Read no further if you haven’t seen “The Avengers” yet. All six or seven of you.
All clear? Because we’re going to be talking about exactly who we got a glimpse of in that penultimate scene in the film, and what the filmmakers say that means for future Marvel films. Fair warning…
Okay, those in the Marvel Comics recognized Thanos, the Mad Titan, as the powerful puppeteer who, though his Chitauri middlemen was pulling Loki’s strings.
Thanos was created in 1973 by the now-revered writer-artist Jim Starlin, as a villain to beat down Iron Man. Starlin remained enamored of the character, developing a rich backstory for him as he pitted Thanos against many of the more cosmic-level Marvel stalwarts throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, including Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and the Silver Surfer. Born a member of the Titan race that inhabits a moon of Saturn, and something of a genetic outcast among his people, Thanos ultimately became obsessed with death to the point that he actually fell in love with the abstract universal embodiment of the end of life itself, Mistress Death (Yes, that “to court death” line in the film was a clever bit of wordplay for the fanboys).
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In the early 1990s Thanos at last became a major player in the Marvel Universe as a whole when he took on virtually every superhero on Earth in “The Infinity Gauntlet” storyline, in which he assembled his long-coveted Infinity Gems – each possessing its own godlike power – into a powerful glove and attempted to end all life as we know it in a bid to kiss up to his ladylove, Death. After that, Thanos became as important and popular a villainous force in the Marvel Universe as Magneto, Dr. Doom and the Red Skull.
And not for nothing, sharp-eyed, geek-fluent viewers will remember that something looking suspiciously like Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet was glimpsed in Odin’s Asgardian vault, where all kinds of nasty cosmic talismans are stored.
So – after to promising to unveil the answer AFTER “The Avengers” opened - PopcornBiz asked Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige what Thanos’ last-second appearance – but clearly important behind-the-scenes role – meant for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.
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PopcornBiz: The introduction of Thanos: how hard was it to commit to that, since everyone will expect that to be the next movie – even if you haven't figured out that story, or even who’s movie we’ll see him in, yourselves?
Feige: We knew two years ago that Joss [Whedon] wanted to end the movie this way, so that gave us a lot of time to think about potential ways to build him into that universe. It remains to be seen where we'll next see Thanos, but there are a lot of ideas on the table about that – and again, it just adds to another element to our playback, the way that Nick Fury walking into Tony Stark's house did in 'Iron Man 1.’
Given the Marvel movie team’s stated desire to build out the cosmic side of their Cinematic Universe now that its earthbound roots have been established, it look like Thanos’ ongoing plot will be the villainous vehicle, and we’re wondering if we won’t be seeing at least another glimpse of the Mad Titan (who, by the way, was played by actor Damion Poitier, who’s had small parts in other Whedon projects) sooner rather than later – maybe as soon as “Thor 2?”