Explaining the Avengers ending with comics

Some cinema-goers are leaving screenings complaining that Marvel didn't include their trademark ending teaser. CJ explains the confusion...

Avengers Assemble ending Thanos Jim Starlin Infinity Gauntlet


With The Avengers/Avengers Assemble having already become one of the most popular superhero films ever made, it’s surprising to note the confusion some cinemagoers have had over its ending. As is so often the case, it’s best to look to the comics for answers.

Spoiler alert: unless you already know what the teaser is from prior comics knowledge then this isn’t going to mean anything for you. Nevertheless, without a spoiler alert someone will complain. Comics guys and gals should look away now.

Some people have been so baffled that they’ve turned to tweeting at Stan Lee. Good luck, as he didn’t invent the character. In fact, the alien menace didn’t first appear until ten years after the Avengers banded together.

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At the very end of the movie, after the extraterrestrial threat to Manhattan has been nuked by Tony Stark, we get a short scene showing the real big bad. Hey, it’s a Joss Whedon joint – fugedaboudit.

After several moments through the film of Loki jostling for power in his interstellar deal with the Chitauri – let’s not get started on those Covenant rejects – the Pan’s Labyrinth vizier dude meets with a shadowy figure. Shudder.

Cue the Dramatic Chipmunk moment of awesomeness. Yes – it’s Thanos. Thanos-The-Mad-Titan-Thanos. Lover of Death and pursuer of the Infinity Gems. Nemesis of the original Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock. Millions are immediately confused, but they’ve just seen what’s surely the reveal for Avengers 2.

In the screening this geek attended, almost half the audience stayed past this moment until the credits had rolled completely, waiting for something they recognised. When they didn’t get it, several people shouted abuse about Marvel.

This is the same screen this geek saw Iron Man in when it was released, and was the only person – other than a non-comics reader friend (hi, Steven) to stay for the epilogue. How things have changed.

We’ve had confirmation on Twitter that people in Avengers Assemble screenings elsewhere thought this mysterious character was the Asgardian watchman, Heimdall. Poor Heimdall! He’s a good bloke.

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Thanos was created by writer-artist Jim Starlin and introduced in 1973’s Invincible Iron Man #55. Originally a resident of Saturn’s clouded moon Titan, Thanos has since become a cosmic symbol of both death and desperation for nearly 40 years’ worth of stories in the Marvel universe.

With a Guardians of the Galaxy movie on the cards, you should expect to see more of Thanos. Pick up a trade paperback collection of The Infinity Gauntlet now if you want to dip your toes into Marvel’s cosmic waters before the next Avengers movie. The all-seeing Heimdall forgives you.

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