Avengers: Infinity War is still just under a year away, but thanks to San Diego Comic Con, the hype for the long-awaited movie is growing. Practically every MCU character introduced so far -- over 16 movies and nearly 10 years -- will appear, and they’ll have to join forces if they hope to defeat Thanos: a near omnipotent being on an insatiable quest for the Infinity Stones. Dubbed The Mad Titan, Thanos has been teased as the main villain of Infinity War since the first Avengers movie back in 2012, so the build up to his arrival is substantial. With all that hype, it’d be easy to believe that he’ll be virtually unbeatable when he lands on Earth.
While he’ll no doubt be presented as the greatest threat the MCU has ever faced, his history in the comics has proven he’s got more than his fair share of weaknesses. Whether it be cosmic trinkets, powerful beings or even his own family, over the years Thanos has been pushed to the extremes in his journey to satisfy his thirst for power. Here, CBR takes a look through the history of Thanos to prove one thing: despite seemingly all evidence to the contrary, he can be beaten. Here are the greatest weaknesses of Thanos, the Mad Titan!
15 HIS PARENTS
From the moment of his birth, Thanos has faced adversity. He was born on Saturn’s moon Titan to Mother Sui-San and father A’Lars, both members of celestial race The Eternals: a super-powered evolutionary offshoot of humans. A’Lars, aka The Mentor, loved his newborn son, despite his child’s physical deformities. Sui-San, however, saw the evil in her son’s eyes, and as soon as she saw him, she attempted to slaughter the newborn with a dagger.
Her attempt was thwarted, and she was thrown into an asylum for her actions. Years later, when Thanos was a teenager obsessed with death, he brutally tortured and killed Sui-San, before leaving the planet to conquer and decimate other worlds. Years later, Thanos returned to murder his father A’Lars, too, which not only ensured that he would never be constrained by the weakness of his own parents, but to impress the next entry on our list.
They say love makes us do crazy things, but it’s unlikely they were referring to the wholesale extinction of half of all life in the universe. That’s exactly what Thanos did, however, to earn the love of Lady Death in the seminal event Infinity Gauntlet. In the Marvel Universe, abstract concepts such as Death and Eternity have physical manifestations, and since his early years, Thanos has caught the eye of the mysterious and alluring Death.
Death is, however, rather fickle, and easily bored by Thanos if he’s not sending countless species into her cold embrace. This leads Thanos to go to greater and greater extremes to please her and earn her love, to the point where his motivations are often crippled by this infatuation he has. This fact, while terrifying for those who cross his path, has been his downfall in the past.
13 GOD CANCER
In his most recent comic series, Thanos is weaker than he ever has been, due to the fact that he’s dying of a mysterious yet terminal disease. The search for a cure drives his motivations and his quest, and somewhat ironically takes him back to his home on Titan, face to face with his aging father. A prominent scientist, even A’Lars cannot (and will not) find a cure, an arguably willful failure that Thanos slays him over.
Word of Thanos’s weakness doesn’t stay secret forever, and it’s not long before his enemies start circling for the kill. Everyone from the Shi’ar Imperial Guard to his own Son (more on him later) have jumped on the opportunity to rid the galaxy of the Mad Titan’s rage in his weakened state.
12 THE CANCERVERSE
In 2006, Marvel comics began a series of cosmic events that started with Annihilation and ended with The Thanos Imperative four years later in 2010. A result of these galactic conflicts was a tear in the fabric of space-time, one that exposed our universe to the dreaded Cancerverse.
This realm, with its own twisted version of our own heroes called The Revengers, was a threat unlike any other. On top of all this, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Nova Corps also had to contend with a freshly reborn Thanos. In a "Two Birds, One Stone" scenario, Starlord and Nova battled Thanos in the Cancerverse and managed to collapse the rift between dimensions, trapping the Mad Titan (and consequently themselves) on the wrong side.
