Every war needs generals, and in Avengers: Infinity War, the Black Order will be generals for the Avengers’ most dangerous villain, Thanos. After months of speculation, Marvel Studios confirmed their role in the movie and unveiled four statues of the Avengers’ villains, along with a new design for Josh Brolin’s Thanos, at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. Thanos and the Order are set to take on the combined might of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy in the Russo Brothers-directed sequel, due out in 2018. While most of the other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been around for decades, the Black Order are set to make their big screen debut just five years after their creation.
Even though they’re relatively new, the Black Order have quickly become one of the deadliest threats in the Marvel Universe. They’ve already played major roles in the 2013 crossover Infinity and 2015’s Secret Wars, and have appeared in other forms of Marvel-based media like TV and video games. Now, CBR is getting you up to speed with 15 things you have to know about the Black Order. For this list, we’ll be taking a look back at the individual members of the team and their bloody, intergalactic history.
15. THEY’RE IN AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
At the D23 Expo, the Black Order’s four cinematic members were revealed. Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive and Cull Obsidian, who was Black Dwarf in comics, will all help Thanos take on just about every hero in the MCU in Avengers: Infinity War. In a story inspired by Jim Starlin, George Pérez and Ron Lim’s 1991 classic, Infinity Gauntlet, Brolin’s Thanos will try to bring the Infinity Stones together to form the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet.
In one major departure from their comic counterparts, the members of the Black Order were introduced as “children of Thanos.” While Thanos’ other cinematic children, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Karen Gillan’s Nebula, have rejected their father’s brutal tactics, the Black Order appear to be fully on Team Thanos. While it’s unclear which role he’ll play, veteran motion-capture actor Terry Notary hinted at his role as a Black Order member back in March, 2017.
14. THANOS FORMED THE BLACK ORDER
The Black Order made their debut near the beginning of writer Jonathan Hickman’s epic-length run on the Avengers. Created by Hickman, Jim Cheung and Jerome Opeña, the group made their first full appearance in 2013’s New Avengers #8, by Hickman and Mike Deodato Jr. Also known as the Obsidian Cull, the Midnight Slaughter and the Dreadlords, these cosmic villains were brought together by Thanos to serve as the leaders of his intergalactic military campaign for universal domination.
As seen in Hickman and Cheung’s Infinity Free Comic Book Day Special from 2013, the Black Order used their considerable powers and resources to find new worlds for Thanos to conquer. They also made these worlds honor the Mad Titan by sacrificing children of a certain age to him. After several unseen conquests, Thanos and the Black Order turned their attention to Earth with the crossover Infinity.
13. THEY WANT THE INFINITY GEMS
As they looked towards Earth, the Black Order discovered that the Infinity Gems were in the hands of the Illuminati, a group of powerful Marvel heroes like Iron Man and Black Panther that tried to quietly shape the world. As part of Thanos’ persistent quest to reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet, each member of the Order went after one of the members of the Illuminati.
While these attempts met with varying degrees of success, they set the stage for a larger attack on Earth in Infinity. With most of the Avengers in deep space during Infinity, Thanos and the Black Order battled an unlikely group of heroes including the Inhumans and the street-level Mighty Avengers. Thanks to the combined efforts of Marvel’s Earthy heroes and intergalactic allies, the villains were ultimately defeated, with most of the Order either captured or killed.
12. CORVUS GLAIVE
Appropriately, Corvus Glaive, the first member of the Black Order, debuted a few months before his teammates in Hickman and Cheung’s Infinity Free Comic Book Day Special. After betraying his homeworld, Corvus’ cruelty, arrogance and loyalty made him Thanos’ favorite member of the Order.
Along with enhanced strength and speed, Corvus was effectively immortal as long as his trademark blade stayed in one piece. While searching for the Infinity Gems, he led an assault on the X-Men and took out Wolverine with one blow of his alien blade. Although he was seemingly killed by Hyperion, a Superman-esque Avenger, at the end of Infinity, Corvus was able to make a full recovery thanks to the blade’s power. He and his wife, Proxima Midnight, later joined the Cabal, a group of villains tasked with saving Earth by destroying other universes, before ironically being destroyed by his former Master, Thanos, himself.
11. PROXIMA MIDNIGHT
Proxima Midnight is another one of the Black Order’s most distinctive members. She was the most skilled fighter under Thanos’ command and carried a spear forged by the energy of a supernova and a black hole. Thrown by an arm that never missed a target, her spear produced black beams of toxic energy that could kill any being in moments.
