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Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige explain “The Avengers” post-credits scene

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PHOTO: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr and Tom Hiddleston in "The Avengers," courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Warning: major spoilers ahead.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!

As you probably know by now, “The Avengers” ends with two post-credit scenes. In one of them, we’re introduced to one of the most badass Marvel villains of all: Thanos.

The Mad Titan does little more than smirk after the leader of the Chitauri tells him that “to attack Earth would be to court death,” but die-hard Marvel fans know that this foreshadows great things to come. For a great rundown on just who Thanos is, you should check out Devin Faraci’s write-up over at Badass Digest, but for now suffice it to say that he is a Big Bad in love with the humanoid embodiment of Death.

During an interview with /Film at “The Avengers” press conference, Joss Whedon revealed that even he was surprised that Marvel let him tease Thanos so early on in the “Avengers” game.

“He for me is the most powerful and fascinating Marvel villain. He’s the great grand daddy of the badasses and he’s in love with death and I just think that’s so cute,” Whedon said. “Somebody had to be in control and had to be behind Loki’s work and I was like ‘It’s got to be Thanos.’ And they said ‘Okay’ and I’m like ‘Oh my God!’”

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige hinted that there probably wouldn’t be a Thanos payoff until “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “The Avengers 2,” but they liked the way that his introduction would hype fans who are in the know and get the ones who aren’t asking questions.

“All you need is five percent of the audience to be vocal enough that it starts to spread and Nick Fury was the same way. That really spread. So I think Thanos will be the same way,” Feige said. “During the premiere last night there were two guys behind me, I don’t know who they were, when Thanos turned around they went ‘Oh my God, it’s that… What’s his name? I can’t remember his name, but he’s that… Oh my God.’ So you know clearly in the way it’s presented, it’s somebody important, so ‘ask somebody.’”

Talk about a great way to sell comic books! He also added that he and the rest of the folks at Marvel told Whedon the basic premise they wanted for “Avengers,” but let him take the reins on how to deal with it.

“I wanted to get cosmic and did with ‘Thor’ and told him that we wanted it to be aliens, that a portal opens in New York and aliens pour out, because the Cosmic Cube opened a portal,” Feige said. “Who they were, what they were, and how they interacted was all Joss and Joss is a huge fan of Thanos.”

At least Thanos’s introduction seems like a great way to guarantee that Whedon will be back to play around with the character more in “The Avengers 2,” which will likely hit theaters sometime around 2015.

Are you glad Whedon introduced Thanos? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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