REAL NAME: Dione
AFFILIATION: The Black Order
FIRST APPEARANCE: Iron Man #55 (1973)
The story of the man who would become Thanos is one filled with death and tragedy.
Born on Titan, a moon of the planet Saturn, ‘Dione’ hailed from a race known as the Eternals. The Eternals were an offshoot of the evolutionary process that lead to life on Earth, and as such, the Eternals looked similar to that of humanity, yet they were bestowed with immortality and fantastical abilities thanks to their designers, the Cosmic Gods known as the Celestials.
However, Dione, the child of the Eternal leaders situated on Titan, A’Lars (better known as Mentor) and Sui-San, was born with a deviant gene; granting him a hideous purple skin and deformed features. The sight of this child was so horrific that it drove his mother insane and led her to try and kill him. Fortunately for the child (and unfortunately for the rest of the universe), his father saved him.
As he grew older, the boy now known as Thanos became a pacifist with few friends save his brother, Eros, and a mysterious young, pale-skinned girl, who would challenge his steadfast views on non-violence. He always possessed a lingering fascination with death and through the neglect of his father, the hatred of his mother, and the manipulations of this girl, Thanos eventually broke and gave in to his fascination. Hoping to further his curiosity, Thanos began murdering his fellow Titans, including his own mother – hoping to learn the secret to his foul form – before fleeing Titan.
After some time spent off-world as a pirate, travelling from world to world and fathering children by different mothers, Thanos discovered that the girl who had manipulated his downfall was actually the personification of death itself. Hoping to prove that he was the best suitor for this entity, he set about a string of murders on an unprecedented scale, butchering the citizens of various worlds, before turning his pirate armada on his own home planet.
His father ridiculed his fascination with this entity no one else could see, and so Thanos thought it best to leave his father alive, so he could watch him burn the cosmos in his quest to woo Death herself.
POWERS AND ABILITIES
As a member of the Eternal race, Thanos has many powers ingrained in him from birth, such as enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, resistance to injury and an accelerated healing factor. As an Eternal, Thanos is also functionally immortal, unable to die from old age.
His great scientific mind has also lead to him tampering with his own body structure, enhancing those aforementioned abilities further than the ones demonstrated by his peers on Titan, as well as enhancing or imbuing himself with other abilities, such as the manipulation of energy – allowing him to shoot concussive energy from his eyes and hands. His intelligence grants him a degree of understanding in the magic forces that pervade the universe, and his ingenuity has allowed him to build devices that allow him to use abilities such as teleportation.
Furthermore, his adventures often see him seeking out items of great power, such as the ‘Cosmic Cube’ and the ‘Infinity Gauntlet’, both of which, once fully assembled, make its bearer practically omnipotent.
Not technically an ally of Thanos, so much as an unfortunate relation, Eros, the ‘Starfox’, is Thanos’ brother. Although himself somewhat morally dubious, Eros is general regarded as Thanos’ opposite. The lack of a deviant gene makes him look like his fellow immortals on Titan, and his powers are derived from love rather than hate and death. He emanates a power that causes those around him to feel pleasure, and when he concentrates, he can cause people to become enamored with him or fall sedated (and yes, you’re not wrong in thinking that sounds like a rather rape-y superpower – it’s been touched upon by some comic-creators).
Although the being known as Adam Warlock often works to undo Thanos’ various schemes, the pair have an understanding and respect for one another. A synthetic being created on Earth, Warlock is known for being the possessor of the ‘soul gem’. Through his connection with the gem, Adam was able to advance his understanding of energy manipulation to command, what he has dubbed, Quantum Magic – which allows him to do a variety of tasks from altering time to casting spells and dispelling curses.
The Cull Obsidian (or ‘Black Order’) are Thanos’ group of generals, taken from various worlds by the Mad Titan to aid him in his quest for universal dominance. They are led by Corvus Glaive, a being who cannot die as long as his staff remains intact. Their number also includes Glaive’s wife, Proxima Midnight, whose spear can turn into a beam of light; Ebony Maw, a cunning genius who can manipulate minds with his persuasive voice; Supergiant, a viscous telepathy who can possess other beings; and Black Dwarf, a brutish monster and the brother of Glaive.
Many of Thanos’ plans and adventures are spurred on by his longing for Mistress Death. A mostly silent being, Death has teased Thanos for decades, encouraging him to prove his loyalty to her so that she might love him, yet simultaneously rejecting his advances. Her wiles have lead to such events as Thanos collecting the Infinity Gauntlet, and she once even pitted him against the madcap mercenary Deadpool, who shared her affections due to his powerful healing factor.
Although many beings throughout the universe hate and fear Thanos, few despise him more than the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Among their number is his adoptive daughter, Gamora, who resents him for her foul upbringing, and Drax the Destroyer who, after dying, was reborn with the sole purpose of destroying Thanos. The two have each killed each other before before being reborn. Similarly, the Guardians’ leader Star-Lord once faced down against Thanos in a dying universe where they both seemingly perished – they would also both return after this ‘death’.
On multiple occasions, Thanos’ schemes have lead him to Earth. The first time brought him into contact with the superhero Iron Man. In later years, the cosmic nature of Thanos’ adventures would lead him into multiple clashes with the Norse God Thor. However, the pair would face him time and time again as members of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, who have often stopped Thanos from obtaining items of power, or seeking out his lost children whom he seeks to murder. Sometimes, the Avengers will even be called upon by cosmic beings to travel to space and stop Thanos, even if he hasn’t yet ventured towards Earth.
However, Thanos‘ greatest enemy is perhaps himself. As theorised by Adam Warlock, Thanos secretly does not believe he is worthy of the affections of death or the omnipotence he occasionally holds in his search for her affections. As such, he often subconsciously sabotages himself, such as when he ‘accidentally’ let his granddaughter Nebula take possession of his Infinity Gauntlet and restore the half of the universe he had wiped out.
CURRENTLY APPEARS IN: Infinity Wars, Thanos