With the countdown to Avengers 4, fans worldwide are scrambling to figure out what the Russos have cooked up for Marvel's heroes as they attempt to settle the score with Thanos -- if they even can! They put up a noble fight, but Thanos defeated the Avengers and snapped out half of existence. It’s a huge setback for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and it’ll be huge to see how its inhabitants bounce back from this one.
As strong and capable as Thanos is, he is not the most powerful character out there, though he might be one of the most feared. If we take a look at the bigger picture, include the comics, you might be surprised where he ranks. The Mad Titan is strong-willed and determined, a force to be reckoned with, and that was without the Infinity Gauntlet. He played the long game, acquired the Infinity Stones, and took his place among the ranks of the strongest comic book characters of all time. But just how powerful is he? Can he be defeated? Oh yes -- he has been defeated in the comics a few times.
CBR has compiled a list of characters that could not only give Thanos a run for his money, but could ultimately defeat him in battle. Don't believe the Mad Titan can be taken down? Prepare to learn a thing or two!
30 (DC) TRIGON
You might remember Trigon as the behemoth demonic father of Raven from DC’s Teen Titans. If you only know him from the various animated series out there, you're in for a treat -- his comics version is even more powerful and menacing.
He is a world conqueror and had fed off the dead souls of his many victims! Also, his enchanted staff allows him to influence and control others. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth online about how he’d match up against Thanos. Without the Infinity Gauntlet, no match, he’d crush the Mad Titan; with it, he could still put up a good fight and probably come out on top a few times.
29 (MARVEL) SURTUR
The Lord of Muspelheim, Surtur is an insanely powerful being. You might remember he defeated Hela and laid waste to Asgard. The same Hela who defeated the combined might of Asgard, killed the Warriors Three, and tossed around Thor like the little brother he was.
With the full might of the Infinity Gauntlet, sure, Thanos would have a chance -- but similar to Trigon, Surtur would definitely make him work for it and might be even defeat him.
28 (MARVEL) SILVER SURFER
Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer, is the bearer of a portion of Galactus’ Power Cosmic, drawn from the very energy of the universe itself. This allows him to alter and transform the very fabric of the universe for his own needs. Using the Power Cosmic, the Surfer has been shown to possess immense strength (he once smacked the Hulk unconscious with a single blow).
He is virtually indestructible and impervious to almost all known attacks. The Surfer can detect movement from light years away (so don’t try sneaking up on him). He can even see through time and space, and can travel at the speed of light. Thanos has managed to endure the Surfer’s attacks in the past, but depending on the conditions, the Silver Surfer could best him.
27 (DC) DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan is one of DC’s most powerful characters. Manhattan has god-like abilities and, even if destroyed, can easily reconstitute himself in seconds. He can travel across the universe and teleport into other dimensions in an instant.
He has been shown to be able to disintegrate beings with but a thought, and has no compunction about doing so. Basically, he is invulnerable to just about any type of harm. With or without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos would not be a match for Doctor Manhattan.
26 (DC) INJUSTICE UNIVERSE'S SUPERMAN
Superman is probably the most overpowered being in the DC Universe, if not all comics universes. He most likely could stand toe-to-toe with Thanos even on his worst day. The only thing that might hinder Superman is that he usually restrains himself when tackling foes. His sense of justice and morals would prevent him from going all-out and killing Thanos.
But if you bring in the ruthless Injustice version of Superman, we don’t think there would be much of an issue. He has no qualms about absolutely ending anyone who gets in his way. Thanos would put up a good fight, but that would just tick Superman off (to put it lightly) and make Thanos’ demise all the worse.
25 (DC) THE SPECTRE
Thanos needs the Infinity Gauntlet to manipulate space and time, and warp reality; however, Spectre can do all these things on his own. His mystical powers are cosmic and metaphysical. The Spectre is basically a dimensional god who sits in judgment on reality.
Though he would normally not get involved or waste his energy taking on Thanos, possibly the emergence of the deadly Infinity Gauntlet would cause Spectre to intervene. Since Spectre is able to summon all the powers and energies needed to handle any threat to reality, he would soundly defeat Thanos.
24 (DC) MR. MXYZPTLK
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, Thanos could literally squash Mr. Mxyzptlk like a bug. However, Mr. Mxyzptlk isn’t likely to try a head-on confrontation with the Mad Titan. Why would he? Mr. Mxyzptlk has the ability to manipulate space, time, and reality at his whim.
