With Avengers: Infinity War upon us, the film’s main Big Bad, Thanos, seems a little more familiar as the release date nears. Trailers and TV spots have enriched the Mad Titan with a series of menacing scenes, making us more and more afraid for our beloved Avengers as they face their greatest foe yet. Thanos may be starting the fight, but this isn’t the first time the Mad Titan has made his presence known in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Off-screen and on, Thanos has made multiple appearances in the MCU, each one a little more scary than the other. In his decade-long wait to strike a blow to Earth’s mightiest heroes, the Mad Titan has managed to stay relevant despite his limited screen time. Through quick character remarks, name drops, and the presence of valued artifacts like the Infinity Stones, Thanos has crept his way through the MCU’s cracks.
It may be a tad surprising, but the Titan may just be the most referenced character in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and rightly so. Avengers: Infinity War is set to be the biggest movie event of the decade, with Thanos leading the route to destruction with the help of his Black Order.
The mighty Thanos is a rather popular fellow in Marvel’s fictional universe. Here are 15 Thanos Hints You Missed In The MCU.
15 Nebula and Gamora’s Fight in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
While Thanos didn’t make a physical appearance in 2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, he was widely mentioned and alluded to in several scenes.
One such scene was when Nebula went after her sister Gamora and crash-landed on a planet in the attempt to destroy her. The crash’s explosion wasn’t enough to hurt Gamora, so after escaping fire, Nebula went after her sister with no remorse. It is during this fight that Thanos gets one of his many references in the film.
While Gamora tries her best to defend herself, Nebula mentions how ever since they were little girls Gamora always wanted to win. This would cause Thanos to punish Nebula, by replacing limbs and other parts of her body with machine. This was definitely one of the most heartbreaking-yet-touching scenes in the film and further established Thanos and his family in the MCU.
14 Ultron’s Vision
One specific scene during Avengers: Age of Ultron foreshadowed the destruction of the Earth, and by association, the destruction of all humans. This was during the scene where Ultron was uploading his program into Vision’s body.
Scarlet Witch managed to tap into Ultron’s mind and what she saw scared her to the point that she ended up betraying the robot.
What she saw was a meteor or other projectile hitting and completely obliterating the Earth. Ultron explained this thought with the following phrase: “When the Earth starts to settle, God throws a stone at it, and believe me, he is winding up.”
The phrase made fans speculate that Ultron was actually referencing the future coming of Thanos, and as it’s looking to be, perhaps the fans were right. Thanos is set to change the course of the MCU forever in Infinity War, and an extinction level event akin to Ultron’s vision is not unprecedented in the comics.
13 The Black Order Teased in Guardians of the Galaxy
One important scene during Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 was when Star-Lord, Gamora and the others traveled to Knowhere. While Gamora and Star-Lord delivered the Orb to the Collector, Drax sent out a message to Ronan so they can finally meet face-to-face.
Ronan eventually arrived and what followed was one of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie. Drax tried to take Ronan by himself, but Ronan easily outmaneuvered him, managing to almost destroy the Destroyer. It is here that, after the Power Stone sets off a large explosion, Nebula hops on a ship to steal the Stone from Gamora.
As she flies in pursuit of her sister, Nebula says, “You are a disappointment, sister. Of all of our siblings, I hated you the least.” This is a clear reference to the Black Order, who will formally make their MCU debut in this year’s Avengers: Infinity War.
12 Thor’s Opening Statement in Thor: Ragnarok
Like in Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok had its share of Thanos references. While the references aren’t as explicit here, the Mad Titan still manages to find his way into the minds of others, no matter the movie. The first Thanos allusion in Ragnarok came very early in the movie - right at the beginning, in fact.
We first find Thor trapped within a cage as he speaks with a skeleton. Their subject of conversation are indeed Thanos’s most coveted Infinity Stones. After Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor made it his mission to learn as much as he could about Thanos and his Stones. He apparently failed to come to concrete conclusions and Ragnarok made it very clear that that movie was not going to dive into that storyline, at all.
