Remember that scary purple dude with the smug grin seen in the mid-credits "Avengers" scene? If you haven't heard by now, his name is Thanos — and he's all about Death.
Specifically, Thanos, perhaps the deadliest villain in the Marvel Universe, is an alien menace hell-bent on impressing the woman he worships, Mistress Death. In the comics, he attempts to woo Death on numerous occasions, most famously by gathering together the Infinity Gems, six stones with immeasurable, universe-threatening power.
Thanos makes his next appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this coming summer's "Guardians of the Galaxy," though the size of his role is unknown; at the moment, Marvel hasn't announced any casting news regarding Thanos, leading many to believe that he'll simply be pulling the puppet-strings of his minions Ronan the Accuser and Nebula, played by Lee Pace and Karen Gillan respectively.
But the actor playing Thanos isn't the only mystery surrounding the character. Now, it's worth wondering what the Mad Titan is actually after — because, according to "Guardians" director James Gunn, the villain's motivation in the movie might be different from his motivation in the comics.
"The Marvel Cinematic Universe takes out of both the 616 and Ultimate Marvel Comics universe, and then they recreate some elements themselves," Gunn said on the Pointless Podcast (via Dark Horizons). "What Thanos wants in the comics is not necessarily what Thanos wants in the movies; we don't know yet."
Gunn's comments are sure to get the wheels spinning for Thanos conspiracy theorists. Can we expect that Thanos is still collecting Infinity Gems (or Infinity Stones, as they're called in the Marvel films)? It certainly seems likely, considering the Collector scene at the end of "Thor: The Dark World," and his interest in the Tesseract in "Avengers." Maybe Death will be underplayed as the movies move forward?
Or maybe all Gunn is saying is that Thanos' purposes aren't made entirely clear in "Guardians of the Galaxy." Again, it appears that Ronan and Nebula are the main threats of the film; perhaps there's no need just yet to fully explain what Thanos is after.
Whatever Thanos' true purpose is, we're sure to find out in a Marvel movie at some point down the line. Until then, expect more teases about the character when "Guardians" drops on August 1.