The Black Order (alternatively known as the Cull Obsidian, or the Children of Thanos) is a Marvel Comics supervillain team created by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato, first appearing in New Avengers #8 (dated September 2013).
As the alien servants of Thanos, the Black Order helps their master however he sees fit, and were first introduced in the Marvel Universe during another hunt for the Infinity Stones, which led to their war against Earth after stranding the majority of The Avengers into space. They later showed up again as pawns in a game between the Grandmaster and the Challenger, fighting for the latter's team.
The lineup of the Black Order has shifted since their introduction, but it usually consists of master combatant Proxima Midnight, super-agile Corvus Glaive, giant bruiser Black Dwarf, and silver-tongued tactician Ebony Maw, while other members of the team have included telepath Supergiant, a trio of witches known as Coven, and genius omniglot Black Swan, while Thanos often acts with the team as well.
The Black Order appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as part of the Avengers: Infinity War & Avengers: Endgame duology, portrayed by Carrie Coon (Proxima Midnight), Terry Notary (Cull Obsidian, renamed from Black Dwarf), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Ebony Maw), and Michael James Shaw (Corvus Glaive). With the exception of Supergiant, who doesn't appear in the films, their backstory is more or less the same as in the comics, aiding Thanos as he works to complete his Infinity Gauntlet.
The Black Order appears in:
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018) & Avengers: Endgame (2019), portrayed by:
- Avengers, Assemble! (2014 — 2015), portrayed by:
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2015 — present), portrayed by:
- Kari Wahlgren as Proxima Midnight
- Jesse Burch as Black Dwarf
- James Urbaniak as Ebony Maw
- David Kaye as Corvus Glaive
- Hynden Walch as Supergiant
The Black Order provides examples of:
- Alternate Company Equivalent: If Thanos is the Marvel equivalent to DC's Darkseid, then the Black Order could be viewed as Marvel's answer to Darkseid's Elite. In fact, Ebony Maw could be viewed as an Expy of Glorious Godfrey as both are master manipulators with a Compelling Voice.
- And the Adventure Continues: Rare villain example. Most of them were dead shortly after the post-Secret Wars Marvel comics universe reboot. Then with the recent Avengers: No Surrender event, the entire group was resurrected with a new purpose, to compete in the name of an Elder called The Challenger. At the end of the event, the Avengers actually lost track of the Black Order, who had found themselves on a desolate ice planet with no real destination. That is, until the Grandmaster appears, and offers them new 'employment opportunities'.
- Antagonist Abilities: During their first outing their abilities are so powerful that it completely jobs all the heroes. Proxima in particular has a weapon that's both too heavy for the Hulk to move and capable of poisoning Monica's energy form. This is downplayed in later appearances, where they're somewhat worded.
- Co-Dragons: The five of them are the generals of Thanos' army.
- Death Seeker: All of them (except Swan). Either via Thanos or a violent enough fight, they're not terribly picky.
- Five-Man Band:
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: Three men (Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf and Ebony Maw) and three women (Black Swan, Supergiant and Proxima Midnight).
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Their actual group title is the Cull Obsidian. Even they think that's too much, and prefer the Black Order.
- Remember the New Guy?: Infinity introduces and establishes them as Thanos' top goon squad, some of whom have served since childhood, after three decades of Thanos stories.
- The Family That Slays Together: Because the core three members of the Black Order are actually related, they are essentially a family of killers who nonetheless have sincere familial bonds (mostly):
- Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight are a Happily Married villain couple who share a mutual love of bloodshed and war-making.
- Corvus and Black Dwarf are biological brothers who both trust and respect each other greatly.
- Black Dwarf for his part was once in love with Proxima as well, but willingly stood aside in order to let his brother and her be happy together.
- Black Swan and Proxima Midnight have been shown to be good friends, while Black Swan has shown some interest in Black Dwarf.
- Ebony Maw, despite all his scheming and attempts to get Corvus killed/tortured, is always allowed back into the group as Corvus can anticipate his motives and sees him as his 'brother' of the Order despite his backstabbing.
