If you are somehow not yet familiar with Thanos the Mad Titan, you should be. The infamous Marvel villain is set to take center stage at the climax of the MCU’s third phase of films with Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel (yet to be titled). Thanos has made a couple cameos already; he laughed at the might of the Avengers at the end of the first movie, acted as the “behind the scenes” baddie in Guardians of the Galaxy, and appeared as a post-credits stinger in Age of Ultron. In the words of the Silver Surfer, “Thanos is coming!”
Being the big bad that he is and holding an unhealthy obsession with Lady Death, it’s only natural that the Mad Titan has killed his way through the Marvel universe since his creation in 1973. The character is most well known for the Infinity Gauntlet story that involved him getting his hands on all six Infinity Stones and completely wiping out the universe with the snap of his fingers. Another famous tale showed Thanos becoming part of the living universe itself! Yeah, he’s pretty hardcore. We’re here to keep a tally on this dastardly villain’s body count (so far). Here are 15 People Thanos Has Killed!
15. War Machine (and She-Hulk)
Love it or hate it, Civil War II was a story that definitely changed the status quo of the Marvel universe. It starts when Captain Marvel and her team of Avengers agree to use the precognitive powers of an Inhuman named Ulysses to head off crimes before they can even happen. It’s a controversial decision that is only made more divisive in the aftermath of its first use.
Much to Tony Stark’s disapproval, Captain Marvel uses the Inhuman’s powers to foresee the return of Thanos to Earth. The Mad Titan (as per usual) was on a quest to find the cosmic cube. However, all he found were the Avengers waiting to ambush him. The resulting fight showed that the team had no idea what they were up against. Thanos causes War Machine’s missiles to miss and directly hit She-Hulk in the chest, sending her into a comatose state. He then murders War Machine by thrusting his entire fist through the hero’s stomach. When the dust clears and the Avengers are finally able to retreat, She-Hulk dies in the hospital as a result of her injuries.
14. Drax’s Family
Drax the Destroyer has shot up in popularity in the last three years thanks to the smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy. He went from a relative unknown to a lovable badass seemingly overnight. Thankfully, the Guardians films let us see both sides of Drax; we get to laugh as he tries to understand human jokes but we also get to see him get drunk and fly into a rage, going up against a literal army of Ronan the Accuser’s men. He has every reason to have this unbridled rage, as Thanos is the sole reason he was on a quest for revenge in the first place.
Though this is not the case in the MCU (they completely changed the character’s origin), Drax was once a human named Arthur Douglas. While driving along a highway in the desert with his family, Douglas came across Thanos in his spaceship. The Mad Titan, fearing that the family would tell someone of his arrival, attacks their car and kills both Arthur and his wife.
The Mentor (Thanos’ father) witnessed this event and took in Douglas’ daughter as his own. He also resurrected Arthur in a new Eternal body with the sole purpose of killing the Mad Titan. In the MCU, Thanos is still behind the death of Drax’s family, but Ronan is the one to actually do the deed.
13. The Mentor (His Father)
Believe it or not, Thanos didn’t just appear out of nowhere, without some sort of origin story. He has a mother (an Eternal) and a father (a Titan) who raised the villain throughout his childhood. However, Thanos was born with what they called “Deviant Syndrome,” a disease that made him mentally unstable and gave him a grotesque appearance. As he grew older and more sinister, he became estranged from his family, with his father, The Mentor, constantly opposing him at every turn.
In 2016’s Thanos comic book, the villain is revealed to be dying from an unknown ailment. Meanwhile, his son and a group of other cosmic entities group up to finish off the Mad Titan once and for all. With his back against the wall and nowhere else to turn, Thanos goes to his father in search of a cure. At first, the Mentor laughs at the idea of helping his evil son and says that he’s actually glad he’s dying.
However, Thanos eventually gets what he wants after threatening to kill everyone his father knows and loves. The Mentor studies Thanos’ blood and discovers that his body is wasting away at an atomic level; he says that a cure would take years to create and that his son only has weeks left to live. Thanos and his father trade verbal barbs before the enraged Titan punches his fist clean through the Mentor’s body and leaves him to die.
