Behind every great hero is a villain you love to hate. For the superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was no greater villain than the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. Thanos tested the MCU’s Avengers like no other bad guy who came before him, and fans loved him for it. But now that his arc in that cinematic universe has seemingly ended, what’s next for the character? Is he done, or will Marvel bring him back?
Some fans online have speculated about what future role he may play, and it’s interesting to think about. Let’s take a closer look at how Thanos could return to the MCU.
Thanos’ MCU character arc
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Thanos first appeared in 2012’s The Avengers, wordlessly smiling at the thought of facing off against the titular heroes. He’d appear again in The Guardians of the Galaxy, this time portrayed by Josh Brolin. He’d pop up next during an end-credits stinger following Avengers: Age of Ultron.
His ultimate showcase came over two films: Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In the first, he was victorious after acquiring all the Infinity Stones, snapping half of the universe’s living things out of existence. In his final film, he was ultimately defeated by the Avengers.
To any outside observer, it would appear that Thanos’s character thread is complete. But that doesn’t have to mean his story is over. Taking a look at his history from the comics reveals a rich backstory with plenty of source material from which to mine.
What we know about Thanos from the comics
There are two elements of Thanos’s character from the comics outlined on Marvel.com that hint at a possible return in the future:
- He’s obsessed with courting Death, who in Marvel Comics often takes a female form. The original Infinity Gauntlet plotline in the comics saw Thanos attempting to gather the Stones to impress Death. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Thanos in the afterlife, granted a reprieve by Death to complete one more mission. The MCU has already introduced one femme fatale as a potential stand-in for the personification of Death: Hela, the Goddess of Death, played by Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok.
- Thanos is also a member of the race of beings known as the Eternals. Which set of Marvel characters is set to have a film released in 2021? You guessed it: the Eternals. Depending on when the story is set, it wouldn’t be shocking at all if Thanos made an appearance.
Fans predictions for the potential future of Thanos
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A recent Reddit thread speculated on the possible future of Thanos in the MCU. Of course, Thanos didn’t just die in Avengers: Endgame. Two separate versions of the Mad Titan perished within the same timeline. But anyone who’s read comic books or watched superhero movies before know that death hasn’t stopped many classic characters from making a comeback.
The original poster in the aforementioned Reddit thread asked about the origin story of Thanos. Subsequent posters discuss his origin on Titan. Some even speculate on him showing up in The Eternals. While his backstory is rich with details and a compelling beginning for the character, it’s highly unlikely it will make it into a standalone film. Most of his onscreen story made it into the last two Avengers films.
That doesn’t mean he won’t pop up anywhere, however. Based on the character’s popularity and the narrative tie-in between him and the Eternals, Marvel would have to be crazy not to include Thanos in that franchise in one way or another. Expect him to make some sort of cameo there — with an outside shot at future appearances in the MCU proper if the Goddess of Death resurrects him.
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