Thanos is set to be the biggest bad guy the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen. In fact, when Thanos becomes the primary antagonist for the big screen heroes instead of hiding in the shadows, it will take nearly every hero Marvel has put in the movies so far to take him down. That fearsome presence is inspired by his long running feud with… well, just about everyone in the comics.
Despite being someone who is almost always after the power to destroy and create worlds, Thanos isn’t always a bad guy. There is the rare occasion that Thanos is even good. Known as The Mad Titan, he quests for ultimate power, wanting at times to alleviate boredom, and, at others, to impress the love of his (very long) life. Just because he craves power and love doesn’t make him evil. Even if it did, evil guys can have soft spots too.
Thanos often proves that he can do the right thing when it comes down to the very fabric of reality being torn. He can’t become all powerful if reality is destroyed, after all. Yes, some of his good deeds are self-serving, but that doesn’t make them any less good.
In fact, we’ve got 15 Times Thanos Was A Good Guy to prove it.
18 Rescued And Raised Gamora
Gamora is a member of the Zen-Whoberi race, and she’s one of the last of her kind. Her people were slaughtered by Magus, the alter ego of Adam Warlock. Thanos set out to prevent a specific timeline of events occurring in which the Magus became all powerful, and he thought saving Gamora would create a new track in the timeline.
To be fair, Thanos’ reasons weren’t entirely selfless. He wasn’t simply trying to save the universe, but make sure that he could get some of the Magus’ power as well. He could have abandoned Gamora when rescuing her. Instead, he raised her as his own, trained her to fight, and even taught her about some holidays, like Christmas.
17 Teamed Up With Heroes To Stop Nebula
Thanos was out to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet for his own use in the comics, and he even briefly succeeded. He made a mistake though and didn’t account for Nebula, whom he had left close to death on his ship, and she stole the gauntlet from him, healing herself, while he was busy astral projecting and his mind wasn’t in his body.
As a result, Nebula became the real villain of the comic book arc (and something many fans are hoping to see in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie). Thanos didn’t sit back and let her destroy things though. He teamed up with the heroes to save her.
It took the combined abilities of Thanos, Adam Warlock, and Silver Surfer to stop Nebula and split up the Infinity Gems. Though Thanos still wasn’t a hero anyone could completely trust, he and Adam Warlock did share a mutual respect that led them to team up again in the future.
16 Stopped Thor With The Silver Surfer
The Blood And Thunder comic book arc was a strange one. It saw Thor driven insane and bent on destruction. As a desperate move, Thanos was called in to save the day.
Initially, Thor’s destructive insanity was relegated to Asgard, where his own people tried to stop him. The Silver Surfer was soon on the scene to help, and it was this cosmic entity that called on Thanos when he realized his own abilities weren’t enough to end the conflict. Thanos didn’t initially want to help, but he did come to Asgard’s rescue, battling Thor, and even confining him to a prison that could hold him temporarily while his Asgardian family figured out just what could be done to help him.
Thor eventually thanked Thanos for his role in saving the day, and Thanos enjoyed the experience of fighting the God of Thunder, so it was a win-win for everyone.
15 Saved Death With Deadpool
Though Thanos began the story arc in the limited series Deadpool vs Thanos as competition for The Merc With a Mouth, the two ended up becoming allies.
Deadpool, because he can’t die, caught the attention of Lady Death, which made Thanos jealous. Thanos has always enjoyed being the center of her attention and didn’t like that he had to compete with the anti hero.
The two decided to join forces though as Lady Death was kidnapped by Eternity. With Death held by Eternity, everything would live forever, something that would have truly brought chaos to the comic book world. It was Deadpool, ultimately, who convinced Lady Death to return, but Thanos made sure they were both able to get to her.
14 Became A Farmer
Readers (and the heroes) of the Infinity Gauntlet storyline were led to believe that Thanos died during the massive battle that occurred. It was revealed that he was still very much alive, though not in a place where they’d have expected.
When receiving a visit from Adam Warlock, Thanos is shown to be living a simpler life. The larger-than-life villain decided to become a farmer after his latest quest for power didn’t go the way he expected. He decided to take some time out for himself and examine his own life, figuring out just where he made a wrong turn.
Of course, this more zen Thanos didn’t exactly last forever. Thanos may have spent some time growing plants and reflecting, but eventually, he would set out to rule the universe again - and again.
13 Guarded The Reality Gem
Despite having tried to steal (and use) all of the Infinity Gems for himself, Thanos was entrusted with the guardianship of one of them by Adam Warlock.
Following Thanos’ defeat, it was Adam Warlock who ended up with the Infinity Gauntlet and the powers of a god. He went before the Living Tribunal to discuss the possession of the gems, and it was decided that he wasn’t worthy of godhood. Warlock decided to give the gems to a few trusted individuals, keeping one for himself. Thanos was the recipient of the Reality Gem.
This might seem like an odd choice, but the gem is often considered the most dangerous, able to completely rip apart reality as we know it. Thanos, for all his love of power and destruction, can’t lord his giant ego over anyone if reality is torn asunder, so really, it’s not a bad move on Adam Warlock’s part.
12 Led The Avengers
One of the most recent issues of the Thanos solo series saw The Mad Titan in an unfamiliar situation: he was leader of the latest team of Avengers.
Thanos #10 saw the title character getting a chance to see a world where he was the biggest hero of the Avengers, and the entire world loved him, even uttering the catchphrase “Avengers, Assemble,” on the way into battle while Daredevil, Ms. Marvel, and more followed his lead.
Of course, the entire thing is a lie, a hallucination of sorts created to test him. It’s a fleeting moment for long-time comic book readers, but one where they finally get to see Thanos as a hero instead of a villain who only aligns with the good guys when it suits him.
9 Changed His Mind
When Annihilus decided it was his turn to dominate the universe, Thanos surprised many by not challenging the villain for power. Instead, Thanos decided to follow Annihilus, tired as he was of seeing the same heroes rise and villains fall. That might sound bad, but that’s not why this experience lands on our list.
When Thanos discovered that Annihilus wasn’t out to rule the universe, but to destroy it, he decided he’d made a mistake. He decided he could no longer be a follower and set out to release the trapped Galactus, the only one who could likely take Annihilus on and succeed. Thanos was killed by Drax before he had the chance, but it was the thought that counts.
8 Joined Namor’s Cabal
At the time, Namor had been kicked out of the Illuminati because of the extreme measures he went to in order to prevent worlds from colliding in the past. No longer a part of the secret supergroup, he needed a few people who could hold their own when two universes were on a collision course. In addition to Thanos, Namor also recruited the Inhuman Maximus, Reed Richards from another dimension, and more.
While the goal was saving the world (and it was achieved), the group also demanded the country of Wakanda as payment when the United Nations sanctioned their actions.
7 Battled Magus To Save Reality
Adam Warlock might have been willing to put his trust in Thanos, but Adam Warlock had a dark side of his own. Thanks to a little bit of magic, Adam Warlock, the good part of his soul, and the bad part of his soul, all were sentient beings. Magus, the manifestation of the bad part of his soul, wanted to reassemble the same Infinity Gauntlet that Thanos once possessed and Adam Warlock broke apart. He wasn’t out for control or power, but the destruction of everything.
Initially, it was the usual lineup of heroes who attempted to thwart Magus, including Adam Warlock, but Thanos soon emerged on the scene with a few plans to take the villain down. With good reason, many didn’t trust him, but he proved that he was on the heroes’ side yet again.
6 Allowed An Enemy To Chose Their Own Fate
Corvus Glaive, a former servant of Thanos, took over for the Titan back in the Black Quadrant when Thanos found himself imprisoned. Thanos, of course, eventually escaped his prison, and he wasn’t happy to find that his own servant had betrayed him and usurped his power.
Thanos returned to the Black Quadrant and he fought his way through Corvus Glaive’s order until he was able to confront the man who stole his power, even defeating him in battle. Thanos could have rubbed salt in the wound of defeat by killing him outright, but he didn’t. Instead, Thanos allowed Corvus Glaive to choose his own fate: die by his own hand or Thanos’.
Corvus, afraid of just what torture and humiliation he might face in the future, opted to take his own life. Maybe not the nicest of things that Thanos did, but it demonstrated that he wasn’t always out to cause the most pain.
5 He Helped Adam Warlock Stop Goddess
If Magus is the sinister side of Adam Warlock’s soul, Goddess is supposed to be the side that is purely good. She still was able to become the villain though and get in the way of Thanos.
When Thanos was tasked with guarding the Reality Gem, it was stolen from him by Goddess. She built herself a machine that granted her own wishes, seeking to clean up all the evil in the universe. Both heroes and villains aligned with her when they realized how powerful she was.
The problem was that Goddess’ plan would have actually destroyed the balance in the universe, upending reality as Marvel comics knew it. Thanos, for all his love of power, needed the balance to stay in place so he could still exist. He teamed up with Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, and Professor Xavier to stop her.
4 Outsmarted Mephisto
During the conflict with Goddess, there was someone who reached out to Adam Warlock and Thanos to assist who was trusted even less than Thanos himself - Mephisto. Mephisto is a demon-like entity in Marvel comics who considers himself the ruler of Hell. He likes to make bargains with his targets which usually end with him owning someone’s soul. In this case, Mephisto offered his help in exchange for a Cosmic Cube, and Thanos accepted.
Adam Warlock actually ended up using the power of Cosmic Cubes to create a universe-wide hallucination - no small feat - and when it was done, Thanos destroyed the Cosmic Egg that held them all. He still gave Mephisto a Cube in the end, but it was powerless.
Tricking Mephisto isn’t exactly nice, but it was the right thing to do for the rest of the universe. No one wants Mephisto to have too much power.
2 Saved Marlo Jones
Formerly Marlo Chandler, Marlo Jones was a close friend of Bruce Banner’s wife and she ended up marrying his sometimes-sidekick Rick Jones. When she became the host body for Death though, she found herself in serious trouble.
When Marlo was killed by a villain and resurrected, she became the unknowing host of Death; she was able to raise the dead, make a “death wish,” and use many of the other abilities Death had demonstrated during the comics. This was, conveniently, during a time when Lady Death was attempting to hide from a deity known as Walker, a former lover who wanted her dead.
Thanos had been the one to encourage Lady Death to hide, so he teamed up with Thor and Genis-Vell (Captain Marvel at the time) to fight Walker to ensure not only Death’s safety, but Marlo’s as well.
1 Fell In Love
If you want proof that Thanos can be a nice guy, look no farther than the fact that he’s capable of falling in love with the one entity in the universe that a majority of Marvel characters would be afraid to see: Lady Death.
There have been many embodiments of Death in the comic book world, but it’s Lady Death who has Thanos’ heart, and he appears to have hers as well as she has allowed him to be resurrected, she’s taken his advice, and even traveled with him. It’s been one of the most unconventional relationships in the comics, but it’s certainly a passionate one.
After all, most of Thanos’ big moments can be traced back to wanting to impress the love of his life. He wants to be worthy of her, and sometimes that means the grandest of gestures involves sacrificing a few people.
Are there any other times Thanos proved he wasn’t totally bad? Tell us when you think Thanos was a good guy in the comments!