11 DRAX THE DESTROYER
While most people will know Drax from his portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy, his origins in the comics are a lot stranger and more convoluted. In the movies, Drax’s family are killed by Ronan, under the order of Thanos, so his search for vengeance against the Mad Titan is fairly straight-forward. In the comics? Not so much.
Drax began life as a regular human named Arthur Douglas. He’s driving through the desert with his wife and daughter when Thanos obliterates them, believing he’s been seen. Drax’s story does not end there, however, as Thanos’s father Mentor and the Titan God Kronos resurrect his spirit into a new body created with the sole purpose of destroying Thanos. He succeeds, too -- at the end of the cosmic event Annihilation, Drax punches through Thanos from behind, ripping his heart out in his hand.
10 SQUIRREL GIRL
There’s a reason they call her Unbeatable. Yes, as difficult as it may be to believe, Doreen Green achieved what many, more powerful, beings could not: single-handedly defeating the real Thanos (well, she was assisted by Tippy Toe, of course). The Watcher was even on hand to confirm that it wasn’t a robot, a clone, or a simulacrum!
It’s no secret to her fans that Squirrel Girl has a unique approach to confronting the villains of the Marvel Universe, and her own ongoing series has seen her defeat characters such as Kraven, Dr Octopus and even Galactus all on her own. We don’t actually get to see how she conquers Thanos, we only rejoin her to witness the aftermath, but seeing as Thanos is a crumpled mess on the floor, we can consider him thoroughly beaten.
9 BLACK BOLT
One of Thanos’s latest trips to Earth during the Infinity event brought him face to face with the Inhumans as he searched for his missing son, Thane. Arguably the greatest threat to anyone that opposes The Inhumans is their leader and their king, the ever-silent Blackagar Boltagon, AKA Black Bolt. One word from his lips can level mountains; a scream can lay low planets!
It may seem fairly obvious to list Black Bolt as a weakness of Thanos as, let’s face it, Black Bolt’s power is pretty much a weakness for anyone that comes to confront him. Most people are smart enough to not cross his path, however. Thanos, on the other hand, not only attempted to confront him head on, but angered the Inhuman king so much that he shouted his rage toward the Mad Titan. This not only threatened both of their lives, but destroyed the Inhuman ancestral home of Attilan in the process.
8 EGO (HIS OWN, NOT THE PLANET)
One of his biggest weaknesses, Thanos is not the only villain in comics that have let their own hubris be their downfall. For someone as nigh-invulnerable, godly and nihilistic as the Mad Titan, however, that ego can soar to a whole new level.
His self interest and entitlement has seen him spend the majority of existence believing he deserves the love of Death herself, destroying everyone and everything close to him in his quest. He gained Omnipotence when he was finally able to collect the all-powerful Infinity Gems, and used those powers to toy with anyone who opposed him. His defeat during the Infinity Gauntlet saga was down to a few reasons, but his ego was almost certainly the deciding factor. In fact, this is a running theme in Thanos' tyranny, as every brush with godhood is undone by the belief that he can do no wrong (SPOILER: that always winds up biting him in the ass).
7 A BAD HARVEST
What is a godlike being to do when all of the immeasurable power in the known Universe is his, only to be snatched away in a cruel twist of fate? Why, work on a farm, of course! This is where his regular adversary Adam Warlock finds Thanos following his defeat during the Infinity Gauntlet Saga.
When faced with loss multiple times at the hands of his enemies, Thanos decides that what is needed is not another leap into battle, but a step back, to reflect on his defeat and learn from the mistakes of the past. That's an admirable goal for a being who has committed countless atrocities in a mad quest for power. One can’t help but assume, however, that with his bloody history, it wouldn’t take much to drag Thanos back into the fight. Perhaps nothing more than a poor crop?