- Theme Naming: With the exception of Supergiant, all their names refer to darkness and the color black.
- Would Hurt a Child: They're introduced hunting down Thanos' children, ranging from adolescent to young teens, and presenting their severed heads to Thanos.
The first of the five, and Thanos' most loyal and favored servant. The arrogant and cruel Corvus can never die so long as his blade remains intact. He's married to Proxima Midnight.
- Amazon Chaser: Is unapologetically in love with his wife Proxima Midnight, who is regularly shown to be more violent and physically aggressive than he is, and who literally thinks with a Blood Knight philosophy 24/7, even during sex. He has also deliberately modified war plans to indulge her desire to fight and kill in order to please her.
- Benevolent Boss: During his brief tenure as ruler of the whole Black Quadrant in Thanos' absence, it's noted that despite the army of the Black Quadrant being made up of a ragtag collection of 'mercenaries, malconents, and slave masters', Corvus could run the Black Quadrant with great 'order and control', and that he knew how to inspire his men. He also attracted more and more followers not out of terror like Thanos, but because he was generous to anyone who served loyally in his army
- Blade on a Stick: His main weapon, a glaive, capable of cutting atoms.
- Beast and Beauty: The 'Beast' to his wife's 'Beauty'. Although, they're both equally genocidal monsters at heart.
- Battle Couple: Although not against working by himself or with other members of the Order, Corvus clearly enjoys fighting alongside his wife Proxima the most. The couple coordinate their tactics while trading pet names mid-battle, and in Avengers: No Surrender, the two held hands while Proxima was preparing to obliterate the Avenger's mansion.
- Force and Finesse: The 'Finesse' to his wife's 'Forceful' fighting style. While both of them are skilled combatants, Corvus' main specialty and role is tactical planning, and his fighting style is focused more on dexterity.
- Inappropriately Close Comrades: In the Marvel novel 'Thanos: Death Sentence', Corvus recounts how Ebony Maw felt he and Proxima were this, and was against them falling in love and marrying. Corvus believed that Maw opposed their relationship because it would make them too emotionally invested in each other. Judging from Proxima's immediate general reaction whenever Corvus 'dies', Maw wasn't wrong.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Proxima's Blood Knight life philosophy has led to her regarding every single possible relationship or interaction she has in terms of combat, including her romantic and sexual relationship with her husband Corvus Glaive, something which she says her husband "understands well". She likens what goes on in their bedchamber to rounds of combat where either of them can 'lose' while employing different 'strategies'. Corvus at one point happily admitted to being "defeated by" Proxima every night, suggesting that 'losing' is highly enjoyable and he has no complaints. Despite this aspect of their relationship, the two have only ever been shown to be physically affectionate and not violent to each other on-panel.
- Insatiable Newlyweds: Corvus and Proxima were already married for some time before their debut, but their passion for each other is still very strong. In the comics, Corvus has implied that they have sex daily, and in the novel 'Thanos: Death Sentence', their reunion after several months apart is notably passionate. In the novel, Corvus doesn't hide his excitement at meeting his wife again, a sentiment shared by Proxima. He fantasizes about her, feels intoxicated by her scent, until they both give up trying to hold back and proceed to make up for lost time on the spot. Though they get abruptly interrupted not long after.
- The audiobook version of this scene makes their mutual passion much more obvious.
- Kill It with Fire: Hyperion incinerates him at the end of Infinity. Due to his trademark ability, he gets better.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: As long as his glaive is intact, he'll come back. He's also just really durable.
- Resurrective Immortality: It's a power of his spear, he even came back to existence after getting disintegrated by Hyperion.
- Social Darwinist: Maintains that burning worlds to the ground separates the weak from the strong.
- The Strategist: He's defining trait as The Leader of the Black Order. When he was still working with Thanos, Corvus was the main war tactician in charge of their troops and invasion plans. On a smaller scale, he generally looks out for the best interest of the Black Order above all others. He has also regularly thwarted the Ebony Maw's attempts to subvert his leadership by anticipating his motives and laying down contingency plans ahead of time.
