(Warning - the following contains mild plot hints for the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Proceed with whatever level of caution your natural SPOILER-aversion suggests is prudent...)
Now, Loki, the Norse god of mischief/thief of our hearts may well have proven the most popular villain in the first two phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's rise to power, but that doesn't mean he was the one holding the whole thing together. If Nick Fury was the magnet that brought our favorite heroes together, Thanos - the mad Titan himself - was the villainous glue on the horizon that bound them together in a galactic-oriented fate.
Sure, Cap, Tony and the rest of the gang may not have the slightest idea who Thanos is, or what he's up to - but he's still there, lurking behind the scenes, getting ready to unleash whatever fresh heck he's conjured up on his floating space rock.
Which, we all assumed, would very much continue in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. After all, the original Guardians was the first entry in the MCU to offer us up more than a fleeting glimpse of Thanos, and to flesh out both his back-story and messed up family life - why wouldn't he be back for the sequel, presumably getting all geared up for Avengers: Infinity War?
Well, as it turns out, that assumption may well have been deeply incorrect. Y'see:
It Seems We Won't Be Seeing Thanos in 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' After All
Yup, that's right. According to Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige, speaking in a recent issue of Empire Magazine about the MCU's future, we shouldn't expect to see Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As he put it, while discussing the film:
"I wouldn't look too hard in that movie for Thanos...The next time we see Thanos he will not be messing around. It will be, 'Oh, that's why they've been teasing this villain for five years!'"
So, in other words, we almost certainly won't be seeing Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Where WILL We Next See Thanos, Then?
After all, while Feige certainly seems to pooh-pooh the idea of Thanos turning up in Guardians Vol. 2, he also references a 5 year gap from the villain first being teased to his big reveal. With The Avengers having been released in 2012, that seems to suggest that Thanos will, despite Feige's suggestion of his absence from Guardians Vol. 2, be turning up in 2017.
Which, in turn, would seem to suggest that Thanos might just be the big-bad in Thor: Ragnarok, set for release in November 2017 - seeing as the only other MCU-set movies set for release that year are the Spider-Man reboot and... Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Could Feige's parallel revelation, then, about Thor: Ragnarok...
"The film takes place within the cosmos primarily which is to say, frankly, very little Earth"
...actually suggests that we're finally going to see Thanos interacting with a handful of the Avengers? After all, a Hulk and Thor team-up movie, in which Loki is finally called to account by Thanos for his failure back in The Avengers, would certainly be one hell of a cinematic ride.
Or, alternatively, was Feige simply referencing Thanos's imminent appearance in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, and simply getting his dates a little muddled up?
We might have a pretty long wait to find out...