Marvel-ous Monday: Understanding Thanos and His Future in the MCU

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©Marvel Studios 2018

“Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe.  But this…does put a smile on my face.”

Avengers: Infinity War had many memorable moments and quotes, but this one by Thanos was one of my favorites.  Aside from being a massive financial success, the film delivered an amazing story and left fans craving closure.  After years of post-credit scenes and Easter eggs, Thanos was finally here, and his role would forever change the super hero genre. He was impactful because such genre is often associated with hope and civility, and with a snap of his fingers, our team of heroes lost.  The good guys lost.

What makes the character so interesting is that Thanos is the super hero in his distorted mind, and movie goers haven’t really see such dynamic unfold at this point in the MCU or in any other super hero-based franchise. The Mad Titan brought a certain ego to the screen that rivaled Tony Stark’s confidence in an eerie, helpless way, which is entirely fitting considering most MCU fans fell in love with this Stark-like ego in 2008.  Yes, Thanos truly believes he that is doing the noble thing by wiping out half of the universe, and it is through this belief that the unpredictable nature of his character flourishes on screen.  But have you ever wondered where it all started?

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Making his first appearance in The Invincible Iron Man #55 in 1973, Thanos has been a force to reckon with since his inception.  Created by legendary Marvel artist and writer Jim Starlin, Thanos is often heralded as one of the strongest, fiercest villains in comic lore. Why? One could argue that he is only of the few villains—aside from possibly Dr. Doom—who is scientifically superior and intellectually just in his decisions.  Most villains act on whims or act out of vengeance, but Thanos carries out his ploys after methodical planning.  Among the major plot lines featuring Thanos’s destruction, his most famous is his quest to obtain all of the Infinity Gems (i.e. the MCU Stones).  He decides to go on such journey to impress a character by the name of Mistress Death, a cosmic being embodying the afterlife whom he loves.  Thanos wants to become omnipotent in order to be with Mistress Death, but he is ultimately defeated at the hands of the Avengers, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock the first time.

Marvel Studios – Avengers: Infinity War

Now, this is not the only time Thanos tries to acquire all of the Gems.  Our MCU storyline most closely follows the Infinity saga, where Thanos creates the Infinity Gauntlet to try—yet again—to become omnipotent and erase half of the universe’s population.  Again, he attempts to impress Mistress Death, and he is foiled, again, by Adam Warlock and Nebula.  Thanos is able to cause some problems for his opponents based on his pure strength, his scientific intellect, and his remarkable genes. The films have not really touched on Thanos’s lineage, but the concept of god-like beings is fairly prevalent in the MCU.  The exploitation of his ancestral strength allow him to possess the Gems, but his Eternal connection makes him somewhat god-like in his use of them.

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Many fans are trying to figure out how the Titan will fall, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if his time in the MCU is extended into Phase 4.  I know actor contracts are often referenced for such predictions, but Marvel is known for being fairly secretive.  And although he will likely fall at the culmination of Endgame, but Thanos has been resurrected before in the comics.  For argument’s sake, let’s consider one of the aftermath storylines upon the failure of the Gauntlet as a possible direction for Phase 4.  Now, this storyline does heavily rely on Adam Warlock, who has not appeared on screen, but his presence in the MCU was hinted at during the post-credit scene of Guardians vol. 2.  Once Thanos is defeated, our heroes need to figure out a way to keep the stones out of the hands of evil doers, and Warlock has the “perfect” solution.

Warlock creates the Infinity Watch, which is a team of individuals responsible for protecting the Gems to ensure no one tries to acquire all of them again.  There are different versions of the Infinity Watch, and its members change based on those versions.  Characters from the MCU like Drax, Gamora, Doctor Strange, Black Widow (kind of), Captain Marvel, Star-Lord, Hulk, Ant-Man, and Loki serve as protectors in different Infinity Watch stories. There are also a slew of other characters who serve on those teams, but those characters are not in the MCU…yet. However, one member from Warlock’s original team was Thanos.  Yes, those two have a love/hate relationship, but Warlock knows Thanos on a different level.  He knows Thanos realizes he is not worthy of the powers granted by the Gems, and his intelligence of such powers makes him one a commodity.  Therefore, despite the reluctance and opposition of most, Warlock appoints Thanos to serve on the Watch.

Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy

Regardless of future cinematic direction, Thanos has been the best villain to date in the MCU, and Josh Brolin’s portrayal of such an iconic character has been fantastic.  An interesting fact that most don’t consider is that stuntman Damion Poitier was the first Thanos during the brief mid-credits scene of The Avengers.  If you remember that scene, Thanos doesn’t speak, and his complexion/appearance is a bit different.  The character’s features were ultimately tailored to Brolin once he was brought on board, and his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy also showed a different looking character from his final version featured in Infinity War.  Also, in typical Marvel fashion, Thanos has been met with some criticism over copy right since his inception.  Have you ever noticed that he looks an awful lot like DC’s Darkseid? Well, the two share a lot of similarities both physically and philosophically, but we won’t get into that debate today.

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