YMMV: Thanos


  • Base Breaker: You either think he is a tragic figure or a selfish mass murderer. You either love him for being a villain that almost always has the last laugh or you call him a Villain Sue etc. He certainly is one of Marvel's most debated villains.
    • The Thanos Rising miniseries. Many praised the re-imagining of the character, believing that the miniseries added depth and history to a stereotypical villain. Others view it as Canon Defilement with many Out-of-Character Moments for both Thanos and Death (one example is not only does Death speak to Thanos in the comics, she negs him constantly, something that Death never did in any of her other appearances with him and a fact that caused Thanos endless frustration), and events that contradict the history of the Thanos given by his creator Jim Starlin. Still others saw it as ambitious and needed, but the result was rushed, the character development and dialogue lackluster (Thanos is a Pinball Protagonist for much it) and the setting and events uninspired and unoriginal (some character are heard talking about the legends of the cosmic cube and Galactus was spotted in the 'Starlin' system). Regardless of opinion, most view the artwork as awesome
  • Black Hole Sue: A common criticism of Starlin's Thanos work is the character has crossed from being a Villain Sue to a Black Hole Sue with each story somehow makes him more important. Thanos has gone from being the only useful character to the plot (besides Adam Warlock) to being one of if not the most important character in the universe, beyond life and death, order and chaos, where any action in any light that can make him look bad is retconned and whereas in the past other characters would look somewhat competent now anyone who fights him is a complete idiot all to show how awesome Thanos is and how much the universe revolves around him.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Frequently compared to Darkseid. His true counterpart was originally Metron, but Roy Thomas told Jim Starlin that if he was going to steal from the New Gods mythos, he may as well steal from the most interesting one, so he is a mixed Expy of the two characters. Starlin later created Mongul for DC comics, as a second-generation homage of his own character Thanos. And then he created Synnar as a third generation homage of that.
  • Creator's Pet: In issues written by Jim Starlin that primarily feature Thanos, he's always written so that he would almost never lose for real against anyone. It's either his own subconscious desire to lose or it was a clone. This tends to annoy fans of other characters or even fans of Thanos who felt it was getting too much.
  • Epileptic Trees: There have been several made of the fact that his chin looks similar to those of Skrulls. In an alternate universe it has been even revealed that his mother was one in disguise.
    • This actually has an in-universe explanation. The godlike aliens The Celestials went to various different planets and created on them two different strains of races, the ugly shapeshifting Deviants and The Beautiful Elite Physical God race called the Eternals (humans are a separate but related species predating both; mutants are an offshoot of seperate Celestial experiments on humans). The Skrulls are descendants of alien Deviants while Thanos is a descendant of the Earth Eternals who was born with a mutation that makes him resemble the Deviants. Since his design is based on the unrelated DC character Darkseid, this is a marvellous case of Canon Welding.
  • Foe Yay/Ho Yay: One might often get this impression when he interacts with Adam Warlock.
    • His Infinity Revelation graphic novel has a scene where he fights Ronan and describes the pleasure he takes in beating the Kree hero to be almost orgasmic.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Much more Jerkass than Woobie, but his hopeless relationship with Death is nevertheless tragic.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Views differ between whether he qualifies due to being one of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe, or if this is an mostly an Informed Attribute driven by MacGuffins, and Applied Phlebotinum, as well as Idiot Balls being given to all opposing characters.
  • Memetic Mutation: His history with Madame Death has led to the term "friendzoned by Death".
  • Moral Event Horizon: Cross this for the first time when he committed genocide on multiple planetary populations for sport, slept with the corpses of some of his female victims, murdered all of his mistresses and offspring, and slaughtered the paradise he was born in, including his own mother.
  • Never Live It Down: The Thanos Copter.
  • One-Scene Wonder: In The Avengers as the Bigger Bad.
  • Out-of-Character Moment/ Fanon Discontinuity: His appearance in Avengers Assemble is notable example. Last he was seen he was raging out of control in the Cancerverse, he inexplicably shows up, steals a cosmic cube, fights the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, uses the Cube to humiliate the Elders of the Universe for some reason (including the In-Betweener who is an avatar of Chaos and Order, and the Stranger; both of whom are not Elders of the Universe), merges with the cube to become a god, only to easily lose it and then gets arrested by said Elders. Many fans mistook the miniseries as a tie-in to the Avengers film, and thought this was an alternative continuity. It doesn't help that the comic has Iron Man say "We barely know anything about Thanos," despite the Avengers fighting him on numerous occasions and having extensive files on him, and Iron Man was the very first one to do so. Another thing was stating Thanos' goal was "He wants the Earth. He's always wanted the Earth." when in nearly every single prior encounter Thanos has ignored the Earth entirely.
  • Only The Creator Does It Right: it is common that fans of the character think that nobody but Jim Starlin himself has ever done Thanos justice yet, despite his massive favoritism towards the character. Part of this reason stems from other writers ignoring or forgetting much of the Character Development Thanos as undergone over the years and writing him like how he acted during his first appearance where he stole artifacts to kill and conquer the universe, which was over 40 years ago.
  • Rooting for the Empire: He is one of the biggest mass-murderers in the Marvel Universe, yet Jim Starlin and many fans are incredibly enamoured with and defensive of the character.
  • Ugly Cute: Early in his childhood in the Thanos Rising arc.
  • Villain Sue: Kept getting more and more invincible and rationalised for under Jim Starlin's pen until he peaked in Marvel Universe: The End, wherein he bonded with the Heart of the Universe, a power source greater than the Infinity Gauntlet. (However, according to editor Tom Brevoort, the story is out of continuity.) And even then, when he's writing the issues, the only way Thanos can lose is if he allows the heroes to win via self-defeatism, and even if he loses it's no biggie, because it was probably just a clone anyway. In fact, the story settings bend so much for him due to favouritism from Starlin that he enters massive Black Hole Sue territory.
  • Wangst: In contract to the Jerkass Woobie listing above, a lot of people who otherwise enjoy Thanos hate when writers try to play him as sympathetic. The character can be a badass villain, but he never does anything the least bit redeeming, so writers' attempts to make you feel sorry for him because he sabotages his own plans and can't get Death to fall in love with him fall pretty flat.