Thanos, while previously not well-known, has quickly become one of the most popular bad guys that Marvel has created. This is largely due to his involvement in the MCU, where he will become the legendary villain for Avengers: Infinity War. Because of this, the pieces have been set for his debut to be massive and make a lasting impact on audiences. However, what most people don't know is that there is more to Thanos than just being a big villain for the Marvel heroes to fight. He is a flawed character with depth, motivation, and passion for other things than just killing.
As a matter of fact, there are several times in the comics where he shows the more human side of himself and he actually helps others rather than destroying them. Coupling that with his great power, Thanos has actually aided in the preservation of the Marvel Universe on many occasions. While he may do these things begrudgingly or for some benefit he has planned down the road, Thanos has done some good things in his life. You're probably shaking your head at this prospect, but read on to hear about 15 times Thanos saved the universe if you need any more proof.
15 INVOLVED WITH LADY DEATH
Behind every great man lies a great woman, and in Thanos's case, that woman is the literal embodiment of death itself. While it's an interesting idea when you think about it, Thanos has a love for Lady Death, and it has inspired him to do great and terrible things. That said, the act of being in love with Death in itself hasn't saved the universe, but the passion he has for her has led him to some amazingly heroic things.
Even when he wiped out half of the Marvel Universe, it was all to please her and show her his devotion (in a weird god-like way). It's something we can all relate to, being in love once or twice in our own lives, and it gives him some ground to stand on in terms of his actions. Again, he brought good things to the world through his love for Death.
14 RESURRECTED NEBULA...
Thanos has no biological daughters; instead, he adopted a few of his own, that he then raised and trained to become puppets of his own game. One of them was Nebula (albeit, her story is a bit different in the comics). However, she had unfortunately died at the hands of Thanos before the events of Infinity Gauntlet.
As Thanos is trying to impress Lady Death, he decides to resurrect the young Nebula with an in-between state of living and dying. While it didn't exactly work, this move alone nearly guaranteed Thanos's loss when fighting the Avengers. After all, it was Nebula who managed to snatch the Gauntlet off of the Mad Titan's hand when he was about to go insane with all his power and fury combined. Is this something we could see when the film comes out next year?
13 ...THEN FOUGHT HER
After Nebula snatched the Gauntlet off of Thanos's arm, she lets the power go to her head and becomes the new threat that the Marvel heroes must deal with. However, this time, they are aided by a new ally: Thanos himself. While he didn't have much desire to work with people like Adam Warlock, he eventually agreed that she needed to be stopped (if, at least, so he could have the potential to regain ultimate power).
That being said, the fight didn't last too long, as Nebula used the power of the Gauntlet to restore the universe to how it was one day earlier. She still had the Gauntlet and engaged with a battle between Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock, but for the most part, the threat had been neutralized. And it couldn't have been done without the help of Thanos. Now isn't that sweet?
12 MADE A FAIR FIGHT
When the Marvel heroes were prepping for a fight with the Mad Titan, they had the demon Mephisto on their side as well. They moved on Thanos, and he simply froze most of them in time without thinking twice about it. Knowing that they wouldn't be able to win, Mephisto starting manipulating the Mad Titan by using his passion for Lady Death to only use one of the Infinity Gems rather than all of them.
Thanos agreed to this and unfroze all of the heroes. The fight then became much more intense. While he was still incredibly powerful, the fact that he had voluntarily not used most of the Gems gave the heroes the opportunity and edge they needed to almost defeat him (with the help of Nebula, of course). The fight became a fair one, but the ultimately still came out victorious.
11 BLEW HIMSELF UP
When the dust settled and Nebula lost the Infinity Gauntlet, things got hairy. Many people were charging for unlimited power, but it was Adam Warlock who actually attained it. After he began setting things right, Thanos stated that he had a nuclear bomb attached to him. Not wanting to be imprisoned, he further saved the world by "killing" himself. Thankfully, he was sent away before any serious harm could be done to those around him.
Regardless of whether he died or not, Thanos helped out the universe by being sent away. The Marvel heroes wouldn't have to deal with his interferences or his love for Death for a while at the very least, so in that sense, he inadvertently protected the very universe that he attempted to destroy. Hey, it counts.
10 BECAME A FARMER
At the very end of the Infinity Gauntlet, it was revealed that Thanos actually wasn't dead. As a matter of fact, he took to the simple life of a farmer on a distant planet. Adam Warlock visits him and they even have a chat about supreme power and what one does when attaining so much strength.
After having tried to destroy the universe and failing so many times, Thanos decided that the best thing for him to do would be to not attack the world anymore, but to instead keep to himself. He wanted to take his quiet years as a way of looking into his past and reflecting on the things he had done. Where did he go wrong? What could he have done better? This not only saved the universe from his immediate threat, but from any further situations he might've caused.
9 BATTLED MAGUS
With a unique being like Adam Warlock, who exists in a state of neutrality, there is always a catch. Unfortunately, his is a darker psychopathic side that is intent on bringing destruction to the universe. This persona was known as Magus, and he sought to reassemble the Gauntlet once more to destroy everything and everyone.
However, it wasn't going to take just Warlock and the rest of Marvel's superheroes to deal with this threat. On top of that, Thanos had rushed to their side to help out. He felt threatened by the Magus's power and after several confrontations, hatched a few schemes to take down this foe. While many people didn't trust Thanos and thought he was behind the catastrophe at first, it was clear that he was on their side, if at least for this situation alone.
