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Villain Overview
Am I not Thanos?! Did I not butcher the woman who gave me birth, who forced me into this hell called life? Is not the wake of my passing crimson with the blood of my enemies and allies alike?! Death is with me every second of the day!
~ Thanos
Fools taking up arms against omnipotence. They rush head-on into Armageddon. So I shall provide them with a most glorious doomsday! The heavens will run red with blood! But in the end, as always, Thanos will stand triumphant!
~ Thanos

Thanos, also known as the "Mad Titan", is one of the most powerful, insane and evil of all villains in the Marvel Universe, created by Jim Starlin and debuting in 1973 in an issue of Iron Man and continuing to terrorize the entire Marvel universe and beyond up to the modern era. His popularity as a supervillain is seen in his ability to hold a large presence both in mainstream Marvel and his own series while also being seen in a large array of products ranging from video games to toys and cartoons (though his nature is toned down in some of the cartoons, for obvious reasons).

He is a powerful alien warlord born on Saturn's moon, Titan, born to the race of demi-gods known as Eternals. Being the strongest of all of them and appearing as a monstrous beast, Thanos fell in love with the living female embodiment of death and is willing to destroy all of existence to win her love, no matter how powerful he must become or who dares to stop him.

He serves as the main antagonist of the 1991 six-issue comic-book series, ​The Infinity Gauntlet, with the mercenary, Nebula serving as the secondary antagonist, and Mephisto serving as the tertiary antagonist. He also serves as the main antagonist of the two-parter, Thanos: The Final Threat, the 2010 series, The Thanos Imperative and the 2013 comic book crossover storyline, Infinity.

Origins

In almost all Marvel canon Thanos was born on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn - he was born a type of mutant and thus was much more powerful than his fellow Titans and although treated fairly by them was always a loner who was self-aware of being different. In time Thanos becomes obsessed with nihilism and death, especially the cosmic-being known as Mistress Death who embodies mortality itself, Thanos grows deeply attracted towards "her" and seeks to please her by any means.

His first act as the self-appointed champion of Death was to mercilessly kill millions of his own race via conducting a nuclear bombardment of his own planet, his first but by no means last act of mass-murder that earned him the fitting title of the Mad Titan.

Biography

Thanos Gauntlet

Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet.

Thanos is a vast, complex and above-all-else powerful character thus trying to list every villainous act he has committed over the decades is no easy task - his most notable acts of villainy however have been the Cosmic Cube incident and the Infinity Gems saga - two times in which Thanos became, for lack of a better word, a God.

In the first incident Thanos, via a complex plan spanning multiple issues of many different Marvel titles, managed to obtain a cosmic artifact of immense power known as the Cosmic Cube which would grant whoever held it their greatest wish.

Thanos used the Cube to wish for omnipotence and easily defeated many of Earth's heroes but foolishly tossed away what he thought was now useless Cube - allowing the hero Captain Marvel to shatter the Cube and undo all of Thanos' evil - as a final blow to Thanos he discovers his beloved Death has abandoned him due to his failure, which while making him immortal by default is also deeply hurtful to the Titan - who is still in love with the entity.

Sometime later Thanos manages to gather the most powerful artifacts in the Marvel universe together (with some help from unwitting heroes and villains) - these Infinity Gems ultimately granted Thanos power so unbelievably vast he was able to erase half of all life in the universe without much effort and was all-but invincible even to cosmic-beings.

However Thanos, despite his omnipotence, would be defeated again when Adam Warlock managed to take the Infinity Gems away from the Mad Titan and undid all that the villain had done - Thanos, knowing he was defeated, faked his own death in order to escape.

Thanos vs Avengers

Thanos vs the Avengers

Please note these two events are by no means the only feats of evil achieved by Thanos but are merely some of his more memorable ones - Thanos is responsible for a great many other deeds of cosmic chaos and is almost always scheming up new ways to impress Death or gain unheard of power for himself.

Eventually Thanos was killed by his nemesis, Drax the Destroyer, who tore his heart out. However, in The Thanos Imperative, Adam Warlock encased his body in a cocoon through which he was revived, knowing he was the only means by which the Cancerverse, a mirror universe which was invading the Marvel universe, could be destroyed, since there was no death in the Cancerverse due to its leader, Lord Mar-Vell, sacrificing Death's avatar and killing Death of that universe.