- Super Strength: Enough to trade blows with Rogue, and even hit her hard enough to make her bleed (though he ultimately did not win the fight).
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Due to them being different alien species, Corvus looks like a grey space goblin with monstrous features like long fangs, long claw-like arms and hands, and two-toed cloven feet, while his wife Proxima is a blue-skinned space Amazon. Though since they're both aliens, their standards of beauty may be very different from the readers'.
- Undying Loyalty: To Thanos... up till the former's resurrection post-universe reboot was delayed, and Corvus decided to take advantage of the power vacuum to establish his own planet conquering army.
- Unholy Matrimony: Corvus is a sadistic genocidal monster, but he and his wife Proxima are in a genuinely loving and affectionate marriage. Their creator has confirmed that they did indeed Marry for Love and are genuinely Happily Married. Corvus has made a gift of 'first blood' to indulge his wife's bloodlust, fawns over her with pet names even mid-battle, shows enjoyment at watching her work, and are VERY into each other.
The cruelest of the Order, Proxima is also its greatest warrior, armed with a physics defying spear that never misses. She's married to Corvus Glaive.
- Artistic License Physics: Her spear blatantly violates the laws of physics, so much so that Otto Octavius and Dr. Adam Brashear point out how what it's doing shouldn't work.
- Battle Couple: Although not against working by herself or with other members of the Order, Proxima clearly enjoys fighting alongside her husband Corvus the most. The couple coordinate their tactics while trading pet names mid-battle, and in Avengers: No Surrender, the two held hands while Proxima was preparing to obliterate the Avenger's mansion.
- Beast and Beauty: The 'Beauty' to her husband's 'Beast' looks. Although, they're both equally genocidal monsters at heart.
- Blade on a Stick: Her spear is made from a collapsed star, created by Thanos. It never misses what it's thrown at, but it can be deflected.
- Blood Knight: Born and raised into war and battle, to the point that she treats every single kind of interaction whether on the battlefield or the bedchamber as using the same rules of combat and conflict. She'll pass a fight if she thinks it's not good sport for her. Even Thanos is impressed by her love for slaughter.
- Comic Book Death: Proxima was brutally curbstomped by Hela in Unworthy Thor #5 who killed her with her own spear, but was later brought back to life by the Challenger as part of his plan to reassemble the Black Order and have the team fight the Grandmaster's Lethal Legion. Ironically, she later ended up having to actually work for Hela after the death of Thanos.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She 'genuinely' loves her husband Corvus Glaive. When Captain America deflects two of Proxima's own black light spears into Corvus, she is horrified when he becomes heavily injured, and Hyperion vaporizes him completely. She abandons the fight immediately to retrieve and protect her husbands' glaive (since he can resurrect from it). She is so distraught that she effectively shuts down and stops defending herself, and had to be saved by Thanos. Keep in mind, this is a character who impressed Thanos with her love of neverending slaughter, deciding that sitting down and holding onto her husband's weapon was more important than the fight she was STILL a part of at the time. Despite the fact she knows Corvus is immortal and that he could resurrect himself anyway.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: She wears golden armor on her left arm.
- Force and Finesse: The 'Force' to her husband's 'Finesse'. While both of them are skilled combatants, Proxima is the more physically strong and violent of the two. She often takes point for physical tasks, such as breaking apart large chunks of ice flying at them in a blizzard, while Corvus follows behind.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Blue skinned, and considerably attractive.
- Hero Killer: During "Time Runs Out", she managed to kill Shuri.
- Hollywood Density: Her spear is a star trapped looped time of going supernova and becoming a black hole. She can throw it just fine but when it's in the form of a net its true super dense mass is so heavy even the Hulk can't move it, even though that same mass isn't boring him through the Earth.