11 Tony Stark’s Vision in Age of Ultron
2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron introduced us to the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda. They eventually evolved into Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively, in the movie. While Quicksilver was essentially set aside, Scarlet Witch contributed heavily to the progression of the film. In one particular scene where we get to experience her powers, Scarlet Witch puts a spell on Tony after he finds Loki’s Scepter.
Tony starts hallucinating and sees the complete and utter destruction of the entire Avengers roster, with the Earth invaded by the Chitauri.
While this could definitely be just one of Tony’s fears materializing through Scarlet Witch’s powers, many fans saw this vision as a clear premonition of what’s to come once Thanos arrives. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has said that some characters will meet their maker in the film, so perhaps Tony’s vision wasn’t merely just a visit through the fear dimension.
10 Nebula’s Monologue in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
We didn’t learn much about Nebula in the original Guardians of the Galaxy, despite her being a major part of the film. While the film gave us minimal insight into her and Gamora’s past with Thanos, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 heavily expanded on their history. One scene that firmly grounded the character was when Nebula was aboard Yondu’s former ship, which had just been taken over by Taserface.
When Kraglin asked Nebula what she was going to do after they finished the deal with the Sovereign, Nebula gave perhaps the best monologue in the entire MCU. Speaking about how Thanos tortured her when she was young, Nebula promised to do to the Mad Titan what he had done unto her.
9 Team Thor
2016’s Captain America: Civil War saw the Avengers battle it out against each other, but missing from the fold were Thor and Bruce Banner. To promote Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi created one of the best skits in the entire Marvel universe.
Team Thor is part one of the three-minute clip saw Thor rooming with Darryl in Australia. The clip showed Thor as he made himself comfortable exploring the world as a regular man. Even Mjolnir was taking a much-deserved break in the Australian countryside. The funny clip even gave us another reference of the dangerous Thanos.
In that same scene where Mjolnir was tucked under a blanket trying to catch a nap, Thor had mapped out on his wall clues about the Infinity Stones. His main clue was “the purple man in the floating chair.”
8 The Avengers Post-Credit Scene
Our first instance of the Mad Titan was in 2012’s The Avengers. Here, Thanos made his first big screen debut as he turned his face towards the camera during the film’s post-credit scene. What’s interesting about this particular Thanos scene is that the actor behind the make-up was not Josh Brolin, but Damion Poitier, who also made an appearance as one of Crossbones' mercenaries during 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
This interpretation of Thanos omitted any type of motion capture. Indeed, Poitier’s Thanos was mostly hair and make-up.
While this was Thanos’s official appearance in the MCU, he actually got involved very early in The Avengers off-screen, as it was he who gave Loki the Scepter, which, of course, turned out to be storing the Mind Stone.
7 The Infinity Gauntlet in Thor
Thanos first appeared in the MCU in 2012’s The Avengers, but one of his earliest references came about a year prior in 2011’s Thor. In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, while the Destroyer destroyed his way through Odin’s vault, the Infinity Gauntlet is seen resting quietly with apparently all of the Infinity Stones intact. Such an artifact rightfully made Marvel fans everywhere extremely excited.
Not only was the Infinity Gauntlet real in the MCU, but that meant that characters like Thanos and Adam Warlock also existed.
Fans got their wishes realized when Thanos eventually appeared in The Avengers. The appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s vault also rendered Odin as the most powerful being at the time in the MCU. As time went on, though, this Infinity Gauntlet was made obsolete with several retcons, particularly with one that happened in Thor: Ragnarok.
6 Age of Ultron’s Post-Credit Scene
Prior to Avengers: Infinity War Thanos barely made a full physical appearance. So when he popped up in the post-credit scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans lost their minds. Here, the Mad Titan entered a secret vault and followed to unearth his mighty Infinity Gauntlet, with no Infinity Stones, though. What he said while putting on his golden glove still echoes in the minds of MCU fans everywhere: “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
This phrase jumpstarted a wide variety of theories (and memes), the most famous being that all the MCU villains prior to Infinity War were all puppets of Thanos, and that Thanos was manipulating everything, from the Red Skull to Loki and Ultron. It’s an interesting theory indeed. Granted, the memes are just as great.
