Thanos, one of the biggest bads in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, might not be as smitten with the entity known as Death in the upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War” as his comic book counterpart.
The news comes from a brief quote by “Avengers: Infinity War” co-writer Stephen McFeely that was included in a featurette for the recent digital release of “Doctor Strange.” “His goal is to rebalance the universe as he sees it,” McFeely said of the film's antagonist. “When he figures out that the Infinity Stones could do this for him at the snap of a finger, that becomes his main goal.”
Thanos first appeared in 1973 in “Iron Man” #55, created by writer and artist Jim Starlin, and has been a galactic threat to Marvel’s roster of heroes ever since. One of Thanos’ defining arcs is the 1991 “Infinity Gauntlet” series by Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim.
The “Infinity Gauntlet” run dealt with Thanos' affection for a creature called Death, created by Starlin and Mike Friedrich. Death is one of the highest concept characters in the Marvel Comics canon. A personification of death itself, the creature sometimes appears as a traditional specter of death, a grim skeleton garbed in a black cloak, and, at other times, it appears as a young, attractive woman. Death stands in opposition to Eternity, the creature that embodies the essence of the universe.
“Infinity Gauntlet” revolves around Thanos’ desire to woo death. To do this, Death encourages Thanos to eliminate half of the life in the universe using the six Infinity Gems and accompanying Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos hopes that by obeying his love, and showing his dedication to Death’s cause, he will gain him some points along the way. While Thanos’ actions certainly would have rebalanced the Marvel universe in a grim and significant way, this was never the titan’s motivation.
McFeely’s quote speaks to a larger, yet-revealed story arc revolving around the galactic entity. Having moved briskly into its third phase of films, Marvel Studios is now poised to tackle a number of off-world stories that could build to an in-depth backstory for the cosmic-tier villain that is very different from his comic book origins. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” both debuting this year, will tell stories that largely take place nowhere near Earth, leading to “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018, with “Captain Marvel” premiering the year after.
Maybe that’s enough time for McFeely and the writing room to work in Death or, perhaps, like much of the Marvel cinematic universe, the Mad Titan’s backstory will be rewritten to best fit the big screen.