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Avengers: Infinity War, out in the UAE on April 26, is set to test the mettle of Earth’s mightiest defenders. Bringing together the events and superheroes, carefully sketched over the last 10 years of the Marvel legacy, is one man and one man alone — Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. Here’s everything you need to know about the big purple guy who will be pummelling your favourite heroes in a theatre near you soon.

The origin story

Created by Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich, Thanos made his first appearance in Iron Man #55 (1973). His comic book back story sees him being born on Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn, inhabited by an advanced race called the Eternals. Born with a defective gene that gives him the purple skin, Thanos’ mother tried to kill him at birth because of his grotesque appearance.

For most of his childhood, Thanos is a pacifist, and an intelligent child who liked to keep to himself. By adolescence, he is seduced by Mistress Death and indulges in nihilistic activity, leading up to the murder of innocents. The search for the Infinity Stones and the attempt to wipe out entire universes is an effort by the lovesick Thanos to win the affections of his perceived soulmate, Death.

The ‘Infinity War’ story

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have confirmed that the Infinity War film will not be incorporating Death, and as such, the passive-aggressive love story will be ignored. The film will largely explore Thanos’ efforts to find all the six Infinity Stones, but for reasons that are more personal in nature. His relationship with his adoptive daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is also said to be explored, teased largely through a tender moment shared between a baby Gamora and Thanos, flashed in the trailers.

MCU appearances

Marvel fans first laid their eyes on the maniacal Thanos in the end credits of the first Avengers film (2012). Having ordered Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to lead the alien Chitauri army against Earth’s mightiest superheores, he finds that the trickster comes short. Then, in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), he ordered Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to steal a mysterious Orb – which hides the Power stone — but the plan failed again thanks to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his team. This leads him to finally decide to get the job done himself, and the last we saw him, Thanos was fitting himself with the Infinity Gauntlet.

Drax (Dave Bautista) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Powers and abilities

Having bested the likes of Odin and Galactus in the comic books, Thanos is one of the biggest threats the Avengers have ever faced. A mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals, the character possesses strengths that have been amplified to a higher degree because of his Deviant race gene, as well as unchecked mystical power granted by Death herself. Apart from superhuman strength, stamina, and durability, Thanos can also absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy and is capable of telekinesis, telepathy, and matter manipulation. Having trained in the art of war on Titan, he’s also a master hand-to-hand combat. Apart from all these physical abilities, Thanos excels in every field of advanced science, and has personally created technology far advanced than anything ever seen on Earth, and he continues to teach himself as he visits new worlds.

Thanos’ children

Remember the Four Horsemen in X-Men: Apocalypse, the movie that should have taken the franchise to newer heights but failed miserably? No? Doesn’t matter, because you get a cooler version of a supervillain quartet in the form of the Black Order, set to make their debut with Infinity War. First introduced in 2013’s New Avengers #8 as part of the Infinity storyline, the Black Order, or the Children of Thanos, are five super-powered henchmen who work for the Mad Titan. The latest teaser from Marvel Studios shows Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) face off against two members of the Black Order — Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) and Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon). The circle of cronies is closed by Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and the Black Dwarf/Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary), who have briefly appeared in previous trailers.

Corvus Glaive is Thanos’ most favoured general and as such, stands to play a bigger role in the events of Infinity War. Apart from enhanced speed, strength and durability, Glaive uses a bladed pike that can cut through anything and also grants him immortality while he’s holding it. His wife Proxima Midnight is a master hand-to-hand combatant, has super-strength and her lance transforms into toxic light beams. Ebony Maw is the trickster of the group, not unlike Loki, has a genius-level intellect and also owns a teleportation device. Bringing up the muscle of the group is Black Dwarf, who has impenetrable skin and super-strength. He’s also the brother of Corvus Glaive.

Notably missing is the fifth member of the original Black Order lineup, Supergiant, who according to cast credit details won’t be making an appearance in Infinity War.