Warning: There be spoilers for the mid-credits sequence in The Avengers as well as recent issues of Avengers Assemble ahead. Read on at your own peril, or just at your own leisure. Either is fine.
Developments in the Marvel Comics may be a signal for things to come in the films, as a villain from The Avengers returns to the comics, and a super team is revived ahead of a future blockbuster.
So after several years of universe building, through six blockbuster films that led to what Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige termed the “milestone” of The Avengers, we are left wondering what the next stepping stone is. As we reach the mid-credits sequence of the recent blockbuster film (here’s where it is spoiler territory for the uninitiated), it is revealed that the villain behind the whole thing is is Thanos, The Mad Titan who is a little obsessed with killing things en masse. While non-fans were left scratching their heads, and Marvel acolytes had a fangasm, speculation began on what would come next.
In the Marvel comic Avengers Assemble #3, Thanos was returned to the Marvel comics universe (the Marvel 616 Universe to get all geeky), with a shocking final panel reveal. Of course, this final panel was put on the spoiler-filled front cover of the reprints, negating the need to really spell out any spoiler warning from this point onwards.
His inclusion makes sense. As Marvel Senior VP – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort points out, “Since we designed Avengers Assemble to be a nice, easy entry point for people coming out of the film, for all that it still exists within our current Marvel Universe, it was a bit of a no-brainer to have Thanos be the villains behind our first storyline,” shares. More than simply bringing him back, this storyline will be setting him up for bigger things that are just off on the horizon—it’s the first step towards something we’ve been working on behind the scenes for a while now”.
Those “bigger things” now seem to have been revealed in the form of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who make their Marvel Comics return in Avengers Assemble #6 . Comic Book Resources exclusively revealed the cover to the sixth issue (pictured left), due out in August 2012. Brevoort expands on his earlier comments to add that Marvel “were intrigued by the notion that Thanos was there and might be an antagonist for ‘Avengers 2‘ or one of the other upcoming Marvel movies”. This neither confirms nor denies the path of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there is definitely some synergy at play here.
This also seems to be part of a concerted effort to bring awareness of the Guardians of the Galaxy back to Marvel readers first, as Feige seems determined to mention them at every turn. In April, he was asked about the non-sequel projects being priortised. “Ant-Man, or Dr. Strange, or The Inhumans, or The Guardians of the Galaxy“.