6 HIS SON
Thanos has sired many children throughout the galaxy, yet most of them were wiped out by the Mad Titan’s own hands in a ploy to win the affections of Death (again with the Death.) There was, however, a hidden Inhuman tribe on Earth that kept a son of Thanos secret. His identity was revealed during the Infinity event, after the detonation of the Terrigen Bomb exposed all latent Inhumans on the planet.
Faced with the choice of escape or to confront his destiny and become like Thanos, Thane embraced the latter, fighting and imprisoning his father in an amber prison of "living death." Since then, Thane has been a constant adversary to Thanos, hunting him down and acquiring greater and greater power to defeat his father while, ironically, becoming more and more like him.
5 ADAM WARLOCK
Teased at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Adam Warlock, aka "Him," was first introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four. However, it wasn’t until writer Jim Starlin explored his more cosmic side that he -- and his evil alter-ego The Magus -- would become a threat to Thanos.
Adam Warlock possesses the Soul Gem in the comics (unlike Vision in the movies), and it’s this power that has allowed him to defeat Thanos multiple times over. Ironically, Thanos has teamed up with Adam Warlock in the past to fight against Magus, however it’s not long before their adversarial nature takes over. Now that Adam Warlock has been teased in the MCU, there’s a chance he could aid in Thanos’s downfall in Avengers 4.
4 THE ROT
Introduced in the miniseries Avengers: Celestial Quest, The Rot explores the idea of just what happens when Thanos dies and his energy merges with that of Mistress Death. As you may or may not expect when it comes to these two weirdo lovebirds, it turns out it’s nothing good. In fact, their unholy union creates a void of nothingness in space that threatens Eternity itself.
As it continues to grow, it consumes more and more, and anyone trapped inside -- like The Avengers and Thanos -- soon realize that they cannot escape. Its defeat only comes when Thanos and Death join forces to destroy their "child," all of which proves that despite his constant need for Death’s affection, nothing good can come of their love.
3 THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSE
It makes sense that if there were to ever be an end to the Marvel Universe, Thanos would be involved; so of course, that’s exactly what happened in the out-of-continuity series Marvel: The End from 2003. The Heart of the Universe is an energy source of immense destructive power, and initially Thanos gathers the heroes of Earth and absorbs this power into himself, in an attempt to save the universe.
This, however, results in him becoming more powerful than all of creation, and when he sees a flaw in the creation of the universe, he attempts to defy the natural order of things and reconstruct all of the multiverse in his own image. It takes the might of both Adam Warlock and Mistress Death to convince him to sacrifice himself to save creation. When it comes to Thanos, absolute power corrupts absolutely... and almost instantly.
2 GOD EMPEROR DOOM
Speaking of absolute power corrupting absolutely, one of the more recent entries on the list involves the 2015 event Secret Wars. When the entire multiverse collapses in on itself, Doctor Doom concocts a way to claim unlimited power and become God Emperor of a newly created patchwork called Battleworld.
Thanos joined forces with many other heroes, including Starlord, Groot and Black Panther, to overthrow Doom in a planet-wide rebellion. While this rebellion ultimately led to Doom’s downfall, he proved worthy of the title God Emperor as he was able to obliterate Thanos without breaking a sweat. While it’s perhaps the most unlikely chance that Doom will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, it shows that the Mad Titan isn’t the scariest being in existence.
Bigger than his enemies, bigger than his family, bigger than any other cosmic threat, Thanos’s greatest weakness will always be himself. We’ve discussed his ego previously, but it’s his insecurities about his own worthiness that will ever prove to be his downfall.
When an already godlike being acquires universal omnipotence thanks to the Infinity Gauntlet, the fight against him seems almost insurmountable. That’s the battle the heroes of the MCU face in 2018, but when he gathered all of the stones together in the comics, what eventually brought him down wasn’t his ego, or his hubris. As Warlock reveals, Thanos will always allow himself to be defeated because he does not consider himself worthy of such overwhelming power.
Can you think of any other way to bring down Thanos? Let us know in the comments!