Sadly, Annihilus is a villain we won’t be seeing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe any time soon. The character is traditionally a Fantastic Four villain and has his film rights housed at Fox alongside the X-Men and the F4 themselves. Annihilus is a powerful adversary to Marvel’s first family, as well as all of the universe’s cosmic entities. He’s usually depicted as the ruler of the Negative Zone, with a powerful weapon that can manipulate matter at a molecular level using cosmic forces. Though the insect-like villain and Thanos have teamed up in the past, they came into direct conflict during the most recent Infinity Trilogy (which was written by Jim Starlin, the character’s original creator).
In the first chapter of this series, the Mad Titan was forced to team up with his greatest adversary, Adam Warlock, for the good of the multiverse. The sequel sees Annihilus attacking the “positive universe” (the 616) in an all-out assault. This forces the Guardians of the Galaxy, Warlock, and Pip the Troll to seek out the help of Thanos.
Though he remains a villain at heart, the Mad Titan aids them in their battle against Annihilus. The final chapter, Infinity Finale, occurs when Annihilus is able to steal the God-like power of Adam Warlock and wreak havoc upon the universe. After a hard-fought battle, Adam is able to regain his powers and turn Annihilus into a small, harmless insect. Thanos refuses to believe that his adversary is defeated and squishes the bug only to have Warlock scoff, “That was completely unnecessary, Titan.”
Phyla-Vell is the daughter of the original Captain Marvel. Kind of. The second Captain Marvel once completely destroyed and then rebuilt the universe (it’s a long story). When he reconstructed the 616 Universe, he added into the reality that Mar-Vell was the father of two children. Phyla-Vell had similar powers to her father; she could fly, possessed super-human strength, and was able to absorb any sort of energy that was thrown her way. Much like her father, Phyla-Vell was known as one of the greatest fighters in the entire galaxy.
This made her death at the hands of the Mad Titan all the more powerful. During the character’s short time as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the team encountered Magus (an evil version of Adam Warlock). Phyla-Vell attempted to engage the cosmic entity in combat, but he was able to use his powers to teleport her sword away from her hands and use it to stab her through the chest. However, this was all a ploy by Magus; she and the rest of her teammates were alive and well and imprisoned in a secret facility.
She helps the rest of her team break out and they stumble across a cocoon that they believe to be the villains. However, the shell hatches to reveal Thanos, who instantly eradicates her. You don’t mess around with this guy!
10. Peter Quill and Nova
Back before they were household names, the Guardians of the Galaxy were involved in some pretty insane adventures. In 2010 they were front and center for The Thanos Imperative, a story that involved a rift in time and space leading to the “Cancerverse,” a universe in which death is nonexistent. Thanos, being obsessed with Death as he is, welcomes this development with open arms. The leader of this universe, an alternate version of the original Captain Marvel, seeks out Thanos in order to kill him and regain the balance in his universe. Mar-Vell is the avatar of life and Thanos the avatar of death; balance will only be restored when one has killed the other.
Thanos allows himself to be captured by Mar-Vell, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Nova. He menacingly laughs as Mar-Vell executes him. In doing so, the Captain unwittingly summons Death and her minions and causes the Cancerverse to begin to collapse.
Death once again spurns Thanos, and he retaliates by attacking the heroes. Star Lord and Nova use their powers to teleport the rest of the team out of the Cancerverse but themselves stay behind to occupy Thanos until the universe collapses in upon itself. The three combatants engage as the world around them crumbles. All three are killed.
9. Sui-San (His Mother)
Alright, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Despite being an Eternal, one of the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel universe, her name is a bad pun on the human name “Susan.” Very clever. Sui-San was a descendant of Uranos, a powerful being who was constantly at war with the Eternal Kronos. The war forced him to leave his home planet, and his ship was shot down somewhere over the planet Titan. Here, his descendants tried to make a new life for themselves only to be persecuted and wiped out by the planet’s inhabitants. At the time of Thanos’ birth, Sui-San was the last remaining Eternal. She eventually met the Mentor; the two repopulated the entire planet with their children.
However, things went downhill when the Mad Titan was born. Right off the bat, Sui-San knew something was terribly wrong with her son. After looking into her son’s eyes for the first time she grabbed a knife and tried to kill him, claiming that there was “death in his eyes.” For obvious reasons, she was taken away and locked up.
When Thanos was finally an adult he paid his mother a visit in which she berated him and called him out for being the embodiment of evil. The Mad Titan took his mother away from her imprisonment and brutally dissected her body in hopes to find out why he was born the way he was.
