Thanos is the most powerful villain in the Marvel universe, a figure who has started wars that brought the entire Galaxy into conflict against him. Created by writer Mike Friedrich and writer-artist Jim Starlin, the character first appeared in 1973's Iron Man #55 but became more well-known in the classic 1991 miniseries Infinity Gauntlet. There, he assembled the Infinity Gauntlet, which gave him power over all of space, time and the very fabric of reality. One of his first acts of godhood was to kill half the population of the universe and moved on to even worse things from there. His one goal in life is to make Mistress Death (the physical manifestation of death itself) fall in love with him, and he's willing to kill anyone to win her love.
Just like Darth Vader, Thanos is known for what he wears -- the gauntlet becoming just as iconic these days as Vader's helmet. Of course, he wears more than just a glove, and his armor has become so well known that even the slightest change (or even not wearing it at all) gets a lot of attention. With his groundbreaking appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, CBR thought it was time to shine a light on the boots, gloves and chest plate of Thanos. We'll be going over its origin, how it's changed, what it's been used for and who else has worn it.
15 THE ORIGINAL THANOS ARMOR
The supervillain Thanos was first brought to life by artist and writer Jim Starlin in 1973's Iron Man #55. Thanos was based on a psychology class Starlin took about the Freudian idea of Thanatos, allegedly the drive towards death that motivates people. Starlin had the character idea long before he ever started producing comics professionally, and had some concept art for the Mad Titan in his portfolio when he went to draw for Marvel. When he got the job to produce an issue of Iron Man, he jumped at the chance to introduce his new villain, and the rest is history.
The concept art pretty much nailed his iconic armor from the beginning, but Starlin had to make a change before bringing the character to the printed page. Apparently, his Thanos art bore a strong resemblance to Metron, the highly intelligent and omniscient being introduced by Jack Kirby in 1971's first issue of New Gods. When he saw it, editor Roy Thomas allegedly said that he should beef up the character, because if he was going to rip off one of DC's New Gods, he should rip off Darkseid instead of Metron. Starlin took his advice and made the armor bulkier and bigger.
14 HE DOESN'T NEED ARMOR
Without question, Thanos is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. As one of the Eternals, he had incredible strength and stamina to begin with, but he's also a mutant and as such added more power through cybernetic enhancements and mysticism to become even stronger. He can take a blast from a machine gun without a scratch, or a punch from the Hulk without breaking a bone. In one memorable story, Thanos unleashed a cosmic blast that knocked down the world-eating immortal Galactus. That's why some fans have asked, why does Thanos need armor at all?
Apparently, he doesn't. He's more than strong enough to take a lot of punishment, even without his armor. The armor seems to be there to protect him from cosmic-level threats, as we've seen him go without it on several occasions. At the end of the classic 1991 Infinity Gauntlet miniseries (Jim Starlin, George Pérez, Ron Lim), Thanos was seen without his famous armor, living on a remote planet in a very similar way to the ending of Infinity War. In the 2006 crossover Annihilation, he spends most of the series in light robes instead of armor. Maybe his armor is more for show than protection. Still, he likes it a lot since he's rarely seen otherwise without it.
13 YOUNG THANOS WORE ARMOR
Where does a psychotic monster and mass murderer like Thanos come from? For most of his history, the origin of Thanos and his armor was a mystery, but we received the official origin in 2013 with Thanos Rising. The five-issue miniseries, written by Jason Aaron with artwork by Simone Bianchi, focuses on the birth and early life of Thanos.
In the story, we found out that Thanos' own mother tried to kill him when he was born, leaving him alone and outcast because of his mutation. He always avoided violence until a group of lizards killed his only friends. When he killed the lizards in revenge, he began a path of killing until he became the sociopathic murderer we know today. What was interesting from the perspective of his armor is that, even as a child, Thanos wore a smaller version of the one he would grow up to wear. It's not really clear why a child would wear armor like that or what purpose it served someone as originally non-violent as Thanos, unless it's just traditional Titan dress. Hi schoolmates do seem to be wearing something similar. It also makes us wonder why Thanos continued to wear a larger version of the outfit he wore as a kid. Sentiment, perhaps? But that's not very Thanos.
