UPDATE: Well, so much for canonical MCU novels.
io9’s Germain Lussier is in the process of making a correction to his original article, as the upcoming book Thanos: Titan Consumed is part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe canon after all.
Hey all – thanks for all the shares on this. Unfortunately, despite being told the novel is canon, the information given to me was INCORRECT. I'm really sorry about this. Article being fixed asap.
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) April 16, 2018
Thanos: Titan Consumed will tell the origin story of the titular big bad who is about to put a beatdown on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Written by Barry Lyga, the novel is not an official chapter of the MCU canon, though it certainly plays with the stories told in Marvel Studios movies.
Lyga worked in conjunction with Marvel Studios to tell the story of how Thanos came to be, why he wants to kill off half the universe, and why he feels he is the right man for the job. The book will also show how Thanos arrived at his previous cinematic appearances in films such as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Here is the official summary for the book.
Space. Reality. Mind. Power. Time. Soul.
Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots…
Only beings of immense power can hope to wield these stones, but for those who are worthy, the powers of a god await.
Thanos is one such being. But he wasn’t always.
Born on a doomed world and cast out by his people for his genius, physical deviancy, and pragmatic but monstrous ideas, Thanos is determined to save the galaxy from the same fate as his homeworld… no matter how many billions have to die.
Learn the origins of the most formidable foe the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther have ever faced—a foe whom even a group of remarkable people, pulled together to fight the battles nobody else could, will fail to stop….
Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.
Thanos is here.
Thanos: Titan Consumed will (unofficially in terms of canon) fill in a lot of blanks that the movies simply will not have time to cover. We’ve already heard from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige about Thanos’ backstory in Avengers: Infinity War, so we’ll get some of it on the big screen, but obviously, there will still be many stones (sorry) left unturned.
That’s where Lyga and his novel come in. The goal, however, is not to make the Mad Titan sympathetic. If you want to feel bad for him, go right ahead, but as Lyga tells io9, what matters more is that you at least understand the logic behind his desire for mass murder on an intergalactic scale.
“I wasn’t overly concerned with how to make Thanos sympathetic. I went into this already knowing the end—Thanos turns into a massive powerhouse with plans to kill half the universe. ‘Thanos is the most powerful being in the universe!’ Korath says, and he’s a guy who looks like he knows whereof he speaks. We all know where Thanos is going to end up. We’ve seen the trailers. I wanted to show how we get there.
“It’s less about making him likable and more about making him understandable. A small distinction, perhaps, but an important one. It’s a pretty big idea to say, ‘Half the universe must die.’ And then it’s a big jump to say, ‘I’m the guy to do it.’ And then bigger to say, ‘Not only must it be done and not only am I the one to do it, but I know I can do it. And here’s how.’
“I wanted those logical leaps to fall into place. For his path to be so rational and so sensible that you would read the book and say, ‘Well, I personally don’t want to kill half the universe, but I completely understand why Thanos does, and it makes perfect sense, and I don’t see how he could turn out any other way.’ A sense of inevitability, really.”
All of this sounds really fascinating and I can’t wait to read the book, which will be out in November. It is disappointing, however, to learn that the novel will not be canon, as that feels like a logical next step for Marvel Studios. Canonical novels have worked for Star Wars, so they should work for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The trick, of course, is making sure people who only watch the movies do not need to do any work outside of that in order to understand what is going on while they’re in the theater. This is something Marvel has already done successfully, however, in television and in comics.
You do not need to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to understand any Marvel Studios movie, but if you do, then you pick up fun, extra clues like how the whereabouts of Loki’s sceptre were discovered right before the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The same goes for the prelude comics, which usually focus on background information that works for those of us who cannot get enough of the MCU, but is entirely non-essential for cinematic comprehension.
You can find pre-order links for the hardcover and digital editions of Thanos: Titan Consumed below and be sure to check out io9’s complete interview with Lyga.