Ever since the mid-credits tease of The Avengers, the Mad Titan Thanos has been a big question mark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s obvious that he’s going to be a major threat to the heroes, but exactly why has he been built up as the greatest menace in the known universe?
In the comics, Thanos is an alien despot who is in love with Death—literally, he is infatuated with an anthropomorphized version of death. In an effort to please her and to become the most powerful being in all of existence, Thanos collects the Infinity Gems, stones imbued with specific powers. We’ve seen a number of these stones throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, and we know from the Avengers: Infinity War teaser trailer that Thanos will get his hand on all six stones, forming the intimidatingly titled Infinity Gauntlet. This will give him unchallenged power of space, time, reality, and all sorts of cosmic craziness.
So, what will this mean for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole? The wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet is virtually omnipotent, so how could such a foe be defeated? What reason could Kevin Feige have for introducing such a universe-altering baddie?
The most likely answer doesn’t have to do with the characters themselves but with the actors playing them. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe as progressed, the salaries for the core Avengers team have increased exponentially. Robert Downey Jr. alone cost upwards of $80 million for his work on Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. At some point, these characters will either be killed off and replaced by a new Avengers team (there’s a good reason the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces us to a new roster of Avengers), or rebooted in some way or another. But, considering how invested Marvel Studios is in their shared universe, would they really risk doing a total reboot of such popular characters as Iron Man and Captain America? Much like the comics, these roles could be filled by other members of the roster, but it’s my belief that Marvel Studios has a much wackier and comic book-y idea in mind.
Thanos’ abilities with the Infinity Gauntlet are practically limitless, allowing him to kill in a split second or warp reality to his wishes.