Thanos was imprisoned by the Guardians of the Galaxy, until they realized that only he could kill the villains in the Cancerverse. Thanos was willing to go along with this to impress Death. Drax, overloaded by the life in the Cancerverse (being an Avatar of Life) destroyed Thanos, but he came back, as Death rejected him. Thanos killed Drax, and eventually confronted Lord Mar-Vell, but decided to let him sacrifice him for his ritual (to make the Marvel universe like the Cancerverse, as Thanos was its Avatar of Death), so that he could be reunited with Death, as he could not be killed any other way. However, Death arrived at the ritual and killed Mar-Vell, causing the Cancerverse to inevitable collapse. Death rejected Thanos despite what he did for her, and he became enraged, decicing to destroy the entire universe. Star Lord and Nova contained him inside the Cancerverse until it was destroyed, presumably killing all three.

Eventually Thanos returned, and, in the comic Deadpool vs. Thanos, was later suspected by Deadpool to be the one who imprisoned Death, thus preventing anyone from dying, however, Thanos was not the one responsible, and he and Deadpool set out to find Death, whom both were in love with. They suspected Mephisto, but he led them to Death's true kidnapper, Eternity. Thanos fought Eternity and almost killed him when Deadpool engaged him in a beam struggle and destroyed him.

In the new Infinity trilogy by Jim Starlin, Thanos teams up with a ressurected Adam Warlock to stop Annihilus, who absorbed the powers of The Hulk, from destroying the universe.

Powers and Abilities

Thanos is immensely powerful, even when not empowered by outside magic or cosmic-devices, he is superhumanly strong and durable - he can manipulate and absorb cosmic-energy as well as alter matter in various ways and has displayed such varied abilities as telekinesis and limited telepathy. He is also in possession of vast alien technologies capable of time-travel, teleportation, force-field creation and entering alternate-universes. In addition to all this Thanos is knowledgeable, mind forever plotting new ways to get what he wants. He's also an expert in scientific fields like computers and robotics.

