Ever since Marvel got its act together and gave the world Iron Man in 2008, its cinematic universe has been advancing storylines across multiple films to bring us to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. It took a decade for the company to weave enough backstory and behind-the-scenes plotting to bring Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet to the silver screen, but fans have already begun asking “What’s next?” If you’re a fan of Marvel Comics, you know there exist a great many cosmic threats far greater than Thanos and his glove, which leads us to wonder what powerful cosmic forces might Marvel unleash now that Thanos is on the scene.
Granted, we are going to need some resolution to the events of Infinity War, but looking beyond the fourth Avengers film, set to release in 2019, Marvel can pull out any of dozens of terrible creatures, chaotic races and mystical beings who may even be bigger threats than the Mad Titan ever was. For this list, we are focusing on those cosmic threats who have been mentioned or alluded to somewhere within the MCU’s television and film releases but not necessarily shown outright. We aren’t including any of the obvious choices Marvel doesn’t presently have the rights to such as Galactus, so you won’t find him on this list of 15 Bigger Cosmic Threats Still Hiding In The MCU.
15. THE SKRULLS
The Skrulls are a race of extraterrestrial shape-shifters from the planet Skrullos who made their first appearance in the comics in Fantastic Four #2, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby in 1962. Since that time, they have developed into one of the biggest threats to Earth in the Marvel Universe. One of the main reasons the Skrulls have become such a threat to Earth and the rest of the inhabitants of the Marvel Universe is their ongoing conflict with the Kree. The war between the two cosmic races has been an ongoing/on-and-off conflict for years with numerous planets caught in the crossfire; Earth being one of the main targets of the Skrulls. Over the years, they have threatened Earth’s Space Program and have created super-powered beings called Super Skrulls to combat Earth’s mightiest heroes.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Skrulls have only been hinted at, but many fans believe the next film in the Avengers series will cover the Secret Invasion event.
That is to say, after the events of Avengers: Infinity War are all cleaned up, the Skrulls will descend, though they will make an appearance beforehand in 2019’s Captain Marvel film. Secret Invasion involved the Skrull’s long-term espionage and infiltration mission to replace all of Earth’s heroes — and they nearly succeeded. Fans would love to see Secret Invasion happen on screen, but it will likely unfold over a longer period of time than to simply be the next Avengers film.
If there’s one thing Avengers: Infinity War did for us… other than make us leave the theaters crying… it was to provide us with a plethora of name-drops, references and callbacks. One reference you might have easily missed was the use of a spell called “The Images of Ikonn” by Doctor Strange, which enabled him to create numerous arms and a series of shadow clones of himself. One of the ways Strange casts a spell in the comics, as well as the MCU, is to invoke a mystical being and call upon their energy to create something. This is how Ikonn was referenced and found his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Granted, it doesn’t take much to reference someone, but a spell is as good a way as any, which is why we now find someone like Ikonn landing on this list.
Ikonn made his first appearance in the comics in Doctor Strange #47, written by Roger Stern and penciled by Gene Colan in 1981. He is presented as the Lord of Illusions and is a member of the Octessence, a group of eight extra-dimensional beings of incredible power. The spell, “The Images of Ikonn” is the most powerful illusory spell in the Marvel Universe and were it to be cast with enough power, the images it creates can become reality.
13. THE KREE EMPIRE
The Kree are another cosmic race, one that has maintained a significant presence among the denizens of Planet Earth. In the MCU, the Kree have featured heavily with their machinations on Earth resulting in the creation of the Inhumans. The Inhumans have featured prominently on Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the Kree truly made an impact on the silver screen with the introduction of Ronan The Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy. As the principal antagonist in that film, the Kree Ronan nearly destroyed the Nova Corps and could have challenged Thanos’ might were he to succeed in acquiring the Power Stone. Ronan is only one of many Kree to have been introduced in the comics, but there are many others who have popped up over the years.
Like the Skrulls, we are sure to get more involvement from the Kree in 2019’s Captain Marvel.
Unlike the Skrulls, who were developed alongside the Kree by the Celestials eons ago, the Kree aren’t as directly antagonistic towards humanity. Thanks to the Kree, Earth has seen the likes of Captain Marvel, Shatterstar, Hulkling, Ultra Girl and Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, who is a Kree hybrid. There are a number of ways the Kree could come to threaten Earth in future MCU films, though they would likely feature the Kree becoming involved in a conflict between the Skrulls or the Shi’ar Empire, which is another spacefaring cosmic race they have battled in the comics.
