Thanos, the baddest guy in town
With Avengers: Infinity War getting released tomorrow, we take a look at Marvel Cinematic Universe's biggest villain, Thanos, and what he's after in the franchise's 19th film
One of the most-awaited films of this year, Avengers: Infinity War, is finally coming out, and after 10 years into the MCU, Marvel is expected to leave no stone unturned in making it a crown jewel of the franchise. DC's Justice League had six superheroes take on Steppenwolf and his Parademons -- but it's nothing in comparison with the 25-plus superheroes who'll team up in Avengers to take on Thanos, the ultimate supervillain.
Who is Thanos?
Also known as the Mad Titan, Thanos was born on Saturn's moon, Titan. Among many races of humanity in the MCU, Eternals are considered to be the defenders of Earth while the Deviants are their destructive counterparts. Thanos is the child of Eternals Mentor and Sui-San but also has the Deviants gene leading to his hideous looks.
Fascinated by nihilism and death from his childhood, Thanos grows up to be a powerful conqueror of planets. He's also the adoptive father of Gamora and Nebula.
How powerful is he?
Thanks to his ancestry and a gene cocktail most superheroes dream of, Thanos possesses almost all the powers one can imagine. Apart from the obvious superhero strength, the Titan can absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy along with telekinesis, telepathy, and matter manipulation. Trained by countless wars over the years, he's also a powerful hand-to-hand combatant (the trailer shows him sending Iron Man to the ground with a single punch). He's also a genius, known for employing technology which makes the ones known to humans look like high-school science projects.
What does he want?
In the 1991 comic book, The Infinity Gauntlet, Death (an actual character who Thanos falls in love with and for whom he destroys half the universe), appoints the Titan to collect the Infinity stones and destroy all life in the universe. The MCU, over the last 18 films, have focussed more on what Thanos wants than the character himself. He is after the six Infinity Stones, which The Collector explains in Guardians of the Galaxy as six singularities that have existed before the creation of the Universe. The Big Bang forged those entities into six concentrated stones that can only be controlled by beings of extraordinary strength. When united, the wielder of them gains omnipotence and omniscience and that explains why our villain is hell-bent on filling up the six spaces in his gauntlet.
Is he all by himself?
No. Thanos, when he invades planets, is usually accompanied by his team of elite lieutenants known as the Black Order who're relatively new in the comic world. Apart from assisting the Titan to collect the stones, they also help him track his illegitimate son Thane. Black Order consists of Corvus Glaive, his wife Proxima Midnight, his brother Black Dwarf (who is called Cull Obsidian in the film which is actually another name for the entire group in the comics), and Ebony Maw. There's also another character in this group called Supergiant who won't be a part of the film. Interestingly, in the film, the Black Order is also referred to as Children of Thanos. Each of them has their own set of skills such as super-strength, speed, and intellect.
Why does he look familiar?
For those who follow the films of MCU, they got the first glimpse of the supervillain in the mid-credits scene of The Avengers (2012) when the leader of the Chitauri, the Other, confers with Thanos about the failed attack on Earth. He appears once again in the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy where he recruits Ronan the Accuser to obtain an Infinity Stone only to be doublecrossed by him. The film also marked actor Josh Brolin's debut in the franchise. Thanos also appears in the mid-credits scene of the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron in which he is visibly unhappy over the failure of his minions in obtaining the Infinity stones. He puts on his Infinity gauntlet uttering the words, "Fine, I'll do it myself", and that's exactly what we'll see him doing in Avengers: Infinity War.
Set in stone: A brief look at what Infinity stones mean
Anyone in possession of the Space stone has the power to create a portal from one universe to another. In Captain America: The First Avenger, the evil organization HYDRA used the stone which was inside a blue cube called Tesseract to power their weapons. At the end of Thor, the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D secures the Tesseract only for Loki to steal it in The Avengers. While Thor gets it back to Asgard, in Thor: Ragnarok, Loki is seen starring at the Tesseract. We're almost certain that he has pocketed it once again.
In Doctor Strange, it was revealed that the Time stone, which can manipulate time, was kept safe by the Sorcerers Supreme. After her death, Stephen Strange carries it in the Eye of Agamotto pendant with which he defeats the powerful entity, Dormammu.
As the name implies, the Power stone provides its owner enough energy to cull an entire planet. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Lord and co. steal it from Ronan the Accuser and after almost losing their lives, they hand it over to Nova Corps, the space police, for safekeeping in the planet of Xandar.
In Thor: The Dark World, Thor fights a race of aliens who were searching for a weapon called the Aether which happened to be the Reality stone that can turn matter into dark matter. It's with The Collector now as the Asgardians didn't want to preserve both the Space Stone and Reality Stone at the same place.
First seen as a blue orb in Loki’s scepter in 2012’s The Avengers, The Mind stone can be used to control others. After recovering the scepter at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner use the Mind Stone to create Ultron which gives him a lot of abilities such as flying. It currently rests on Vision's forehead.
The only stone which hasn't made its appearance in the MCU, the Soul stone gives its user the mastery over every living or dead soul in the universe. In the comics, it has even brought back dead people to life. There are many theories about where it could be. The strongest is that it might be in Wakanda as the heart-shaped herb that Black Panther uses to travel to an alternate plane and speak with his ancestors could be because of the stone. Another theory states that it won't appear in Avengers: Infinity War but in Captain Marvel which releases in 2019.