12 SILVER SURFER-PROOF ARMOR
In his 2013 miniseries Thanos #13 (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw), Thanos was pulled millions of years into the future by a version of himself called Old King Thanos. King Thanos was still on his mad quest to win the heart of Mistress Death but had gotten better at it. To that goal, he had succeeded in conquering the entire Marvel universe, destroying everyone from hero to villain and even killed the cosmic Celestials with the death cry of Black Bolt.
He was left with Ghost Rider as his herald and kept the aging Hulk on a leash, but still had enemies. He had to face the Fallen One, the Silver Surfer who armed himself with Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. However, Old King Thanos had a few tricks up his sleeve like a new set of armor. Unfortunately, the armor didn't last long against the strength and cosmic power of the Silver Surfer combined with Mjolnir. Yet King Thanos proved he didn't need the armor as he and the younger Thanos fought the Silver Surfer with their bare chests and arms and beat the Fallen One to death. After that, the old Thanos and the young Thanos faced each other in a final battle for the heart of Mistress Death. Neither wore armor for that final battle, either.
11 NO ARMOR FOR INFINITY WAR
Thanos was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a surprising way. At the end of 2012's Marvel's The Avengers, the mastermind of the invasion of Earth was revealed when we just saw a glimpse of Thanos with his evil grin. We finally got to see him in 2014 with Guardians of the Galaxy, where he wore a very comic book accurate version of his armor. The faithfulness to his appearance in the comics is why Marvel fans were surprised and (in some cases) upset to see Thanos without armor when footage and photos began appearing to promote Avengers: Infinity War. The loss of Thanos' armor and headpiece even inspired some memes and gags.
Many fans wondered why Thanos wasn't wearing his armor in Infinity War, especially considering he would be fighting against some of the most powerful heroes of the MCU. In interviews, Infinity War’s co-director Joe Russo explained that Thanos didn't wear the armor in his movie because he felt the villain didn't need it. Thanos in Infinity War has a more philosophical approach to the battle that lay ahead. His lack of armor showed that once he had the Infinity Stones, he would be so powerful that he didn't have to fight anyone and had nothing to fear.
10 POISONED ARMOR
It hasn't been explained in the comics what Thanos' armor is made of, but we can assume it's a really strong metal. There is a version of Thanos where we know exactly what his armor was made of, however, and it was alive. In Venomverse #1 (Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello), Eddie Brock was transported to an alternate universe where crystalline alien creatures called Poisons had discovered that bonding with the Venom symbiotes made them more powerful. By using the symbiotes, the Poisons had taken over superheroes and supervillains and spread throughout the Galaxy. They moved on to try to conquer the Marvel multiverse.
The Poisons were led by the Poison Queen whose second-in-command was a Poisoned Thanos. Poisoned Thanos was first introduced in Venomverse #5 (Cullen Bunn, Iban Coello) and proved just as deadly and ruthless as the regular Thanos, if not more so. Besides his usual strength and durability, Thanos' Poisoned armor was alive and had the powers of the Venom symbiotes, which meant they could change shape and form tentacles or other weapons. Poisoned Thanos was also dedicated to spreading the Poisons throughout the multiverse, launching plans and schemes. His symbiote armor was a major weapon and he used it to everyone else's suffering.
9 THANOSI ARMOR
If you were to copy Thanos, what would be the most important parts of him? His intelligence? His incredible strength? His rugged chin? His armor? All of the above, as it turns out. Thanos had a string of high-profile failures against some heroes throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, including Ka-Zar and Thor. Thanos' creator Jim Starlin decided to retcon those failures with Infinity Abyss, a six-issue miniseries series in 2002.
Written and drawn by Jim Starlin, the series revealed that the previous versions of Thanos were actually clones of him created with a mixture of genetic engineering, android technology and magic. Thanos also revealed that he made five more clones based on different powerful Marvel characters like Professor X, Doctor Strange, Gladiator, Galactus and Iron Man. The clones were known as Thanosi but their creator considered them a disappointment so he planned to destroy them. The Thanosi all shared their creator's desire to destroy life in the universe, but also his fashion sense. The Thanosi had physical appearances to match their powers and different versions of Thanos' armor. It's kind of interesting that Thanos used his power over science and sorcery to make these powerful beings and also put them in his suit, too.
