Thanos is one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe also known as the Mad Titan.
By harnessing the power of the Cosmic Cube, then The Infinity Gems, Thanos seeks domination of the cosmos to impress Mistress Death.
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The character first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man #55 and has also clashed with other heroes including the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.
In 1973, Thanos made his first comic book appearance in Iron Man Vol. 1 issue 55. The character was originally created by Jim Starlin who imagined him as a kind of interstellar scientist.
Plans for Thanos and his role within the comics changed, however, after it was suggested he might be more compelling as a fearless despot.
Who Is Thanos?
We must first understand the personality of Thanos if we want to get to grips with his motivations and desires.
The character is undoubtedly tyrannical with a tendency towards despotic visions of power, death and destruction.
He is cruel, merciless and egotistical; a deadly concoction of sins that drives his genocidal acts.
Thanos seems to have no fear of death. He is untroubled by the thought of condemning people, planets, even entire universes to destruction.
This includes his own race of people whom he’s happy to eliminate for a fraction of Mistress Death’s affection.
Thanos spends his life searching for rare artifacts (like the Infinity Gems and Cosmic Cube) to help him become master of the universe and all its subjects.
Thanos is the offspring of legendary Alars, himself antecedent of the second colony of Sui-San and sole survivor of the first settlement on Eternals of Titan.
Thanos was one of many sons and grew up a morbid child fixated with death and thoughts of intergalactic annihilation. His skin was thick and grey. Even as a child, he had a massive body and towered over everybody he met.
As he got older, Thanos began to experiment with bionic upgrades and transcendental meditation. He would use both as tools to further his strength and power until no Titanian Eternal was a match for him.
As his potency increased, so did his lust for conquest. He stole a ship from his home planet and visited faraway star systems to build an army from the soldiers, mercenaries and criminals encountered there.
Using this army, he destroyed his homeworld of Titan. He decimated thousands of his own people and even killed his own mother.
Once the plant was razed, Thanos appointed himself sovereign and began to plan his next conquest. He wanted Earth next and he would stop at nothing to claim it.
The Cosmic Cube
During his days of death and destruction, Thanos continued to build his fleet of warships knowing they’d be needed for the next big takeover.
He had been watching Earth for some time and was amused and disturbed by its own appetite for chaos.
The human discovery of nuclear weapons would eventually lead to the emergence of a powerful artifact called the Cosmic Cube.
Thanos stole the reality warping device from shady conglomerate Advanced Idea Mechanics and vowed to use it to take over the universe.
The Cosmic Cube transformed Thanos into a more powerful god than he ever thought possible. He became an intergalactic warrior, a maniacal wraith wandering solar systems, looting and plundering wherever he went.
This would bring him to the attention of the Avengers. Thanos went to battle with both the Avengers and Kree Captain Mar-Vell after finding his fighting squadron destroyed.
A careless mistake would cost Thanos dearly. Believing he had squeezed every last drop of power from the Cosmic Cube, he tossed it away.
When Mar-Vell found and activated it, however, he used it to reverse the death and destruction visited upon universes. This act drained Thanos’ power and made him mortal again.
With his life under threat and power to wield death thoroughly diminished, Thanos went into hiding.
From that point on, he was consumed by the desire to regain power over life and death.
Quest for the Soul Gems
Thanos heard many stories of the Soul Gems, six stones of mysterious origin that were reported to be very powerful.
He decided to claim these gems for himself as there was a chance the stones might restore his immortality. After a long and violent search, he stole five Soul Gems and vowed to hunt down the last.
The sixth and final Soul Gem – worn by formidable shaman Adam Warlock – would be the hardest to obtain.
To help control and direct the awesome power of the soul gems, Thanos created a gauntlet device.
He planned to use it to decimate every single star. When his daughter Gamora discovered these plans, she attempted to kill him and save countless worlds.
Unfortunately, her father Thanos got the upper hand and murdered Gamora.
