While the main villain of The Avengers was Loki and the main threat was an alien army called the Chitauri, the threat behind those threats was a cosmic force of evil known as Thanos (or, conversely, The Mad Titan). Of course, you would only know that if you stuck around for the mid-credits sequence and had a firm grasp of the Marvel comic book universe.
The brief glimpse of Thanos in the mid-credits scene revealed less than half his otherworldly face to the audience, but new images and concept art extracted from The Avengers Second Screen Experience app have revealed the villain in his entirety.
He looks a bit more imposing in these images than he did in the film, where he had a vaguely elf-like appearance about him. Perhaps that was because we only saw the right side of his very pink face and none of his gargantuan alien body. It's also worth pointing out that he looks almost identical to his comic book counterpart, give or take a few details.
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According to recent reports, Thanos will be featured in both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2 (probably less the former and more the latter). It’s unclear in what capacity he’ll appear, or what comic book stories those movies will draw from - perhaps 'The Infinity Gauntlet,' 'Annihilation,' or the more recent 'The Thanos Imperative' - though he will almost certainly be "courting death" at every turn.
In the Marvel comic book universe, Thanos is considered to be one of the major villains, though perhaps not quite top-tier. Visually-speaking, he’s a bit derivative of Jack Kirby’s Darkseid from the New Gods of the DC Universe. Thanos’ creator, Jim Starlin, admitted as much in an interview:
"Kirby had done 'The New Gods,' which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You'd think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said : 'Beef him up! If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!'"
Some New Gods fans have lamented that Thanos will likely hit the big screen before Darkseid, which could make Darkseid’s inevitable appearance in a DC movie less impactful. Then again, it’s entirely possible - if DC gets its movie-making act together, that is - that both Thanos and Darkseid could appear in The Avengers 2 and Justice League, respectively, around the same time, as the two tent-pole superhero projects are expected to hit theaters in 2015.
Don't you just want to pinch those adorable jowls?
Regardless, it'll be interesting to see how Marvel explores Thanos as a villain and realizes him on the big screen for longer than five seconds. It's comforting that Joss Whedon and company didn't resort to CGI to bring him to life in The Avengers, but I wouldn't mind seeing a version of Thanos that's a little bit creepier than the one we saw previously.
Are you looking forward to seeing more of Thanos in Marvel's upcoming films, Screen Ranters?
Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters August 1st, 2014. The Avengers 2 hits theaters May 1st, 2015. The Avengers is out on Blu-ray and DVD now.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.