Benicio del Toro

That Marvel Studios and director James Gunn are collecting quite a cast for Guardians of the Galaxy is clear. But exactly which roles these stars will play has been a bit tougher to suss out.

When Benicio Del Toro was announced for a “lead role” earlier this week, we didn’t even know whether he’d play a hero or a villain. However, one site is now claiming to have confirmed information on Del Toro’s character. And since the actor is signed to appear in multiple Marvel movies, it could have interesting repercussions for the Cinematic Universe as a whole. Hit the jump to find out who he is.

According to a “very reliable source” who spoke with Comic Book Movie, Del Toro will be playing the part of Taneleer Tivan a.k.a. The Collector. The character has been rumored to be making an appearance for some time; initial reports of Ophelia Lovibond‘s casting indicated that she’d play his aide.

In the comics, The Collector is one of the Elders of the Universe. After his daughter leaves and his wife dies, he realizes he needs to find a will to live lest he pass away as well. He has a vision of a powerful being annihilating the universe, and subsequently makes it his vision to collect living beings and artifacts from all over the universe so that he can repopulate the universe after its destruction.

The Collector’s storyline connects him to Thanos, whom we first glimpsed at the end of The Avengers. Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige have previously hinted that Thanos could be the Big Bad of Phase Three, so The Collector could conceivably fit into that larger plot arc. For now, though, we know only that Del Toro’s character is “built to be part of future Marvel films.”

Aside from Del Toro, Guardians of the Galaxy will also feature Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, and Michael Rooker as villains and Glenn Close and John C. Reilly as leaders of the intergalactic space patrol group Nova Corp. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and Dave Bautista will play heroes Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax the Destroyer, respectively. Guardians of the Galaxy opens August 1, 2014.

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