Thanos is coming
Unless you have been living in a cave in Afghanistan, like Tony Stark at the beginning of the first Iron Man movie, you’ve probably at least heard that Marvel Studios dropped the first trailer for their upcoming movie Avengers: Infinity War. I’m not going to bore you with yet another reaction piece based off the trailer, it’s already been done (probably better than I could do anyway) by the two founders of this site Mark Turcotte and Chris Micieli on the always entertaining podcast The Enthusiast Life, currently available on your podcast app of choice. Instead I want to take this time to give those of you whose primary basis of knowledge of The Mad Titan and his quest to collect the Infinity Stones comes from the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even the more recent comics, as the Infinity Gauntlet took place over 25 years ago. No, that wasn’t a typo, the upcoming movie is actually based off the classic storyline The Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War was part two of what became known as the Infinity Saga (the third being the Infinity Crusade). An in-depth look at all three would need an entire article all to itself and as, at this time, the key character Adam Warlock has only been teased in the MCU I don’t want to overload this article with the nuances and intricacies of the epic storylines when you may not have knowledge of several key characters.
Thanos is a mutant off-shoot of the race known as the Eternals. Eternals, in a general sense, derive their abilities from the fundamental energies of the universe colloquially referred to as cosmic energy. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways including: super strength, invulnerability, telepathy, telekinesis, flight, and the projection of withering concussive blasts, among others. Due to his mutated nature and combination of biotic amplification, mysticism, and a boon from his mistress Death; Thanos personal power levels far surpass the norm for his race. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself in an effort to set the stage for the way Thanos currently is in order to give you a basic understanding of what exactly “we’re” dealing with in him but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you some background into his formative life.
Birth of a Titan
Born on Saturn’s moon Titan, Thanos’ mother attempted to murder him at birth due to his appearing to be a Deviant (the evil cousins of the Eternals). It may astonish you that in his early years growing up, Thanos was a pacifist who walled himself away from almost all contact with others in an attempt to avoid the disdain and ridicule of his peers, restricting his play to only his brother Eros and pets to avoid judgement. In spite of his harsh treatment, he refrained from physically retaliating however it wouldn’t last and this reclusive, isolated lifestyle lead to him becoming fascinated with nihilism and falling in love with the physical embodiment of Death itself for whom he would eventually slaughter his wife and family in an act of worship. This key moment forms the underpinnings of everything Thanos does moving forward. Winning Lady Deaths regard so that he may spend eternity at her side is the goal to which he is always striving.
Following a nuclear bombardment of Titan that killed millions of his whole race in attempt to please his mistress, Thanos set his sights on a Cosmic Cube (which played a major role in the recent Secret Empire event). Gaining the power to manipulate reality, therefore making himself a god, Thanos proceeded to shift Earth through the space/time continuum while treating reality as his new personal play thing. Eventually Captain Marvel (the original, not the focus of the upcoming movie Carol Danvers) managed to use the cube to undo what Thanos had wrought. Seeing his defeat as a rejection by Death, Thanos steps back and begins to dream of bigger things.
In love of Death, no person be so bold
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Thanos became a god, outside of the (not inconsiderable) fact that it’s the culmination of 10 years and 20 movies, how is Infinity War going to top that?” What if I told you that his first act upon uniting the gems and consolidating all of that power with the fancy gauntlet seen post-credits in Avengers: Age of Ultron, was to eliminate half of all life EVERYWHERE. You see, it all comes back to those little stones everybody is so interested in across the movies. There are six Infinity Stones each with corresponding power over the six fundamental aspects of existence. Possession of all six truly makes an individual invulnerable which Thanos goes on to prove by first defeating all of the remaining heroes followed by a combined effort of the most powerful beings in creation. We’re talking beings, some of which have been known to devour entire planets for a power lunch. That is not an exaggeration.
Of course, given the nature of the medium, Thanos does in fact lose in the end. The how of it is less important than the why to this article because as we all know, while Marvel tends to adhere to the characters core selves, the details are open to negotiation. This is the one time I’m going to bring up the aforementioned Adam Warlock because once he’s introduced to the MCU (currently expected to be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) this could very well be something put into play. Through the power of the Mind Stone, Warlock touches minds with Thanos gaining insight to the core of his being and sees the truth perhaps hidden from Thanos himself.. For the second time, the Titan had gained true unlimited power only to lose it on the cusp of achieving his aims. Deep down, Thanos knows he is unworthy to wield such power, therefore leaving cracks in what otherwise would be impenetrable armor. He has become the epitome of the self defeating villain, the long standing comic trope made flesh. And to rub salt in the wounds, affronted that he had the temerity to set himself above her, Mistress Death spurns him once again leaving Thanos back where he began.
All we really have is a brief trailer to base anything off of, so much of this may be relegated to just trivia upon release. All I can really confirm is that the Avengers (and company) will face off with Thanos and that the Stones will play a pivotal role, but hopefully you have a clearer picture of Thanos and why his coming for the Stones is such a big deal. The trailer has certainly drummed a lot excitement for the movie, and based off the precedent set by the comics that has informed the story, Thanos is more than enough justification for the Universe to Assemble.