ThanosThose of you haven’t seen ‘The Avengers‘ yet may want to wait until after you’ve had the chance to see the film and it’s closing credits, because there is a spoiler here, so don’t say you weren’t warned!

If you are a fan of Marvel Comics, you were probably thrilled midway through the end credits of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ when it was teased by the appearance of Thanos, Marvel’s cosmic uber villain.  If you are not a fan of Marvel Comics, you were probably like 75% of the people I know and asking, “So who was that guy and why is everyone applauding?”  Fear not!  Here’s all the information you need to prepare yourself for ‘Avengers 2.’

Thanos is from a race known as The Eternals, god-like cosmic beings, but Thanos trained and augmented himself into becoming even more powerful than the rest of his people.  As sadistic and nihilist as he is, strangely Thanos’ main motivation as a cosmic killer is a severe case of being p-whipped.  As a young boy living on Saturn’s moon Titan, Thanos became obsessed with Death, which in the Marvel Universe, is personified in the form of a woman.  Thanos became so enthralled by Mistress Death, that he devoted himself to her and attempted to win her love at any cost.  And that cost was high… death, death and more death.  (This is why, when in the movie, the alien leader told Thanos that to invade Earth would be “courting Death,” the evil warlord smiled.)

In each of his exploits, he was opposed by The Avengers and Captain Marvel, as well as cosmic messiah Adam Warlock.  In his first outing, he uses the power of the Cosmic Cube (or the “Tesseract” as they called it in the film) to become an omnipotent force.  (Captain Marvel used the Cosmic Cube against him.)  In the second, he amasses the Infinity Gems, powerful crystals that when combined, make their user all-powerful.  Ultimately, it is Spider-Man of all heroes who causes his downfall, when two entities, Lord Chaos and Master Order, influence him to release the life force of Adam Warlock, whom Thanos had slain, and his spirit turns Thanos to stone.  Ironically however, he retains some consciousness in this form and is tormented by the fact that despite his devotion to Death, he can never actually achieve it.

Thanos and Mistress Death
Thanos and his beloved Mistress Death

In 1991, both Thanos and those he’d killed, Adam Warlock, Pip the Troll and Gamora, returned in the miniseries ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ in which Thanos assembled all of the Infinity Gems and used them to bedazzle his left glove, gaining unlimited power.  Once again to impress his girl Death, he magically wipes out half the living beings in the universe, including half of the Marvel Super Heroes.  Then he plays with and eventually kills the other half.  He uses the Gauntlet to imprison or destroy countless cosmic deities, but when he kills Eternity, the embodiment of the Universe, Thanos becomes that very embodiment.  His “mortal” body vulnerable, his alleged granddaughter Nebula takes the Gauntlet and reverses everything that Thanos had used the glove to accomplish, restoring everyone to life.  In a ‘Good Will Hunting’ move, Warlock informed Thanos that his defeats were all due to his own subconscious realization that he didn’t deserve the power.  In a very 90s move, Warlock entrusted Thanos with possession of a single Infinity Gem, The Reality Gem, and Thanos turns over a new leaf and joins Warlock’s new team, The Infinity Watch.

Infinity Gauntlet Thor
The Infinity Gauntlet, faithfully depicted in "Thor"

Thankfully, he has since gone back to his evil ways and has established himself as the most destructive and callously murderous force in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel has been delighting fans with loads of Easter Eggs in all of its recent movie releases, many of which later play into future movies.  The Cosmic Cube/Tesseract first popped up in the post-credit sequence of “Thor,” before proving to be the major plot point in “Captain America: The First Avenger.”  And now, it was also a major factor in “The Avengers.”  Thanos’ ties to the device might provide the perfect “in” especially since at the end of ‘Avengers’ it was returned to Asgard by Thor and the imprisoned Loki.

Asgard is also home to The Infinity Gauntlet!  That’s right!  ‘Thor,’ fans squealed with delight when they spied The Infinity Gauntlet among the relics in Odin’s trophy room.  Could Thanos invade Asgard and abscond with both objects of power?  We can only hope and speculate.

This is another great example of Marvel’s attention to detail and devotion to creating a film universe as encompassing and cohesive as their comic book mythology.  Hmmm, wonder if the android Human Torch in ‘Captain America’ will come back into play at some point?  An ‘Invaders’ movie, perhaps?  ‘SHIELD: The Early Years?’ Guess we’ll wait and see!

So now that you’re in the know, are you looking forward to Thanos in the Avengers’ sequel?