8 THANOS COSPLAY IS HARD
Thanos has been a popular character in the Marvel universe for decades, and his star has risen even more with his appearances in the cinematic universe. As with any hero or villain worth his or her salt, several people have decided to wear Thanos costumes at conventions and other appearances. However, many have quickly discovered the hardest part of making Thanos isn't his purple skin or his imposing height. No, it's his armor.
The tricky part about the armor is that it has to look really heavy and strong, but also has to be light enough to wear comfortably all day long. In 2017, Prizmatic Cosplay tackled an incredible seven-foot tall Thanos suit made from a frame with foam, cardboard and polystyrene. All of these are lightweight materials, but the completed costume still weighed in at 33 pounds! We haven't even gotten to one of the most iconic parts of his armor: the Infinity Gauntlet. The Gauntlet has to be more than just a big glove with fake crystals in it. To really capture the power of the Infinity gems, those babies have to shine, so clever cosplayers have rigged the glove with wiring and lights so the gems will glow for a more impressive costume.
7 THE ARMOR OF THANOS' SON
Gamora is famously known as Thanos' daughter, even though she's actually adopted, but Thanos had many real children. One of his most powerful is Thane, who first appeared in New Avengers #10 by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato, Jr. Thanos spent years destroying entire planets, searching for his long-lost son. Born from an Inhuman woman, Thane grew up in a hidden city until his father tracked him down. When a Terrigen bomb unleashed his powers, the world discovered Thane had the power to create amber constructs that left people in a "living death" or simply kill anyone within a radius around him.
Thane's relationship with his father has been rocky, to say the least. He tried to kill his father with his powers and became even more powerful by bonding with the Phoenix Force later on. The whole time, Thane followed the family tradition of wearing armor. Thane has worn a variation of gold armor throughout his history, but it's not just for protection or decoration. His armor is used to contain his incredible power, because without the armor, Thane can kill everyone around him instantly. The armor lets him keep his powers contained to just anyone he touches, which is still pretty dangerous.
6 FORTNITE ARMOR
Thanos has been in video games before, but one of the most recent chances for players to put on the famous armor has been in Fortnite. Fortnite is one of the most popular video games out right now with its unique blend of combat, resource gathering and construction. That's why excitement came from the announcement that there would be a new mode in the game that would tie into Avengers: Infinity War. The introduction of Thanos came from the crew of Infinity War playing Fortnite so much during editing that they reached out to the game developers to make a crossover happen.
In the new game mode for Fortnite Battle Royale, the players could fight on a map where the Infinity Gauntlet is randomly dropped. The first one to get the Gauntlet gets a skin to become Thanos. Wearing the armor gives the wearer special powers like a punch that can destroy players and buildings, a huge jump, and increased health and shields. If anyone kills Thanos, they become the new Thanos. While fans loved the mode, it was ultimately a limited time event. Thanos' stats were also reduced over time by Epic Games to keep Fortnite more balanced. Still, it was an awesome ride while it lasted.
5 THE ARMOR IS STRONG
Thanos has gone through a lot over the years, and taken a beating that would easily destroy anyone else. That's all thanks to his armor, so let's talk about how strong it is and what it's been through. We can get bullets, knives and laser blasts out of the way right off the bat. Thanos has faced the firepower of entire armies and brushed them off. When we go to cosmic beings, we can look at Silver Surfer #35 in 1990 (Ron Lim, Jim Starlin) where the former herald of Galactus released the full force of his Power Cosmic on Thanos. Not only didn't it break through Thanos' armor, he didn't even flinch.
Next, we'll see what happened when Thanos went up against a literal god. In 2014's Infinity #6 (Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver, Jim Cheung), the God of Thunder, Thor, attacked Thanos by striking him with two bolts of lightning. Thanos didn't even get knocked down, because his armor absorbed the power with ease. Then there's 1973's Iron Man #55 (Mike Friedrich, Jim Starlin) where we saw a battle between Drax the Destroyer and Thanos so powerful that it caused an explosion that destroyed half the planet. Yet it was Drax lying unconscious after the explosion, and Thanos was still standing.