Knowing his wacky mindset, he’d probably toy with Thanos for a while and then get serious when Thanos starts getting enraged. You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at them, but I believe Mr. Mxyzptlk would be more than a match for Thanos.
23 (MARVEL) EGO
For this entry we're going with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Ego instead of the comics version. Both versions are quite different. The MCU version is a consciousness manifesting himself as a small planet, a Celestial by origin, which is one of the most ancient and powerful beings in all of Marvel's history.
Ego demonstrated the ability to create matter and energy for almost any use he sees fit. He can assert his influence across great distances and he is pretty much a god (small “g,” as he put it). Thanos would find a worthy adversary if he crossed Ego, and he might not come out on top.
22 (MARVEL) THE CELESTIALS
Aside from Ego, we have the rest of the enormous, silent, space gods. They are among the oldest beings in the universe and the full extent of their abilities is unknown. They draw their seemingly limitless abilities from the Power Cosmic, and have been known to destroy entire planets. Probably the most dominant of these already powerful beings is Tiamut the Dreaming Celestial.
It possesses incalculable cosmic power, able to project any form of energy, communicate telepathically and transport itself across galaxies and dimensions in an instant. It can also basically reshape reality as it sees fit. There’s very little happening in the universe that get this thing out of bed in the morning, nothing worth the effort, but Thanos might just be enough of a threat for Tiamut to get involved.
21 (MARVEL) FRANKLIN RICHARDS
Franklin Richards is the supremely-powered son of Reed and Susan Richards of the Fantastic Four. His powers are on a totally different level. His abilities extend to bending the basic fabric of reality to his which. He has repaired dying stars and killed even killed a Celestial with a single punch.
Once, Franklin even restored a dying Galactus and made him his own herald to his bidding. If you can run out of town and make Galactus your lap dog, then you have real power! We don’t believe Thanos would want to tangle with this normally mild-mannered young man.
20 (DC) IMPERIEX
Imperiex is a manifestation of pure energy contained within an armored suit. He aspires to destroy the universe, and has done so many times. His goal is to destroy different worlds and entire galaxies repeatedly until they are just right, according to his reasoning.
If you match Imperiex and Thanos up on determination and success rate, Imperiex has got Thanos beat a few times over. His energy levels are so high and his power so great that it has taken entire teams of heroes joining up with villains working together to deter him.
19 (MARVEL) SENTRY
Sentry is another ridiculously overpowered character, basically supplanting Hyperion as Marvel’s answer to Superman. His power limits have never actually been established and most writers kind of like it that way. They basically make him however powerful he needs to be for that particular situation.
Sentry has superhuman strength, speed, super senses, with invisibility, shape-shifting, and matter manipulation abilities. He can become intangible at will and has formidable empathic and telepathic powers. Oh, don’t forget his telekinetic abilities that have been shown to be strong enough to stop Thor’s hammer in mid-air!
18 (MARVEL/DC) ZEUS
A character in Marvel and DC, Zeus is no slouch in either depiction. In DC, he is the father of Wonder Woman and in Marvel, the father of Hercules. In both he is an Olympian (Panhellenic Deity) and king of the Greek Gods. He is the most powerful of the Olympians, on a par with the likes of Galactus and Odin.
Zeus draws his power from the very universe and has been shown to be able to strip other Greek Gods of their own powers, much like Odin. He has been shown to assert direct control over thunder and lightning, and has used them with devastating results, including knocking the Hulk out cold!
17 (MARVEL) ODIN
Some fans believe the whole reason Thanos enacted an elaborate time-taking plan to acquire the Infinity Stones instead of just going out and getting them finally in Infinity War, was because he feared the wrath of the All-Father Odin! Once Odin died, after living for many, many, many millennia, Thanos was free to openly go after them. If you consider Odin’s power and accomplishments, this is a good theory.
As the All-Father, Odin possessed powers and abilities that so outranked other Asgardians that it was referred to as the Odin Force. He’s created, and destroyed, entire realms. He has stood up to Celestials and has given Galactus and even Dormammu reason to respect him. Thanos himself has even knelt before the power of Odin.
