Taneleer Tivan — better known as The Collector — is portrayed by actor Benicio Del Toro in brief but memorable scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Avengers: Infinity War (2018), it is suggested that The Collector has been killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) prior to the Guardians of the Galaxy appearing at his gallery in search of his Infinity Stone. However, with the implied confrontation taking place off-screen, many Marvel fans were left to wonder — is the immortal Collector dead or alive in the MCU?
Read on to learn the powers, enemies, and history of one of the most unique and mysterious characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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First appearance of Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The first appearance of Taneleer Tivan took place in a post credits scene of Thor: The Dark World (2013). In the Thor (2011) sequel, Malekith the Dark Elf and his army are wield an Infinity Stone that they refer to as the Aether. When Thor and the Asgardians defeat the Dark Elves, they claim the Aether — in actuality, the Reality Stone.
In the post credits scene, Asgardian allies of Thor — Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) — deliver the secured Infinity Gem to the museum of The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) for safekeeping. The powerful Infinity Stone is given to The Collector to keep it worlds away from the Tesseract — the Power Stone once inside Loki’s scepter — which is under lock and key in Asgard. Once in possession of the precious Reality Stone, The Collector foreshadows the assembly of all Infinity Stone into the Infinity Gauntlet, saying “One down, five to go.”
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In the signature world-building style of Marvel movies, Thanos also made his first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance in a post credits scene.
In Marvel’s Avengers (2012), Thanos learns of Loki’s defeat at the Battle of New York by Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Thanos flashes a villainous smile, knowing the inevitable events that are about to unfold. His quest to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet must eventually go through Knowhere — the home base of The Collector — placing Taneleer Tivan squarely in the middle of the action of the Infinity Saga.
Who is Taneleer Tivan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Taneleer Tivan (Benicio Del Toro) is known throughout the Marvel Universe as The Collector, head of the Tivan Group. As an Elder of the Universe — one of a group of immortals that came into being soon after the formation of the universe itself — his life force is literally perpetuated by his obsession with collecting and completionism.
The Collector has spent thousands of years amassing a gallery of the galaxy’s greatest prizes, curiosities, and live specimens for categorization and display in his museum.
What is the role of the Tivan Group in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Tivan Group is a cabal of powerful intergalactic criminals run by The Collector. The Tivan Group is responsible for the creation of Knowhere — a mining colony, and criminal haven carved out of the moon-sized severed head of a dead Celestial avatar floating in open space.
The Tivan Group’s mysterious membership controls an immense amount of black market wealth, owing to their unchecked, unregulated mining of the Celestial avatar’s bone, brain tissue and spinal fluid — all valuable black market resources across the galaxy.
Infinity Stones in Guardians of the Galaxy
In Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) from director James Gunn, the MCU went full on cosmic, giving more insight into the Infinity Stones than ever before. The threat that the Infinity Stones — and eventually the Infinity Gauntlet — posed on planet Earth — or Terra, as Earth is known throughout the galaxy — and the entire universe was a crucial element in the formation of Earth’s mightiest heroes, the Avengers.
In Avengers (2012), we see the team led by Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor, and assembled by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to unify against the threat of Loki, supported by Thanos’s Chitauri army, the Tesseract — AKA the Space Stone — and, of course, Glorious Purpose. However, it’s not until Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) that audiences learn the true nature of the shiny Marvel MacGuffins, the Infinity Stones.
Breaking it all down for Guardians, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper, and Groot (Vin Diesel) is Taneleer Tivan. The Collector, as head of the Tivan Group, is looking to add a mysterious orb to his collection. The orb in question turns out to be the Power Stone, which — had The Collector been able to secure it — would have been his second Infinity Stone alongside the Reality Stone.