- Insatiable Newlyweds: Corvus and Proxima were already married for some time before their debut, but their passion for each other is still very strong. In the comics, Corvus has implied that they have sex daily, and in the novel 'Thanos: Death Sentence', their reunion after several months apart is notably passionate. In the novel, Proxima seeks Corvus out ahead of Thanos as she wants to see him first, touches and teases him as they talk, until they both give up trying to hold back and proceed to make up for lost time on the spot. Though they get abruptly interrupted not long after.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Her Blood Knight life philosophy has led to her regarding every single possible relationship or interaction she has in terms of combat, including her romantic and sexual relationship with her husband Corvus Glaive. She has likened what goes on in their bedchamber to rounds of combat where either of them can 'lose' while employing different 'strategies'. Proxima even says "Love is violence" ad verbatim, though in practice she was referencing to the heated debate she had with Corvus and not any actual physical violence between the two. In fact, Proxima has only been shown to be physically affectionate to Corvus so far on-panel.
- The audiobook version of this scene makes their mutual passion much more obvious.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: In a more traditional way than her husband. She's just really, really durable. To date, she has landed onto Earth by literally falling through orbit on the planet's surface, and laughing during the plunge.
- Plato Is a Moron: Her take-away from Earth's military history - all the famous generals are idiots, compared to her husband.
- Poisoned Weapons: Her spear also has the property of poisoning Monica Rambeau's energy form, destroying her photons in a scientifically inexplicable anti-matter annihilation fashion.
- Rapunzel Hair: Her hair reaches all the way to her thighs, contrasting with Supergiant's bald head.
- Statuesque Stunner: At 6'6", she towers over her husband, Corvus Glaive, who is only 5'10".
- Super Strength: She's strong enough to fight Luke Cage to a standstill and break his ribs.
- Trash Talk: As if Namor having his city being attacked by Wakanda (as retribution for his own attack on Wakanda) wasn't enough, Proxima straight up mocks him while he is on his knees amongst the ruins. She does the same with everyone else she fights too.
- Undying Loyalty: To her husband Corvus, above even Thanos. When talking between themselves, Proxima has revealed she does not hold Thanos in as high esteem as her husband does. In fact, the only real praise she ever gives is to her husband. She has also just flat-out given up fighting back in the middle of a pitched battle in order to protect her husband's glaive (since he needs it intact in order to resurrect), even though Thanos is still on the field.
- Unholy Matrimony: Proxima is a ruthless and genocidal Blood Knight but genuinely loves and adores her husband, as much as he does for her. Their creator has confirmed that they did indeed Marry for Love and are genuinely Happily Married.
- The Worf Effect: She may be a super strong, nigh invulnerable Dark Action Girl who has brutally defeated and even killed countless powerful opponents, but she was still ultimately no match for the disguised Asgardian death goddess, Hela, who dispatched her with ease in Unworthy Thor #5.
Corvus brother, and the most physically imposing of the Order, Black Dwarf is not as incompetent as one might believe from his size.
- Amazon Chaser: Was also in love with Proxima Midnight like his brother prior to them marrying, and currently has gained an interest in yet another beautiful, violent, physically strong, alien woman in Black Swan.
- An Axe to Grind: After his mace is destroyed, Black Dwarf now almost exclusively uses a huge battle axe as weapon.
- Bad Boss: One goon makes the mistake of mentioning how he screwed up right next to him. Black Dwarf promptly turns him into a stain on the floor.
- The Big Guy: He's the physically largest and most imposing of the Order.
- Big Little Brother: Is the younger, and much larger, brother of Corvus Glaive.
- Carry a Big Stick: Black Dwarf crafts a very large mace for the battle on The Peak. It does no good against Ronan's Universal Weapon.
- Comic Book Death: He died at the end of Infinity, but by Avengers: No Surrender he's back.
- Cultured Warrior: Though he appears to be a thuggish, monstrous brute, Black Dwarf is well versed in alien poetry and can be pretty polite when not murdering everyone in sight.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Black Dwarf went to invade Wakanda with an army. Wakanda didn't lose.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: His skin is supposedly unbreakable. "Supposedly", because Ronan quite comprehensively managed to smash his head open at the end of Infinity.
