Avengers: Infinity War is fast approaching, and with it comes the full force of the greatest threat the MCU has ever faced: the arrival of the Mad Titan, Thanos. So far the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and heroes like Spider-Man, Ant Man and Black Panther have faced down Gods, monsters, alien armies, killer robots, crazed criminals and even each other. They may think they’ve fought the worst of the worst, but with the power of infinity in the palm of his hand, they’ve never faced anything like Thanos before.
The character has been around since 1973, and in that time, he’s risen in power, commanded the forces of life and death and lost it all a few times over. Time and again, the Mad Titan has confronted the heroes of the Marvel Universe and time and again he’s been thwarted. With all that history, it would be hard to know all there is to know about Thanos. Before his major big screen appearance in Avengers: Infinity War it’s not too late to find out all you can, so we here at CBR have taken a dive through his comic book history and dug up 15 Dirty Little Secrets that even Die-Hard fans of Thanos the Mad Titan don’t know!
15 HE OWNS A HELICOPTER
While it may seem like a joke -- and in all fairness, it is pretty funny -- there was a time in Marvel comics when Thanos was not treated like the universe-shattering behemoth that he’s become. No, there was a time when he simply pestered the likes of Spider-Man and Hellcat from the comfort of his very own helicopter.
The Thanos-copter -- yes, he printed his own name onto the side of it so that everyone knows that it’s his -- terrorized the citizens of New York on the hunt for an errant Cosmic Cube, at one point wrestling it out of the hands of a small boy. It’s a wild story that could only exist in comics, but who knows? Maybe we’ll be seeing the Thanos-Copter in Avengers: Infinity War. He’s got to get around somehow, and a branded, bright yellow one-seater helicopter is as good as anything.
14 HE WANTS TO LOSE
It’s almost difficult to believe that a grand cosmic being like Thanos would have anything other than an insatiable ego, and while he does have a high opinion of himself, it’s also true that when it comes to obstacles in his way, oftentimes Thanos is his own worst enemy. For a villain that spends his life seeking glory, whenever we’ve seen him attain that power, he himself plays a part in his inevitable downfall.
Perhaps it’s the curse of many villains, to be perpetually brought down by your own hubris, but for Thanos it feels a little more than that. When you spend your entire life seeking the love of Mistress Death as Thanos does, he often doesn’t know what to do once he gets it. Maybe it’s true what they say and the journey is more fulfilling than the destination!
13 HE’S FOUGHT GODS
While many in the cosmic Marvel Universe see Thanos himself as a God, it’s easy to forget that he’s actually a native of Titan. Sure, he has some of the ancient cosmic beings the Eternals in his DNA, but otherwise he’s just a near omnipotent madman with an insatiable thirst for power.
Don’t be fooled by the distinction though, there have been more than a few times when Thanos has fought against various cosmic deities along the way. Ignoring his constant nemesis Adam Warlock, who himself is a sort of Marvel comics Space Jesus, Thanos has come into conflict with Odin of Asgard, Galactus, and even God Emperor Doom. In the case of Doom, that fight ended up with Thanos’ spine being removed, but you know, it still counts!
12 HE HAS CLONES OF MARVEL HEROES
Thanos has come into conflict with pretty much every Marvel hero at this point through events such as Infinity Gauntlet and the more recent event titled simply Infinity. Let it never be said, however, that he doesn’t do studious research before going into battle, going to some pretty extreme lengths to ensure victory.
One of those extreme lengths was uncovered during the 2002 storyline The Infinity Abyss, in which it’s revealed that Thanos has spliced his DNA with several clones of Marvel characters in order to conduct tests on genetics as well as examine these heroes close up. Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Galactus all get the clone treatment, and it takes the combined might of Thanos, Dr. Strange, Gamora and Spider-Man -- among others -- to bring them down.
