Ask any comic fan who Jim Starlin is and you’ll likely wind up with a laundry list of notable characters he created and incredible stories he’s written over the years. But no character is more important to his credit than Thanos. Thanos has been one of the biggest villains at Marvel since his debut in 1973, and rumor has it he’ll play a major role in Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie.
After years of personal issues regarding the rights to Thanos, Starlin had recently mended his ties with Marvel and planned to create new work for the company this year. The plan was for Starlin to write Thanos Annual #1 for next month and the upcoming Thanos: The Infinity Revelations graphic novel for August. However, on Starlin’s Facebook page, the longtime writer had this to say under a post for his upcoming Savage Hulk issues:
Just finished penciling and scripting my four-issue story arc (#7-10) for the Savage Hulk Series. Not sure what I'm going to do now, seeing as how I can't do any further Thanos/Adam Warlock stories, as was the plan.
Starlin later clarified this statement by adding:
Okay,this time, after I brought Adam Warlock back from the dead in the Infinity Revelation, someone at Marvel anonymously put a corporation-wide-no-use restriction on the character, effectively putting the brakes on the on-going plans I had for him and the Titan.
From these quotes, it seems like Starlin is under the impression that he can no longer use Adam Warlock, a character he revolutionized, in his upcoming work on Thanos. The two characters have been indelibly linked for decades, but with Warlock possibly appearing in upcoming Marvel movies, this might be a case of the company looking to have creative control over him until any cinematic plans are finalized.
Marvel executive editor, Tom Brevoort, took to Tumblr to respond to fans wondering about this issue by saying:
No, there’s no truth to this. Thanos will be appearing as much as ever in our books. This is all really about something else, something much smaller that Jim probably shouldn’t even have taken public on his Facebook page.
So Thanos can still be used, but it's not clear if Starlin's original plans with Adam Warlock were suddenly put on hold.
The comic book industry is unique in that not many writers and artists actually have control over the characters they create. On the surface this seems to be a case of a company sacrificing something in the short term in order to ensure success in the long term. Hopefully something can be worked out between the sides because Starlin should be around the company when Thanos becomes a part of the billion dollar Marvel movie machine.