Are you really certain you want to stop him? What makes you think you can?
"Am I not Thanos?! Did I not butcher the woman who gave me birth, who forced me into this hell called life? Is not the wake of my passing crimson with the blood of my enemies and allies alike?! Death is with me every second of the day!"
If you'd prefer to read the article in Thanos's own bombastic tone, go here instead.Since Jim Starlin first introduced him in the pages of Iron Man vol. 1 #55 (February, 1973), Thanos the Mad Titan has become one of Marvel's most iconic - and dangerous - supervillains. Whereas the heroes of Earth have to put up with the likes of Doctor Doom and Magneto, Thanos proves to be a constant threat to, well, the entire universe. Yes, all of it.Born on Titan, moon of planet Saturn, home to the Titans, a fraction of Eternals that left the Earth thousands of years ago. Thanos is one of two sons of the the rulers of the Titans: Alars, also known as Mentor, and his wife, Sui-San. However, he was born a mutant, which gave him an appearance closer to Deviants, the Eternals' sister race and sworn enemies. This made his life miserable, gave others reason to bully him, while his brother, Eros, was loved by all. On the other hand, the mutation also granted him vast strength and durability, far greater than any of the other Titans; and his ability to wield cosmic energy was second-to-none.Claimed his first victim at the age of eight, which first introduced him to the love of his life, Mistress Death. Infatuated, it became Thanos's obsession to win over her black heart, which generally resulted in more killing. The Titans naturally didn't take kindly to this, and exiled him after he tried and failed to kill his dad and take over the throne. They probably regretted not giving him his wish and uniting him with his one true love later since after traveling the Universe and claiming all power within his reach, he returned to Titan and let them have a taste of his nuclear revenge, killing all but a few survivors - his mom being among the dead.After setting up shop on the nearby Earth, he would inadvertently create two of his life-long enemies, including his arch nemesis: Drax the Destroyer. After possibly being spotted by a human family, he killed them, only for the sole survivor to become Moondragon and her father to be turned into Drax. Imprisoning Drax, he caught the attention of Iron Man, who answered his calls for rescue. Earth has also provided him with a number of other of his regular foes, including Adam Warlock, the Silver Surfer, and Captain Marvel (notthat one, mind you). These and more would be involved in stopping him from obtaining the Cosmic Cube and from using the the six Infinity Gems (Then known as the 'Soul Gems') in a quest to destroy all the stars in the galaxy in his latest scheme to win over the heart of Mistress Death.And then he died at the hands of Adam Warlock, staying dead between 1977 and 1990, when Death brought him back to life more powerful than ever in a mission to kill half of all life in the universe in the name of keeping the balance. Crafty as he was and eager to be Death's equal rather than her servant, Thanos put the six Soul Gems back together, renamed them the Infinity Gems, and created the Infinity Gauntlet in order to gain omnipotence. Ironically, this backfired by making him superior to Death, who then rejected him because of it. Driven to impress her, Thanos used the Gauntlet to try to prove himself worthy, eventually becoming the very personification of The Universe itself. Which, ironically again, was what defeated him, since it left his body unoccupied and giving his remaining foes the opportunity they needed to reclaim the Gauntlet.Arguably giving up his old ways, Thanos made peace with Adam Warlock and joined the Infinity Watch in order to guard one of the gems, trusted to do so specifically because Adam knew that Thanos' experience with them showed him that possessing the Gauntlet would not give him what he wanted. They worked together and with others to fight against Adam Warlock's good and evil sides, Magus and Goddess.In time, Thanos would return to his old ways and switch intermittently between hero and villain, until his next big appearance in the pages of Annihilation. Teaming up with Annihilus in his war against the Universe, Thanos was killed by Drax. Only to then be resurrected soon after for The Thanos Imperative in order to save Death from the threat of the 'Many-Angled Ones', interdimentional invaders from another universe known as the Cancerverse where nothing was able to die. A problem that, with Death's help, Thanos managed to fix. Naturally, he got angry after Death turned her back on him after it was all said and done, forcing Nova and Star-Lordto hold him back (with the help of a near-dead Cosmic Cube) to keep him from escaping back to their universe and killing everyone.But of course, you can't keep a good megalomaniac villain like Thanos down for long, and he's returned once more anyway.In other media, Thanos has also shown up in the Silver Surfer and The Super Hero Squad Show animated series, though with Death being replaced by Chaos in the former. There's also a certain major and highly successful movie where he was revealed to be the real villain behind it all and no doubt a sure thing in future projects.
