Despite what some people (DC fans, mostly) would have you believe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't have a villain problem.
Although the franchise struggled to match the lofty standards set by Tom Hiddleston's Loki during Phase One for a while, recent movies have added diversity and originality to the rogues gallery.
The likes of Cate Blanchett's goddess Hela, Michael Keaton's Vulture and, most recently, Michael B Jordan's Erik Killmonger have raised the bar for MCU evildoing, which leaves Thanos with his work cut ahead of Avengers: Infinity War, a film which marks the culmination of all that came before it.
The Mad Titan will be the greatest threat Earth's Mightiest Heroes have ever faced, and he'll be an even greater one if he gets his mitts on the full set of Infinity Stones.
Played by Josh Brolin, the purple-faced nasty has been lurking in the shadows in many of the previous movies, pulling strings unseen.
Now he's ready to take things into his own hands and the MCU will never be the same again once he's done with it.
Although Thanos' screen time has been minimal, he's kept himself busy in the run-up to Infinity War, wiping out races, raising adoptive daughters and quite literally flirting with destruction.
With the next Avengers movie almost upon us, here are the 18 Things You Didn't Know Thanos Did Before Infinity War.
18 Spent His Early Years As An Outcast On Titan
Although it's hard to forgive someone for committing mass genocide and obliterating entire planets, in Thanos's defence, he got off to a rough start in life.
He hails from a planet called Titan, which is occupied by a race of god-like beings that shares its name.
When you're born into a society of deities, imperfections have a way of standing out.
Also, since Thanos emerged misshapen and deformed, he didn't stand much of a chance on his homeworld.
The being who would later develop an unhealthy obsession with destruction and Infinity Stones was an outcast from day one, ostracised by his own people, and this would define the early chapters of his life.
No doubt being roundly shunned like that also had a bearing on the monster he would become.
17 Devised A Plan To Save Titan From Destruction
A planet where everyone has god-like abilities doesn't sound like a terrible place to live, but Thanos's homeworld of Titan had one major drawback: it was slowly being destroyed.
Overconsumption and excess were on the verge of triggering a mass extinction event when Thanos came up with a radical plan to save it.
The soon-to-be villain's idea involved a mass cull of the population to alleviate the strain on the planet's resources.
Would it have worked? Nobody knows because Thanos's fellow Titans were aghast at the idea of slaughtering so many of their own and they swiftly exiled him from the planet for even suggesting it.
This is where the Titan's obsession with mass slaughter in the name of a perceived greater good began.
16 Was Exiled From His Home Planet
When Thanos proposed slaughtering half the population to save his homeworld of Titan from an impending cataclysm, he was branded a madman and a fiend.
His fellow Titans exiled him for his radical ideology, forcing him to head for the cosmos in search of a new home.
Thanos, however, had the last laugh as the doomsday event he was trying to avert devastated Titan and left it almost uninhabitable.
The vast majority of the Titan race was wiped out too, so it's fair to say exile was a blessing in disguise for Thanos.
It wasn't long before the alien warlord sought to test his radical theories about ecosystem balancing elsewhere, and as his ego grew, he set his sights on applying them to the entire universe.
15 Became The Ruler Of Sanctuary
After being exiled from his birth planet for tabling radical ideas about population balancing, Thanos headed for deep space in search of a new home.
God-like powers were the norm on Titan, but elsewhere in the universe, they gave Thanos an edge over those who opposed him.
He used them to seize control of an asteroid field from a race of cybernetically-enhanced reptilian warriors known as the Chitauri. Remember them from the first Avengers movie?
The Chitauri swore fealty to the Mad Titan and became his own personal army, stationed in the asteroid belt now known as Sanctuary.
Together, they conquered, plundered and obliterated neighbouring worlds and became known across the galaxy as a force to be reckoned with.
14 Massacred The Zehoberei Race
With an army of Chitauri on his side, warmongering became Thanos's favourite pastime and the Zehoberei were one of the first races to end up in his crosshairs.
Although the Zehoberei are super strong and have impenetrable green skin, they proved no match for the Mad Titan's god-like abilities.
The villain and his cybernetic army wiped out the race almost entirely, sparing only a young girl who Thanos would take under his wing. That girl would grow up to be the dangerous assassin and Guardians of the Galaxy member Gamora.
Judging by the Infinity War trailers, Gamora’s in-depth knowledge of her adoptive father should prove to be a vital weapon in the Avengers’ arsenal, but if he gets his hands on the Infinity Stones, all the intel in the world is unlikely to help them.
