In a Deadline piece, the Che and one-time Wolf Man is being described as a "lead character" in writer-director James Gunn's cosmic addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. The article goes on to say that Benicio Del Toro's character will be a part of future Marvel films.
So is he playing Thanos?
The increasingly well-cast Guardians has picked up its hero in Parks and Recreations actor Chris Pratt, who'll be playing team leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord (and the sole human on a team with alien warrior women, a talking raccoon, and a sentient tree). But at this point, it's been unclear who would be the villain(s), even as Marvel and Disney have been aggressively casting on that front.
My initial thought was that Del Toro might be coming in as Adam Warlock, who could best be described as a cosmic shaman with a tendency to die and regenerate (as one will). But Thanos, who acted as the villain behind last summer's The Avengers sounds like a better bet, as both a direct and indirect threat to the heroes across multiple Marvel productions. And Del Toro's growling, heavy vocal delivery would be perfect for the Titan who would love Death (the actual embodiment of mortality in the Marvel Universe).
If Del Toro is playing Thanos and Marvel does plan to use the character across multiple films, I'm excited: not only does it mean Marvel will break the boring pattern of single-use villains (with the exception of Tom Hiddleston's Loki), but they'll also be retaining the very talented and potentially intimidating Del Toro to lend some weight to the bad guys' side.
Guardians of the Galaxy will be in theaters August 1, 2014, with The Avengers 2 following May 1, 2015.