The mad Titan Thanos once destroyed half the universe to gain Death’s affection. It didn’t work. But recently revealed Zealot concept art from Doctor Strange depicts a decidedly Mistress Death-esque design, prompting questions about possible Death appearances in upcoming Marvel films.

Thanos and the universe-tampering Infinity Gauntlet will undoubtedly play a large part in the Infinity War films. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has slowly been building up to the unification of the “Infinity Stones,” and the next few installments in the series will finally bring them all together.

In Marvel’s comics, Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet to erase half the universe’s population as a sacrifice to Mistress Death. Thanos wants to gain her love by “solving” the imbalance Death sees in the universe; Death reveals to Thanos that the universe contains more living beings than have ever died in history, and she believes this will lead to chaos, pestilence, and starvation. So, of course, mass murder is the answer. Death is impressed by Thanos’s gift — and as a token of thanks she resurrects him several times throughout the comics — but she never returns his love.

It is directly because of Mistress Death that Thanos causes so much destruction with the Infinity Gauntlet.

Zealot concept art from 'Doctor Strange' bares a striking resemblance to Marvel's Mistress Death.
Zealot concept art from 'Doctor Strange' bares a striking resemblance to Marvel's Mistress Death.

Meanwhile, the Asgardian goddess of death, Hela, will be turning heads in next year’s Thor: Ragnarok. Superstar Cate Blanchett will be portraying Hela, and Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo (who will reprise his role as Bruce Banner in Ragnarok) described Hela as “the worst of the worst. So evil. She is going to kill us. It’s such a great part she gets to play.”

Hela, in the Marvel comics, is the Asgardian goddess of death, ruler of the realms of Hel and Niflheim, and daughter of a previous incarnation of Loki. She’s a common foe of Thor’s and has the usual strengths of Asgardians, plus a mystical quality due to her pact with the aforementioned Death.

The incredibly Maleficent-esque concept art from 'Ragnarok' shows Hela facing off against an Asgardian army.
The incredibly Maleficent-esque concept art from 'Ragnarok' shows Hela facing off against an Asgardian army.

Little to nothing is known about the plot of the upcoming Infinity War plot line for the MCU. Avengers: Infinity War is set for release in 2018, so there’s still plenty of time to sit and stew over where inspiration for the plot will come from.

But keep in mind, Marvel now has its claws in Cate Blanchett. The Oscar-winning actor undoubtedly had to sign one of Marvel’s infamous, deal-with-the-devil contracts. And while nothing is publicly known about how long her contract spans, there are unconfirmed rumors that Blanchett might be sticking around for “supporting villain duties” in Infinity War. That could mean a serious cliffhanger for Ragnarok, at least regarding the fate of Hela.

Since Mistress Death plays such an enormous role in Thanos’s destructive time with the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics, it would make sense for her to be a catalyst in Infinity War. There looks to already be some striking Mistress Death-esque concept art out there. And who better to play Mistress Death than, say, the Oscar-winning actor behind Hela, who has a pact of servitude with Death? If Hela fails to cause world-shattering trouble for Thor and the rest of Asgard in Ragnarok, then Mistress Death might just take her guise for Infinity War, prompting Thanos to make an attempt on the life of half the universe.

After all, introducing two separate Death-centric characters to Marvel films back-to-back would break away from the MCU’s wink-wink-nudge-nudge tradition of dropping hints from one film to the next. And the biggest thing holding together the MCU right now are the Infinity Stones, which play an enormous part in Thanos and Mistress Death’s story. The way to tie Ragnarok directly into Infinity War would be to carry Death from one film to the next.

Be on the lookout for Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, in theaters November 3, 2017.

Photos via moviepilot.com, Imgur