We've known since first appearing after the credits in The Avengers that Thanos would have a big role to play in Phase Two, and possibly Phase Three, of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We also know from the words of Thanos creator Jim Starlin, that the Mad Titan would be involved with Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers 2, although not necessarily serving as the primary antagonist in each.
So, when Earth's first line of defense finally join together on screen forming the Cosmic Avengers, who exactly might they be protecting our planet against?
Latino-Review, the original source behind the Guardians of the Galaxy scoops - before it was announced at last summer's Comic-Con - and the first breaker of the news that Tony Stark would command the Iron Legion in Iron Man 3, now has uncovered a key detail pertaining to the story of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Marvel's riskiest film to date is being written and directed by James Gunn, and it begins production this summer in London. The casting process is well underway with Chris Pratt signed to lead the feature as Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord and wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista joining the franchise to play Drax the Destroyer. Together, they and the other Guardians may be battling Basil Sandhurst AKA The Controller.
In Marvel Comics, Sandhurst was a human scientist whose unethical methods and bad temper had him blacklisted in the research community. Like many superheroes, Sandhurst became more than a normal person when a lab experiment went awry thanks to his brother. To save Sandhurst, the brother set him up with a special lab that revived his body with an exoskeleton that allowed him to overcome his physical disabilities. As a result, Sandhurst became "The Controller" with superhuman strength and the ability to control minds through tech he created, and began his evil plot by attacking New York, as if they hadn't had enough supervillain issues.
Here's where it gets interesting. The Controller's plans were foiled by none other than Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jasper Sitwell, who of course, in the films are played by Robert Downey Jr. and Maximiliano Hernandez, respectively. Hernandez was introduced as Sitwell with a minimal role in Thor, followed by key parts in the Marvel One-Shots The Consultant and Item 47. He returns as Sitwell in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will likely have a role in the film franchise for years to come.
Stark on the other hand, has been rumored for weeks now to have connections to Guardians of the Galaxy, thanks in no small part to the fact that in the Marvel NOW! comics relaunch, he's a full-fledged member of the team and in Iron Man 3 he has armor that can fly into space. Rumor has it that after the credits, Stark may head to space to meet the Guardians of the Galaxy or at the very least, Star-Lord, and that he'd also appear in some small capacity in that film the following year- possibly the smartest marketing tool they could employ to help raise the profile of the studio's space-faring epic.
What does The Controller have to do with the Guardians? After he was defeated, big bad Thanos broke The Controller out of prison and made him stronger, promising him reign over Earth in exchange for service. He battled The Avengers and Captain Mar-Vell but ultimately lost. Mar-Vell of course, is another name in the long list of key characters (see: Nova) fans speculate could be involved in Guardians of the Galaxy or The Avengers 2 so perhaps The Controller has an even larger role to play for years to come should this rumor prove true.
There are a lot of deep ties to interconnected stories involving many of the characters we already met on screen and are going to meet soon in Phase Two, so stay tuned into Screen Rant for more information as we learn it.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6, 2015, and Doctor Strange sometime after that.
Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes who you want to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy!