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  • September 18, 2022 7 min read

    Thanos is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by Jim Starlin and first appeared in Iron Man #55(Feb. 1973).

    The character is usually depicted as a Titanian mutant-eternal superhuman. Debuting in the Bronze Age of Comic Books, the character has been featured in over four decades of Marvel continuity and a self-titled series.


    Writer-artist Jim Starlin originally conceived of Thanos of Titan during college psychology classes. As Starlin described:

    I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos ... and Drax the Destroyer, but I'm not sure how he fit into it, just anger management probably. So I came up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. I felt that this may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he's beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches ... and later on I liked beefing him up so much that he continued to grow in size.

    Starlin has admitted the character is influenced by Jack Kirby's Darkseid:

    Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You'd think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said: "Beef him up! If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!"

    Fictional Character Biography(3)

    On Saturn's moon of Titan lived a colony of Eternals, and Thanos was born as one of the last sons of the original colonists, Mentor and Sui-San. However, he was born misshapen and monstrous in comparison to the other Eternals, particularly his handsome and carefree brother, Starfox, and Thanos grew into a melancholy, brooding individual, consumed with the concept of death. More than any of his people, Thanos sought out personal power and increased strength, endowing himself with cybernetic implants until he became more powerful than any of his brethren. At some point, he was exiled from his community, although the accounts differ as to its cause. Some say it was because he committed a crime by being the first to create a weapon. Thanos himself once claimed that he vivisected his own mother in an attempt to investigate how someone consumed with death such as himself could have come into being.

    Growing in power and infamy as he traveled the universe, Thanos once met Death itself, as it appeared to him embodied in a female form. Thanos was infatuated with the being, and endeavored to make himself worthy in order to earn her love in return. With an army under his command, he nearly destroyed his former home of Titan, declaring himself its ruler. He then sought out the powerful Cosmic Cube, and a number of Earth's heroes assembled to confront him. With the Cube's power, Thanos made himself unto a god, and he easily fought back Captain Marvel and the Avengers. However, Captain Marvel managed to convince Thanos that he had drained the Cube of its power, and the mad Titan discarded it. This allowed Mar-Vell to grab the Cube and restore the universe to its rightful order and drain Thanos of his power. Thanos was shunted back to where he had first launched his bid for power, and was rescued by his starship, Sanctuary II.

    Thanos believed that Death had rejected him after his failure with the Cosmic Cube, and so he began searching the universe for the powerful Soul Gems, one of which was used by Adam Warlock. Thanos had also learned of the threat of the Magus, a future version of Adam Warlock who would threaten Thanos' own plans. Thanos was determined to make sure that the future of the Magus would never occur. Using time travel, he created a perfect pawn for his future struggle-- the deadliest woman in the universe. He rescued Gamora as an infant and trained her to be his personal assassin. He also joined forces with Adam Warlock to oppose the Magus, who was using his world-conquering Universal Church of Truth to create a fanatical empire. With this alliance, Thanos helped ensure that Warlock would never become the Magus, and at the same time, he managed to absorb certain energies of Warlock's Soul Gem that would help him in his subsequent plot.

    One by one, Thanos collected five other Soul Gems, combining them all in a huge, single, synthetic Soul Gem. He then began to extinguish the very stars themselves, hoping thereby to extinguish all living things in tribute to Death. Thanos was opposed by Gamora, but he slew her as well as Pip the Troll, who was looking for Adam Warlock. Warlock had learned of Thanos' activity and recruited Captain Marvel and the Avengers to again oppose the mad Titan.

    Captain Marvel managed to destroy the synthetic Soul Gem, but Thanos captured the Avengers and even killed Adam Warlock after an intense one-on-one battle. Spider-Man was on hand to help rescue the heroes, and with the help of Lord Chaos and Master Order, restore Warlock to life. Warlock's resurrection flushed him with cosmic power and he again engaged in battle with Thanos, who was defeated, but not killed. The Eternal was turned to immobile stone-- an ironic punishment since the lover of Death would be forever denied its embrace.

