Marvel launched an impressively groundbreaking plan back in 2008 with Iron Man. Samuel L. Jackson’s cameo in the first of the comic giant’s now famous post-credits scenes as Nick Fury initiated the MCU, or Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first order of business in the world’s premier shared comic book movie universe was to set up The Avengers, a team up of epic proportions. However, during the credits, at the end of that milestone film, Marvel introduced the sinister mastermind of their cinematic universe, and his name is Thanos.
This introduction was a bold move by Marvel Studios for more than one reason. First of all, Thanos represents a larger, more complete version of Marvel’s expansive comic book universe that may be hard to digest for casual moviegoers. The more immediate reason is that only Marvel’s comic book enthusiasts recognized Thanos the Mad Titan the instant he was introduced. Most viewers had to rely on this minority of fans or the internet to realize the significance of the mid-credit’s scene for The Avengers. Many believed that they were, in fact, looking at Captain America’s nemesis The Red Skull, returned from his ambiguous demise at the climax of The First Avenger only to be corrected later on. While the films’ overarching plot is still unfolding, there are many possibilities for avid fans to ponder.
Thanos is a cosmic being born on the moon of Saturn, Titan. He was born deformed and was an outcast in his society, occupying himself with the gathering of personal power and an obsession with death. Most of Thanos’ story arcs revolve around him attempting to win the favor of the personification of Death itself, a female form in the Marvel Universe. Fans familiar with this character trait got an extra kick out of Thanos’ scene in The Avengers when the Mad Titan’s lackey, The Other, tells him that challenging the humans of Earth “would be to court death”, and Thanos simply offers a wide grin. Whether or not Marvel intends to fully realizes Thanos’ flirtation with death is unknown, but it was a wonderful reference nonetheless. Another key element of stories involving Thanos is the gathering of powerful items like the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract and the Infinity Gems.
Both of these powers have now been introduced in the MCU, leading many to believe that each movie is leading up to the interpretation of the well-loved Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Easter egg hunters may know that the gauntlet itself made a split second appearance in Odin’s vault during the first Thor movie, and that was the first hint. In the comics uniting the Infinity Gems in the Infinity Gauntlet grants the wearer enormous power, a feat that Thanos has accomplished to catastrophic results.
Viewers may learn more about Thanos’ quest for the gauntlet in Guardians of the Galaxy, due out on August 1, 2014. Thanos is confirmed to make at least an appearance in the film. With Marvel willing to make use of such cult favorite characters as Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, while also promising to push the boundaries of the Avengers in the upcoming Age of Ultron, fans are left wondering just how massive the eventual confrontation with Thanos will be as well as who will survive the encounter with the sinister mastermind. With each movie giving Earth’s Mightiest Heroes potential additions to their roster, by the time the owner of the Infinity Gauntlet steps out of the shadows, they may need to use everyone at their disposal.
Opinion By Matt Isaacs