Every time we think we know all that you can about Avengers: Infinity War, something new comes along the way to throw a wrench in our perfectly established theories.
For a while now, we've known that the villains of the ensemble film will consist of Thanos and his Black Order, a team of aliens composed of the nefariously-named Proxima Midnight, Cull Obsidian, Corvus Glaive and Ebony Maw. What's more, all signs indicated that other than Thanos, these were the characters poised to make the lives of every Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero a living hell.
However, a new piece of promo artwork recently surfaced in the form of an Avengers: Infinity War mug. The image features the Infinity Gauntlet, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight -- and a third, mysterious character, one that hasn't been previously seen in any of the promo or marketing material of the film. Instantly, fans began speculating and theorizing as to who this new alien could be, and we're inclined to jump in on the conversation by running down who, exactly, this mystery character may be.
The most likely candidate is that this new character is nothing but a jacked-up version of an Outrider. The Outriders essentially form the bulk of Thanos' army, and they come in great numbers. You've already seen them charge forward as they attempt to invade Wakanda and its army in the Infinity War trailer. The few we saw closely had four arms, their design resembling that of their comic book counterparts. They are bulky, and they appear to be quite lethal.
Of course, this character appears different from the Outriders we've seen, but what if there are different classes of Outriders? Perhaps the new villain glimpsed in the artwork is an Outrider General, an even bigger threat for the Avengers to defeat on the Wakandan battlefield.
Some theories dig a bit deeper into the comic book lore, with fans positing that the character, who appears to have horns of sorts on the sides of his head, could in fact be Ex Nihilo, a Gardener and creation of the Builders, the oldest and most dangerous race of aliens in the entire universe. His mission to create life once put him at odds with the Avengers, though he would later join their ranks when the Builders would threaten all of creation.
Ex Nihilo was a major part of writer Jonathan Hickman's massive Infinity event series, a series that partially inspired Avengers: Infinity War, which means that it would not be at all unusual for the film to introduce another important aspect of that storyline. What's more, his appearance could lead to the arrival of the Builders, who could become the antagonists of the super-secretive Avengers 4 alongside Thanos.
The Chitauri Resurgent
In 2012's The Avengers, Captain America and the rest of the Avengers fought against the invading forces of the Chitauri who, we would come to learn, answered to Thanos. Although the alien army was defeated by movie's end, that's not to say that the entire race was necessarily wiped out. If Thanos is coming for Earth, it could be that the Chitauri, who have every reason to have an ax to grind with the Avengers and the humans, could resurface with new and more powerful enforcers.
The design of the new alien's armor appear to perhaps have some Chitauri influences. In the comic books, we learned that the Chitauri attack in many great waves. Perhaps this new character is the first glimpse of what the next wave of the Chitauri will look like. Considering that this is the first we are seeing of this new villain this close to the movie's release is curious. Perhaps he is inconsequential, or perhaps there's a reason he's been kept such a secret.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie. The film opens May 4.