In the Marvel Universe, there are a large number of extraterrestrial races who could threaten the people of Earth, though many don’t match the ferocity of the Vrellnexians. In the comics, these insectoid creatures operate within a hive under a singular intelligence who once attempted to take control of Asgard. They resemble large, horrific insects, which is why they are referred to as roaches. They first appeared in the MCU thanks to the fifth season of Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where they were introduced as a race of creatures who inhabited the planet Earth long after the planet had been mostly destroyed in the far future. Our heroes found out about them when they traveled to the future to discover the planet was infested.
While they have certainly posed a significant threat in the future, there is no reason Marvel couldn’t adapt the characters to become an even bigger threat to humanity in the present. In much the same way they could engineer the Kree or the Skrulls to become threatening entities following the events of Infinity War, they could easily adapt the Crella Vrellnexians. They first appeared in the comics in Thor #212, written by Gerry Conway and penciled by John Buscema in 1973. They are primarily a race of slavers, but could pose a significant threat given their brutish nature and overall ferocity.
When it comes to beings who pose a threat, you really don’t need to look much further than the Olympian God of War. Ares has been around for decades, having first appeared in the comics back in 1966 with Thor #129, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby. He has most often played the role of antagonist to Thor, though he has changed over the years. In 2006, he switched sides and was recreated as more of an antihero who even joined the Avengers as one of the team’s mightiest members. Even with him working for the side of good these days, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to have him show up as a true villain once more in the MCU.
Fortunately, this god of war has already been referenced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Thor: Ragnarok, the Grandmaster’s palace on Sakaar features giant stone busts of the current and previous champions. We get to see a nice rendition of the Hulk’s face alongside other characters, including Beta Ray Bill and, of course, Ares. Like Hulk, Ares presumably once found himself lost on Sakaar, where he had to prove himself in the Contest of Champions. He became the Champion of Sakaar and as far as we know, left the planet some time in the past. Popping up now that the universe has been culled presents the perfect opportunity for Ares to stir up trouble for the Avengers.
10. THE LIVING TRIBUNAL
The Living Tribunal is one of the most powerful omniscient beings in the Marvel Universe, and he has been referenced to in the MCU. In Doctor Strange, a part of the Living Tribunal’s power was stored inside the Staff of the Living Tribunal, which Mordo carried as part of his personal equipment. That means the Living Tribunal exists in both the Marvel Universe and its cinematic counterpart. In the Comics, the Living Tribunal is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the balance of all reality, including the infinite multiverses present in the Marvel Universe. He serves as judge, jury and executioner of anyone or anything that threatens this balance.
He first appeared in Strange Tales #157, written by Stan Lee with pencils by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe in 1967. In that story, the Living Tribunal confronted Doctor Strange when he informed him that it was his plan to destroy Earth to thwart the potential evil humanity could pose on the universe. It is unlikely he will show up to threaten Earth in the same way in the MCU, but he may show up to judge Thanos and fix the imbalance caused by the culling he thwarted upon the universe. Depending on how he chooses to proceed, he could threaten all of Earth and its mightiest heroes.
9. THE ELDERS OF THE UNIVERSE
The Elders of the Universe were not explicitly introduced in the MCU by name, but some members have already made it to the big screen. The most notable to make the leap from the comic books to the silver screen would have to be Taneleer Tivan, aka The Collector, played by Benicio del Toro. The Collector plays an important role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film as well as Avengers: Infinity War. He attempts to collect anything unique and unusual, which included whatever Infinity Stones he could get his hands on. The Collector wasn’t the only member of his race to appear on film; The Grandmaster is also an Elder of the Universe, though he isn’t presented as one in Thor: Ragnarok, where he was played by Jeff Goldbloom.
In the comics, the Elders of the Universe are far more imposing immortal beings capable of pretty much anything.