13 Destroyed Nebula’s Birth Family
Nebula has more reason to hate Thanos than most. Although the Mad Titan is her adoptive father, the only reason she was up for adoption in the first place is because he slaughtered her birth family.
Nebula, played by Karen Gillan in the movies, is part of the blue-skinned Luphomoid race.
Thanos and his Chitauri crossed paths with a family of them while conquering their way across the universe and the two parties were drawn into battle.
The Titan left only a young Nebula alive and raised her as his own.
The future assassin was raised alongside her adoptive sister Gamora, who ended up under Thanos's wing due to similarly bloody circumstances, and it's hardly surprising that the pair grew up with major daddy issues.
12 Trained Gamora And Nebula As Assassins
There weren't too many wholesome life lessons Thanos could pass on to his adoptive daughters, Gamora and Nebula, but he was more than capable of training the pair up in the dangerous arts, with the help of Ronan the Accuser.
The Mad Titan honed his kids into two of the galaxy's most lethal assassins and had them do his bidding on numerous occasions.
That wasn't always easy since both women had mixed feelings about Thanos while growing up. The pair harboured a fair portion of resentment towards their father figure, and who can blame them considering he destroyed their birth families while establishing himself as the galaxy's most fearsome warlord?
Gamora and Nebula were raised as rivals as much as they were allies, so needless to say their relationship has always been complicated.
11 Replaced Nebula's Limbs With Cybernetics
Many characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could use a few intense therapy sessions, but none more than Nebula.
Not only was she forced to watch her adoptive father Thanos slaughter her birth family, but she spent her early life training to be his own personal assassin.
The Mad Titan was harder on Nebula than his other adoptive daughter, Gamora, and whenever he pitted them against one another in training duels, he would remove one of the Luphomoid's body parts as punishment each time she lost.
The severed limbs were replaced with cybernetics, hence why Karen Gillan's character looks like some kind of alien-machine hybrid.
Can anyone really blame her for wanting to get even with her alien warlord dad?
10 Sent Gamora And Nebula To Seek Out The Orb
After embarking on a twisted crusade to wipe out half of all existence, Thanos came to the realisation that'd he'd be in a better position to do that with all six Infinity Stones in his possession.
His early efforts to obtain them involved forging uneasy alliances and getting others to do the legwork for him.
In the Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude comic, he gets a lead on the Power Stone and has adoptive daughters Gamora and Nebula follow it up.
As anyone who's seen the movie will tell you, the Power Stone was, at this stage, housed inside of a cosmic artifact called the Orb.
The Mad Titan’s daughters track the Orb to a location called the Cloud Tombs of Praxius, but Nebula’s hasty attempts to retrieve it left her snared in a trap. As punishment for her failure, Thanos forbid her sister from freeing her. Sadistic much?
9 Assembled The Black Order
Taking in and training up 'children' was one of Thanos's favourite projects during his years as a budding intergalactic warlord.
He had mixed results with Nebula and Gamora as both resented him for destroying their kin and would ultimately betray the Titan. With the Black Order, however, he had more success.
Corvus Glaive, Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian and Proxima Midnight were recruited by the Mad Titan in their youths and moulded into fierce warriors, each with their own unique set of skills.
Unlike Gamora and Nebula, they remained unwaveringly loyal to the purple-faced villain and will act as his generals when he invades Earth in Avengers: Infinity War. Under their command will be an army of Outriders, a race of genetically-engineered humanoid creatures.
8 Fell Out With Gamora And Nebula
Thanos has no love for anyone other than himself and, depending on which comic books you read, a skeleton-faced personification of Death.
So, when he took orphaned Gamora and Nebula into his care, it wasn't out of kindness but to turn them into living weapons and use them for his own ends.
Under the tutelage of the Mad Titan and Ronan the Accuser, the pair became fearsome warriors but their time by Thanos's side ultimately ended in betrayal.
His brutal parenting style left their relationships frayed long before his adoptive daughters reached adulthood, and Gamora was the first to sever ties with him, doing so after the Battle of Xandar in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Nebula followed suit followed the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, in which she made peace with her sis and vowed to end Thanos for everything he's put them through.
7 Hid The Mind Stone Inside The Chitauri Scepter
Thanos is convinced that it’s his destiny to balance the universe by wiping out half of it, and he soon realises that a fully-stocked Infinity Gauntlet will put him on the fast track to this goal.
Prior to The Avengers, the Titan already has his mitts on one of the gems-- the Mind Stone.
How Thanos came into possession of the stone is a mystery, though one thing we do know is that he stored it inside the Chitauri Scepter to create an all-powered cosmic weapon, which he loaned to Loki to help him fulfil his Earth-conquering ambitions.