16 (MARVEL) AMATSU-MIKABOSHI
Amatsu-Mikaboshi , the Chaos King, is basically the god of evil. He is the very embodiment of darkness who has existed since the time before creation.
He is a primal force of the universe and doesn’t really rely on a physical body. Elder Gods like Odin and Zeus have been shown to be powerless in his presence. He has defeated Galactus, destroyed Hell, and even made Death herself uneasy. If Thanos ever got on Mikaboshi’s radar, I believe even with his Infinity Gauntlet he would be powerless before him.
15 (MARVEL) MOLECULE MAN
The Molecule Man is a time bomb waiting to happen. Originally a less than stable villain, he later became a sympathetic every-man who literally possessed the power to destroy the universe. He can mentally control, manipulate, and transmute all the molecules of any piece of matter or energy.
For awhile he was content with shying away from utilizing his powers, preferring to make a life in obscurity with his girlfriend. The Molecule Man has had a few versions, but all in all he is considered one of the most powerful beings in existence!
14 (MARVEL) THE DARK PHOENIX
Jean Grey is an incredibly talented telepath and telekinetic. If you add the Phoenix Force, she becomes the most powerful member of the X-Men and one of the most powerful beings in the universe. With Professor X’s help, she was able to create safeguards to keep the awesome power in check; however, after manipulation by the Hellfire Club, she became the Dark Phoenix, exhibiting seemingly limitless power, even destroying an entire solar system.
The Phoenix can destroy and recreate the very existence of the universe, bending the very fabric of time and space to create black holes. If the Phoenix unleashed itself upon Thanos, it would be no contest (although the very universe might also suffer the consequences).
13 (DC) LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR
One of the most powerful beings in the universe, Lucifer Morningstar is an immortal angel. His powers are divine in nature. He has total cosmic awareness, with the abilities of dimensional manipulation, invisibility, telekinesis, as well as super strength and speed. He’s basically invulnerable and cannot be killed.
His existence is based on a whole set of rules separate from the known universe, leaving him pretty much untouchable by the powers of the Infinity Gauntlet. With but a thought, Lucifer, if he really wanted it, could end Thanos’ life in an instant.
12 (DC) MICHAEL DEMIURGOS
Though commonly considered slightly less powerful than his divine counterpart, Lucifer Morningstar, Michael has held his own against him, as well as the Spectre. You know neither of those guys are slouches.
Michael is an immortal archangel, one of the most powerful entities in all of creation. With abilities rivaling those of Lucifer, beings such as Thanos, even with the Infinity Gauntlet, would stand little chance of posing much of a threat. Michael was able to defeat Lucifer as he led a revolt in Heaven, Thanos shouldn’t be much of a concern.
11 (DC) DARKSEID
This is the main character everyone always debates about defeating Thanos. If these two every fought, who would be victorious? We'd put our money on Darkseid. The two are pretty evenly matched, and even look a little bit alike. They even say the character of Thanos is based on Darkseid.
Thanos has his Infinity Gauntlet, while Darkseid has his Mother Boxes. With the Mother Boxes at his control, Darkseid can tap into the power of The Presence (more on him later), which is basically the energy of the entire DC Universe.
10 (MARVEL) DORMAMMU
Now we're sure Thanos won’t come to Dormammu looking to bargain, but he might as well. The immortal Dormammu is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. He reigns supreme in the Dark Dimension, with mastery of dark magic and mystic energies. While Doctor Strange managed to trick him into backing off using the Time Stone, Thanos is not as bright.
Dormammu is pretty much a dimensional god and, even with the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos would have a tough vanquishing such an adversary.
9 (MARVEL) GALACTUS
Galactus is another character that frequently comes up when discussing good match-ups for Thanos. Known as the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus is a remnant of a destroyed universe and is known and feared across the universe.
His mastery of the Power Cosmic grants him godlike powers. He has been shown to be able to channel this power into manipulating his size and mass, teleportation, telepathy, time travel, and even to resurrect the dead. He is an immortal and many believe that he would be more than a match for poor Thanos. In fact, he has beaten him before. Even Stan Lee himself has said that Galactus was probably more powerful than Thanos.
