The Marvel Cinematic Universe is occupied by a veritable army of heroes and villains. It’s what’s driven the franchise since day one, and it’s exactly what’s going to drive the MCU in the future. There’s one character that ties everyone together though, and that’s Josh Brolin’s Thanos. The Mad Titan has a history that dates back to his first appearance in the comics in 1973, and he has since been utilized to tie Marvel’s movies together with a single thread. For Brolin, it’s been an interesting exercise in biding his time, and soon, we’ll see him operating in full force.
Until that happens, we can use the six-issue Infinity Gauntlet series as a roadmap. The comics laid out the story Marvel Studios is planning on unveiling with the two planned Infinity War movies, acting as the next signpost for the MCU’s greater story. It’s something that we’ve been building to ever since the early days of the franchise, and it all revolves around one person: Thanos.
1. Thanos has been the one consistent thread throughout every MCU movie
Thanos first appeared during the end credit tag following The Avengers, and since then has been showing up as a behind-the-scenes menace. Unbeknownst to any of our main heroes, he orchestrated Loki’s Chitauri invasion and Ronan’s attempted takeover of Xandar, and has long been after each of the Infinity Stones. Now a handful of movies in, he’s failed in his attempts to acquire any of them, and soon we may see him taking a far more active role, embodying the “if you want something done right, do it yourself” adage firsthand.
2. Thanos’s quest for the Infinity Stones
Throughout the main Marvel movies, we’ve seen MacGuffins appear in the form of the Infinity Stones, each of which affords its user a special and often destructive power. As of now, the status of each stone is as follows:
- The Space Stone: As seen in Captain America and The Avengers as the Tesseract, it was used to open a portal for the Chitauri into New York, and its energy was harnessed to teleport Thor and Loki back to Asgard at the conclusion of The Avengers. It currently resides in Odin’s vault.
- The Mind Stone: This particular gem made appearances in both Avengers movies, first in Loki’s mind-control scepter from the first installment, and most recently embedded in the forehead of The Vision after helping create Ultron.
- The Reality Stone: You may know this one as The Aether, as seen in Thor: The Dark World. The Reality Stone deals in dark matter, and came damn close to unmaking the universe thanks to the efforts of the Dark Elves. It currently is in the possession of The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro in Guardians of the Galaxy.
- The Power Stone: This one was the MacGuffin of Guardians of the Galaxy, used by Ronan (played by Lee Pace) and eventually recovered by Starlord and the rest of the Guardians. Currently, the Nova Corps are keeping it safe in their vaults on Xandar.
- The Time Stone: Making its first appearance as the Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange, we see the time stone utilized by our titular hero for reasons we won’t reveal to you yet (seriously, see the movie, it’s awesome). For now, it’s housed within the halls of Kamar-Taj in Nepal, guarded by Strange and his order of sorcerers.
The only one left to appear is the Soul Stone, but we imagine it won’t be long before it crops up somewhere. In the comics, Thanos embarks on a quest to gather all six, in an effort to gain absolute power and court the physical embodiment of Death as his lover. His quest has been well-documented already in the MCU, and with Infinity War looming, it won’t be long before it’s complete.
3. The villain that unites all of our heroes
Josh Brolin’s character is one that gives virtually every MCU a single common enemy, even if none of them realize it just yet. As of now, no one outside of Loki is even slightly cognizant of Thanos’s presence, and a reveal seems like the next logical step in setting up the two-part Infinity War saga. For now, Brolin is hard at work doing motion capture work for the Mad Titan, with the actor citing the presence of 36 separate cameras on him at all times to make it all possible.
Because Thanos is a villain fixated on the destruction of the entire universe as we know it, it’s not hard to imagine him being the uniting force within the MCU. Everyone from Captain America to the Starlord has a stake in stopping Thanos from achieving his goals, and in the spirit of this, Infinity War will bring more than just our primary Avengers together.
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