    Death did in fact come to visit Thanos, however. It revived him and endowed him with even more power, leading him to believe the universe was unbalanced in terms of life and death and that Thanos was needed to restore that balance. Thanos then proceeded to reassemble the Soul Gems, now called the Infinity Gems, and created the powerful Infinity Gauntlet. With a mere thought, Thanos was able to wipe out half of the universe's population of living beings, and once again he had enough power to make himself an omnipotent being. Many of Earth's heroes and heroes from around the galaxy came to oppose him, and they were joined by other abstract entities who knew Thanos' new powers made him a threat to all existence. Thanos again defeated them all. Ultimately, however, Death spurned him, as Thanos' powers had placed him at a level beyond. Thanos was distraught, and this momentary lapse allowed Nebula, who Thanos was toying with for having assumed to have been related to him, to gain control of the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos was forced to join with Warlock and the other heroes, and Warlock ended up with the Infinity Gauntlet, restoring the universe to its natural state before Thanos' interference, and Warlock divided the Gems among various guardians who became the Infinity Watch.

    Powers and Abilities

    Thanos is one most powerful beings in the Marvel has a number of abilities including superhuman strength, durability, and endurance, energy manipulation, telekinesis, teleportation and longevity.

    Thanos is a mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals. The character possesses abilities common to the Eternals, but amplified to a higher degree through a combination of his mutant Eternal heritage, bionic amplification, mysticism, and power bestowed by the abstract entity, Death. Demonstrating enormous superhuman strength, stamina, and durability, Thanos can absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy and is capable of telekinesis, telepathy and matter manipulation. Thanos is an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained in the art of war on Titan.

    Thanos is a genius in virtually all known fields of advanced science and has created technology far exceeding contemporary Earth science. He often employs a transportation chair capable of space flight, force field projection, teleportation, time travel and movement through alternate universes. Thanos is also a master strategist and uses several space vessels, at least 3 under the name of Sanctuary, as a base of operations.(4)

    Supporting Characters


    Thanos has made a number of allies over the years including Annhilus, Death, Nebula, Ronan, Reptyl, Zuras and many more.








    Being a mad Titan who is obsessed with Death, Thanos tries to please Lady Death by killing many beings and in doing so,he has made a number of enemies over the years including The Avengers, the Guardians Of The Galaxy, Beta Ray Bill, Black Goliath, Fantastic Four and many more.





    The Avengers(2012)

    Thanos made a cameo appearance in The Avengers in the post-credits scene. The character is portrayed by Josh Brolin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.



    You can check out the post-credits scene below

    Guardians Of The Galaxy(2014)

    Thanos appeared in Guardians Of The Galaxy for a good amount of time. The character is again portrayed by Josh Brolin.







    You can check out a clip of Thanos below

    Avengers: Age Of Ultron(2015)

    Thanos again made a cameo appearance in a post-credits scene in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The character as always was portrayed by Josh Brolin.








    You can check out the post-credits scene below

    Publication History(2)

    Thanos's first appearance was in Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973), featuring a story by Jim Starlin that was scripted by Mike Friedrich. The storyline from that issue continued through Captain Marvel #25–33 (bi-monthly: March 1973 – Jan. 1974), Marvel Feature #12 (Nov. 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan. 1974), and Avengers #125 (July 1974). He returned in an extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975), Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Jan. 1976), Marvel Team Up #55 (March 1977), and the 1977 Annuals for Avengers and Marvel Two-in-One (Thanos does not actually appear until the end of Warlock #9). He was also featured in a short backup story in Logan's Run #6 (June 1977) and had a small role in the Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel (April 1982).

    The character's origin was expanded in the five-issue Thanos Rising miniseries by Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi which was published monthly beginning in April 2013. Later that same year, Thanos played a central role in the Infinity miniseries written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, and Dustin Weaver.

    Notable Comics(5)

    Comics Writer(s) Artist(s)
    Silver Surfer: The Rebirth of Thanos Jim Starlin Ron Lim, Tom Christopher,Tom Vincent
    Captain Marvel: The Thanos War Jim Starlin, Mike Friedrich Jim Starlin, Dan Green , John Romita
    The Thanos Quest Jim Starlin Ron Tim, John Beatty, Tom Vincent
    The Infinity Gauntlet Jim Starlin George Perez, Josef Rubinstein, Tom Christopher, Max Scheele, Ian Laughlin
    Marvel 2-in-1 Annual #2 Jim Starlin Jim Starlin, Joe Rubinstein, Petra Goldberg


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