8 (MARVEL) HUNGER
Hunger is basically a cosmic parasite that travels dimensions consuming entire realities. He lives outside the universe as we know it, in an area known as the Cosmic Vortex. It was attracted to the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and was actually on its trail when Thanos was stripped of it. Instead, Hunger very nearly found his way into our universe by manipulating the powerful Galactus into opening a portal. Anyone who can toy with Galactus is truly powerful indeed.
Hunger can devour most forms of energy and probably the fabric of our reality itself. Once it has turned its attention to a particular reality, it can perceive all events of that universe. It can even subtly alter reality from a dimension away.
7 (MARVEL) ETERNITY
Eternity is the manifestation of the universe itself. It is a cosmic being that is everything; the sum total of the collective consciousness of all living things. Eternity is an abstract, fairly omnipotent being. Though only making itself known when the entire universe is threatened, Eternity possesses limitless abilities.
In the comics, when Thanos wreaked havoc on the universe with the Infinity Gauntlet, Eternity seemed poised to take action but was denied the opportunity by the judgment of The Living Tribunal (more on him later). We are left with only debate now as to whether Eternity could’ve squashed Thanos (but we think so)!
6 (DC) ELAINE BELLOC
Don’t know who Elaine Belloc is? Don’t worry; go read DC’s Lucifer series. She was a young woman who could communicate with ghosts. She later learned that she was the daughter of the Archangel Michael. With this realization, she realized her full potential and gained complete omnipotence.
She left her mortal form, grew wings, and essentially became a living god. She is all-powerful and all-knowing. Able to choose any form at will, she prefers her original young 20’s appearance. In some ways, it is said that she is the universe itself and can alter it at-will. We’re talking big-time here.
5 (MARVEL) THE BEYONDER
In his own, original reality, the being calling itself The Beyonder was the universe, the sum total of everything in existence, with powers to match. He was omnipotent. In our reality, he is both an inhuman and a mutant, one of the most powerful beings in existence. Since becoming aware of our reality, he has had a few different incarnations. In all his forms, he has complete control of reality, able to destroy Earth with a thought.
Now, he’s been reformed into some sort of Cosmic Cube, with only a small portion of his original power. Though Thanos might not be an easy win for him in his current state, when at his full original power, Thanos didn’t stand a chance.
4 (MARVEL/DC) DEATH
Whether we’re talking Neil Gaiman’s Sandman version of Death, or the Marvel Universe’s incarnation, she is one bad being. If Eternity is Marvel’s embodiment of all life in the universe, Death is his opposite, his sister, if you will.
Death’s powers are vast and incalculable. Thanos needs his gauntlet to alter time, reality, souls, and the minds of others, but Death is the very sum of all mortality in the universe. She is practically omnipotent and can end life in an instant if she so chose, including Thanos.
3 (DC) THE PRESENCE
If Death and Eternity weren’t tough enough for you, now we’re getting in the real heavy-hitters. We’re talking about beings that are so powerful that Thanos’ machinations are beneath them for the most part. The Presence is the most powerful being, hand down, in the DC Universe. Think of him as DC Comics’ version of God (big “G”).
The Presence has no real physical form be usually manifests as a period-suited gentleman of leisure, complete with top hat and moustache. His powers are pretty much anything you can think for a deity.
2 (MARVEL) THE LIVING TRIBUNAL
So, remember Eternity, the embodiment of the universe itself? Well, he takes his cues from one of two even more powerful beings. One of those is The Living Tribunal. He is an awesome being that exists across the entire Marvel Multiverse and whose sole purpose it to keep existence in balance. He is the supreme judge on all living things in the universe (yes, even Thanos).
It was The Living Tribunal that prevented Eternity from stepping in a taking out Thanos when first acquired the Infinity Gauntlet. It was also him who deemed Warlock unworthy to assume control of the gauntlet once it was taken from Thanos. In the comics, LT (we’re tight like that) has decreed the Infinity Stones can no longer be used together.
1 (MARVEL) THE ONE ABOVE ALL
If The Presence is DC’s supreme deity, then Marvel’s is The One Above All. He, or it, is an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal being that even The Living Tribunal and Beyonder must obey. It is the God of the Marvel Universe (big “G”). He’s responsible for everything that has occurred in the universe, the creator of all things, including Celestials, Eternity, and Galactus.
Every Marvel superhero and villain exists because The One Above All seems fit to allow it. Its name says it all -- you can’t argue with this choice (seriously). Thanos is but a gnat on his screen.