Call him what you want, The Mad Titan, the villain of Avengers: Infinity War, or the purple guy with the huge chin-- Thanos has exploded in popularity recent years.
Marvel comic fans have known of Thanos’ existence for years. Yet it’s only because of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the character has been brought to the forefront of pop culture.
Thanos’ appearances in the MCU have been slim. Yet his name has still become recognizable. Even the most casual Marvel fan knows that Josh Brolin’s alter ego means business.
The work that MCU has put into building up Thanos has paid off. Even if Infinity War does come short of the lofty expectations that fans have for the movie, Thanos already seems like one of the most threatening comic book villains ever.
Yet with Thanos’ popularity, comes a lot of mistakes and misconceptions.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has confirmed little about Thanos other than, he’s purple, has a magic glove and doesn’t like to stand up. So, in the mystery’s place, a lot has been assumed and theorized about Thanos-- a lot of which is just wrong. Or at least it's incorrect when used the comics are used as a source.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t always stuck close to the source material. In fact, the MCU has changed the comics, more than the comics have influenced the movies. Yet there’s a lot about Thanos in the comics that the average Marvel fan likely doesn’t know.
Here are the 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Thanos.
Thanos does seem like a man with a very particular goal. The MCU has portrayed Thanos as singularly focused and monstrous. He desires only one thing: galaxy-wide domination.
While Thanos ruling all known creation is on the top of his bucket list, it isn’t his only desire. The Mad Titan has other hobbies, like farming.
After Thanos lost his battle in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, the comic on which Infinity War is based, he retired. Contemplating his loss, Thanos moved to a quiet planet and decided just to live off the land.
Thanos, the purple hulking alien that he is, hung up his suit and traded it in for a trowel and hoe.
The Agricultural Titan obviously didn’t last but Thanos’ softer side has returned time and again in the comics. Thanos’ default is mass murder and domination. Yet he can be calmer, and more genteel.
The name Thanos does have a certain ring to it. It suggests something otherworldly and alien. Yet it still comes with a harsh and authoritative sound.
It’s easy to think that the name, though, is utter nonsense and make-believe. It doesn’t come from anything but the mind of his creators, Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin. The truth is a lot different.
Thanos’ name comes from the Greek god, Thanatos.
Thanatos is a rather obscure figure in Greek mythology, but he is known as the God of Death. (This isn’t to be confused with Hades, who rules the Underworld.)
The reason why Thanatos was used for inspiration in naming Thanos was because of the character’s deep and obsessive connection to Marvel’s personification of Death.
Interestingly, though, a Thanatos still exists in the Marvel Universe, being nearly identical to the one found in Greek mythology. However, he was introduced years after Thanos’ first appearance.
Thanos is almost always linked to the Infinity Stones, originally called Infinity Gems. In the MCU, Thanos and the Stones are often been mentioned within the same breadth.
So it’s easy to assume that the Stones belong to Thanos in some way or that he once had all of them under his possession.
In reality, Thanos has no ownership over the Infinity Stones (or Gems). He just desires them.
Though Thanos is over a thousand years old, in the comics anyway, he had nothing to do with the creation of the mystical objects. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe,
The Infinity Stones were created by the four Cosmic Entities. These are Death, Entropy, Eternity, and Infinity.
In the comics, The Infinity Gems are the remnants of a lonely and powerful Cosmic Entity who committed suicide, the gems are all that remains of it.
When Thanos was first seen in the MCU, it was on his hovering movable chair. It gave the impression that Thanos is the scariest geriatric of all time and he comes and goes by chair.
Thanos’ chair is as important to his overall look as his gold gauntlet or his ridiculously large chin. Yet he has other methods of travels… besides his own two legs.
In the early days of the character, Thanos had his own personal helicopter.
As you can imagine, his wide frame took up most of the cockpit, which looked ludicrous enough. It was just the tip of the insanity iceberg. The copter had Thanos' name printed on the side, in large letters-- as if the enormous violet pilot wasn’t enough to clue people into the vehicle’s owner.