  • Superhuman Intelligence: Possibly Thanos' most dangerous ability is his mind. Thanos' intellect is dedicated to enhancing his own powers and to the annihilation of all life. Thanos is a genius in virtually all known fields of advanced science and has created technology far exceeding contemporary Earth science. He has also shown to quickly adapt to new battle situations, as shown in his fight with the Champion of the Universe, who outclassed him physically and whom he beat by dancing around him, blasting him with energy attacks and tricking him into destroying the planet they fought on. Thanos has remarked that, compared to himself, Bruce Banner's intelligence is only great for human standards.
  • Superhuman Strength: Thanos possesses vast superhuman strength the full limits of which aren't known. Death has increased his strength beyond their original limits to levels rivaling or surpassing those of the physically strongest Eternals and the Hulk. Thanos' strength is so vast he has destroyed entire planets with the simple force of his blows. He has proven capable of fighting Thor, even when he had the Power Gem. His strength is so vast that he has been able to easily defeat the likes of the Silver Surfer, punch away an attacking Hulk, physically subduing Beta Ray Bill and Ronan the Accuser with ease (as well as casually breaking apart the latter's Universal Weapon) and, most impressively, wrestle with the mighty Tyrant, although only by being additionally empowered by an external power source. Thanos can also augment his strength with his cosmic energy when needed.
  • Superhuman Stamina: Thanos' musculature produces almost no fatigue toxins during physical activity. As a result, he has nearly superhuman stamina in all physical activities.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: Before his "death" at the hands of Adam Warlock, Thanos possessed an impressive degree of resistance to physical injury, even compared to other Eternals. After his resurrection, Lady Death increased his ability to resist injury to a much greater degree and he is nigh invulnerable. He has withstood at point blank range planet destroying attacks without any harm. He has withstood blasts from the Silver Surfer unharmed. He withstood a battering from an enraged, Power Gem-wielding Thor with all but a bloody nose. He possesses such an incredible resistance to injury that he has been shown to survive point blank blasts from Odin and Galactus. Thanos recently withstood three full screams from Black Bolt, one at point blank range without any significant damage. He also survived being subjected to an artificial singularity.
  • Immortality: Thanos, like all Eternals, is immortal in the sense that he is immune to all known diseases and infections and is immune to the effects of aging. Thanos was formerly banned by Death itself from entering its realm, rendering him truly immortal. No matter the severity of any injury, Thanos was unable to die and completely recovered. This ban has since been lifted.
  • Accelerated Healing Factor: Despite his extraordinary durability, it is possible to injure Thanos. Like all Eternals, however, Thanos is capable of regenerating damaged tissue with much greater speed and efficiency than a human being. His healing powers aren't as developed as those of some Eternals. Some Eternals are capable of regenerating any destroyed tissue. Given the circumstances of his death at the hands of Drax the Destroyer during the event Annihilation, Thanos is unable to regenerate missing organs.
  • Superhuman Agility: Despite his great size, Thanos' agility, balance, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels that are beyond the natural physical limits of the finest human athlete. His agility is roughly equal to that of the average Eternal.
  • Superhuman Reflexes: Thanos' reaction time is enhanced to a level that is beyond the natural physical limits of the finest human athlete. Like his agility, his reflexes are about average for an Eternal.
  • Energy Manipulation & Control: Thanos has displayed great versatility in the use of his energy projection abilities. He has demonstrated the ability to project pure energy as a concussive force, "magnetic" energy, infrared heat-beams from his eyes, and disruptor beams, unilaterally striking separate targets with his optic blasts as well as use his use his mental link to his techo-mystical chair to form vastly powerful energy shields, barriers, and force-fields. The exact extent of Thanos' energy projection abilities are unknown, but his blasts have been capable of rendering the likes of Thor & The Hulk unconscious. He was also able to slightly damage Galactus' armor and blast the Devourer of Worlds off his feet. By collaborating with the In-Betweener they together released the latter from his prison created by Master Order and Lord Chaos. It has been speculated that the nature of Thanos' cosmic energy reserve may be quasi-mystical in nature.
  • Telepathy: Thanos possesses psionic abilities. His mind is invulnerable to most forms of psychic attack. Thanos has demonstrated the ability to successfully defend himself against psychic assaults from Moondragon and Mantis.
  • Curse Casting: Thanos seems to be at least partially skilled in magic, evidence being him cursing Deadpool to be unable to die.
  • Teleportation: Thanos can teleport himself across unknown distances through his link with his techno-mystical transport chair. When stranded in space with Terraxia, he could neither fly, nor teleport to his rescue, presumably because his chair got destroyed in the struggle before.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Thanos2

Thanos' brief appearance during a mid-credits scene in The Avengers.

Main Article: Thanos (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Thanos continues to serve a role as the primary antagonist of the entire MCU.

Thanos' movie incarnation first appeared as the Bigger Bad of The Avengers, being the one who provided Loki with his army of alien Chitauri as well as his staff (which contained the Mind Gem), getting in return the Tesseract (aka Cosmic Cube). He is later shown in the mid-end credit scene. Although he is not directly seen until this scene, he is referenced a few times before this (though not by name). He is the one that the Chitauri's leader, The Other, is talking to at the beginning of the film, promising that he will gain control over the universe once he had the Tesseract. The Other warned Loki that if he failed to take over the world and give Thanos the Tesseract, there would be no place in the universe where Thanos could not find him, and would torture him so badly that he would "long for something as sweet as pain". When Thanos was informed that Loki failed because the humans had fought back, he decided to take matters into his own hands, as facing the humans would be to "Court Death".

Thanos later appeared as the Bigger Bad of Guardians of the Galaxy and was shown in a conversation with himself and Ronan, who was working for him. He is later scene on a hologram before Ronan as he retrieved the orb (which contained an Infinity Stone), but Ronan refused Thanos demand and took the orb for himself.

Thanos was later shown in the mid-credit scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron, when he claimed an Infinity Gauntlet for himself.

Lego Marvel Superheroes

Thanos Game

Thanos as he appears in Lego Marvel Superheroes: The Game

Thanos also appears as a playable character in the 2013 Lego Video Game, Lego Marvel Superheroes in the Super DLC Pack. Although he does not officialy appears as a boss, he can be played as. He is a large LEGO Figure so he possesses super hulk strength and his powers also include Energy Projection.