8. The Thanosi
Don’t you just hate it when someone makes a clone of you? Well, apparently Thanos didn’t, because at one point, he decided that it was a good idea to make a bunch of clones of himself. Enter the Thanosi, a group of doppelgängers created with a mix of cybernetic and cloning technology. Each member of this group was modeled after a foe that Thanos thought was a potential threat. This meant that there was a Thanos Galactus, a Thanos Iron-Man, a Thanos Doctor Strange, and a Thanos Leader.
The Mad Titan should have picked up a comic book; everyone knows that no matter what you do, you eventually end up coming to blows with your clone. Trouble should have been sensed from the beginning, as every one of the Thanosi had the personality of the baddie.
And what do you get when you combine a bunch of Thanoses in a room? You get a room full of narcissistic, death-obsessed backstabbers!
The team constantly bickered about how much they wanted to have the chance to kill. Well, the Iron Man Clone (named Armour) has his only chance foiled when the real deal appears to him. Instead of testing his combat skills, he simply calls out “Father!” The already-annoyed Thanos is pushed over the edge and uses his eye beams to obliterate his clone. The Mad Titan also played a part in the destruction of his Galactus clone, Omega, who went rogue and nearly succeeded in destroying the entire universe.
7. Adam Warlock
Wait, isn’t this usually the other way around? If you’re reading a story about Thanos, chances are Adam Warlock isn’t too far behind. The character is considered to be the Mad Titan’s greatest enemy and has been front and center of almost every major cosmic story in the history of the Marvel universe. Warlock has foiled Thanos many times in the past, but the villain finally got his revenge in Avengers Annual #7.
The story begins with Adam Warlock arriving at the Avengers Mansion and telling the team that Thanos has returned. He claims that the villain has collected all the power of the Infinity Stones into a single synthetic jewel that he intends to use to wipe out the stars themselves. While the Avengers fight his minions, Warlock and Captain Marvel engage Thanos.
With the power of the gems at his side, Thanos quickly defeats Marvel. Adam Warlock puts up a good fight but is beaten, battered, and blasted by the Mad Titan until he falls over dead at the villain’s feet. Of course, he gets revived almost instantly by the Soul Gem, but Thanos getting the upper hand on Adam Warlock is not something that happens too often in the comics!
Wade Wilson is no stranger to getting killed. His main superpower is his body’s ability to heal itself from the most gruesome of injuries, so writers often put Deadpool into situations where he gets mangled and pulverized for comedic effect. So when fans were told that they were going to get a new mini series entitled Deadpool vs. Thanos, they gleefully awaited the gory humor that Marvel was throwing the Merc’s way. Without fail, the title delivered!
This crossover starts when people inexplicably stop dying. Someone has captured Lady Death, and Thanos goes on a mission to save her. However she communicates that he will need the help of Wade Wilson to restore the natural order to the universe.
Thanos and Deadpool definitely don’t have the kind of Thelma and Louise chemistry that most characters involved in a crossover do. In fact, Wade actually plans to kill the Titan upon their first encounter. He scoffs, “how tough can he be?” Without explanation, the next panel is Deadpool reduced to a bloody pile of mush. It’s just as hilarious as it sounds.
However, Thanos realizes that, at this point, death would be a release for the Merc with a Mouth and revives him, cursing him with the gift of eternal life.
5. Silver Surfer
Even if you only remember him from the atrocity that was Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, you have to admit that the Surfer is one of the most underrated characters in all of Marvel. He has a cool design, cool powers, an interesting backstory, and he rides on a freaking surfboard through space! Once the herald of Galactus, the Surfer eventually broke free and became a superhero all his own. Naturally, being a cosmic entity, Silver Surfer has had multiple encounters with the Mad Titan.
The most famous of all of these comes during the original Infinity Gauntlet story, when the character gets his butt handed to him by Thanos and then barely retreats with his life. He travels to the Sanctum Sanctorum and crashes into the mansion before delivering Doctor Strange a chilling message.
He survived their original encounter, but the Surfer wouldn’t be so lucky when the two met again in Silver Surfer #38. Here, Thanos has no time for the Surfer’s games. Using only the raw power of his fists, he beats the Silver Surfer to death. However, he then realizes that his actions were just what Lady Death wanted (she wanted the Surfer to be her new herald) and uses his power to resurrect the hero.