5 The Fake Infinity Gauntlet
At first, Marvel Studios claimed that there were two Infinity Gauntlets in the MCU: the one we very briefly saw in 2011’s Thor and the one Thanos had kept hidden in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This explanation, though, was completely overwritten in last year’s Thor: Ragnarok.
In one of that film’s funniest scenes, Hela enters Odin’s vault in search of the Eternal Flame. While searching the vault, she comes in contact with the Tesseract and the Infinity Gauntlet. While she considered taking the Tesseract, she ignored the Infinity Gauntlet claiming it to be “fake.”
This remark officially made Thanos the sole owner of the Infinity Gauntlet and hilariously proved that Hela could a great pawnbroker.
The funny scene was also an easy way for Marvel Studios to fix a continuity issue.
4 Thanos is Playing Chess with the Avengers
In its plethora of Thanos allusions, one very clear one in Avengers: Age of Ultron comes at the very end of the film. After successfully saving the world, Thor, Captain America and Tony Stark walk together in the new Avengers facility. Here, Thor explains that Vision can be trusted and can keep the Mind Infinity Stone. Afterwards, Thor mentions how it is not coincidental that so many Infinity Stones have become relevant in such a short lapse of time. He credits this anomaly to something beyond this world, as he says: “Someone has been playing an intricate game and has made pawns of us.” Thor didn’t know it then, but he was clearly describing the Mad Titan Thanos. We’ll learn of Thanos’s intricate plans in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
3 Thor’s Visions from Age of Ultron
Many fans consider Thor’s cave scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron to be one of the worst in the MCU, due to its weird nature as it relates to the film. Nonetheless, the scene gave us another nice Thanos reference. Here, Thor gets a glimpse of four Infinity Stones: the Mind, Power, Space, and Reality Stones.
What’s interesting is that when all of the Stones line up horizontally, the background forms a nebula around the Stones resembling the Infinity Gauntlet.
A clear allusion to Thanos, the Infinity Gauntlet eventually appeared in the film’s post-credit scene. As a result, the vision put Thor on a path of self-discovery; a path that led to the events of Ragnarok and that will likely end in Avengers: Infinity War.
2 Appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy
Thanos’s next MCU appearance was in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. While The Avengers just gave us a side shot of Thanos’s face, in Guardians we got the full picture. Here the Mad Titan sat in his comfy floating chair and briefly appeared multiple times on the holographic screen of Ronan the Accuser’s spaceship.
This is definitely one of the MCU’s most intimidating scenes.
Thanos gave Ronan his final verdict in relation to locating the Power Infinity Stone, and needless to say, it was completely exhilarating. It was Thanos’s first time showing his intimidation tactics, as well as his menacing demeanor, and only made fans more excited for Avengers: Infinity War. The scene even gave us a glimpse into Thanos’s heart, as it was here where he mentioned that Gamora is his favorite daughter.
1 Thor: Ragnarok’s End-Credit Scene
The latest Thanos allusion in the MCU came in the end-credit scene of Thor: Ragnarok. The end of the film saw the destruction of Asgard by Surtur, as was prophesied early in the movie. Thor and the rest of Asgard’s citizens safely abandoned the mythical city in one of Grandmaster’s stolen ships.
AFter Thor is crowned the new king of his people, he and Loki talk about where they should head next. When Thor mentions Earth, a mysterious large spaceship appears in front of them, presumably Thanos. This was later confirmed to be Thanos’s ship by Marvel Studios, Sanctuary 2.0.
As seen in the Infinity War trailer, one of the first scenes of the movie apparently sees Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy. This probably means that most of Asgard will fall to Thanos’ might.
Did we miss any other Thanos references? Let us know in the comments.