8 DEFEATED THE GODDESS
As if it wasn't bad enough to have to fight the dark side of Adam Warlock, the Marvel Universe also had to deal with his good side. A being known as the Goddess arose and decided to cleanse the universe of all evil. She did so by building a machine that could grant any wish she desired. Villains and heroes joined her side, which left the rest of the freedom fighters in a pickle.
Because the world must exist in a state of balance, the Goddess's plan would destroy everything that lived. Thanos was involved to help out, and he actually became one of the big players in this story. He worked alongside Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, and Professor X to directly attack the Goddess and end her plot to rob the universe of its balance.
7 KNOCKED SOME SENSE INTO THOR
Imagine if the God of Thunder became an insane person who tried to destroy everything in sight? This was the story of the "Blood and Thunder" story, which spanned multiple different comics that were all interwoven together. Thor was going crazy for some reason, and it started out with Silver Surfer and some Asgardians to detain him. However, the conflict quickly escalated as Thor gained access to the Power Gem. Soon, the entire universe was at risk.
In desperation, Thanos was called on to help out. He begrudgingly agreed and fought one-on-one with Thor. He even laughed and enjoyed their battle. The Mad Titan also provided a prison that would temporarily hold the Son of Odin so that everyone could figure out how to fix him. In the end, Thor was saved, and he even thanked Thanos.
6 DOUBLE-CROSSING ANNHILIUS
After Thanos spent a lot of time wondering where he went wrong, a being called Annihilus summoned an entire army to attack the universe. As you might expect, many Marvel heroes and villains got involved here, including the Mad Titan. When approached with the situation, however, he decided to become a follower of Annihilus rather than try and take control.
This was very counter to Thanos's prior behavior, but he stated he just wanted to try something new and see what would happen during the Annihilation mini-series. However, once Thanos saw that Annihilus wanted to destroy the universe rather than conquer it, he double-crossed the villain. He wanted to release Galactus, who was captured and served as the power source for the Annihilation Wave. Then things got a little hairy.
5 HELPED THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
While Thanos was rescuing Galactus in the previously mentioned storyline, Drax came out of nowhere and instantly killed the Mad Titan. However, Lady Death was displeased with him and made him immortal. Every time he was to be slain, he would always return to life. It was around this time that the Guardians of the Galaxy were exploring a world called the Cancerverse. There was apparently an imbalance there with life and death, and they wanted Thanos's help to bring a stop to it (as he knew Lady Death better than anyone).
Granted, there were a lot of problems and conflict about it, but Thanos joined their efforts and worked with them to solve the problems of the Cancerverse. He got into a few fights with Drax along the way, but it was all in good fun, we think.
4 SOUGHT TO REVERSE THE NECROPSY
Remember the story of Mar-Vell? He had contracted a form of cancer that slowly killed him? Well in the Thanos Imperative storyline, the Guardians and the Mad Titan once again travel to a realm known as the Cancerverse. The difference here is that there is no avatar for death because it has been wiped out through Mar-Vell trying to save himself. They did this through a process called the Necropsy.
Immediately, Thanos begins working on a way to reverse this effect on the Cancerverse. He knew that there must have been a new avatar of death for balance to be restored. He also knew that this was possible. Near the end of the issue, he then executes his plan with the Guardians and heroes to safely reverse the Necropsy and bring the Cancerverse back to order.
3 SAVED TWO UNIVERSES
As the conflict in Thanos Imperative escalated, not only was the Cancerverse at stake, but so was Earth-616. Mar-Vell and his cohorts were putting up a massive fight and Thanos was beginning to lose his drive. He longed to be with Lady Death and nothing more.
This led him to surrender at the hands of Mar-Vell. He simply wanted to be killed so he could be with the woman he loved. Mar-Vell obliged, but it was a clever move by Thanos. Being so close to death, Lady Death herself had to appear and rectified all of the people in the Cancerverse who had "lived too long." Thanos isn't accepted by Death, but the Cancerverse was fixed and the threat to Earth-616 was dealt with. While he didn't do it willingly, Thanos saved a lot of people.
2 PREVENTED TWO EARTHS FROM COLLIDING
When the Illuminati was formed, Namor the Submariner was brought in as a member of their team. Unfortunately, he was a man who had almost no lines that he wasn't willing to cross. When Earth-616 was threatened by the collision of another reality, he was the one who used the machine to destroy it. They were all saved, but he was removed from the Illuminati.
In New Avengers Vol 3 #23, there was another Earth on its way to collide with Earth-616. Knowing that the Marvel heroes would let both realities perish, he created his own group called the Cabal. Among them was the Mad Titan. This group of morally gray folks worked together to stop the incoming Earth from destroying their own. It did take the loss of many lives, but Thanos did help save the universe either way.
1 SAVED DEATH ITSELF
Who is the one other person who could somehow captivate Lady Death? What about an all-powerful mutant who could never die? Deadpool Vs Thanos is a comic that sees these two characters forming an unlikely alliance after Lady Death is kidnapped by Eternity. Because of this, Death cannot exist in the universe, and it must be restored, or everything will become chaotic.
The two powerhouses worked together to save Death. As it turns out, part of the problem was her own doing, and it took a battle between Deadpool and Thanos (and some suave words from Wade) to cause her to see the beauty of life and death. Although these two still hate each other's guts, their cooperation led to the return of Death to the Marvel Universe.
Is Thanos more heroic to you now? Sound off in the comments section!