The first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War was possibly the most eagerly-anticipated trailer of all time. It sees all Marvel's heroes unite against Thanos, the Mad Titan who seeks to "rebalance" the universe. But intriguingly, the trailer came to a close with a final confrontation in Wakanda. There, the legions of Thanos stormed at Wakanda's champions, and at the Avengers who stand alongside the Black Panther.
But Marvel don't believe in repeating themselves. These invaders aren't Chitauri; they're something else.
Meet The Outriders
Created by Jonathan Hickman in 2013's Infinity event, the Outriders are a genetically engineered race of parasitic assassins. Their genes are carefully manipulated in order to ensure they never develop any true sense of identity. Instead, all an Outrider knows is the mission for which it was created.
In Infinity, we learned that Thanos uses the Outriders as his scouts. They scour the cosmos, seeking out planets on which he can sate his wrath. On other occasions, they're sent on very specific missions; Infinity saw an Outrider searching across the Earth, looking for Thanos's son, Thane.
Outriders are like ghosts. They possess the powers of invisibility and intangibility, and they're bred with enough physical strength for one to survive an attack from Black Bolt himself. They possess basic telepathic powers, and are able to probe minds in search of the secrets Thanos hungers for. As we saw in Infinity, though, a prepared mind can sense when an Outrider is digging to deep; one Outrider made the mistake of awakening Black Bolt from his sleep.
An Outrider's reward is simple: death. Thanos being obsessed with death, he's programmed them to hunger for it too. Once an Outrider's service is complete, Thanos or his agents kill the creature.
What Will The Outrider Do In Avengers: Infinity War?
It's increasingly clear that Infinity War isn't based on Jim Starlin's classic Infinity Gauntlet arc; instead, it's largely inspired by Hickman's Infinity. If that's the case, we can expect Thanos to have sent an Outrider for two purposes; firstly, to seek out the Infinity Stones, and secondly, to assess the Earth's defences. In the comics, the Outrider was able to slip easily past the defences of S.H.I.E.L.D., the X-Men, and the Avengers to boot.
The trailer hints that the Outriders have been heavily adapted for the #MCU. They're envisioned as a legion of savage, ruthless warriors unleashed by Thanos. We see them in pitched battle against Earth's Mightiest Heroes. That said, we shouldn't assume these creature don't possess their comic book powers. Thanos's quest is clearly going to take him to Wakanda, a surprising detail that hints that the fictional African nation may well possess an Infinity Stone. It's in Wakanda that the world's heroes will assemble once again, for the fate of the universe.
The approach makes sense. Jim Starlin's classic Infinity Gauntlet focused on a terrifying story in which Thanos had already assembled the Infinity Stones; the MCU isn't at that point yet. In contrast, Infinity was the story of Thanos's invasion of Earth, and it's much more logical for #Marvel to adapt that story into Infinity War. The Outrider may not have played a major part in the story, but it was important all the same, and it seems we're about to see how this alien creature will be adapted for the #MCU.