With X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Avengers: Endgame recently adding to the long list of Marvel movies, it seems fitting that we pit their two main antagonists against one another. The Phoenix Force is an all powerful intergalactic force that has possessed the young mutant Jean Grey. It's been the focus of two films and is a threat that is incredibly dangerous for the X-Men to face.
Thanos, meanwhile, is the infamous Mad Titan. He's an intergalactic conqueror and a supposed visionary who wants nothing more than to rid the universe of its pain and suffering. He's a wannabe god with eyes on the Infinity Gauntlet to get all of his wishes at the snap of his fingers. Both of these villains are a force to be reckoned with, but only one of them can claim victory. Note that we are taking inspiration from both the films and the comics for this battle! So, we take a look at who would really win in a fight: Phoenix or Thanos.
10 ROUND 1: ALLIES
A character is often only as strong as their allies and the teams that back up these two villains are vastly different. Phoenix, during her dark days, really has very few allies, with the character usually turning on any mutants that try to back her. When she is at her less villainous stage she is backed by the X-Men, a group of extremely powerful superheroes that could give Jean the advantage.
Thanos, on the other hand, is supported by legions of alien warriors including the Outriders, the Chitauri and a elite group known as the Black Order. This group in particular is full of talented fighters, each of which has a unique skill set. He is also backed at times by the Kree including Ronan the Accuser. Plus, on occasion, his daughters Gamora and Nebula have fully supported their father in his mission. Overall, whether the Phoenix has mutant allies or not, Thanos has the edge in terms of the armies he can amass and the resources at his disposal.
9 ROUND 2: WEAPONS
The weapons round is a difficult one to judge, due to the very different nature of the two characters. The Phoenix doesn't carry any weapons because her mind is the weapon. She wields the Phoenix Force, which is an incredibly powerful and dangerous weapon by itself if wielded correctly. The trouble is that Jean may not be capable of ever fully using its power without damaging her mind or body.
Thanos, on the other hand, has a series of practical weapons which allow him the advantage in a battle. He's especially skilled with a double blade, but has also been known to use a small dagger as well as the spacecraft that he utilises in a fight. The Infinity Gauntlet is the ultimate weapon to be wielded by Thanos, though, which will give him the advantage against the Phoenix Force. Without the Gauntlet, Phoenix would win this round, but with it Thanos is near unstoppable.
8 ROUND 3: STRENGTH
Jean Grey does not have super strength. She has many powers which are strong by themselves, but in terms of physical strength she is much weaker than Thanos. However, she can demonstrate impressive feats of strength with the use of her telekinetic abilities, which is especially useful as this can be done at a distance, essentially protecting her in combat.
Thanos has a lot of physical strength and can't be matched in hand-to-hand combat. He is invulnerable and can even take significant damage from the Infinity Stones. He's survived a axe to the chest from Thor and has bested the Hulk in one-on-one combat. He is far stronger than the Phoenix in terms of physicality, but those telekinetic abilities give Phoenix the point here.
7 ROUND 4: MINDSET
The minds of these characters are interesting case studies for any budding psychologist. Jean's mind has been tampered with by the Phoenix Force. When she's transformed into the Dark Phoenix, her thoughts are twisted and her ways become much more villainous. However, Jean's willpower is incredibly strong and a friend can break through the Force and appeal to the woman underneath.
Thanos, on the other hand, has an inevitability to his quest. He cannot be slowed and cannot be convinced of anything else. He sacrificed his own daughter for his big plan, someone he truly loved. In battle he will not doubt his movements or his tactics and has a willpower even stronger than the Phoenix. Whilst Jean often struggles with her mind, Thanos' actions are one with his thoughts and he claims victory on round 4.
6 ROUND 5: ARMOUR
The Phoenix does not need armour because of her level of power. She's known for donning the iconic red or green costume, although there have been a number of variations on this. However, her sheer power means that foes often cannot get close enough to even inflict damage, with the force itself acting as some kind of armour.
Thanos has also been known to not wear armour when he has the Gauntlet tightly around his hand. Before this, he was known for a thick golden armour that effectively protected him. Once he takes this off, however, it's a show of power that makes it clear that he feels like he is untouchable. With the Gauntlet it's pretty much a draw, but without it, the Phoenix would be able to rip through any golden plating he may have across his chest.
5 ROUND 6: POWERS
We've alluded to them a lot, but it's clear that the Phoenix far outmatches Thanos in terms of her powers. The fiery redhead has telekinetic and telepathic abilities that make her stronger than even Professor X! She can move things with her mind, will things just with a thought, protect herself using her brain and can even read thoughts or influence someone's thinking.
Thanos is pretty strong and pretty resilient and can do anything with the Gauntlet. Once again, without it, he's very much at the mercy of this much more powerful mutant. Thanos would not be able to stand against a force like this. His battle with Wanda during Endgame showcases that he's pretty vulnerable to magic and other forces he cannot understand and perhaps even with the gauntlet she is too much for him to handle. In terms of powers, the points have to go to Phoenix.
4 ROUND 7: LEADERSHIP
Jean Grey isn't a leader. Although on a few occasions she's exercised some leadership abilities, she doesn't quite have the self-confidence to motivate a team into action. She's often questioning her own thoughts and as the Dark Phoenix does not trust anyone, becoming a lone wolf.
Thanos excels as a leader, and has managed to convince hoards of warriors to follow him into battle, conquering many planets in the process. He's got the vision of any ruthlessly ambitious leader from history and can back up his words with stronger actions that he has the willpower to follow through on. He's a merciless leader who strikes fear into those around him, but this is effective for his plan. Ultimately, Thanos clearly demonstrates better leadership.
3 ROUND 8: EXPERIENCE
Both of these characters have very storied histories in the comics and the films and both have extensive experience. For Jean Grey it depends which version of the character and which age we're looking at, as her level of experience varies between each adaptation. No matter the experience though, the Phoenix Force is often too powerful for her to control, regardless of how well she understands her powers.
Thanos, on the other hand, has infinite experience conquering and following his own plans. He's clearly had far more experience in combat and is prepared for any situation. Even when facing his greatest threat from the heroes of Earth, he holds his own because he has learnt so much from his time as the Mad Titan. It's clear that Thanos' experience holds him in better stead against the Phoenix.
2 ROUND 9: WEAKNESSES
The Phoenix has multiple weaknesses, but her key one is her moral compass. Ultimately, Jean Grey will always battle through the Phoenix Force, with her friends and family willing her to do the right thing. She's not really a killer at heart and is only compelled by the alien force that has attached itself to her.
Thanos' weakness is also his family, with his two daughters ultimately being all he really loves in the universe. But unlike with Jean, he has overcome this on a number of occasions, actually killing his daughter Gamora for the Soul Stone. It's clear that his ego is also an issue, which is why he cannot be reasoned with. However, he cannot be tricked so easily and so it's difficult to utilise this weakness. Ultimately, Thanos is the stronger of the two.
1 FINAL ROUND-UP
As we close up this battle, it's clear that the two sides are evenly matched if the Infinity Gauntlet is at play. If Thanos does not possess any of the Stones, the Phoenix Force would be too much for him to battle against. Despite his experience, his weapons, his tactics, his willpower or even his armies, the Phoenix can wipe through all of this because of the raw power that is at her disposal.
Add the Gauntlet to the equation and things are quite different. While Jean may have the X-Men on her side, these would be countered by the armies of Thanos. Removing this, it's clear that Thanos would win in hand to hand combat and the usefulness of the Gauntlet would come into the equation. The power of this force trumps the Phoenix and it's fair to say that Thanos would win in a fight if he has the Stones in his grasp!