Spoilers for The Infinity Gauntlet book
“You address omnipotence. Tread carefully.” – Thanos, The Infinity Gauntlet
A man stands over the mangled remains of Earth’s mightiest heroes. He is certain his lover will find them a worthy sacrifice. He examines the weapon that brought him such a glorious massacre. A golden gauntlet with six shimmering stones that make him omnipotent. In this blood-soaked hell, Thanos is content.
Thanos is one of Marvel’s cruelest villains. He has destroyed planets, killed heroes, and even attained godhood. So who is he? Why is he evil? And does he truly love Death? Let’s find out.
Supreme Nihilist: Thanos’ Backstory
“Am I not Thanos?! Did I not butcher the woman who gave me birth, who forced me into this hell called life? Is not the wake of my passing crimson with the blood of my enemies and allies alike?! Death is with me every second of the day!” – Infinity Gauntlet #2
Thanos was created by Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich in 1973. Thanos was heavily inspired by the character Metron of the DC series, New Gods. He was so heavily inspired that Marvel editor Roy Thomas told Starlin, “If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!” And so Starlin did.
Thanos was the prince of Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn. He was born with a mutation that gave him immense strength and let him control cosmic energy. It also made him look like a Deviant, his species’ hated enemies. Much like Loki in the Thor movies, he was hated and tormented by his species while his older brother, Eros, was loved by all.
Thanos finally snapped. After killing one of his tormentors, he saw the personification of Death standing over the body and fell in love with her. He did what any lovestruck fool would do and became a serial killer just to see her again. He was eventually caught and exiled from Titan. Thanos wandered the galaxy, gaining power and minions before returning to Titan and wiping out most of his species with a nuke.
The Infinity Gauntlet: Thanos’ History
“I now hold omnipotence. What should I do with such almighty power? The answer to that is actually quite simple: Anything I want.” – Thanos, The Infinity Gauntlet #1
After destroying his home and much of his species, Thanos traveled to Earth and battled various superheroes. He learned of six Infinity Stones, which combined with the Infinity Gauntlet, would make him invincible. He found all six Stones, but was killed by Adam Warlock before he could activate them.
Most comic characters only stay dead for a short time, but Thanos stayed dead for 13 years. He was brought back to life in 1990 and went on the warpath to reclaim the Gauntlet. He managed to get the full Infinity Gauntlet and killed half of the universe in an unsuccessful attempt to impress Death.
Every remaining hero and cosmic entity banded together to stop Thanos. As their losses mounted, Eternity, the personification of the Marvel universe, stepped in to battle the god-like villain. Eternity lost, and Thanos became the universe. But he made a mistake. To become an embodiment of the universe, he had to abandon his body.
The villainess Nebula stole the Gauntlet from Thanos’ empty body and undid his slaughter. He then allied himself with the resurrected heroes to stop the powerful Nebula. He seemingly committed suicide and went into a self-imposed exile after she was defeated.
Mad Titan: Thanos’ Powers and Personality
“Who would have thought that becoming God would be such a hollow victory?” – The Thanos Quest, Book 2
Thanos’ mutation gives him superhuman strength, durability, telekinesis, telepathy, and cosmic energy blasts. He is a genius who has mastered all forms of science in addition to battle strategy. He is strong enough to fight Odin to a standstill and defeat entire teams of Avengers. He managed all this before possessing The Infinity Gauntlet.
So what does the Infinity Gauntlet do anyway? The Gauntlet itself looks fancy and lets a user easily access all six Infinity Stones. The Time Stone allows its wielder to manipulate time, the Space Stone lets you go anywhere, the Mind Stone gives you knowledge and psychic powers, the Reality Stone lets you grant wishes, the Soul Stone lets you manipulate and steal souls, and the Power Stone channels all the energy that has ever existed to enhance the other Stones.
No, wielding the Gauntlet does not mean you’re getting stoned.
Thanos is a psychotic nihilist who is in love with Death. He is constantly trying to become stronger and indiscriminately kills to please and impress Death, despite her constant scorn. He constantly makes mistakes and sabotages himself because subconsciously he doesn’t think he deserves to win.
The Actors Who Played Thanos
The Other: “Humans. They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They are unruly and therefore cannot be ruled. [kneels] To challenge them… is to court death.”
Thanos turns and grins. – The Avengers
Thanos debuted as the main antagonist in the 1998 animated Silver Surfer, voiced by Gary Crawford. Producers turned him into a worshiper of Chaos instead of Death to comply with broadcast standards.
He next appeared in The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Steve Blum and later Jim Cummings. He has also appeared in the shows Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy, voiced by Isaac C. Singleton Jr.
Thanos made his film debut in the post-credit scene of The Avengers. He was played by Damion Poitier (no, not related), but was replaced in later movies by Josh Brolin. Thanos cameoed in Guardians of the Galaxy and appeared in the post-credit scene for Avengers: Age of Ultron. He will finally step into the spotlight in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel.
Didya Get All That?
Death’s crazy stalker
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.