- Sibling Triangle: Averted. When Corvus approached him for advice after falling in love with Proxima Midnight, Black Dwarf didn't reveal to his brother that he was also in love with her as well. He decided to quietly step aside and was content that both his brother and his previous love interest both found happiness together.
- Super Strength: Well past the lowest level of Class 100 range (this is Marvel's marker for what amounts to strongest beings on Earth and elsewhere, a guy like Colossus just makes the cut while cosmic beings like Galactus are way up on the range). He was able to overpower the mighty Gladiator of the Sh'iar Imperial Guard while simultaneously fending off a bunch of other heavy-weights... and then Ronan crushed his skull with his hammer.
- Underestimating Badassery: Black Dwarf is pleased on finding Wakanda, since he thinks humans are weak. T'Challa shows him otherwise.
A mentally unstable telepath, recruited by Thanos when she was a child, Supergiant seeks out intellect so she can feast on it.
- Bald of Evil: She's bald beneath the hood, and she's not very stable to say the least.
- Comic Book Death: Courtesy of Lockjaw and a very large antimatter bomb.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She was screwed up before Thanos ever got to her. He found her in an orphanage for the badly disturbed.
- Demonic Possession: In No Surrender, she's a ghost, looking for a body. Problem is on Earth there's only humans around, and she doesn't want any of that.
- In the Hood: Her white hood.
- Light Is Not Good: Unlike the rest of the Order, Supergiant dresses in white, and she's the least mentally stable among the group.
- Odd Name Out: She's the only member of the Black Order whose name doesn't involve darkness or the color black.
- Squishy Wizard: She's an incredibly powerful telepath, but physically the weakest of the Order.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: On first seeing Thanos, she begged him to kill her, when she was just a child. When he asked her, she killed every other kid in the orphanage, in the hopes that he'd reward her with death.
A gaunt figure with his own agenda, the Ebony Maw appears to be the weakest of the five, even powerless. This is far from the case.
- Ambiguous Situation: Most of the things about him, to be honest - unlike his MCU counterpart, it's not even clear whether or not he actually has any powers, or (considering what he did to Doctor Strange) if he's just that good at a Breaking Speech.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Maw has an unusual approach to things, but Thanos doesn't care so long as he continues succeeding.
- Crazy-Prepared: He had no idea what would happen when Thane's power was unleashed, but he believes in being prepared and brought a suitable defense shield. As a result, when Thane's powers do activate and kill everyone else in the village, only the Maw and Thane are left.
- Evil Mentor: For Thane, son of Thanos.
- Evil Old Folks: He looks the part, being thin, somewhat stooped, and wrinkled with white hair. Of course, considering he's not human, it's impossible to know how old he really is.
- It's implied that he's old for his species, since in flashbacks he has black hair and lacks the bags under his eyes.
- Lean and Mean: Rail thin, and a total rat-hearted bastard, even among the Order.
- Manipulative Bastard: He plays everyone, Thanos included, like a harp during Infinity. However, this doesn't work when faced with Corvus' awareness that he was The Starscream.
- Mind Control: He effortlessly manages to overwhelm and control Doctor Strange, and without any actual telepathy.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Ebony Maw. Even he introduces himself as such.
- The Starscream: Is this first to Thanos, when he found and trained Thanos' son Thane in order to defeat him and keep a powerful pawn in his control. Currently is this to Corvus Glaive since the Black Order went independent. The Ebony Maw constantly chafes at Corvus' leadership and resents the latter being the de-facto leader of the group as the Maw believes he is far more intelligent and superior. However, his schemes for the takeover of the Order have all ended in failure because the Maw overestimates his own intelligence and underestimates Corvus'. He never realizes that Corvus is anticipating his betrayal and already has a contingency plan or trap for him until it's too late. The Maw has gotten so predictable that Corvus doesn't really see him as a threat or even The Rival, but allows him to stay in the Order because he's useful.