How Taneleer Tivan has impacted the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Taneleer Tivan’s role in the Marvel Universe was originally as a conduit to reveal the cosmic machinations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond the concerns of Earth. Benicio Del Toro’s portrayal of the powerful immortal as an idiosyncratic obsessive was the perfect entry point for Marvel audiences as they learned the secret origins of the Infinity Stones through the eyes of the audience proxy, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Collector’s first appearance in the post credits scene of Thor: The Dark World (2013) was the character’s first appearance since the announcement that Benicio Del Toro had been cast to appear in the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
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In this way, the Collector acted as a herald of sorts to the expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Back in 2014, the launch of relatively unknown characters traveling through outer space was viewed as anything but a sure thing. Of course, Marvel boss Kevin Feige and his team had turned B-list heroes like Iron Man and Thor into A-list elite, but could Marvel continue this unprecedented reign at the box office with new, unknown characters?
Guardians of the Galaxy was a smashing success right away helping the Marvel Cinematic Universe launch into Phase 2 — and it all started with The Collector. Taneleer Tivan went on to take the important expository role of explaining the Infinity Stones.
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Ultimately, Taneleer Tivan became something else: bait.
In Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Thanos — knowing he would need his daughter Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to trade for possession of the Soul Stone — posed as The Collector at Tivan’s museum hoping the Guardians would arrive looking for the Reality Stone. For a moment, it looked as though the Guardians had succeeded in defeating Thanos as Gamora ran him through with her blade.
However, it was all an illusion. As the illusion of the Reality Stone melted away, it revealed a Collector’s museum completely in ruins. Thanos had already taken control of the Reality Stone — but where was Taneleer Tivan?
Fate of Taneleer Tivan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
What happened to The Collector, Taneleer Tivan, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Is Taneleer Tivan, The Collector, alive or dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Could Thanos, using the power of the Infinity Stones, destroy a being as old as the very universe itself?
In an interview with Cinemablend, actor Benecio Del Toro cheekily weighed in on whether or not The Collector survived Thanos, saying, “I think he’s alive. Yeah… I think that, you know, I think he’s alive. You’re talking to him!”
Even though Thanos has a brutal track record, he has shown that he doesn’t kill his rivals in every instance — quite possibly because he doesn’t consider them rivals at all. Consider the fate of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) following his encounter with Thanos early in Infinity War. Thanos, having just disposed of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has the opportunity to kill Thor and doesn’t. He leaves him for dead, but the Guardians of the Galaxy find his still living body floating in Outer Space.
Is it possible that once Thanos acquired the Reality Stone, he didn’t really care what became of The Collector? This would’ve allowed the Elder of the Universe to escape — and survive.
How does Thanos know where all the Infinity Stones are?
The Infinity Stones are all intangibly connected to one another — except for the notable exception of the Soul Stone. Once Thanos secured the Space Stone — taken from Loki’s Tesseract in the opening action of Avengers: Infinity War — he was able to perceive the location of the other Infinity Stones.
Will The Grandmaster and The Collector team up in a future Marvel movie?
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said he hopes to have The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and The Collector (Benicio del Toro) appear in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film together. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) introduced Marvel fans to Goldblum’s powerful Grandmaster who kept champions under his control to fight for his amusement. In Ragnarok, The Grandmaster is even able to bend to his will the Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
The Grandmaster, according to Marvel Comics, is also an Elder of the Universe, boasting similar powers of durability to The Collector. While doing press for Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Marvel boss Kevin Feige was asked about bringing the immortal brothers together, for a dynamic pairing of actors in Benicio Del Toro and Jeff Goldblum. Speaking to Fandango, Feige stated that he’d love to see it, saying,
“It would be awesome man. It would be great. We love the idea that they’re brothers. If you go on the Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout attraction at California Adventure in Anaheim, you will see a picture on Collector’s wall of he and the Grandmaster playing some sort of a space chess game, which right now is the only place you can see the two of them in a frame together, but let’s hope that changes someday.”
While the Grandmaster was left in a compromising position when we last saw him in Ragnarok, from what we know about the Elders of the Universe from Marvel Comics, they are nothing if not survivors.
Do you think The Collector is still alive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Let us know in the comments!