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Even Thanos needs his generals.

Since Thanos made his MCU debut in 2012’s The Avengers, fans have waited to see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes take on the Mad Titan. That battle finally unfolds in Avengers: Infinity War, but Thanos won’t be alone. He’ll have help in the form of the Black Order, a team comprised of some of the most powerful and fearsome killers in the universe.

As we gear up for this major release, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with Thanos’ elite team. Here’s everything you need to know about the short but eventful history of the Black Order.

The Basics

Even for someone as powerful and feared as Thanos, maintaining an iron grip on the universe isn’t an easy task. To help lighten the load, he relies on an elite group known as the Black Order. Each member of this exclusive club shares Thanos’ bloodlust and thirst for conquest, and each has his or her own unique set of abilities they bring to the fight.

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The Black Order were originally formed in the comics to help Thanos conquer civilized worlds and send home tributes (usually in the form of ritual sacrifices). The Black Order’s first real test came when they helped Thanos invade Earth in search of the Infinity Gems. They also were on the hunt for Thane, their master’s wayward son. They weren’t altogether successful, and eventually splintered into rival factions and mostly were killed off. But just as Thanos himself has made himself the master of life and death, the threat of the Black Order is never truly gone.

Members

The Black Order consists of five generals, each hand-picked by Thanos for their power and ability to inspire fear.

Corvus Glaive and his indestructible staff.

Corvus Glaive and his indestructible staff

Corvus Glaive – The most favored of Thanos’ generals, Corvus Glaive has great strength and speed and wields a blade that can cut through anything. As long as he holds that blade, Corvus is effectively immortal.

Proxima Midnight – Corvus’ wife Proxima is incredibly strong and the most gifted fighter among the Black Order. Her spear can fire deadly light beams that almost never miss their targets.

Proxima Midnight takes on the Black Panther.

Proxima Midnight takes on the Black Panther.

Black Dwarf – Brother to Corvus, Black Dwarf is the powerhouse of the Black Order. His immense strength and durable hide make him an almost unstoppable opponent.

Supergiant – Supergiant is a powerful telepath who also wields advanced technology like force field generators and teleporters.

Ebony Maw doing what he does best.

Ebony Maw doing what he does best.

Ebony Maw – More a schemer than a fighter, Ebony Maw is a highly intelligent sadist whose voice can manipulate victims into doing anything he desires.

Origin and Background

The Black Order is a relatively new addition to the Marvel Universe. They were created by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Jerome Opena and Jim Cheung as part of the 2013 comic book crossover Infinity. Infinity was conceived as an offshoot of Hickman’s two Avengers comics. In this story, even as Captain America led most of the Avengers into deep space to deal with an alien menace known as the Builders, Thanos and the Black Order took the opportunity to invade a largely undefended Earth. Thanos’ goal was to find the Infinity Gems — and to find and murder his Inhuman son, Thane. However, two of the Black Order were killed in the ensuing conflict (Supergiant and Black Dwarf), and most of the rest were imprisoned by Thane.

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Thanos and his remaining generals continued to play a role in the buildup to 2015’s Secret Wars crossover, even helping to slow the inevitable destruction of the Marvel multiverse. During this period, Thanos allied himself with interdimensional refugee Black Swan, former herald of Galactus Terrax and Black Bolt’s twisted brother Maximus.

In the aftermath, the group was scattered and Corvus Glaive attempted to reform it with himself as leader. Thanos, naturally, was not amused by his former lieutenant’s impudence, and he promptly killed him. Thanos eventually struck up an alliance with Hela (the next best thing to reuniting with Death herself), and Hela’s first act was to murder Proxima Midnight and Black Swan.

The Black Order gained a few new allies in the buildup to Secret Wars.

The Black Order gained a few new allies in the buildup to Secret Wars.

That would appear to be the end of the Black Order. However, Marvel is about to kick off a new Avengers-themed crossover called “No Surrender” which looks to prominently feature the classic Black Order lineup. Exactly how these characters are returning is unclear (Resurrection? Alternate universe versions?), but with the team showing up in the next Avengers movie, clearly Marvel wants to capitalize on their likely newfound popularity.

Beyond the Comics

Despite being a new addition to the Marvel Universe, the Black Order have wasted little time in branching out into other media. The team has played a recurring role in Marvel’s current animated universe, appearing in both the Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy cartoons as minions of Thanos. They’ve also appeared in two free-to-play games to date, Marvel: Avengers Alliance and Marvel: Future Fight.

Proxima Midnight as seen in Avengers Assemble Season 2.

Proxima Midnight as seen in Avengers Assemble Season 2

The Black Order are set to receive a major popularity boost when they make their live-action debut in Avengers: Infinity War this May. The film will feature a slightly altered take on the Black Order that includes Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and a new character named Cull Obsidian (who may simply be a renamed Black Dwarf). In the MCU, the Black Order are apparently referred to as the Children of Thanos, and they may even be his biological children. This would likely put them at odds with the Mad Titan’s estranged, adopted daughters Gamora and Nebula.

As with their comic book debut in Infinity, Infinity War will see the Black Order accompany Thanos to Earth and wage war on the Avengers. But rather than help Thanos hunt down his son Thane, the film will focus on their hunt for the missing Infinity Stones and Thanos’ ultimate goal of completing the Infinity Gauntlet and gaining total control over the universe.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.





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