There aren’t many Elders left in the universe, but the ones who remain possess a fraction of the Power Primordial, which enables them to do almost anything. If Marvel puts them into its films with their powers seen in the comics, they could cause all sorts of problems for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
8. THE CELESTIALS
The Celestials are a pretty well-known part of the Marvel Universe even if they aren’t very well understood. In the MCU, they have been referred to and even seen, introduced in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. In the first, the disembodied and decaying head, called Knowhere, of one of the space giants is inhabited by countless aliens. One such alien, the Collector explains to the heroes where the Infinity Stones came from by describing an unnamed Celestial destroying a planet with the Power Stone. In the second film, it is revealed that Star Lord’s own father, Ego, is a “Celestial” (though a different kind than what we see in the comics) making Peter Quill half-Celestial… at least until the Guardians kill him.
In the comics, the Celestials have played a larger role in the Marvel Universe, though still not much is known about them other than the fact that they are incredibly powerful, gigantic and ostensibly immortal space beings clad in funky armor. They were responsible for the creation of the Kree, the Skrulls and other species, so they are not a benign presence in the cosmos. While we already saw one Celestial acting as a threat in Guardians in the Galaxy Vol. II, were they to come together for any purpose, they could easily threaten pretty much everything, everywhere in any future MCU films should Marvel decide to use them.
Like most comic publishing houses, Marvel has an entity who embodies the concept of death. She has made an appearance in the MCU, having been mentioned in The Avengers and pictured briefly on a seal in the walls of the Temple Vault on Morag in Guardians of the Galaxy alongside other Cosmic Entities during the creation of the Infinity Stones. In The Avengers, she was only briefly mentioned following Loki’s defeat in New York. The Other informed Thanos that humanity was not as weak as they previously thought.
Engaging them once more would be “to court Death,” which elicited a smile from the Mad Titan.
Thanos’ actions in Infinity War were not fleshed out in the same way as the comics. In Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos culls half the universe with the snap of his fingers so he can literally court Death whom he is entirely infatuated with. While things didn’t play out the same in the films, Death could make an appearance in Avengers 4 now that Thanos has made such an impact on the Marvel Universe. As the abstract entity of death itself, she has the ability to alter space, time and reality itself. Depending on her motivations, she could easily be a bigger threat to the universe than Thanos was in Avengers: Infinity War.
Entropy is another being of infinite cosmic power, given that he is the personification of entropy itself. He is the son of Eternity whom he is constantly at odds with. Eternity’s purpose revolves around creation while entropy is all about destruction. Their fundamentally conflicting roles create a cycle of creation and destruction, which helps keep the balance across the universe. When a star is destroyed, another is created and so on in an infinite and harmonious balance. But don’t let that fool you! Entropy is able to destroy anything, anywhere. That’s his whole purpose for being and were he to decide Earth didn’t need to remain any longer, he could do something about that.
In the MCU, Entropy made an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy on the same seal depicting Death and a couple of other cosmic beings. Alongside Eternity and Infinity, who we will get to shortly, the four were apparently there for the birth of the Infinity Stones, which cause some trouble for our heroes in the MCU. Entropy made his first appearance in the comics in Captain Marvel #2, though he was only mentioned until he graced the pages in issue #4 later that year. Entropy was created by Peter David and ChrissCross (Christopher Williams) in both issues.
Infinity is the third of the four cosmic beings responsible for crafting the Infinity Stones in the MCU having been depicted in the seal in Guardians of the Galaxy. As her name implies, Infinity represents everything: all of space and everything contained within the entire universe. She is in constant competition with Death, whose goal to reduce life conflicts; Infinity’s desire is to expand it. Like the other cosmic beings mentioned on this list, their conflict creates an unending cycle of birth and death, which ultimately keeps everything in balance. You can’t have Death without Infinity and vice-versa. Infinity’s brother is Eternity, the only being who somewhat equals her in power.
As her name implies, she normally exists in all places simultaneously, so a need to take physical form of any kind must involve a significant event.
Infinity made her first appearance in Quasar #24, written by Mark Gruenwald and penciled by Greg Capullo in 1991. Since that time, the character has made semi-regular appearances in comics whenever a cosmic event warrants a need for her to take on a humanoid form. As her name implies, she normally exists in all places simultaneously, so a need to take physical form of any kind must involve a significant event. One such event in the Marvel Comics came when Magus wielded the Infinity Gauntlet for the first time in the comic book Infinity War. Perhaps it’s time she made her way to the silver screen now that Thanos has done the same.