Quotes

The entire universe stands in grave peril.
~ Thanos
Prepare yourselves. For now, I summon... the end.
~ Thanos
The past is DEAD. The present, Annihilus, is WAR.
~ Thanos
I am finished with you, lady! I have given everything for you-- even been dead, under your sole command! I have been mad.
~ Thanos to Lady Death.
No one on Titan-- be it you, our mother or our father-- understands who I am, Eros. I kill! That is what I do!
~ Thanos to Eros.
The king is dead! Long live the king! Now there is no one above me in our line! I am the All-Father!
~ Thanos declares himself as the All-Father.
What care I for the fate of three souls... when the entire universe is mine to control?!
~ Thanos
This is how you would treat your Lord Almighty? You would challenge the heavens so brazenly?! So be it then! Let there be war!
~ Thanos as he declares war.
The name is Thanos.
~ Thanos
To claim that Thanos, Death's truest servant, would drop progeny! Now that is truly unforgivable.
~ Thanos
I may be dead. But you, dear Surfer, are in Dynamo City. I am, by far, the more fortunate of the two of us. Welcome to Bedlam, Surfer. Know that you will never again roam the heavens. That is my legacy to you.
~ Thanos to Silver Surfer
Did you truly believe I could be so easily duped, demon?
~ Thanos to Mephisto
Destiny waits for no man. Not even one who shall bring the universe to its knees.
~ Thanos
For I am transformed! I have left the mortal plane behind me! In truth I have risen above the mantle of godhood! Even celestial status is now below me! The Infinity Gems have given me the power of Supreme Being!
~ Thanos gaining the Infinity Gems' power.
"All work and no fair play." Words to live by.
~ Thanos
I, alone, have looked into the darkened corners of your soul... and know you for what you truly are.
~ Thanos to Norrin Radd
Concerned? No, only curious. After the Silver Surfer has served his purpose... Thanos of Titan could not care less whether he lives or dies.
~ Thanos
Come, Spider-Man. Death and I, we have been waiting for you.
~ Thanos to Spider-Man
Many have opposed me: First and foremost the Kree champion Captain Mar-Vell. Long dead against his will while I yet live, against mine. There have always been those who would interfere with my goals. My choices. My dreams. Only one thing has ever remained true. My love and devotion to milady Death. And that thing has now been taken from me. I had accomplished my goals! I was at rest in emptiness and something woke me! I was at peace, and something brought me back to pain! ... Again, insects, you ask what am I? What I am is angry. What I am is insane with rage. What I am is... THANOS!
~ Thanos
Cold. Her kiss...... so cold and...
~ Thanos on Death's kiss
So Thanos now stands with you, Adam Warlock, prepared to fight to the death!
~ Thanos
I am failure personified.
~ Thanos
I have learned through bitter experience that power is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
~ Thanos after fighting Tyrant.

Trivia

  • Thanos was ranked number 47 on IGN's top 100 comic book villains of all time, 22nd on Wizard's Top 100 greatest villains list and number 21 on Complex's 25 Greatest Comic Book Villains list.
  • The only being, other than Lady Death, who Thanos respects and considers a friend is Adam Warlock despite the many times he helped the heroes of Earth fighting him.
  • Although Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, the similiarities between the two characters are only on a superficial level as Thanos is not really interested in enslaving the universe like Darkseid and he's mostly motivated by his desire of being loved by Lady Death and he helped the heroes in some occasions.
    • Jim Stalin stated that Darkseid "inspired Thanos' look, but not his character".
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, he appears as the primary antagonist of the entire franchise itself as he orchestreated everything in multiple films as well as he is a Non-Action villain as he sitted upon his throne in the space while his "pawns" (Loki, Ronan and his men) fought the protagonists.
  • Jim Starlin originally conceived of Thanos of Titan during college psychology classes.
  • The name "Thanos" is based on the name of the mythological Greek figure Thanatos, meaning "death", a reference to his love for Death.
  • He created a series of clones called The Thanosi using both science and mysticism.

​External Links

           Guardians of the Galaxy Villains

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