11 HE’S ORIGINALLY AN IRON MAN VILLAIN
At this point in his history, it’s traditionally thought that Thanos is an Avengers villain first and foremost, if not a cosmic threat against the entire Marvel Universe. If anything cemented that in people’s minds it would be the Infinity Gauntlet saga -- after all, that event is one of the biggest reasons why he’s soon to be the MCU Big Bad in Avengers: Infinity War.
When he was first introduced, however, the scope of the character was a lot smaller. He was was first seen in Iron Man #55 from 1973, and while that story-line soon spread out from its humble beginnings into Captain Marvel, Daredevil and eventually The Avengers, it can’t be forgotten that when he first entered the Marvel Universe, it was Iron Man that faced him down.
10 HE WAS BEATEN BY SQUIRREL GIRL
It may seem entirely too hard to believe, but there’s a reason Squirrel Girl is called Unbeatable. There’s not a villain too great for Doreen Green to face down, and while we’ve seen in recent years that her methods for thwarting cosmic level threats is to open a dialogue, she’s not afraid to dive in with the punches when necessary.
Case in point: her confrontation with Thanos. Squirrel Girl used to appear in a comic series called the Great Lakes Avengers, and within the pages of the GLX Xmas Annual, she confronted the Mad Titan in Wisconsin, defeating him off panel in a hilarious moment. Uatu the Watcher even appears to confirm that this is not a clone or copy but the real Thanos, giving the villain a humiliating low point in his cosmic career.
9 HE’S NOT BASED ON DARKSEID
When many people think of Thanos and his origins as a comic book character, they’re drawn to the DC Comics work of Jack Kirby. The former Marvel artist left for DC in the early ‘70s, and while there produced the epic "Fourth World" saga that introduced the New Gods like Mr Miracle, Orion and the deadly Darkseid.
You may recognize the name Darkseid as he’s the grand cosmic threat facing the movie version of the Justice League in the years to come; his right-hand man Steppenwolf was the villain of the latest movie. Many draw comparisons between Darkseid and Thanos, but his creator Jim Starlin has admitted that in his initial designs for the character, the Mad Titan was actually based on another New God: Metron, the ambiguous passive observer that sits in the all-powerful Mobius Chair.
8 HE KILLED HIS OWN MOTHER
In the pages of the 2013 miniseries Thanos Rising, we get to learn a lot of previously unknown information about the formative years of Thanos the Mad Titan. We discover what his home was like, how he grew up, and how he first came to fall in love with the abstract personification of Death.
In the series, we also find out the fate of his mother, Sui-San. It’s revealed that when he was born, his mother tried to kill him for resembling the offshoot race of Eternals called the Deviants. As Thanos grew, his obsession with nihilism and death grew into a love affair with mistress death herself, and it was this love that drove him to kidnap, torture and brutally murder his own mother in the interests of satisfying his deadly urges.
7 HE HAS DEVIANT SYNDROME
If you’re wondering why Thanos doesn’t look anything like any of the other Eternals, it was a concern of his own parents as well. Born as an eternal on Saturn’s moon Titan, Thanos was the son of Mentor and Sui-San, both Eternals who possess the beauty and grace that their race is known for. In comparison, the purple skinned, craggy-chinned Thanos looks nothing like any Eternal that’s come before or since.
The reason for that is because, from birth, he has suffered from Deviants Syndrome, a condition that transforms an Eternal to look more like the race known as Deviants. An offshoot of the Eternals, Deviants were the polar opposites of their beautiful “cousins,” leading to a war that raged between the two races for centuries and causing a hatred between that still persists in the Marvel universe.
6 HE’S BEEN TO JAIL
We talked earlier about how Thanos’ humble origins saw him relegated to petty theft, taking to the skies of New York City in his very own Thanos-copter, but as the old saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” From the giddy heights of helicopter ownership, Thanos plummets hard when he’s defeated by Spider-Man and Hellcat, and at the end of that issue we see him being taken away in handcuffs by the NYPD.
