Spoilers on: one of the biggest questions movie-goers will leave this weekend's "Thor: The Dark World" with doesn't have anything to do with the titular Thunder God, his brother Loki, or nearly anything having to do with the movie itself. Rather, it's the identity of Benicio del Toro's weird-out character The Collector, who appears in a brief, mid-credits sequence; and will later show up in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy."
We'll get to who The Collector is from the comics and how he might play into "Guardians of the Galaxy" in a moment. But first, when MTV News' Josh Horowitz hit the red carpet for "Thor: The Dark World" in Los Angeles, he found out the whole scoop from Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson (who appear in the mid-credits scene as "Thor" characters Sif and Volstagg respectively), as well as "Guardians" Director James Gunn.
Beyond confirming that he did direct the scene in question, it turns out Gunn had a very short timeline to get it done. "I got the script that morning," Gunn said. "Did it at the end of a day of second unit shooting, and that's how this little bit came together."
Anyone who has seen the scene knows that even for a space epic based on a comic book, del Toro's performance is "out there." And Alexander and Stevenson agree: "He's a tall chap, quirky, and mad as a bag of snakes," Stevenson joked, adding that he only met the actor for the one day of shooting. "His hair is pretty awesome," Alexander added with a laugh.
Gunn added that the character is different from how he imagined when he was writing the script, but del Toro still nailed what the writer/director had on the page. "I did sort of say he's like an outer space Liberace," Gunn said. "Which he's kind of doing! But he just came in prepared, doing something utterly unique, and he's mesmerizing."
Not much is known about The Collector's role in "Guardians," though he in some way relates to villains Ronan The Accuser, played by Lee Pace; Nebula, played by Karen Gillan; and uber-baddie Thanos, played, so far as we know, by nobody. Despite that, Gillan, when asked on the red carpet for "Thor 2," said that she didn't share any scenes with del Toro, so where his loyalty lies in the movie remains to be seen.
So who is The Collector in the comics?
First of all, as his name implies, he collects things. He's one of the Elders of the Universe, a race of immortal beings who wield tremendous power. The Collector has the power to see the future, and in the books saw the coming of arch-villain Thanos. To protect races (and objects) from the Mad Titan, The Collector created a vast menagerie and storehouse to keep them safe.
One of those things? An Infinity Gem, a stone capable of great power coveted by Thanos. Over the years, The Collector has helped, and sometimes clashed with the heroes of Earth, particularly The Avengers. He also is often seen with fellow Elder The Grandmaster, who likes to play games involving Earth heroes.
Will any of that play into Guardians? Given the direction of that mid-credits scene, it's entirely possible. But we'll have to wait until August 1st, 2014, when "Guardians of the Galaxy" hits theaters to find out.