In 2012, when the credits rolled on Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, the film going world scratched their collective heads and asked, “Who the hell was that big scary dude out in space?” Fans of the comics were well aware that we were looking at Thanos, something everyone else soon figured out as well. Since then we’ve learned that the Mad Titan, as he is also known, is going to play a big part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward. That role is going to start in earnest when the comic book studio drops James Gunn’s adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy later this summer, and we’re learning just how big a part he will play in that movie.
We knew that Thanos would be in the film, and played by a different actor than the one at the end of The Avengers. In fact, with less than two months until Guardians hits theaters, Josh Brolin was just cast in the role, which is fantastic news, because Brolin is incredible. He won’t be the key villain this time out, more of an overarching enemy over the course of multiple movies. He has touched the lives of many of the Guardians team, most notably Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista), as well as some of the film’s antagonists, especially Karen Gillan’s Nebula.
For those five of you who haven’t seen it, and those of you who want a refresher, check out Thanos’ post-credits scene, and we’ll get to the possibly SPOILER-heavy bits down below:
Vulture got the scoop about how much Thanos we can expect to see this August. According to their source, we will lay eyes on him fairly early on in Guardians. He apparently appears in a scene in the first act, opposite Nebula and Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the primary bad guy in the movie. Though Thanos is there, he mostly sticks to the shadows, so my guess is that we won’t get a really good look at him. In addition to this, his presence is always there, hanging over everything like a shadow. In the comics he is Gamora’s adopted father, and they will also have “familial ties” in the film.
There’s also the question of how much he’ll figure in to the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is currently filming. The answer is apparently, not much, if at all. According to the report, he “will likely recede back into the shadows for a bit after Guardians.” So he won’t have anything to do with the scuffle between the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Ulton’s robotic menace. That makes a certain amount of sense. Thanos is way out there in space, and as the MCU moves further that way, he’ll figure in more and more prominently. The way things are going, Avengers 3 will likely involve the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, and he figures prominently in that.
Marvel is definitely taking their time introducing Thanos piece by deliberate piece. They’re bringing him in gradually, making fans—and not just comic book fans—aware of him, and setting him up as an ominous force. Knowing he’s out there, pulling the strings, and that he’ll have to be reckoned with eventually, should add another layer of tension to the next phase of movies, and will hopefully pay off big.
Guardians of the Galaxy opens everywhere August 1, 2015.