The reveal that Marvel Studios was including the Black Order in Avengers: Infinity War left many scratching their heads, but it sent fans who had read the last five years of Avengers comics into a hype-mode. The Black Order, who will act as Thanos’s team in Infinity War, haven’t been around very long at all, but they’ve made a huge impact on the Marvel Universe during that time. In the comics, Thanos is often a one-man show, but the machinations he had put into place for the 2013 mega-event, Infinity, written by Jonathan Hickman, required a few more hands on deck.
This led to the debut of the Black Order, also known as the Cull Obsidian, an elite group of Thanos’s generals who would lead his troops during their invasion of Earth and aid Thanos in his quest to murder all of his offspring. With a job description like that, it’s no surprise that the Black Order are among the nastiest villains the Marvel Universe has to offer. That's why fans who know their story are both excited and terrified to have these brutal antagonists face off with their favorite heroes on the big screen.
Corvus Glaive is Thanos’s right-hand man and his most trusted general. Corvus gets his name from the glaive he carries, through which he gains immortality. As long as the blade remains undestroyed, Corvus will always come back to life. He is particularly fond of enforcing Thanos’s requests for “tribute,” where civilizations are forced to sacrifice the lives of their young in order to save their world from destruction.
Corvus prefers to work alongside his wife, Proxima Midnight. He has been known to go on missions by himself, including the time he made quick work of Wolverine and the X-Men. Corvus was seemingly killed by Hyperion in the final battle of Infinity, but his glaive remained intact, so he eventually comes back to life and joins Namor’s evil Cabal with his wife and Thanos. The Cabal sought to save Earth by destroying other Earths, but Corvus was far more into the destroying aspect of the job than the saving.
After the universe-shattering events of Secret Wars, Corvus attempts to start his own intergalactic empire in the absence of Thanos, even creating his own Black Order. Unfortunately for him, Thanos returns to punish his upstart general. After easily defeating Corvus in combat, Thanos gives him the option to take his own life or suffer at Thanos’s hands. Corvus chooses the easy way out, killing himself with his own glaive.
Proxima Midnight is perhaps Thanos’s cruelest general, and the wife of Corvus Glaive. She carries a spear crafted for her by Thanos himself from a “star trapped in space-time.” The spear has three tips of near-infinite density and has been proven to be strong enough to pierce the Hulk’s hide. The tips also contain a lethal toxin, which really seems like overkill. After all, if near-infinite density doesn't kill you, the poison probably doesn't have a chance.
When Thanos invades Earth in Infinity, Proxima is originally tasked with attacking New York City. She fights Luke Cage to a stand-still, but she has greater success invading Wakanda alongside the rest of the Black Order. In the final battle of Infinity, Proxima is frozen in an amber-like substance alongside her master by Thane, son of Thanos. Proxima and Thanos eventually break free from this “living death,” just in time to join Namor’s world-killing Cabal in the lead-up to Secret Wars.
After the universe is sort of rebooted in Secret Wars, Proxima Midnight goes right back to her old ways, serving Thanos once again. Unfortunately, this does not work out well for her. Hela, the Norse goddess of death and a long-time Thor antagonist, brutally murders Proxima in a show of strength, hoping to win the affections of Thanos. It works.
The Black Dwarf, who has been renamed Obsidian Cull for Avengers: Infinity War, is the “tank” of the Black Order. With Hulk-like size and strength, Black Dwarf is a formidable opponent, but he is easily the least skilled and least intelligent member of the Order. He is also the brother of Corvus Glaive, and perhaps nepotism is the reason he is even in the Black Order. His invasion of Earth in the name of Thanos does not go well.
Black Dwarf is handily defeated by Black Panther while attempting to take Wakanda, leaving Black Dwarf to limp back to Thanos. The Mad Titan beats Black Dwarf terribly and gives him one final chance to prove himself by guarding an important space station from the Avengers. He manages to beat up Shang-Chi and Black Widow, but doesn’t do so well when an intergalactic coalition of Ronan the Accuser, Super Skrull, Annihilus, and Gladiator shows up. Ronan smashes Black Dwarf’s head in with his hammer, and that is the end of his story.
Ebony Maw might look like the least dangerous member of Thanos’s Black Order, but that’s exactly what he wants you to think. The Maw is all about deception, claiming not to have any superpowers despite his obvious ability to control the actions of others. Ebony Maw is given a difficult task when Thanos invades Earth: taking out Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme. Ebony Maw not only handles Strange easily, he puts the Doctor under his control in order to further his personal schemes.
Unlike the rest of the Black Order, Ebony Maw’s loyalty to Thanos is questionable. Aware of Thanos’s goal of finding and killing all of his own children, the Maw finds Thanos’s Inhuman son, Thane, first and brings the young man under his control. He encourages Thane to use his newfound power to trap his father in an amber-like structure known as “living death,” thus taking Thanos off the board for a while and allowing Thane and Ebony Maw to sow chaos around the universe. Somewhere along the way, the two part ways and the Ebony Maw has been at large ever since.