Worst of all, while driving the Thanos copter, the alien overlord was arrested and subdued by regular human cops.
Since his introduction in Guardians of the Galaxy, the very literal-speaking Drax has become a fan favorite. Drax’s main motivator, especially in his first movie, is to get revenge on Thanos.
Guardians has mostly made a joke of Drax’s violence, using it as an example of the character being foolhardy and reckless. Drax seems so far removed from an actual threat to Thanos.
In the comics, things are much different. Drax was actually created with the sole purpose of destroying Thanos. Thanos' own grandfather, Kronos, saved the soul of a human named Arthur Douglas.
Arthur’s soul was then used to create Drax the Destroyer. Drax was created to take out Thanos, which he actually did in the Annihilation event during 2006.
Thanos’ demise didn’t last, though, and Drax’s MCU story is a bit different. However, Thanos may not want to ignore Drax during Infinity War.
Thanos is one of the premiere villains in the Marvel Universe. Thanos is the cream of the crop when it comes to baddies. With that comes a perception that he’s the personification of evil and he was born wrong. That’s not true.
Thanos was set on a villainous path from his birth. Yet, he wasn’t born “evil.” With Thanos, Marvel has subscribed much more to the nurture theory than the nature in how he became villain. However, part of his transformation is still biological.
Thanos was born with a condition called Deviant Syndrome. This made him appear as he does, incredibly ugly. He was so ugly his mother went insane and tried to destroy him.
Obviously being shunned and reviled for his appearance gave Thanos a bit of complex.
It’s cheesy but if he had been hugged more, Thanos might’ve been a little less sociopathic.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot of groups. There’s S.H.I.E.L.D., The Avengers, and even Thor’s Revengers. Yet one of the most ominous sounding characters are the Children of Thanos.
Introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos has destroyed countless races and planets taking a sole survivor and raising them as his children.
Gamora and Nebula are two of the most famous, but they’re just one of many. Most of Thanos’ children are from conquest and unofficial adoption. However, he also has one rather prominent biological son.
Thane is the secret son of Thanos, borne of an Inhuman mother.
Although Thane began his life in relatively normal fashion, he eventually grew to become as ruthless and egomaniacal as his father. After attempting to destroy Thanos several times, Thane was trapped in a living Hell called, the God Quarry.
Thanos isn’t entering the battle with The Avengers (and the rest) in Infinity War blind. He will be backed up The Black Order.
Since the other name for this group is The Children of Thanos, especially in Infinity War, there can be some confusion about their origins. They are not Thanos’ actual children, adopted or otherwise. At least that’s not the case in the comics.
The Children of Thanos are more like disciples of Thanos.
They are completely devoted to Thanos and are his lieutenants, carrying out his orders. They weren’t raised by Thanos like Gamora or Nebula.
Compared to Thanos, the Black Order is rather weak, not in terms of power but characterization. They are just rather cool looking characters that do various evil things-- cool-looking evil characters who have no familial relation to Thanos.
Thanos isn’t winning any father of the year awards in the MCU or the comics. He is incredibly abusive and treats his children horribly, whether they be biological or adopted. Thanos didn’t learn much of anything from his own unfortunate childhood.
Just because Thanos is a terrible dad, though, doesn’t mean he’s incapable of loving or caring for children.
In fact, Thanos does have some affection for his offspring. He just rarely shows it.
Thanos has rarely shown kindness to Gamora and Nebula in the comics, particularly the former. In fact, in one of the most bizarre Marvel stories ever, Thanos celebrated Christmas with Gamora.
There was no cruel twist or gore-filled antics. It was just a regular holiday with presents and merriment.
Thanos has a long history of doing awful things. It wouldn’t be too much of a leap to think that he’s the worst person his family ever produced.
In other words, Thanos might be purple but he’s still the black sheep of his family. This would be a safe bet and in the MCU it might very well be true. It's not the case in the comics.
Thanos isn’t an only child in the Marvel Universe, though. He has a brother named Eros who also goes by the name Starfox.
