'The Avengers': Who Is That Dude in the Post-Credits Scene?

Avengers Screen ShotThe post-credits tease has become a staple of the Marvel movie machine, going back to "Iron Man," which ended with Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury surprising Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark with information on The Avengers Initiative. Each subsequent movie previewed "The Avengers" more and more, but now that "Avengers" is in theaters, what is there to tease at the end of it?

Before we get to the answer, let me give the obligatory SPOILER ALERT: the rest of the article will talk about the post-credits scene that follows "The Avengers," and might reveal plot points about the movie as well. If you haven't seen it yet, stop reading!

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Pretty much the entire country has at this point. I mean, the movie made $207 million in one weekend.

Okay, the answer: that mysterious figure in the post-credits scene is a new villain, one that will likely be the antagonist for "Avengers 2," when that inevitably hits.

If you missed out on the scene and can't find it on YouTube (most have been taken down, the rest are buried under spoofs and reaction videos from users desperate for views), it goes a little something like this: a kneeling figure talks about humans, the Tesseract, and how challenging the Avengers would be "courting death." At that point, a large figure turns, revealing his face, which wears a large grin.

That figure is Thanos, an immortal being who, in the comics, is born on Saturn's moon Titan. He's a general badass, with superhuman strength and durability among other powers, and is always searching for ways to make himself stronger. He is also obsessed with death (in fact, his name is derived from Thanatos, the Greek embodiment of death), which explains his grin at the mention of the word.

Thanos spent most of his time in the comics searching for two items: the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract, which was featured heavily in "The Avengers," and the Infinity Gauntlet, which was shown briefly in Odin's treasure room in "Thor." Chances are pretty good that when we do see Thanos as a villain in a future Marvel movie, he will be looking for one or both of those items... and it'll be big trouble if he gets his hands on them.

Marvel movie boss Kevin Feige has mentioned that there will be a "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie in the future, so we may end up seeing Thanos in that one in some capacity. However, you can bet he'll be facing off with the Avengers at some point. How could Marvel resist?