Before we had talked about Jim Starlin’s incredible new Infinity trilogy, that saw the Mad Titan teaming up with his greatest enemies to take on Annihilus and save the universe. It was a welcome return to form for the cosmic characters that Starlin had so lovingly created, and the story acted as the perfect sendoff for the writer as he left the Marvel cosmic universe behind, seemingly for good. The second chapter of the story, The Infinity Relativity, was released in the summer of 2015 and met with critical acclaim.
In the climax of this particular part of the story, Thanos and Adam Warlock end up trapped in purgatory when Warlock uses his powers to accidentally destroy the entire universe. At first, Thanos wants to try to find a Celestial power to bargain with. However, when that proves fruitless, he realizes what he must do; either face eternal purgatory or take his own life.
The Mad Titan psyches himself up before using his own power blasts on his head at point blank range, killing himself instantly. The character is revived almost instantaneously in The Infinity Finale, however.
3. Lady Death
1999’s Earth X storyline was interesting, to say the least. Based upon a series of “What If” sketches commissioned by Alex Ross for Wizard Magazine, the story asked the question: “What if super powers were commonplace?” Earth X takes place in a distant future where Black Bolt releases Terrigen Mist into the Earth’s atmosphere and turns the planet’s entire population into Inhumans. Our modern-day superheroes are suddenly not as super as they used to be, and have to adjust to a new society of powerful beings.
In the follow-up story, entitled Universe X, Thanos finally gets his heart’s utmost desire. Lady Death finally accepts him. The two team up in an effort to take over this new universe. In the Realm of the Dead, Captain Mar-Vell leads an army of other dead heroes to try and keep the pair contained within their world.
At the end of the story Mar-Vell is able to open Thanos’ eyes to Death’s ploy; she was just using the Titan to take control of the universe and was then planning on dropping him like last week’s copy of Deadpool. Enraged, Thanos uses the Ultimate Nullifier to kill Lady Death.
2. Drax the Destroyer (again)
We’ve already talked about The Thanos Imperative story earlier on in this article. If you recall, the Guardians of the Galaxy played a big role in the arc, which meant that Drax the Destroyer was not far behind. In the third issue of the series, the Guardians and Thanos reluctantly team up to try to figure out what was going on with the rift in the universe. The single-minded Drax, however, wants nothing to do with this alliance. Tensions bubble between Thanos and the Destroyer all throughout the issue, and finally come to a head when they realize that they will have to work together if they have any chance at saving the galaxy.
Thanos tells Drax that “…if he has anything to say [about working together] then he’d better say it.” Drax responds by blasting the Titan with his laser. The two violently battle while the rest of the Guardians look on in horror. The hero is able to get the upper hand on his enemy and plants an anti-matter bomb on Thanos. Unfortunately for him, the blast does nothing but anger the Mad Titan, who grabs Drax and uses all of his power to disintegrate the Guardian as his teammates can do nothing but watch helplessly.
1. The Entire 616 Universe
Maybe this is a cop-out, but there’s no way we can fit everyone that Thanos killed in The Infinity Gauntlet onto this list on their own! For those not familiar with the story (you will be after next year’s Infinity War), it followed Thanos as he obtained all six Infinity Gems and gained the power of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. In order to impress Lady Death, he erases half of all life in the universe with a simple snap of his fingers. After this horrifying occurrence, the surviving heroes join together to launch an all-out assault on the villain.
What comes next are some of the most gruesome beatdowns in Marvel history. Thanos tosses around the Hulk and the Thing like they are children. He dissolves all the bones out of Wolverine’s body, reducing him to a pile of limp flesh. The Mad Titan even turns the God of Thunder into glass, and suffocates Cyclops by encasing his head in a cube of crystal!
The moment that most stood out from this battle is when Captain America is the lone surviving hero. He looks Thanos dead in the eye and tells him that he will never be able to claim victory as long as one man stands against him. Without missing a beat, the Mad Titan retorts, “Noble sentiments from one who is about to die” right before he uses his gloved fist to shatter Cap’s shield and then kills Steve Rogers with a single punch.
You want to see a bunch of your favorite heroes die? Chances are you’ll get your wish with one of the two upcoming Avengers movies.
Did we miss anybody? Is Thanos really the most unstoppable force in the entire Marvel universe? How pumped are you for Infinity War? Let us know in the comments!
Key Release Dates
The Avengers: Infinity War release date: May 4, 2018
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 release date: May 5, 2017