Although Starfox was a member of The Avengers for a time, he’s not very popular. Starfox has the power to control people’s minds. During his time on Earth Starfox used that "skill" to seduce and control several famous Marvel women, eventually being put on trial for assault.
Thanos has several monstrous things on his résumé, but at least he has some moments of humanity. Starfox is an unrepentant and gross cad.
Like any villain, there’s a assumption that Thanos wants to win and succeed. However, Marvel has made Thanos so overpowered that the comics have tried to find some way, any way, to make him beatable.
It was therefore introduced, in the comics, that Thanos has a subconscious desire to lose. Some small part of Thanos wants to lose and perish so he can be with his great love, Death.
The chances of this manifesting in the MCU is very low. It would be the definition of anticlimax that after all the build-up leading to Thanos that the Mad Titan just “gives up.”
Thanos’ loser complex is a little bit more complex than that, though, and it has been sort of pushed aside in the recent Marvel canon. However, it still stands as being an (interesting) part of Thanos’ character and history.
Thanos has been responsible for a lot of pain. He’s earned a reputation of the most destructive Marvel villains for very good reason.
However, unlike many other comic book heroes, Thanos isn’t a source of unfiltered evil.
There’s a depth to Thanos-- he’s not evil so much as egoistic and ruthless. Thanos has had moments of redemption and heroism.
He once teamed up with The Avengers to stop Nebula from destroying the universe. He was called on to help neutralize a deranged Thor and did the job, without striking at Asgard. He’s even saved lives, from useless and needless destruction.
In an alternate universe, Thanos is even the leader of The Avengers. This Thanos is a hero and he’s not that dissimilar from the main version.
The Avenger Thanos just has the respect and love of the people, which is something the “real” Thanos has always desired.
The list of Thanos' powers is a mile long. There’s few people more impressive than Thanos, especially when he has a full Infinity Gauntlet.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable and immortal.
Thanos is a tough cookie to crack but he has been defeated, several times, within the comics.
Thor, Drax, The Hulk, and Adam Warlock have all stood up against Thanos and been able to take him. Some of these victories happened in alternate universes. (It was a zombie version of Hulk who managed to destroy an undead Thanos with a single punch to head.)
In addition, Stan Lee, an expert on the subject, thinks Marvel baddie Galactus is stronger than Thanos.
Yet one of the most (in)famous, embarrassing, and real defeats of Thanos defeat at Squirrel Girl’s hands. Squirrel Girl, whose recent gimmick has been beating the “unbeatable” Thanos in single combat, leaving him crippled on the ground.
Looking at him, Thanos seems like an obvious rip-off of DC’s Big Bad, Darkseid. Darkseid made his first appearance in 1970, with Thanos making his big debut three years later in 1973.
The two even have similar motivations and goals. Yet Thanos wasn’t originally based off of Darkseid. Another New God from DC did serve as inspiration.
The original basis for Thanos was DC’s Metron.
Sometimes called the God of Knowledge, Metron is an impartial observer. He sets on a throne, very similar to Thanos’ chair, and observes the events of the DC Universe.
Jim Starlin borrowed several elements from Metron in creating Thanos. However, no one felt that this Thanos looked threatening enough.
So the decision was made to make Thanos appear more Darkseid-like, the reasoning being if "you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”
Thanos is a rather perfect name for the Mad Titan and not just because of its mythical basis. The name sounds right and immediately gives an impression of the character.
Evidently, though, Thanos had a much different (and far sillier) name. It’s only been a recent part of Marvel canon but in 2017’s Thanos #14, Thanos original birth name was unveiled.
In the story, Thanos met and spoke with an older version of himself. Old Man Thanos tries to bond with his younger version and speaks of Thanos’ true name. It was the name that Thanos’ mother meant to give her son, before she went crazy because her baby was just too ugly to handle.
Thanos’ real name is Dione.
Dione does have some mythological basis too, being the mother of Roman god Venus and associated with the water and sea. However, Thanos sounds much, much better.
Did you know all of this about Thanos? What little known facts did we miss about the Infinity War villain? Sound off in the comments!