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When Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios revealed that the upcoming Avengers sequel would be titled The Age of Ultron the news was met with a lot of shock and surprise. Thanks to the mid-credits scene in Whedon's first Avengers movie, fans spent more than a year assuming that the sequel would have the superhero team facing off against the Thanos as the film's main antagonist. But while that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, there is some very good news for fans of the purple, death-obsessed Mad Titan: he will be playing a significant role in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy.
In the new issue of Empire Magazine (via Comic Book Movie), Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that Thanos will indeed be playing an expanded role in the 2014 galactic adventure movie - albeit still not as the main bad guy. "Ronan The Accuser is very much the main bad guy," Feige told the site, referring to the alien warrior played by Lee Pace in the movie. "And Thanos is lurking above it all. You will learn more about Thanos in Guardians, for sure. Certainly you'll get more than the one turn around and smirk. You'll get much more than that!"
It's worth mentioning that Thanos does have some family ties with one member Guardians of the Galaxy team. As was noted by John C. Reilly's character, Rhomann Dey, in the Guardians footage that was shown at both San Diego Comic-Con and D23, Gamora - the alien assassin played by Zoe Saldana in the film - is actually Thanos' adopted daughter. How this relationship will have an impact on both the character's arc and the story as a whole is unknown at this point, but one can imagine that it's probably fairly significant.
In the same interview with Empire, Feige also did his part to try and clear up some of the questions regarding Guardians of the Galaxy's place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline and the rest of Phase Two. While not super specific about when the movie takes place in regards to Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the studio president did confirm that Gunn's movie will be set around the same time and will be connected to the other films. "It's not exactly revealed what year or month it is in relation to the other Phase Two films. But yes, it's the same time," he said. "We've already said that Thanos plays a part in it and is a character in it. That in and of itself should tell you it's connected to the other worlds."
When you think about all we've seen and heard about Guardians of the Galaxy, it's strange how much of the film is still a total mystery. Marvel Studios has yet to even release an official plot description of the film, leaving us to just speculate about the story and put all of the pieces together ourselves. We'll undoubtedly hear more about it in the coming months, but for now August 1, 2014 can't get here soon enough.