Shadowy figure from “Avengers” film has background in comics

‘Infinity Gauntlet' storyline involved entire universe of Marvel heroes
by Matthew Price Published: May 25, 2012

“The Avengers” continued to roll at the box office last weekend, and now stands as the No. 4-grossing worldwide film release of all time with more than $1.2 billion earned.

As such, I think I can safely write about the mysterious character who appears in the film's first post-credits scene. But if you haven't yet seen “The Avengers,” spoilers are ahead.

The mysterious purple character at the end of “The Avengers” is Marvel Comics' Thanos, a mad titan obsessed with the personification of Death. The character, who first appeared in 1973's “Iron Man” No. 55, was created by Jim Starlin.

Starlin recently talked to the Los Angeles Times about Thanos.

“When editor Roy Thomas asked me to do a fill-in Iron Man, I decided to add him to the mix,” Starlin said. “I showed some character sketches I had of the character to Roy, he asked if I could perhaps bulk up Thanos some and then let me run with it. Mike Friedrich then dialogued the issue. As time went on, Thanos just sort of grew organically on his own. Not sure where his loving Death came from. At the time I was recently out of the service and rather messed up. Hard to remember what was going through my head back then.”

Many of the original Thanos stories are collected in the “Marvel Masterworks: Captain Marvel” Vol. 3 hardcover, including his first appearance in “Iron Man” No. 55.

His first battle with the Avengers is recounted in Essential Avengers Volume 6, which includes Captain Marvel #33 and The Avengers #125 and 135; he again faced the Avengers in Essential Avengers Vol. 8.

Thanos returned in the 1990s in the pages of “Silver Surfer,” written by Starlin, and in the “Thanos Quest” miniseries, in which he sought the powerful Infinity Gems. These stories are collected in “Silver Surfer: Rebirth Of Thanos,” which collects Silver Surfer #34-38, The Thanos Quest miniseries, and a short story featuring Thanos, “The Final Flower!” from Logan's Run No. 6.

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by Matthew Price
Features Editor
Features Editor Matthew Price has worked for The Oklahoman since 2000. He’s a University of Oklahoma graduate who has also worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and was a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund intern for the Dallas Morning News. He’s...
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