Now for many, seeing this all-powerful cosmic being defeated by someone dressed like a squirrel might be considered a low point, but that’s nothing compared to the world of difference felt between conquering the universe and spending the night in a jail cell. Whether the charges were dropped or he conducted a daring escape, we may never know, but for a while at least Thanos was in jail.
5 HE CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS
It sounds completely crazy that Thanos the Mad Titan, an Eternal with despotic plans to conquer the universe would stop what he’s doing every December 25th in order to celebrate a traditional Christian holiday, but according to Warlock and the Infinity Watch #9 from 1992, that’s exactly what he did.
When he was raising his young daughter Gamora -- of Guardians of the Galaxy fame -- it’s noted that he was determined to give her as normal a childhood as possible, which somehow meant celebrating human holidays instead of observing whatever festive periods he grew up with. “The pre-Christian Yule with shades of modern Earth’s Christmas” was, in his words, what he recreated for young Gamora, even going so far as to have a Christmas tree and giving his daughter presents to open (and before you ask what a maniacal nihilist gets his daughter for Christmas, it was a dolly).
4 HE PUNCHED HIS SON THROUGH A PLANET
From celebrating Christmas with one child, to punching another child so hard they fly clean through a planet, it’s safe to say that Thanos’ parenting skills have their ups and downs. This happened in the most recent ongoing series named after the Mad Titan, the first 12 issues of which concern themselves with his Inhuman son Thane gathering a cadre of foes to kill his father once and for all.
Clearly this plan failed, as so many of them do, but in this case, Thane really did come close. He acquired the power of the Phoenix Force and set a chain of events in motion that saw his father buried alive in the God Quarry. Returning from seeming death, Thanos strips his son of his power and sets about teaching him a lesson with his fists.
3 HE’S BEEN A FARMER
When your plan to conquer the universe succeeds, and you taste the sweet victory of infinity at your fingertips, the concepts of life and death no longer being abstracts but mere toys for you to play with, only to have that all torn away from you by those pesky meddling superheroes, what are you to do next? Well, if you’re Thanos, you become a farmer!
At the end of Infinity Gauntlet, when the power of those all almighty gems were wrestled from his hands, Thanos was found by Adam Warlock living a meagre existence growing crops on a farm somewhere. It was a strange and seemingly small end for the Mad Titan, but appropriate nonetheless. It’ll be interesting to see how fate treats him in the movies when the dust settles at the end of the as-yet unnamed Avengers IV.
2 HIS BROTHER WAS AN AVENGER
Over the years many of Thanos’ family members have been revealed, from his mother and father, Mentor and Sui-San, to his children Gamora, Nebula and Thane. His various family members have dabbled in both villainy and heroism from time to time, but only his brother has been an actual Avenger.
Starfox, aka Eros of Titan, is a member of the Eternals race and brother to Thanos. They’ve come into conflict more often than not in their lives, and there have been a few occasions where Starfox has joined the Avengers to defeat his evil brother. Eros is appropriately named, as much like his Greek God counterpart, Thanos’ brother is a womanizer imbued with the power to manipulate women into finding him sexually desirable. This flirty hedonist could not be more different to his all-powerful brother Thanos.
1 HIS FATHER CREATED DRAX JUST TO KILL HIM
To say that Thanos and Drax have a complex history would be a bit of an understatement. Before joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax was a simple human that was killed along with his wife and child when his car was driven off the road by Thanos’ errant spaceship. Looking to bring his despotic son down by any means necessary, Thanos’ father Mentor conspired with his own father a plan that involved the body of the man who would come to be Drax.
Mentor and Kronos took the spirit of Arthur Douglas and placed it inside a new body, one designed specifically to kill Thanos. Drax the Destroyer had only one purpose in life, and that purpose saw him scouring the galaxy to defeat the Mad Titan. He first appeared in Iron Man #55, but right from the start his purpose has been clear: Kill Thanos.
What do YOU know about Thanos? Let us know in the comments!