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While Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's connection to everything we've seen so far is rather tangential. Because the movie is set far, far away from Earth, the events of the story have very few links to characters like Iron Man and Captain America - but there is one major player that ties the big-screen world together: Thanos. First unveiled in the end credits of The Avengers as the puppet master pulling the strings behind the Chitauri attack on New York, the giant, purple Mad Titan not only has close ties to the lead characters of Guardians, but is actually in the film (voiced by Josh Brolin). But when exactly will that one link grow stronger and bring together the Avengers and the Guardians?
This question was recently posed by IGN to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who couldn't outright confirm the future hook-up, but certainly did his part to tease it. Said the studio head,
"Part of the fun of the comics is that could happen. Any character could interact with any other character because they inhabit the same time period and the same universe. And certainly it is the inclusion of Thanos most specifically that is a declaration to audiences who are paying attention that this is connected to those other universes. Part of the fun is that it could happen someday. I don’t know when that would be. Or maybe I know, and I’m not going to tell you!
If I had to place my bets, it would definitely be the latter. After all, Feige is the guy who has spoken in the past about having a timeline for the Marvel Cinematic Universe that extends into 2028. And hell, this is also the studio that just revealed that it has seven untitled in-development projects with actual release dates scheduled between now and 2019. There is a huge, expansive plan in the works at Marvel Studios, and it often seems like all of the major details have already been figured out.
Without the presence of any official word, we are simply left to speculate - and all signs seem to point towards the big Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover happening in The Avengers 3, which will be an adaptation of the famous crossover storyline The Infinity Gauntlet. That story saw Thanos collecting all six of the incredibly powerful Infinity Gems (known as Infinity Stones in the MCU) and using them to basically become a living god. Of course, no one individual should have this kind of power - especially one as evil as Thanos - so heroes from across the universe gather to stop him. While this is a fairly solid theory about Avengers 3 that I imagine has been thought on by many Marvel fans like myself, let's not forget that many of us also thought that The Avengers 2 was going to be The Infinity Gauntlet. That theory was tossed out the window at San Diego Comic-Con last year when the title Age of Ultron was revealed.
Speaking of SDCC, by the end of this week and the end of the Marvel Studios panel on Saturday, we will likely have a much clearer picture of the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just like every year, we will be on the ground in San Diego covering the event, so stay tuned!