Good Bad Taste: Explaining the mid-credits sting of 'Thor: The Dark World'

Marvel Studios first threw down the gauntlet after the credits of the first Iron Man, when an uncredited Samuel L. Jackson showed up as Nick Fury to tell Tony Stark about the Avengers initiative. At the midnight screening, all of the nerds in the audience who had heard rumblings about Marvel's game plan lost their minds, and all of the friends and significant others had to ask, "What?"
After seven flicks, it seems almost quaint to think that the concept of The Avengers needed explaining. The nerds in the audience, even the casual ones, could explain in about two sentences who Nick Fury was and what The Avengers meant.
As each flick pulled out their end credits scenes, they became consistently more convoluted. First we had to explain what Thor's hammer was and why it was in New Mexico. Then we had to explain what the cosmic cube was, and why Nick Fury had it. Then we had to launch into an explanation of who Thanos was, and why it was important that he wants to "court death."
Well now, with the mid-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World, Marvel has reached a new level of obscurity.
For those of you who left the theater without a comic nerd friend, let's break down what this scene means. Spoilers for the mid-credit scene following.
So, basically Sif and Volstagg go to visit Benecio Del Toro playing an alien Liberace named "The Collector." The Collector is essentially a villainous satire of comic book fans. It's his quest to collect every noteworthy object and species in the galaxy. He's hanging out in what appears to be a Star Trek zoo, and he's going to play a much bigger role two Marvel movies from now in Guardians of the Galaxy. Del Toro, who is absolutely killing it in the 45 seconds of screentime he's given, should provide a hint as to the weird weird tone James Gunn is aiming for with Guardians of the Galaxy -- the cast, featuring Parks and Rec's Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, and Meryl Streep as queen of the space cops, gives another hint.
Sif and Volstagg drop off the Aether, claiming that they already have the Tesseract, the Rubik's MacGuffin from "Captain America" and "The Avengers," and they don't want another of the "Infinity Stones" so close to theirs. How a glowing cube and red goop count as stones, is a little beyond me, but here we are.
So, in the comics, the Infinity Gems are five jeweled stones that control each of the six aspects of the universe, Soul, Time, Mind, Space, Reality and Power -- if you ask me, there's a lot of overlap between those six fundamental forces, but they were created in the '70s when hippies took over Marvel to discover that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were actually square geezers.
The Cosmic Cube, a.k.a. the Tesseract, a.k.a. the Infinity Stone is almost certainly the "Mind" stone. The gems are handily color coordinated, because it would be awful embarrassing to pick up the space stone when you meant to control someone's soul. Basically, the Mind gem is blue; the cube is blue, and Loki used his cube-enhanced staff to control people's minds in The Avengers. The Aether is a little more tricky. It looked pretty red to me, which would imply that it's the power gem, but in the flick it's represented as nothingness and also allows people to teleport all willy-nilly, so it may be the purple Space gem and I need to get my eyes checked.
These six gems bedazzle nicely into the Infinity Gauntlet, which is a dope Michael Jackson golden glove that allows the wearer to control basically everything. There's also a mini-series called "The Infinity Gauntlet" which opens with half of the universe being killed, including half of the Marvel superheroes. Things only get worse from there.
The purple dude with the smashing headgear from the end of the Avengers, Thanos, is on a quest to get this fancy glove because he is looking to impress a girl, Death. Death, in the Marvel universe, is represented by a lady who is also a skeleton, and Thanos legitimately wants to go out on dates with her, presumably because his weird chin would rub anyone's face that had skin the wrong way when they kiss.
So, Thanos thinks he can impress her, if he only had the Infinity Gauntlet with all the gems in place. At the end of the scene, The Collector ominously mutters, "One down, five to go." Is he working for Thanos, or does he want the other stones for his...wait for it...collection? Well, you'll have to pay $8.50 to go see Guardians of the Galaxy to find out!

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