Black Order's Ebony Maw's character design in Avengers: Infinity War was based on Mephisto, Marvel's version of the devil. Created by Stan Lee and John Buscema, Mephisto debuted in 1968's The Silver Surfer #3 as the titular character's antagonist. In Jim Starlin's The Infinity Gauntlet comic book run, the villain manipulated Thanos toward defeat while disguising himself as a loyal ally - all because he wanted to wield the power of the Infinity Gems himself.
Maw, on the other hand, was a member of the Black Order alongside Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian in Infinity War. Played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Maw had the most defined personality among Thanos' evil foursome, making him the team's standout. Unfortunately, fans didn't get to spend much time with him as he met his death halfway through the film.
In the audio commentary included in Infinity War's home entertainment, co-director Joe Russo revealed that Ebony Maw was inspired by Mephisto - both are scheming wizards with a penchant for theatrics. In fact, Maw even borrowed one of Mephisto's most memorable lines from the comics upon presenting Thanos the Tesseract saying: "My humble personage bows before your grandeur." This is a shortened version of the demon's dialog in The Infinity Gauntlet as he offered his services to the Mad Titan: "Within your grasp rests the infinite. My humble personage bows before your grandeur. I am proud to be your first acolyte and bask in the glory of your divine presence. How may I serve you, Great Thanos?"
With Maw now gone, fans will never know if he would've also turned against Thanos similar to Mephisto's modus operandi in print. But considering how Nebula and Gamora ultimately betrayed their adoptive father, who's to say that Maw and even the rest of the Black Order weren't just waiting for the right time to betray the supervillain?
Considering Mephisto's association with the Silver Surfer, one would be curious to know if there's any chance that the villain himself will make his live-action debut in the foreseeable future. With the Disney and Fox merger officially moving forward after Comcast bowed out of the bidding war, the X-Men and Fantastic Four will soon join the MCU. While incorporating the mutants in the established franchise would be tricky given Fox's separate cinematic universe, the Fantastic Four and their tie-in characters such as the cosmic hero will undoubtedly start fresh in the MCU. Aside from being a perennial foe for Silver Surfer, Mephisto was also an established villain for Thor in the comics giving the company extra motivation to introduce the character on the big screen, if they plan on keeping the God of Thunder around past Avengers 4.
With Marvel Studios expected to further explore the cosmic side of their cinematic franchise, it makes sense that they will start introducing villains from outside of Earth. Between his ties with heroes such as Silver Surfer, Thor, and even Thanos in the comics, it wouldn't be that complicated for Kevin Feige and his team to come up with the best way to utilize the character in their narrative.
Avengers: Infinity War is available now for digital and streaming, coming to Blu-ray on August 14th.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019