Hailing from an alternate universe, Yabbat Ummon Turru is an expert in multiversal incursions, and a Black Swan (priestess) of the god Rabum Alal. Arriving from a world before destroying it, she is cryptic about everything she does, who she is and what she wants. She joins the Black Order when Namor forms a new Cabal, and stays with the group after the incursion crisis has ended.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Her skin and hair are pale white, despite supposedly being a human.
- Ambiguously Human: She's actually from Earth, albeit one of a different multiverse. However she's been heavily enhanced by the god Rabum Alal.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her default outfit.
- Classical Tongue: Is fluent in ancient Sumerian and has learnt Latin while a captive of the Illuminati.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Had a brother she was fond of, to the point that her goal is to find a place where she can clone him in peace.
- Eye Beams: She seems to possess heat vision, which she uses to kill a Manifold.
- Fallen Princess: In her earliest days, she was a princess and later priestess, but then her world was destroyed. However she's mostly over her loss and got some nice powers in the deal.
- Family of Choice: After losing her original family and her Fantastic Four family back on Battleworld, she now considers the Black Order her family.
- Flying Brick: She's got the usual combo platter of flight, super strength, invulnerability and energy beams out of the eyes. She does top it off with some telepathy.
- Lightning Bruiser: She's not the physically strongest (that's Black Dwarf) or the most skilled combatant (that's Proxima Midnight or Corvus Glaive), but overall she's the most powerful of the Black Order. When Nova was trashing the other Black Order members all by himself, Black Swan took him on one-on-one and defeated him as she was the only one who could match his speed and raw power.
- Motive Decay: Black Swan was introduced in Jonathan Hickman's Avengers as the last survivor of her universe, fully aware of the incursions that were destroying the multiverse. She took a strange view of events, seeing the event as the universe testing those who are worthy to survive, and was cryptic in regards to her goals. It's later revealed that her true goal was to find a universe where she could clone her family and be safe. To reach this goal, she aligned herself with whoever seemed like they might beat the incursions, until Secret Wars (2015), which resolved the incursions. After the story, and no longer being written exclusively by Jonathan Hickman, she appeared to still be working with Thanos when the Black Order try to claim the Ultimate Mjolnir, and later still is fighting alongside them in Avengers: No Surrender. Why she's still working with Thanos was not explained, nor were her motivations for doing pretty much anything aside from getting on with cloning her family (or even just returning home, since Reed Richards fixed the multiverse). She later states that she considers the Black Order her family, but this doesn't really explain why the cloning never happened, or why she began working with them in the first place once the multiverse was restored.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: Can take Thor in a fair fight.
- Proverbial Wisdom: Her default way of speaking. She avoids giving direct answers, will flower up even the most simple of sentences, and just has weird names for pretty much everything.
- The Social Darwinist: She states that the multiversal incursions are a wheel, and that they will either sharpen people into weapons or crush them.
- Statuesque Stunner: She's around the same height as Proxima, at 5'10"/180cm tall, and very attractive.
- Super Strength: When she actually fights — she's so strong that a fairly light punch from her cracks a cage that was strong enough to hold Terrax, a Herald of Galactus. She actually thinks of herself as the 'muscle' of the team, instead of the more obvious choices such as Proxima Midnight or Black Dwarf, and might just be right.
- Telepathy: She hid it at first, and doesn't really use it often, but she can talk with her mind.
- Villainous Friendship: Has developed this over time with Proxima in particular. Initially they were rarely shown interacting and seemed indifferent to each other. However, once the Marvel universe was rebooted post-Secret Wars, they appear to have become 'besties' (as much as two homicidal people can be), with Proxima showing panicked concern when Black Swan is defeated on occasion, or when Proxima jumps in to defend Black Swan when they think she was insulted. In the Star miniseries spin-off from Captain Marvel, Black Swan went behind the backs of the other Order members and took the initiative against Star. At the end of the event, Proxima just tells her not to do it again, as they're all family and going behind their backs is something families don't do.