Thanos also murdered Warlock’s friend and accomplice Pip after he warned the Avengers about a coming war.
During the epic battle between Thanos and the Avengers, Adam Warlock was deliberately killed.
This allowed him to fight as a non-mortal creature and finally unleash the full force of the last and final soul gem.
Warlock struggled against Thanos on a battlefield unconstrained by the laws of death and physics and eventually turned him to stone.
Thanos was left completely diminished and bereft of his powers. The Avengers allowed him just enough consciousness to be eaten away by the thought of his foibles and failures.
He yearned for death but could never achieve it.
After a long time spent in the wilderness, Death decided to bring Thanos back. For a time afterward, he laid very low. He traveled to Dynamo City and stayed there for a while.
Gradually though, he began to feel more like his old self and began to plan for another big attack. After failing to recruit Silver Surfer and the Sentinel of the Spaceways to his army, Thanos decided to go it alone.
He faked his death to buy himself time and opportunity to plan his assault. Step by step, Thanos went after and regained the powerful Soul Gems.
With all six in his possession, he combined their energies using the Infinity Gauntlet he’d built. This gave him mastery over everything that ever was, is and will be.
The Infinity Gauntlet
He used the unfathomable power of the infinity gauntlet to erase half of the universe’s population. They just popped out of existence.
This would cause great pain on countless planets and inspire revenge in the universe’s grief stricken superheroes.
On the battlefield, Thanos fought both the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. They seemed no match for the power of Love, Hate, Epoch, Chaos, Order and Galactus residing in the six soul gems.
The tyrant defeated any superhero who crossed him, and the war was almost lost for good. Fortunately, he forgot about his beleaguered niece Nebula. After a lifetime of abuse, she stole the gauntlet and finally took back her power.
Nebula helped the Avenger’s fight back and gave Adam Warlock control of the Infinity Gauntlet. He used it to vanquish Thanos again and return the Earth and its universes to a state of peace.
The Infinity War
Many years later, a diminished Thanos discovers news of an imminent threat to the whole universe.
This time, he decided to seek help from the most powerful foe he had ever encountered (and keeper of the Soul Gems), Adam Warlock.
By using the soul stones to activate a time traveling device called the Infinity Watch, Thanos met with Death. She explained the truth about new foe Magus and his plans to replace the Avengers with evil clones.
Adam Warlock battled Magus with the restored Infinity Gauntlet and six soul gems as his weapon.
Sadly, Magus wielded his own formidable power in the form of five Cosmic Cubes and defeated the shaman. He wasted no time taking possession of the gauntlet and stones.
What Magus wasn’t bargaining on was a clever ruse from Thanos and Warlock. Magus discovered the Reality Gem (one of the six soul stones) was a forgery.
Without a full set, he was unable to activate the gauntlet. Eventually, Magus would fight Eternity and Infinity in a battle that banished him from existence.
After fighting on the side of good, Thanos retreated from everything. He spent many years traveling the stars alone.
The Infinity Crusade
It came as a shock to comic book fans when they discovered Warlock had given the real Reality Gem to Thanos for safekeeping.
This made him one of six guardians of the soul gems and, indeed, the universe. When the Goddess and the Magus returned to threaten peace for a second time, Warlock sought Thanos out.
He searched far and wide for Silver Surfer and managed to recruit him to the cause.
During an epic end of days battle, Thanos, Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock and Professor X (of the X-Men) confronted and attacked the Goddess.
Warlock discovered a way to penetrate her defenses and, with Thanos’ help, he imprisoned her inside one of the soul gems.
During the Annihilation Wave’s assault on the universe, we see Thanos begin to follow his own curious instincts again.
Throughout the comic book series, he’s largely driven by impulsive desires and a fixation with chaos.
Even when he’s not actively seeking to destroy worlds, he’s making life and death decisions on a whim to see how they play out.
Thanos decided to unite with Annihilus in an unexpected act of deference. Later, it was revealed the Titan was bored.