Above Good and Evil: As a firm believer of moral nihilism, he is less concerned with good and evil and more with "How many can I murder to get Death to love me"?
Achilles' Heel: Oddly enough, he's probably his own weakness. This prevented him from keeping the omnipotent powers he would gain for more than a few issues.
Actually a Doombot: The Thanosi, identical (but varying in power from less to more powerfull) clones Thanos created of himself. They were cooked up by Jim Starlin as a way to explain away any defeats Thanos had suffered.
A God Am I: Between the Infinity Gauntlet and the Cosmic Cube, he has been on this level more than once.
And I Must Scream: Threatened with eternal life by being stuck at the bottom of a gravity well when he came back to life and started attacking the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Anti-Villain: Post The Infinity Gauntlet, some would argue that for a while he became somewhat of a Noble Demon. note However, even at this time, he slaughtered a planetfull of warriors for sport Most of the time, he's a Villain Protagonist in his own series.
Big Bad: One of the biggest in the entire Marvel Universe. When he is scheming, you know for sure a catastrophe is about to follow. More then once, the entire MU (including the villains) has teamed up to stop him.
Call to Agriculture: Has confessed a certain fondness for the simple life of a farmer, and sometimes indulges in this after his more grandiose schemes unravel.
In a What If issue, this is Thanos' final fate after losing the Infinity Gauntlet.
Characterization Marches On: In his earliest appearances, he's more of a Galactic Conqueror with Death at his side than the true nihilist he later became; it's only after "she" abandons him following his first defeat that he begins actively seeking her favor with schemes to change the ratio of life and death in the universe.
Combat Pragmatist: When he is outclassed by his opponents, he oftens comes up with other ways to win, for example in his battle with the Champion of the Universe. He provoked him, danced around his attacks and made him accidentally destroy the planet they were fighting on in the end, which left him helplessly floating in space.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: A central character trait evident from some of his earliest appearances, in which he seems genuinely different than other mastermind villains in that he avoids grandstanding until he's already achieved his goals and uses the Reality Warper powers of the Cosmic Cube to their full potential when everyone before him had just created weapons and servants with it. He's only gotten better at it since.
Death Seeker: If only because it's the best way for him to be united with his true love - which just happens to be Death herself.
Depending on the Writer: Jim Starlin tries to portray him as a great intellect who is greatly aware of the real workings of the universe (whether it succeeds, or Thanos is simply a Black Hole SueVillain Sue relying on Mc Guffins and Idiot Balls is up to personal interpretation); Jason Aaron's Thanos Rising, at the other end of the scale, suggests that he's simply a very powerful Serial Killer and even that his initial visions of death were ambiguously hallucinations rather than the real thing. Most other writers simply use him as an especially scary cosmic villain.
Disappeared Dad: Often left the women he would sleep with in the middle of the night, leaving them with only the baby to take care of and the hope of him coming back. He eventually came back to them, but with a different womanandentrance..note Meaning: He personally slaughtered all of his mistresses and offspring.
Energy Absorption: A trait common to all the Eternals of Titan. Thanos has just managed to master this power to a level beyond that of even his kin.
Enfant Terrible: Didn't become one until after his traumatic event in the cave he went in with his friends. Before that, he was a kind child with a creepy fascination with corpses but would get sick when dissecting organisms for study.
Evil Genius: Let's see...mastered every science in the universe from an early age? Check. Centuries of dabbling in the occult? Check. Unlocked the DNA of Galactusnote Who, as a being of pure energy, shouldn't even have DNA and made a hybrid clone of themselves, just to show he could? Check.
Evil Plan: All he really wants is the love of Mistress Death. However, this being Mistress Death...
Exact Words: Thanos always holds to a bargain. And if he has full faith that the other person making the bargain is going to treat him fairly (such as Adam Warlock), then he'll similarly uphold both the word and the spirit of the deal. However, he's no idiot, and he'll readily stick to his very precise wording if he anticipates a trap of some sort. Most notably, Mephisto discovered this when he made a deal to get a Cosmic Cube from Thanos.