Why Thanos willingly handed over an Infinity Stone is a valid question and the answer is likely to double his money. He ordered Loki to locate the Tesseract and no doubt felt he could easily take both gems from the Asgardian when the time came.
6 Trained Loki In Mind Control
It's easy to forget that the first Avengers movie's post-credits scene outed Thanos as the mastermind behind Loki's invasion of Earth, given that so much has happened in the MCU since then.
Not only is the Mad Titan the one who hooked the mischevious Asgardian up with an army of Chitauri, but he also trained him up in the art of Infinity Stone-powered mind control.
The technique Loki demonstrates on Professor Erik Selvig and Clint Barton is one he picked up in Sanctuary, taught to him by the Titan himself.
The ability to turn people into his puppets was all well and good, but it was Thanos who was pulling the strings, using Loki as a pawn in his quest to locate the Infinity Stones.
5 Inadvertently Assembled The Avengers And The Guardians Of The Galaxy
Some credit Nick Fury with bringing the Avengers together and cite Loki as the catalyst that inspired their assembly, but the role Thanos played cannot be overstated.
The Mad Titan was the mastermind behind the Asgardian's invasion of Earth, so, in a sense, it was his quest for the Infinity Stones which united them.
It's apt that Infinity War will see the Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to oppose the villain, because it was his actions that brought the cosmic misfits together too.
If Thanos hadn't sent Gamora on a mission to retrieve the Orb, the intergalactic posse might never have crossed paths with each other, which would have been an incredible shame, considering how much greater the Guardians are than the sum of their parts.
4 Agreed To Destroy The Xandarians For Ronan The Accuser
Along with collecting gems and wiping out civilizations, one of Thanos's favourite hobbies is getting other people to do his bidding. In Guardians of the Galaxy, that somebody was the militaristic Kree warlord Ronan the Accuser.
He instructed Lee Pace's character to track down the orb on his behalf, and in exchange, Thanos agreed to wipe out the Kree's mortal enemies, the Xandarians.
Thanos would have come good on his end of the bargain, not because he's a man of his word per se, but because he revels in the obliteration of entire races.
As it happens, he didn't get the chance to seal the deal since Ronan double-crossed him once he realised how powerful the Orb - a containment vessel for the Power Stone - really was.
3 Courted Death
At the end of The Avengers, Thanos's thrall informs him that to challenge Earth while it's under the protection of Cap, Iron Man and co. is to "court death." The Mad Titan simply responds why a wry grin to indicate that this was his plan from the beginning.
What many film fans who've never read any of the comics might not realise is that Thanos's courtship is a literal concept.
During the Infinity Gauntlet series, the Mad Titan's love interest is a female version of the Grim Reaper, and helping her bring balance to an overpopulated universe is his sole motivation for tracking down the Infinity Stones.
It remains to be see whether Infinity War will follow suit and include its own take in the Death character, though Thanos's knowing smile in The Avengers suggests that's a possibility.
2 Obtained The Infinity Gauntlet
Infinity War will see Thanos take matters into his own hands for a change and embark on a quest to track down the Infinity Stones. Interestingly, he seems to already be in possession of the gauntlet they conveniently slot into, Avengers: Age of Ultron's post-credits sequence proves.
Exactly how the Mad Titan came to secure the glove is an interesting question and there's probably a good story behind it.
One possible theory is that Thanos created the gauntlet himself, which would explain why it fits so well, but there's also the possibility that it was forged by another.
One fan theory doing the rounds online suggests it may have been the handiwork of Eitri the dwarf king, a Marvel Comics character who is yet to feature on screen. Could this be the secret role Peter Dinklage has been cast in? Only time will tell.
1 Tracked The Asgardian Refugees To Earth
Asgard may have been destroyed, but all seemed fine by the end of Thor: Ragnarok. Most of the Norse realm's inhabitants made it onto that refugee ship along with Thor, Loki, Hulk and the rest of the gang, and a course was plotted for Earth and the promise of a fresh start.
The optimism, however, soon faded when Thanos's massive warship, Sanctuary II, loomed into view during the post-credits scene.
The Mad Titan only went and tracked the refugees to Earth. All hell is about to break loose, and if the trailers are anything to go by, heavy Asgardian casualties could be in store.
Infinity War could potentially pick up from this point. Exactly what Thanos has planned for the Asgardian refugees remains be seen, but one thing is for sure, it's unlikely to be the welcome they were bargaining for.
Can you think of any other crazy things that Thanos did before Infinity War? Sound off in the comments!