4 CAPTAIN AMERICA'S SHIELD
All through his history, Thanos has been an enemy of the whole universe, with his quest to win the love of Mistress Death. Some of his most frequent enemies have been the Avengers. He has occasionally played the role of an antihero to do good but it's never lasted long. Still, his heroic status went to the extreme when he literally wore the armor and costume of the iconic hero Captain America. That's the idea behind 2015's What If? Infinity - Thanos by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson.
In the story, the Marvel universe faced the threat of the Builders, an alien race who tried to improve things through war while Thanos and his Black Order tried to find his son, Thane. As forces allied to try to stop them, the one-shot comic imagined if the heroes reluctantly turned to Thanos for help. Yet at the crucial moment, Thanos revealed he only joined the Avengers to find his lost son. When Captain America found out, he fought the Mad Titan and was killed. The Avengers never saw his betrayal so he was able to convince them Cap had died in a battle with the Builders, took on the shield, and became the new Captain America.
3 CANCERVERSE THANOS
There's one time where Thanos and his armor became more than just strong and cool; he was just plain gross. That version of Thanos' armor came to light in 2010's Realm of Kings #1 when the war between the Kree and Shi'ar ended with the detonation of a Terrigen bomb. The bomb was so powerful that it ripped a hole in the universe itself, creating a tunnel called the Fault that led to another universe. That universe came to be known as the Cancerverse.
In the Cancerverse, Death had been defeated but no one was happy about it because all life was controlled and consumed by foul gods known as the Many-Angled Ones. The Many-Angled Ones had turned everyone into their twisted slaves, dedicated to conquering the Multiverse -- that included Thanos. In Nova #6 (Jeff Loveness, Ramon Perez, and Scott Hepburn), Nova came to face a Thanos who wasn't the world conqueror like he was in the normal universe, and his armor definitely wasn't the powerful suit it should have been. Somehow, the Cancerverse Thanos had corrupted even his armor to leave a toothed open wound in the middle of his chest along with eyeballs on his thighs, hands and other places they didn't belong.
Even before his first appearance in 1973 when creator Jim Starlin was told to make him bigger, Thanos has been compared to DC's Darkseid. The comparison is valid. The two are incredibly powerful with a desire for conquest, a huge set of powers, and enormously strong bodies. They both have caused the deaths of millions without remorse, and Thanos and Darkseid can both create powerful energy beams. They're also both tactical geniuses who can make plans centuries in advance. However, a big difference between the two is that Thanos wears armor and Darkseid doesn't. That changed in the Amalgam universe when the two characters combined.
The Amalgam Universe was first created in 1996 as a joint effort by DC and Marvel to combine their two universes. It led to such creations as the Wolverine-Batman combo Dark Claw and the fusion of Captain America and Superman named Super-Soldier. It seemed like a no-brainer to combine Thanos and Darkseid and that's exactly what happened in Bullets and Bracelets #1 by Gary Frank and John Ostrander. Thanoseid was a villain whose goal was to destroy the universe, leaving his homeworld of Apokolips as the only survivor. Thanoseid had the clothed chest and mini-skirt-like bottom of Darkseid but the belt, gloves and boots of Thanos.
Throughout his life, Thanos' affections have been towards the physical personification of Death, who he has seen and fallen in love with. He's killed on a massive scale, especially when he wore the Infinity Gauntlet and executed half the population of the universe with a snap of his fingers. Yet Mistress Death has still rejected him, enraging the villain and driving him to even greater acts of mass murder. In one instance, Thanos created his own lover and rival to Mistress Death, and the armor went along with it.
In 1991's The Infinity Gauntlet #3 by Jim Starlin and George Perez, Thanos decided he was sick of Mistress Death and used the power of the Gauntlet to create Terraxia. Terraxia was a beautiful version of himself who even wore a variation of his armor and shared Thanos' hatred for life. Unlike Death, she also adored him and was eager for his love. The two of them fought side-by-side against Earth's heroes and she proved to be just as dangerous, killing Iron Man and Spider-Man to make Thanos happy. Unfortunately, their brief love affair ended when Nebula gained the Infinity Gauntlet and sent the two across the Galaxy into deep space where she died because she needed to breathe air and he didn't.