We investigate the Avengers Assemble post-credit sequence

Like everyone else, we left Avengers Assemble abuzz with theories about the mysterious figure glimpsed in the now-traditional Marvel post-credits sequence. Unlike everyone else, we kept schtum until Tash had had a chance to actually see the film. But the boss has finally caught up, and it’s time for Best For Film’s genetically engineered conspiracy theorists to be let loose on the future of the Avenger Initiative.

As you almost certainly know by now (even if you didn’t recognise him at the time), the shadowy character who we see receiving a report of the failed Chitauri invasion of Earth halfway through the Avengers Assemble credits is none other than classic Marvel supervillain Thanos. Thanos (the name derives from ‘thanatos’, the Greek word for ‘death’) is one of the Immortals, a race of post-human superbeings who were an unexpected result of genetic experimentation on primitive man by the Celestials. (The Celestials, by the way, are 2000ft tall armoured ‘space gods’. Standard.) The Immortals were frequently pitted against the Deviants, another offshoot of the Celestials’ experiments who were both physically deformed and mentally unpleasant, and their constant spatting frequently brought them into contact with regular humans as well as near-Earth extraterrestrials including Asgardians (Thor, Loki and his crew), Olympians (same sort of plan, but with Hercules and Ares and so on) and Heliopolitans (comment if you can work that one out).

Thanos, the son of heroic Eternals Mentor and Sui-San, was born with the “Deviant gene” and did not resemble his own, physically perfect, race – endowed with the superior power of an Eternal but the bitterness and grudges of a Deviant, he became a mighty villain who kick-started his career by vivisecting his own mother in an attempt to find out why he was so different to her. Classy. His story arcs in the various Marvel comics which he’s invaded since 1973 have frequently involved his quest for the Eternity Gauntlet, a piece of armour which grants its wearer utter dominion over the universe when augmented with the six mystical Infinity Gems. Interestingly, we’ve seen the Gauntlet before (albeit briefly) – here it is, stored in Odin’s vault in Thor:

See? Given Joss Whedon’s relatively pointed references to the various story arcs which began in Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger and so on and resolved in Avengers Assemble as ‘Phase 1’ of the much-vaunted Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems reasonable that ‘Phase 2’ will begin with Iron Man 3 and culminate in Avengers 2. Whether or not we always knew it, the driving force of Phase 1 was the Tesseract which the Red Skull and Loki both tried to turn to their own ends – could the Infinity Gems (the only remains, according to legend, of an ancient, omnipotent and supremely lonely being driven to suicide aeons ago) be the next bit of space jewellery powerful enough to bring Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™ out of retirement?

Back to Thanos for a moment. The Mad Titan, as he is occasionally known, is not as heartless as he is ruthless – his schemes are repeatedly driven by his passion for Mistress Death, one of the incarnations of death itself and a long-term object of huge fascination for the nihilistic Thanos. Thanos attempts to woo Death by using the Infinity Gauntlet to kill half of all the living things in the universe, the old charmer, and later has a bash at extinguishing every star in existence as well. Haven’t you ever tried some nice flowers and a card from Moonpig, Thanos? Anyway, this isn’t just us burbling on – take a moment to think back to that post-credits sequence, and precisely what the defeated Chitauri general (credited simply as The Other) says to provoke that rather scary grin from Thanos. We’ve found a rather crap recording (yay piracy!) which should jog your memory:

Did you get all that? Here’s the transcript:

“Humans… they are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand! They are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court Death.”

Let’s hear that again, sports fans…

“To challenge them is to court Death.”

We think we’ve just found Thanos’ motivation. Don’t you?

Just in case you’re a bit exhausted after all that mental spadework, here’s a treat which is apparently going out with the US release of The Avengers (as they’re allowed to call it, lucky bastards) as of today. Remember Tony Stark wanting to get a shwarma after sorting out that whole alien invasion thing? Looks like he got his wish:

We love you, Joss Whedon.

What’s your theory for Phase 2? Let us know below!

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