It took a minute for Thanos to truly become a significant part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with multiple movies across multiple years used to tease his bigger presence, but when he did finally capture the spotlight he did it with impressive magnitude. In Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the Mad Titan was finally painted as the terrifying force of nature he is, proving to be a true threat and equal adversary to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
What we saw from actor Josh Brolin during his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe amounts to one of the great antagonist performances in comic book movie genre – but the truth of the matter is that there is a lot about the character that the films never found time to explore. First appearing in February 1973, Thanos has nearly half a century of history in the pages of Marvel Comics, and there was simply no way that the blockbusters were ever going to be able to include everything. Acknowledging this, we’ve put together this feature to help you learn a bit more about the character, and his past exploits/adventures that didn’t make it to the big screen.
Thanos’ Love Of Death
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos’ quest to kill half of life in the universe with the Infinity Gauntlet is motivated by a hope to create balance in nature, but in the comics that motivation goes a bit deeper with a splash of love – specifically the desire to earn the affections of the physical embodiment of Death, with whom he is entirely obsessed. The whole Infinity Gauntlet arc in the comics begins because the number of the living grows larger than the number of the dead, and Thanos wants to gain the power of a god so that he can make his robed lady love happy.
It should be noted that the relationship is hinted at in Thanos’ first big screen appearance, as he is told by The Other in the Avengers mid-credits scene that to pursue conquering Earth would be equivalent to “courting Death.” However, that’s as much as fans get of the villain’s most famous romance, as the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame filmmakers didn’t feel it was necessary to include in the story they wanted to tell.
Thanos’ Origins As An Eternal
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos has a monologue where he talks about himself and the life he lived on Titan that led him to his personal philosophy, including watching his planet die because everybody refused his insane genocidal notions. The story serves to explain the character’s motivation in a simple and straight forward way, and definitely does its job, but it also noticeably skips over a whole lot of material in the character’s backstory from the comics.
For example, did you know that Thanos is an Eternal? And what’s more, technically a mutant Eternal? It hasn’t been mentioned in any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies thus far, but he is part of the race of god-like beings that will be featured at the center of Chloe Zhao’s upcoming blockbuster – though he was seen as an outcast at a young age because he carries the gene of the Deviants, which is the antithesis race to the Eternals. It’s entirely possible that Thanos’ connections to the species will actually be featured in the Eternals movie, but for now its subject matter not yet explored.
Thanos’ Relationship With Adam Warlock
It’s incredibly likely that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will be introduced to the heroic Adam Warlock in the coming years. After all, his creation was teased in the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so at this point all we’re really waiting for is to see him be born. It should prove to be a rather exciting turn of events for the franchise no matter how it happens – but really the only downside right now is that he didn’t get the opportunity to cross paths with Thanos on the big screen.
Similar to Vision’s relationship with the Mind Stone in the movies, Adam Warlock in the comics has the Soul Gem embedded in his forehead, and Thanos’ first attempt to try and possess it is what serves as the start of a long and strange relationship full of both conflict and cooperation. In the former department, it’s actually Adam Warlock who winds up defeating the purple alien during the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, but that was immediately followed by an interesting peace…
Thanos’ Time As Part Of The Infinity Watch
Avengers: Endgame concludes with Thanos being killed by Tony Stark and The Avengers, joining his decapitated alternate timeline self in the afterlife after being turned to dust by the Nano Gauntlet – but not only does the Mad Titan survive the Infinity Gauntlet story in the comics, he is ultimately trusted as one of the powerful individuals tasked with making sure that nobody else in the universe ever tries to collect the Infinity Gems again. Along with Adam Warlock, Drax The Destroyer, Gamora, Maxam, Moondragon, and Pip The Troll, he is named a member of the Infinity Watch.
Having been left wanting by his time possessing the power of a godlike being, Thanos is trusted by Adam Warlock become the guardian of the Reality Gem, which is fascinating when you consider that it is easily one of the most powerful of the set – with the possessor able to change reality to their will. However, it’s believed that Thanos can be trusted both because of his past history of usage, and because of the challenge in using the Reality Gem without the abilities granted by the other stones.
Thanos’ Son, Thane
Thanos is shown having an interesting extended family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Gamora and Nebula featured as his adopted daughters and the Black Order a.k.a. the Children of Thanos, helping him acquire Infinity Stones, but one significant character who never popped his head into the action in the movies is Thane, Thanos’ son. The biological child of the Mad Titan was first featured in the comics in 2013 via the Infinity storyline, and is the offspring of Thanos and an Inhuman woman who has not been identified.
Thane grew up not knowing that Thanos was his father, and before going through Terrigenesis (the process through which Inhumans discover their special abilities) he worked as a healer. After being exposed to the Terrigen Mist, however, he possesses an out of control death touch and ability to entrap people in amber – eventually accidentally killing his entire town. Should the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever decide to try and wade back into Thanos territory in the future, Thane’s story could be an interesting direction to go.
What’s been discussed here is still only a fraction of what we’ve seen from Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and that’s while still celebrating the fantastic job that the movies did bringing the epic villain to the big screen. As noted, it’s entirely possible that we still haven’t seen the last of the character on the big screen, meaning that any of the details above may still be game for exploration, and we’ll definitely be keeping our ears to the ground regarding updates in that realm.