It is no secret that Doctor Manhattan, a central character of Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ revolutionary graphic masterpiece Watchmen, can defeat any adversary by using Superman as the peak example. On the other hand, what if his adversary was Marvel antagonist Thanos and he came prepared with a gauntlet complete with all six Infinity Stones?
An everlasting, all-knowing, omnikinetic being against a power-hungry alien assuming ownership of the entire universe? That sounds to me that war that would all wars, or all of everything, even.
We have already theorized how Doctor Manhattan would pan out against Superman and Thanos’s chances against the same guy (joined by the Justice League), but not until now have we considered the outcome of putting these two in the ring against each other. Who would win? Let’s balance out the odds, shall we?
In 1959, nuclear physicist Jonathan Osterman was accidentally locked inside an Intrinsic Field Subtractor, disintegrating his body into individual particles that, overtime, reconstructed themselves into a shining, blue being of unlimited abilities, which I mean just that. Under the moniker Dr. Manhattan, this “superman” revolutionized heroism, single-handedly winning the Vietnam War for the United States and eventually leading a team of costumed vigilantes known as the Watchmen, yet his peers became more likely to fear him than to admire him. It is hard to blame anyone for getting cold feet around a guy who could turn you into a pile of gelatinous goop if he wanted to, though he is not much for wanting either.
While I may have said that Dr. Manhattan is a being of unlimited abilities, technically he only possesses two (molecular combustion and omnikinesis), yet there is no clear end to what those strengths allow him to do. He could be in two places at once at whatever size of his choosing, pour himself a glass of water without the use of his hands (not that water is even something he requires to live), or instantaneously vaporize a human. You would not even be wrong to call him Manhattan a god as his omnipotence is no exaggeration. In addition to hands-free levitation, the blue man also has the mental capacity to see, not just the future, but ALL of time at once, meaning that he could, indeed, prevent tragedy. However, much like his precognitive vision of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, he chooses not to intervene and all for one reason which also happens to be his one true weakness.
There is no way known to man to stop the immortal, all-knowing, all-powerful Dr. Manhattan, but power is not what makes a hero and yet, that is all he has to offer, for a particularly reliable moral compass he does not. His accident changed everything about him, right down to the core of his humanity, laying waste to any sense of humility, social skills, or compassion. Dr. Manhattan is the only one who could save the world, but his apathetic demeanor and pacifistic approach to dealing with chaos could lead to the ultimate downfall of humanity, while he would be left standing alone in the wreckage, remorseless.
Few villains in the Marvel universe are as powerful, fearsome, and (to quote Josh Brolin’s portrayal in Avengers: Endgame) “inevitable” as Thanos. The big, purple, undesirable jerk (also a descendent of the Celestials, who created the Eternals) has one particular goal in mind (universal decimation) and one driving motivation which would either be (if you follow cinematic canon) to achieve balance “for the better” or all living things, or (if basing on comic book canon) to appease his unrequited love interest: death herself. Either way you go about it, it is no question why they call this guy the Mad Titan.
By himself, Thanos is not much different from your typical individual of superhuman ability, despite being the strongest and smartest of the Titanians and, like the Eternals, he can never die as long as no one is successful in their attempts to kill him. However, if he has the Infinity Gauntlet and all six Infinity Stones put in place, it makes this a whole different ballgame in which you could name anything that sounds impossible and he will probably be able to make it possible, such as erasing half a universe’s worth of living creatures with the literal snap of his fingers, for instance. You really cannot blame the Avengers for their failure to defeat him by the end of Avengers: Infinity War because anyone would have been struggling against those odds… well, maybe almost anyone.
The epic moment of Avengers: Endgame, in which an enraged Thor (Chris Hemsworth) “aims for the head” against Thanos clearly shows that the Mad Titan is not completely invulnerable to mortal instruments, so if Dr. Manhattan were to whip up a giant sword or simply emit a huge energy blast in Thanos’ direction, it is probably going to hurt him enough knock him down for a moment. However, his most crucial flaw, which many Marvel villains tend to suffer from the most now that I mention it, is his own hubris. From the moment the Avengers threatened to stop Thanos from succeeding in their goal, he immediately doubted their potential to overcome his will, yet, not only did they put up a real sufficient fight against him, but it was a human who ended up erasing him from existence with just a snap.
Dr. Manhattan Vs. Thanos With The Infinity Stones
Like I said before, this is honestly a very tough call. In any other situation, it would not take Dr. Manhattan an ounce of effort to literally make dust particles out of Thanos, but, as we know, when equipped with the Infinity Stones, the Mad Titan can do the very same thing. In fact, both of them are capable of just about all of the same things which is, essentially, everything, so they would both be in for a pretty long fight.
However, there is one thing that Thanos has that Dr. Manhattan does not: ruthlessness. No matter what obstacle is thrown at him, not only will he have the determination to press through it, but also the omnipotent means to make it so without a shred of resistance, while “motivation” is a word that does not exist in Dr. Manhattan’s vocabulary. He has no reason to see Thanos’ threats as even a mere inconvenience to him, yet, neither does that give him a reason to fight the purple guy because whatever his goal is, Big Blue does not care what happens either way. In one fateful snap, Thanos becomes the victor in this match because Dr. Manhattan lets him.
What do you think? Does this sound like the inevitable outcome to this untimely battle, or do you think I need a doctor? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more hypothetical movie character battles here on CinemaBlend.