Non-comic book readers know that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos is a bad guy. But there is so much more behind this character. Since I don’t read the comics, I asked my friend Kelly to see if her comic book loving husband would give us the lowdown on this character. He kindly agreed, and here is his post.
Hello, gentle readers. My name is Brian, and I will be your guest blogger for the day. Christy thought it would be cool to get a comic geek’s perspective on Thanos, the big bad in the upcoming Avengers films. With my 35 years of reading/collecting comics, and my 13 years of running a comic shop, I do consider myself a slight expert on the topic. Please bear with me as this is my first time contributing to a blog, so be gentle.
Some basics about Thanos
First off, let’s cover the stuff that Wikipedia could tell you. Thanos was created by writer/artist Jim Starlin back in 1973, with creator credits shared by writer Mike Friedrich, the writer of the Iron Man comic in which Thanos made his first published appearance.
Thanos has continually appeared in the Marvel Universe and has even headlined his own title several times over the years. He has been killed off and resurrected several times throughout his existence and has been a key player is several of the major Marvel crossover events (Infinity Trilogy, Annihilation, & The Thanos Imperative), which makes him the prime candidate to be the villain that sets up the major Marvel film crossover event.
Thanos in the comics
Thanos, the comic character, has evolved over the many years. My personal preference of Thanos stories are generally those written by his creator Jim Starlin. They are arguably the best known stories of the character. Typical stories of Thanos’ early years revolved around the concept of his search for powerful cosmic artifacts that could help him gain favor in the eyes of Mistress Death (the physical embodiment of the actual force of death in the Marvel Universe).
These artifacts were items like the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gems. In one such story, known as The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos gathers all six Infinity Gems and becomes omnipotent, thus achieving ultimate power. Now, as comic stories go, eventually the heroes are able to defeat Thanos and the gems are separated, but at one point he had literally killed half of the universe with the snap of his finger.
Thanos evolves as a character over time, and stops being a cosmic despot and becomes more an analyst of a cosmic nature, but still presents a threat occasionally (usually from the use of him by other writers).
Thanos in film
Now the film version is trying to squeeze 44 years worth of stories into a chain of films that have been around for a decade. As such, the film-makers are doing their best to condense the material together and make a cohesive story which, in this writer’s opinion, they are doing a fairly excellent job.
For example, the film’s version of the Cosmic Cube (which they refer to as the Tesseract) is actually one of the Infinity Stones, whereas its comic counterpart has nothing to do at all with the Infinity Gems. Another example would be Dr. Strange’s Eye of Agamotto housing the Time Stone, which again the comic version has absolutely nothing to do with the Infinity Gems.
By doing this though, the film-makers have been able to weave a continual build-up that should successfully bring together the entire various series into one gigantic movie, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (Parts 1 & 2). They’ve been playing the long game in setting up Thanos as the big bad of the Marvel Universe, teasing him here and there through various films.
Thanos in INFINITY WAR
What can you expect from Thanos’ arrival in INFINITY WAR? The trailers haven’t shown much, but as a long time comic reader, I can tell you there are some visual clues from the scenes shown.
Let’s watch the trailers again, and then go on.
Big Game Spot
Like many other aspects of the Marvel films, I expect that the writers and directors have condensed and spliced together stories. They will most likely use established film characters to cover key roles from characters that were in the comic versions of these stories who have yet to be introduced in the film lore.
I expect Loki to play the role of Mephisto, working like he is alongside Thanos. He is most likely actually trying to trick him into making mistakes. I expect there to be a scene where Captain America is the last man standing, and he still doesn’t hesitate to go against Thanos. I expect most of the good guys to be killed at some point in the film and to be okay at the end of the second film.
And I even expect Spider-Man to have the big key moment that saves the day. Most importantly, I expect to have a lot of fun watching the movie, like I have with all the other Marvel Studio films.
Recommended reads before INFINITY WAR
You will see I am a bit biased, but I highly recommend anything that says Thanos written by Jim Starlin. I would also suggest Annihilation Book Three (One and Two deal with prologue series with no Thanos) and The Thanos Imperative.
Thank you, Brian, for your insights! I know I learned a lot, and I’m sure my readers did too!
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AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR opens in theaters everywhere April 27, 2018!