Eternity is the final cosmic aspect of what has been called the “four points of the cosmological compass.” Alongside his sister, Infinity, his son Entropy, and Death, they make up the cosmos—everything that is, was and will be. In terms of cosmic power, Eternity is at the top of the scale; he is the representation of the universe itself as it exists across time and space. His powers allow him to warp reality—which means himself, in any way he see’s fit. He showed up on the seal in the temple in Guardians of the Galaxy as a part of the four cosmic entities who may have created the Infinity Stones, and following the events of Infinity War, he might just have to show his face once more.
In the comics, Eternity first appeared in Strange Tales #138, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Steve Ditko in 1965. The first human to perceive him and make contact was Doctor Strange, who asked for Eternity’s help. Ultimately, Eternity simply informs Strange that he doesn’t need help and he goes on to do what he must to defeat his enemy. During the Infinity Gauntlet event, Thanos takes over the power of Eternity and becomes the cosmic being himself, though this proves to be his downfall as he neglected to keep the Infinity Gauntlet on his hand safe from being removed.
Cyttorak is a member of the Octessence alongside Ikonn making him an incredibly powerful mystical being. He also happens to be the most powerful of them all thanks to his winning a wager among the eight members of the group, which challenged each member to prove who was the best by enslaving all of humanity via special enchanted artifacts each being created. Cyttorak created a special ruby-colored gem, which contained the inscription, “Whosoever touches this gem shall possess the power of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak! Henceforth, you who read these words shall become forevermore a human juggernaut!” Of course, that juggernaut became the avatar of Cyttorak on Earth and is one of the strongest and most powerful superpowered beings to exist.
We got to see the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak used as a spell by Doctor Strange during the fight between the Sorcerer Supreme and Thanos in Infinity War.
This scene helps establish the mystical being in the MCU. This is fortunate seeing as the character Juggernaut’s film rights are not presently owned by the good folks at Marvel. Cyttorak is, for all intents and purposes, a god. He has demonstrated the power to create life and could just as easily destroy it. He first appeared in the comics in Doctor Strange #44 in 1992, though he was first mentioned all the way back in Strange Tales #124, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby in 1964.
Dormammu has already made a big splash in the MCU with his appearance as the underlying antagonist in Doctor Strange. One of Doctor Strange’s primary roles as Master of the Mystic Arts and the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth is to keep Dormammu from coming over and taking out the planet. Strange was only able to thwart his plans when he used the Time Stone via the Eye of Agamotto to trap Dormammu and himself in an infinite time-loop. What does this have to do with a future threat to the MCU, you might ask? Dormammu agreed to stop trying to take over Earth, but things have changed with Avengers: Infinity War. Without revealing too much, some obstacles just aren’t in Dormammu’s way anymore making the post-Thanos MCU perfect for a new takeover attempt.
Dormammu has been making waves in the Marvel Universe since his first appearance in Strange Tales #126, written by Stan Lee and penciled by Steve Ditko in 1964. He is arguably Strange’s most dangerous villain and he could certainly pose a significant risk to the MCU were he to make the move to attack once more. In the MCU, there aren’t a lot of people who could challenge him other than Doctor Strange, and then, only when powered to god-levels, which is especially true now that half the Marvel Universe has been culled by Thanos.
We decided to include Magus here even though he has yet to be mentioned or referred to in the MCU. The reason for this has everything to do with his mortal enemy/other self, Adam Warlock, who was briefly suggested at the conclusion of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol II. During one of the post-credit scenes, Ayesha decides to name her new creation in one of their birth pods: Adam. Magus is Adam Warlock’s dark side personified, so there couldn’t be one without the other, which has allowed us to include him here. He made his first appearance in the comics in Strange Tales #178, written and penciled by Jim Starlin in 1975.
Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, has gone on record saying Adam Warlock will play an important role in the future of the MCU.
So, it seems a foregone conclusion Magus will make the leap as well. As you can see from the image, he has had designs on the Infinity Gauntlet, though unlike Thanos, he doesn’t want to wipe out half of all life in the Universe. He would prefer to cause the complete destruction of the Universe, which certainly establishes Magus as a significantly greater threat to existence than Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.
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