Fans won't get the full backstory of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War; for that they're going to have to wait for a Marvel Cinematic Universe first... a tie-in novel. Thanos has been described as the "main character" in Infinity War. So, there will obviously be a big spot light on the purple Mad Titan, played by Josh Brolin, in the movie. There might even be some exploration of his past, as suggested by the flashback shown in the Infinity War trailer featuring Thanos and a young Gamora. However, that may be as far as Infinity War travels in the past of Thanos.
Though Thanos has a backstory that's over a thousand years old in Marvel Comics, the MCU history of the character hasn't been defined. The Marvel Cinematic Universe usually sticks pretty closely to the comics but has also been known to change things. After all before the MCU, the Infinity Stones were known as the Infinity Gems. Fans can probably expect similar changes to Thanos' backstory, when all is revealed in the novel Thanos: Titan Consumed.
Io9 reports that Thanos: Titan Consumed, written by YA author Barry Lyga, will arrive in November of 2018. The book will be set long before the events of Avengers: Infinity War and explore Thanos' origins. Titan Consumed will reveal how the villain got on the path searching for the Infinity Stones and how he earned his terrifying reputation in the MCU at large. Here's part of the official plot summary for the book:
Born on a doomed world and cast out by his people for his genius, physical deviancy, and pragmatic but monstrous ideas, Thanos is determined to save the galaxy from the same fate as his homeworld… no matter how many billions have to die. Learn the origins of the most formidable foe the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther have ever faced—a foe whom even a group of remarkable people, pulled together to fight the battles nobody else could, will fail to stop…. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives. Thanos is here.
[UPDATE: io9 has now been informed that Thanos: Titan Consumed won't be part of the MCU canon. The rest of this article has been left as originally published.]
It's safe to say Titan Consumed won't radically change the story of one of Marvel's biggest baddies. The exile and physical deviancy mentioned in the book's summary are well-established elements of Thanos' origins in the comics, and the MCU in general tends to be mostly faithful to its source material. The franchise typically isn't interested in deconstructing what fans love about the comics that gave rise to it.
At the same time, it's safe to assume that there will probably be some kind of twist on what comic fans know of Thanos to justify the book's existence. A tie-in novel might not seem like a huge deal, especially for a big property like Marvel. Star Wars has been releasing tie-in books and novelizations for decades. It's standard practice for a huge franchise. However, Marvel has never really done it. The MCU has released tie-in comics and graphic novels before, including a prelude comic for Infinity War. Nevertheless, a proper novel is new territory for the franchise.
Author Barry Lyga explained to io9 that part of his goal in writing the book was to re-contextualize previous scenes of Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Infinity War, obviously, isn't the first time that Thanos has appeared onscreen. Titan Consumed will give context to some of Thanos' other big moments in the MCU, such as his Guardians of the Galaxy appearance and his multiple post-credits scenes. There must be more to the novel than just adding some "behind-the-scenes" factoids, especially since the book is being released well after Infinity War's debut in theaters.
Perhaps one of the big changes Titan Consumed will make to Thanos involves removing or revamping the role of Death in his story. Thanos' obsession with the personification of Death in the Marvel Comics Universe is a huge part of his tale. In fact, Thanos' whole driving motivation in the comic book version of Infinity War was his devotion to Death and trying to prove he was good enough for her love.
The MCU has never touched on Thanos' relationship with Death, and it likely never will either. Whether that's because it's too weird, too expensive or too confusing for general audiences, Thanos isn't going to woo Death during Infinity War. However, Titan Consumed can introduce a more grounded motivation for Thanos and his Infinity Stone quest than trying to impress a lady. At least, that's the hope for the novel.
Thanos: Titan Consumed will be published this fall on Tuesday, November 20.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019