo's appearance in the film that they failed to notice the scene includes an even more important cameo: Jim Starlin, the comics artist and writer who – gasp — created Thanos

For those who may not know what Starlin looks like, he's the bald man with glasses and a goatee. He delivers just one line in Endgame during the group therapy scene. Starlin's role is so small, in fact, that he's credited only as "Support Group Man #1." 

Starlin opened up about his Endgame cameo in a post on Instagram. The comics legend shared snaps of himself on the set of the superhero flick, writing in the caption, "My film debut. Had a great time with some terrific folks, like Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the script writers. When I wasn't busy learning my one line or getting made up I had fun chatting with them. They and director Joe Russo were exceptionally open with me and for that I sincerely thank them, even though I had to keep my mouth shut for a year and a half afterwards. Glad I can now share theses pix with you."

Minuscule as Starlin's involvement in Avengers: Endgame may have been, his cameo is actually a massive deal. Starlin hasn't had the best relationship with Marvel Studios, previously raising issue with the company's purported lack of compensation for using his creations, which also include characters like Drax the Destroyer, and Gamora. Back in January of 2017, Starlin addressed the situation on Facebook, saying, "Just received a very big check from D.C. Entertainment for my participation in Batman v Superman, Dawn of Justice (Anatoli Knyyazev), much bigger than anything I've gotten for Thanos, Gamora and Drax showing up in any of the various Marvel movies they appeared in, combined. Guess I'll finally have to sit down and watch the movie."

Starlin also hit a rocky road with Marvel Comics in December of 2017, announcing that he was parting ways with the company mere months ahead of the launch of Avengers: Endgame, which brought Thanos to the forefront as a foreboding MCU villain. According to Starlin, Marvel Editorial approved "a plot for the current on-going series, which was pretty much the same as the Thanos story arc in the graphic novel trilogy Alan Davis and I have been working on for Tom [Brevoort, an editor at Marvel Comics] for close to the past year." He explained, "Just to set the record straight, Marvel Comics didn't pull me off any books, they just made it clear they weren't interested in using me on any of the tie-in series to the movies or regular series. Even though I lobbied heavily to write the Thanos on-going that task was twice given to other writers, which is Marvel Editorial's right to do ... [Tom] had 200 pages of script and 100 pages of pencils on this project when he gave the green light to a strikingly similar plot. The on-going will be in print before the graphic novel trilogy. TO avoid spoiling anyone's enjoyment of these two stories I will not be summarizing the striking similarities." 

At that time, Starlin clarified that he had no beef with Marvel Entertainment, just issues with what had happened with the comic book branch of the company as well as the operations of the MCU. "And yes, Marvel Entertainment has treated me very well and generously. Them I like," Starlin wrote.

In the year and a half since the Thanos dispute occurred, and over two years after claiming Marvel hadn't properly paid him for using characters he created, it seems that things have smoothed over big time between the two parties, particularly since Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo have moved into center stage of the MCU over the last few years. Starlin was the one who first expressed interest in Infinity War when he shared a screenshot from the behind-the-scenes featurette The Making of The Avengers: Infinity War, which featured a copy of his 2011 paperback The Infinity Gauntlet covered in Post-it Notes. 

"Well, from the looks of all those notes sticking out of a copy of the Infinity Gauntlet in this screen shot from The Making of The Avengers: Infinity War, it would appear that Marvel has begun shooting the movie, maybe loosely based on The Infinity Gauntlet. So very cool! Anthony and Joe, I'm ready for my close up any time you are," Starlin wrote on Facebook. The Russo brothers responded to his post, writing in a now-deleted comment, "We've got your close up ready, Mr. Starlin."

Starlin wound up approving of Avengers: Infinity War in a major way, comparing Thanos to his firstborn child who was leaving the nest to cause chaos in the MCU through the third Avengers film. "What more could a proud father hope for?" he said (via International Business Times).

Now, it's pretty evident that Starlin is incredibly happy with how his creations are being used in the MCU and has a great relationship with the Russos — so much so that he agreed to a cameo and had what sounds like a fantastic time filming it. Regarding what Starlin thinks of the finished product, here's what he had to say about Avengers: Endgame: "I was very pleased. There are a lot of possibilities, and I thought they did a good job. They way they did it was quite satisfying. I loved the movie. I thought it was better than Infinity War, actually. It's much more spectacular and much more of an emotional roller coaster, and that's saying something on the latter part, especially after Gamora's demise."

As for whether Starlin will ever appear in a future Marvel movie, don't count him — or his brainchild Thanos — out. 

"I don't see [Marvel] letting up, because it's basically printing money for them. There's a whole universe of stuff they haven't even touched yet. I have faith that somewhere down the line that Thanos will return, because he's basically the Darth Vader of this particular decade. It's kind of strange. Thanos and I were cult characters who would show up occasionally, and we sold well enough of that, and now we've both been pushed into areas that are a little strange," Starlin said. "He's become a pop culture icon, and I get a lot more phone calls to do personal appearances than I did before."

So, there you have it folks: the one tiny cameo in Avengers: Endgame that slipped right under your radar has serious ties to Marvel, and the man behind the guest appearance may very well make a repeat run. And if Starlin has any sway in the decision-making process, Thanos might return from space dust for another Marvel movie. Let's just hope if that happens, the heroes know to aim for his head the first time around.