Created and designed by Hickman, Proxima was tasked with finding an Infinity Gem in Atlantis in Hickman and Deodato’s New Avengers #8. When she arrived at Namor’s undersea kingdom, she found Atlantis devastated by Wakandan forces. After making Namor kneel to her, she spared the remains of Atlantis in exchange for information. When she escaped an amber prison that trapped her in time, she joined the Cabal and has since continued to operate as Thanos’ faithful servant.
10. EBONY MAW
The most insidious member of the Black Order is Ebony Maw. Although he doesn’t appear to possess any kind of advanced fighting abilities, Maw has a sharp tongue that can corrupt the purest minds into enacting his wicked plans. Shortly after he was created be Hickman and Opeña, he was tasked with dealing with Doctor Strange.
With his immense powers of persuasion, he was able to take control of Strange’s mind and forced the Sorcerer Supreme to summon the evil squid-like being Shuma-Gorath in Al Ewing and Greg Land’s Mighty Avengers #2. After discovering Thanos’ son Thane, Maw took a keen interest in the young Inhuman and helped him control his vast powers. As the duo took to the stars, he continued to mold Thane until they were both captured. During his imprisonment, Ebony Maw used his powers to facilitate his escape and has not been seen since.
9. BLACK DWARF
While he may be called Cull Obsidian on film, Black Dwarf was the most physically imposing member of the original Black Order. With a gleeful embrace of nihilism, his super-strength and unbreakable skin made him one of the most savage enforcers of Thanos’ cosmic army. Created and designed by Hickman and Opeña, Black Dwarf was also Corvus Glaive’s brother.
In Black Dwarf’s most memorable moment, he was tasked with penetrating Wakanda, Black Panther’s hyper-protected homeland. After being bested by the King of Wakanda and his army, Black Dwarf returned to Thanos, who violently kicked him out of the Black Order. After being given command of the Peak, an orbital space station, Black Dwarf had a brutal fight the Avengers and their alien allies. Ronan the Accuser proved that Black Dwarf’s skin wasn’t that unbreakable after all with a fatal blow from his Universal Weapon, a super-charged Kree hammer.
Unlike the rest of the core Black Order members, Supergiant wasn’t unveiled at the D23 Expo and may not appear in Avengers: Infinity War. While her history remains unknown, she was the Black Order’s chief telepathic weapon and intelligence operative. Described as a “mental parasite,” she had the ability to possess almost any living creature and steal or devour their mind.
After she arrived on Earth, she briefly turned Iceman’s Omega-level Mutant abilities against the rest of the X-Men. Later, she took control of the Inhuman King Black Bolt and used his immense sonic powers to ward off Marvel’s heroes. The Inhumans’ dog, Lockjaw, teleported Supergiant to a distant planet where she was killed in a massive bomb blast that was triggered by Maximus the Mad, Black Bolt’s brother.
7. THE BLACK ORDER’S ARMIES
Even with their world-breaking power, the Black Order’s members couldn’t take over the universe all by themselves. That’s where the Outriders came in. Created by Hickman and Cheung in 2013’s Infinity Free Comic Book Day Special, the Outriders are genetically-engineered to serve a single purpose before being given a welcomed death.
Usually, the Outriders were tasked with finding new worlds for Thanos and the Black Order to conquer. With the abilities of flight, invisibility and intangibility, the Outriders were perfect scouts. After finding a suitable world, they would use touch-based telepathy to gather information as the world’s residents rested. The Black Order’s invasion fleet featured countless other platoons of various alien troopers and specialists like Proxima Midnight’s servant Kaldera. After she failed to kill Nova, Sam Alexander, she was sentenced to a Midnight Sphere, where her punishment was a torturous “un-death” that lasted for all eternity.
6. THEY FOUND THANOS’ SON
One of Thanos’ main goals during Infinity eventually proved to be the Black Order’s undoing. In part, Thanos was trying to kill his son, Thane, by demanding child sacrifices across various star systems. That universe-wide search came to an end when Ebony Maw found Thane in Greenland. When Thane’s latent Inhuman abilities were activated, he unwillingly slaughtered his entire village with his newfound “death touch.”
