Marvel Studios brought a major surprise to D23 Expo. Aside from showing off Thanos' full design in Avengers: Infinity War and a sizzle reel from the film that was just for attendees, they made another major public reveal: The Black Order, Thanos' primary lieutenants in recent years, will be in the MCU known as "The Children of Thanos."
Yes, this made Marvel Comics fans, especially ones who've been fans in recent years (this group only debuted in 2013), very excited -- but it probably left a lot of other fans confused as to why some of us were freaking out. Well, we're here for you, with your primer on all things Black Order ...
The Black Order, created in September 2013 in New Avengers #8 by Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opeña and Jim Cheung, were revealed as Thanos' lieutenants in his latest quest to acquire the Infinity Gems (what Infinity Stones are called in the comics). In the comics, they're a cabal of aliens from across the universe, and during the Infinity event storyline, they came to Earth and made life very difficult for the Avengers. They've already been adapted, as well, showing up on Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy animated series.
The Hamilton to Thanos' George Washington, Corvus is a Thanos true believer. He's similar to the Heralds of Galactus in that he'd travel planet to planet in the galaxy and demand tribute for Thanos via the heads of leaders' sons. Ouch. That big crazy staff he carries is actually directly connected to his own power - specifically his immortality. If his blade is strong, so is he, but if it breaks, he too can die. Corvus is directly connected to two other members of the Black Order - he's married to Proxima Midnight, and the brother of Black Dwarf. In later stories, he'd attempt to take Thanos' place, forming his own Black Order. He's a master strategist and the team's field leader.
The wife of Corvus Glaive, Proxima is similar to Gamora - highly trained in hand-to-hand combat with the bonuses of super strength and near invulnerability. She is incredibly well-versed at fighting and has taken on entire teams of Avengers on her own. Her spear is also a great source of power - it basically has the power of a sun in all ages of its life at once. It can turn into energy and specifically was once used to bind the Hulk and turn him back into Bruce Banner. Sounds useful.
The brother of Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf is basically the Hulk of the team. In Avengers: Infinity War he'll be called "Cull Obsidian" because it's a cooler name (and was another name for the order itself in the comics). Sorry, Dwarfie. His super strength is at least Thing level, if not approaching Hulk, and his skin is impenetrable like Luke Cage.
During Infinity, Black Dwarf was sent to Wakanda to retrieve an Infinity Gem and was beaten back by the forces there (something we could easily see in the movie). For his loss, he was kicked out of the Black Order. He came back, only to die at the hands of Ronan the Accuser - though in the MCU, he doesn't have to worry much about that particular player in the game anymore.
The final member of the Black Order who will make it into the film, Ebony Maw specifically took on Doctor Strange in the comics. He's not a sorcerer but his powers of persuasion allowed him to take over Strange's mind and summon horrible monsters from other dimensions. He's the only member without discernible super strength or durability, so you'll find him skulking around the shadows sooner than you'd see him in the heat of battle. In future storylines, he took Thane, son of Thanos, under his wing - an interesting turn considering in the movie he's being marketed as one of Thanos' children himself.
Comics to film changes
Called the Children of Thanos, it's unclear whether that's a literal statement or a mere title in Infinity War. Remember that Gamora and Nebula are also considered daughters of Thanos in the MCU, but that doesn't necessarily mean a direct relation. It'll be interesting to see what wrench this throws in the relationship between Corvus and Proxima, for example.
The fifth original member of the team, Super Giant, is not in the film; perhaps her parasitic telepathy was a little too out there to work in the movie (or simply too powerful). Other than that, and the name change for Dwarf, the four included characters' designs are remarkably similar to the comics they come out of, down to the weapons they carry.
We'll have to wait for Avengers: Infinity War next May to see just how close they come to their comic book counterparts.