He grew tired of the same battles between Villains and Superheroes and wanted to try something different.
At this point, Thanos is not trying to dominate the universe but to irrevocably change it. Whether for better or worse, it doesn’t seem to matter much.
With this goal in mind, Thanos aided Annihilus’ capture of Galactus and the charging of the Wave’s forces. However, when he found out Annihilus didn’t plan to control the universe but instead wanted to erase it, he tried to help Galactus escape.
Before he could, Drax the Destroyer fought him and destroyed his heart.
Once again, Thanos didn’t stay dead for very long. Death revived him as she had done on many occasions before.
This time, she restored his power of immortality and made him impossible to kill. On Death’s orders, he joined a group of superheroes on a journey to a universe conquered by Mar-Vell.
Thanos pretended to understand Mar-Vell to gain his trust. Mar-vell responded by trying to pierce Thanos with his sword. Luckily, the Titan was already unkillable thanks to Death’s special gift.
Mistress Death appeared at his side, took down Mar-Vell and emptied the foe’s world of ‘immortal’ soldiers.
Death leaves Thanos on Mar-Vell’s former universe feeling lost and alone. She refused to bring him to her own world. This made him furious at Death and anybody else unfortunate enough to get in his way. He vows to wreak destruction in revenge for her abandoning him.
Nova and Peter Quill of the Guardians of the Galaxy bore witness to this reawakening of Thanos’ dark side.
They decided to stall him until Mar-Vell’s universe collapsed and was swallowed into nothingness. Nova and Quill barely managed to escape while leaving Thanos to be obliterated along with the world.
Thanos recruited a new army made up of members of the Black Order. Together, they traveled across worlds and universes with the goal of conquering and dominating all they encountered.
They decimated planets. They wiped out young people from many different galaxies. They threatened and bullied. When Thanos heard the Avengers had left Earth unguarded while they dealt with a battle elsewhere, he took his chance.
The tyrannical Titan wreaked yet more destruction on planet Earth. Then, he traveled to Wakanda to search for the soul stones after striking up a partnership with Proxima Midnight.
Once there, he found the elusive Illuminati hiding out with an arsenal of weapons powerful enough to take down worlds.
Powers of Thanos
Thanos is an extremely powerful character in the Marvel universe as we can see from the many times he returns from death.
Born a Titanian Eternal, he is an alien with a mammoth body and the ability to harness cosmic energies.
This ability enables him to increase his own powers through bionic enhancement. It also helps him create the infinity gauntlet.
Even these awesome powers don’t compare to his ability to come back from the dead, protected as he is by Death herself.
Thanos’ most obvious strength is his size. However, he derives most of his power from his superb intellect.
Being a Titan Eternal, he is capable of immense mental feats and presents one of the biggest challenges ever faced for the Avengers.
Limitless Physical Strength
We don’t know for sure if Thanos has limitless strength, but it is strongly implied. Certainly, he’s one of the most physically strong entities in the universe.
After Death bestows him otherworldly gifts, he becomes stronger than any Titan Eternal who has ever lived.
Even though he’s physically massive, Thanos is able to travel at unfathomable speeds. His body knows no fatigue and he can fight without needing to rest.
Even before his encounter with Death – and her gift of immortality – Thanos was uniquely invulnerable to pain and injury.
When compared with members of his own kind, he posses a strange degree of invincibility.
After becoming immortal, he cannot be struck down by age or disease. While it’s believed he can be ‘killed’ for good, Death repeatedly resurrects him to achieve her own ends.
Telepathy and Teleportation
Thanos is gifted with telepathic and teleportation abilities. Not only can he close his mind to others’ mental probing, but he can also penetrate minds and read thoughts.
During his various adventures, he has also demonstrated a capacity to change and control atoms.
Thanos is one of the best Marvel villains from the Marvel Universe read more about the top super villains from Marvel comics.
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