Shortly after Thane’s first appearance in Hickman and Deodato’s New Avengers #10, Maw created a containment suit to help the Inhuman control his abilities and turned him against Thanos. Thanks to Maw’s betrayal, Proxima Midnight was the last living member of the Black Order left standing alongside Thanos by the end of Infinity. After trapping those villains and Corvus’ remains in an amber prison of “living death” for a time, Thane later fought a revitalized Thanos with the power of the Phoenix Force.
5. THE CABAL
Shortly after Infinity ended, the entire Marvel Multiverse was threatened by a series of incursions in the lead-up to the 2015 crossover, Secret Wars. In these incursions, parallel universe would collide with one another, and they wipe each other out of existence. Over the course of Hickman’s New Avengers, Iron Man, Black Panther and the rest of the Illuminati tried to figure out how to save Earth without committing global genocide on a parallel world.
When the Illuminati failed, Namor freed Thanos, Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive from their amber prison to form the Cabal. Along with a few other villains, the Cabal traveled to other dimensions and destroyed parallel worlds that threatened Earth. The world’s collective governments gave the Cabal permission to commit these atrocities from a base in Wakanda. Most of the Cabal was killed during Secret Wars, but none of them stayed dead for long.
4. REBELLION AGAINST THANOS
After Secret Wars and the end of the Cabal, Corvus Glaive betrayed Thanos and formed his own Black Order. As detailed in Jeff Lemire and Deodato’s Thanos #1, Thanos’ most trusted lieutenant took over his galactic kingdom while he was missing. In order to accomplish this, Corvus formed a new Black Order with some of the most wretched criminals in the universe.
During their brief reign, Corvus and his forces operated off of a moon called the Black Quadrant, conquered a few worlds and captured both Ebony Maw and Thane. When Thanos returned, he easily destroyed the blade that gave Corvus immortality. Rather than face Thanos’ wrath, Corvus killed himself with a piece of his own blade. When Thanos reclaimed his throne on the Black Quadrant, Corvus’ Black Order agreed to serve the Mad Titan.
3. BLACK SWAN
Another member of the Cabal, Black Swan, eventually joined up with Thanos’ new Black Order. Created by Hickman and Steve Epting in 2013’s New Avengers #1, Princess Yabbat Ummon Turru was the only survivor of a world that was destroyed by an incursion from another world. When she made her way to the main Marvel Universe, she was apprehended by the Illuminati and helped them understand the nature of the incursions.
With telepathy, immense super-strength and energy blasts, Black Swan is a formidable fighter who had no problem razing worlds with the Cabal. When the incursions were a threat, her most valuable skill was the ability to detect a new one before it happened. After her time world-killing with the Cabal, Black Swan joined Thanos’ new Black Order in the re-created Marvel Universe, where she is one of the team’s only current members.
2. THEY’VE ALREADY BEEN ON TV
Even though Avengers: Infinity War won’t be out until 2018, the Black Order has already jumped from the comics page into other forms of media. All five original members of the Black Order made their animated debut in the 2015 Avengers Assemble episode “New Frontiers.” After freeing Thanos from prison, the Black Order battled the Avengers in the show’s second season finale.
On the ongoing animated series, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Black Order played a similar role as Thanos’ chief generals. Eventually, the group splintered, and some of its members joined the Universal Believers, a cosmic order based around positive thinking. The Black Order have also appeared in two popular free-to-play video games. While Playdom’s Marvel: Avengers Alliance was shut down in 2016, the group’s five core members are all playable characters in Netmarble Games’ Marvel: Future Fight.
1. THEY’RE STILL A THREAT
While those multimedia efforts have introduced the Black Order to casual audiences, Thanos’ team has re-entered the Marvel Universe after a stint on the sidelines. In 2017’s Unworthy Thor #2, by Jason Aaron and Olivier Coipel, Thanos recruited Proxima Midnight and Black Swan to form a new Black Order.
Along with a mysterious hooded figure, the Order was tasked with stealing an alternate reality Thor’s hammer from the Collector, a powerful cosmic entity. Thanks to the combined efforts of Thor Odinson and Beta Ray Bill, the Black Order failed. Upon returning to Thanos, the hooded figure revealed that she was the Asgardian death goddess Hela, killed Proxima Midnight with her own spear and passionately embraced Thanos. While their new plans haven’t yet been revealed, the Black Order seems set to play a major role in the future of the Marvel Universe, in both comics and film.
Keep it locked on CBR for the latest developments on Avengers: Infinity War and the rest of the MCU. Let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing in the MCU in the comments below!
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