Expendable Clone: Jim Starlin tends to retcon any perceived slights to Thanos' greatness at first opportunity through various clones to have suffered any defeats that Thanos experiences. Dan Slott has even gone so far as to debate the point with himself. In one story Slott let Squirrel Girl beat Thanos, with the Watcher confirming that it was the real deal, but in a later She-Hulk story it was established that it might or might not have been a clone after all.
Eye Beams: One of his more potent ways of channeling cosmic energy.
Fairy Companion: Had a partner in Skreet the Chaos Mite for a time before being killed by Drax.
Fate Worse than Death: What he consideres life. At the end of Infinity he is immobilized in a state of *Living Death*
For the Evulz: Once orchestrated a situation where his brother was held for trial, and sent his clone with modified memories to convince everybody it was he who made Thanos fall in love with Death, thus making him responsible for all of Thanos's crimes. She-Hulk traveled into the clone's mind to discover it was a lie and that he did all of it not because of revenge, but for pure entertainment. It didn't go well for the clone.
Friendly Enemy: Adam Warlock has helped thwart Thanos' plans countless times...but may also be the only real friend he has.
Idiot Ball: Under Starlin's pen, any hero, villain, or even cosmic entity, except Warlock, tends to suffer from this, to underline how awesome Thanos is.
If I Can't Have You: Has admitted to being jealous of Death's other paramours. Jealous to the point that, after discovering she had developed feelings for Deadpool, he cursed him with immortality just to keep him away from her.
Irony: In relation to the above, Death did the same to Thanos. Temporarily.
Just Toying with Them: At one point during the Infinity Gauntlet-Storyline, he turned off 5 of 6 Gems in order to make the fight more exciting (meaning a little bit less one-sided) in order to impress Lady Death.
Karma Houdini: Almost all the time under Jim Starlin. He killed over a 100 people on his own planet, razed several galaxies and then ultimately half the Universe, and didn't suffer any real consequences.
Klingon Promotion: During his tenure as a pirate, he became a leader when his predecessor tried to kill him for not murdering anyone in their many acts of pillaging. He cut him up to pieces without realizing it and was hailed by his fellow pirates.
Mighty Glacier: Averted, he actually has fast reflexes and is a experienced fighter, but most of the time he just stands still and takes the attacks his opponents throw at him, because he doesn't think they are worth reacting to.
Offing the Offspring: Sui-San, his mother, tried to kill the newborn Thanos the first time she laid her eyes on his, seeing in them his future of being an Omnicidal Maniac. A'Lars, Thanos' father, prevented her from doing so, seeing great potential in him as a mutant Eternal.
Omnicidal Maniac: Up until Marvel Universe: The End, which includes his days as wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet and prior to them. He returns to this mindset every once in a while when he goes completely insane.
Pet the Dog: Has at least some fondness for his adopted daughter, Gamora. She was a means to an end against the Magus however, and Thanos was perfectly willing to kill her.
Physical God: More so than his fellow Titan Eternals thanks to the mutation that granted him a Deviant-like appearance. Even without powerful artifacts like the Infinity Gauntlet and the Cosmic Cube he is still one of the most dangerous beings in the Marvel verse.
Really Gets Around: In his younger years. Not for the pleasure, mind you, but to find satisfaction in the act of love along with many other goals to find his purpose in life. That is, before he settled with Death.
Serial Killer: In his younger years, mostly as practice for his omnicidal tendencies as an adult.
Super Strength: You better believe it. He destroyed a planet as a side effect of his battle with Drax, he nearly beat the Silver Surfer to death, and managed to stand up to Odin for a little while before being beaten.
Super Weight: A level 5, who has defeated various heavyweights. With the Cosmic Cube he was a Level 6, with the Infinity Gauntlet a high Level 6, and with the Heart of the Universe he was full-on Level 7.
Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Despite his strange appearance, he had a loving father and many friends. He was also sickened when he was first made to dissect something.
Villainous Crush: In Thanos Rising, when he was a kid, he had an unrequited crush on a friend who was rather vicious for an Eternal. She influenced him into doing things that eventually lead him to become the person who he is in the present. As a young adult, she convinced him kill his previous lovers and children, and told him that she was in fact, Death. At the end of that series, he shows that he eventually got over her. Maybe.