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Thanos: A Comicbook Character History

There are hopeless romantics, there are stalkers, and then there’s Thanos.

First appearing in the pages of Iron Man #55 in 1973, Thanos has consistently been one of the biggest bads in the Marvel multiverse. Almost anyone who has ever heard of Thanos can tell you one thing for certain, that he really wants to get his hands on the infinity stones. But what else is there to this purple behemoth? And how might his history in the comics play into the Marvel Cinematic universe?

Let’s find out!

Born on Saturn’s moon Titan to a superpowered alien species known as the Eternals. Unfortunately, Thanos did not have the best childhood. Born with the Deviant gene, the DNA of the Eternal’s sister and enemy race, Thanos was already off to a bad start looking the way he does. It didn’t help matters that his own mother tried to kill him upon birth. I don’t know if it’s ever been covered in the comics, but maybe this gave him the tiniest bit of brain damage.

Interestingly, Thanos was an introverted pacifist as a young boy. He had few friends except for his pets and his brother Eros, who would later go on to become the hero Starfox.

No not that one.

That one.

Despite his peaceful nature, Thanos became fascinated with death and nihilism after encountering the Marvel universe’s embodiment of death itself, Mistress Death. This fascination grew into an obsession and then infatuation. This love of Death and his desire to have her reciprocate his love is Thanos’s driving motivation in the famous Infinity War arc of the comics. The movies are drawing inspiration from this same Infinity War.

And how else do you get Death’s attention? By killing as many people as possible, of course. And what better way to do that than become the master of the universe. This is why Thanos seeks out the infinity stones.

But something interesting caught my eye in the poster for the first Infinity War movie.

Thanos isn’t wearing his armor. Why?

Well, this reminded me of a similar outfit. One Thanos wears at the end of the Infinity War arc of the comics.

Once defeated, he exiles himself to a farm on an uninhabited planet. A rather humble end to such a great foe. But here he wears an outfit quite like the one in the poster. Why?

I believe this may be a clue to how Thanos will be defeated in the movies.

Time and again in the comics we see Thanos stop his quest for Mistress Death and try to lead a “normal” life. Yet each time his obsession brings him back to his evil deeds.

It’s not hard to see that what Thanos truly desires is a family. He kidnaps and trains “daughters.” His Black Order is also referred to by Marvel Studios as The Children of Thanos. His one and only goal is to be loved in return by Mistress Death, and considering how many times he returns to farming in exile, it’s not hard to imagine that that is the kind of life he wants to have with her.

The problem is he simply has no idea how to have an actual family. He was an outcast on his own planet and nearly killed by his own mother. Thanos only knows what a proper family is supposed to look like, not how to get it.

So perhaps, the use of his farmer costume in the poster is a hint that Thanos won’t be taken down in some final brawl. Instead, I believe it will be a mental battle. All the mad titan’s flaws will be laid bare and he will realize the folly of his obsession with Death.

In the first movie, I think we’ll see him don his classical armor at the end. In the second movie, I think we’ll see him willingly relinquish the infinity stones and return to his farmer’s clothes. He will exile himself for his crimes. The movie will end much like the comics, with Thanos remorsefully sitting on the front porch of his farmhouse. But perhaps, this time, there will be a glimmer of hope for the mad titan to have the family he has always longed for.

Agree? Disagree? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section and tell us know which comic book character you’d like us to analyze next.

Brian Lazarow

I like big books and I cannot lie. I've been a fan of all things geek for as long as I can remember and I have a long list of things I need to check out that just gets longer as I get busier. Secretly a dragon.