Thanos! 40 Years of Villainy in the Marvel U.

Celebrating 30 years of villainy in the Marvel Universe.

THANOS! Celebrating 30 years of villainy in the Marvel Universe.

Normally, I wouldn’t give two shakes about the Marvel Comics super villain Thanos. To me, he has always been a less interesting cosmic villain than say Annihilus, Galactus, Ego or Maelstrom; there was just something about Thanos that didn’t quite catch my eye or interest me in the villain in the slightest. So when I put together a list of comic book first appearances that I use to plan out future articles, I left the 40th anniversary of Thanos’ debut out of the list for that reason. Of course, that all changed last year when everyone sat through the first secret ending of The Avengers theatrical movie. Lo and behold, who is the secret villain mastermind behind Loki’s plot to use the Chituari? Why, it happens to be Thanos. Now Thanos has been seemingly primed to once again take up a role as one of the major baddies in all of the Marvel Universe because of his cameo appearance during the scene.

Most fans do recognize Thanos as being a major Marvel villain. His first appearance back in Iron Man #55 in February 1973 (as created by writer-artist Jim Starlin) showed signs that he would be a force to be reckoned with – and over the course of the next several decades his involvement in major stories such as the Infinity Saga (Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade) as well as the recent Annihilation storyline ensure that Thanos is a constant thorn in the side of Marvel’s super hero community. His clashes with Thor, The Avengers, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, Quasar and Adam Warlock always are worthy of mention when you discuss those groups or individual heroes. Still, I never personally like the character and am somewhat dismissive of his importance in the overall scheme of the Marvel Universe.

Thanos wanting, lusting for the affections of Mistress Death.

Thanos wanting, lusting for the affections of Mistress Death.

Maybe it is because I always thought that his grand schemes to attract the attention of Mistress Death just seemed a bit to cliched or overplayed to be an effective character point. I get that his origin has him fall in love and tutored by Death while growing up on the Saturnian moon of Titan as an ostracized and outcast child. But to continue that point for the years and years that he has existed in the Marvel Universe just went a bit too far for my taste. After all those years, his one goal is to destroy all life in the universe to regain his forbidden love’s affections. I guess it is no worse than the motivations of Doom, Norman Osborn, Red Skull or any other Marvel villain, I just don’t happen to see the big picture of it all. That’s why I always thought of Thanos as second rate in comparison with the other Marvel villains.

But when he makes an appearance at the end of one of the biggest box office smash hits in Hollywood history, you know that he is bound to make a bigger splash than ever to lead up to what is expected to be his involvement in The Avengers 2. At least he is bound to make some kind of appearance in another Marvel movie based on a team that has had encounters with him before – The Guardians of the Galaxy. And to set up those potential appearances, I am sure that Marvel is planning something big for Thanos to be involved with to promote the character even more. We already know of the 5-issue origin series Thanos Rising, but I have a feeling that Thanos will be involved in something much grander when that series is done. I get the feeling that Marvel will try to push a major story arc or crossover story that involves Thanos facing off against the mightiest of Earth’s heroes.

Thanos in possession of the Infinity Gems.

Thanos in possession of the Infinity Gems.

In fact, before his appearance in The Avengers, the only time I found myself liking the character was when he was used as the main villain in the 1995 video game Marvel Super Heroes that was developed by Capcom. He’s made other appearances in video games since then, but hasn’t had the same impact as in that game. Though it was kind of cool to see him in Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet. (He also made sporadic appearance in the cartoon of the same name.)

So now I find myself learning more about Thanos than I already knew about the character in preparation for what Marvel has in store for the character in the immediate future. Don’t get me wrong, I am not ignorant about his exploits; they just didn’t interest me as much as others like Doctor Doom, Magneto, the Magus… you get the idea. But my gut feeling is telling me that something big is coming for the character and that Marvel won’t let his appearance in The Avengers or his 40th anniversary of his debut in Iron Man #55 pass without adding something major for fans to talk about in the meantime.

If you would like to know more about Thanos and his villainous adventures in the Marvel Universe, you may to consider checking out the following storylines featuring the character to see what makes him such an evil character. Please not that some of these have been collected into trades and graphic novels making them much easier to track down and read.

*The Thanos Quest #1 – 2

*Infinity Gauntlet #1 – 6

*Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 – 42

*Infinity War #1 – 6

*Infinity Crusade #1 – 6

*Cosmic Powers #1 – 6

*Avengers: Celestial Quest #1 – 8

*Infinity Abyss #1 – 6

*Marvel: The End #1 – 6

*Thanos #1 – 12

*Annihilation #1 – 6

*The Thanos Imperative #1 – 6


Richard Cardenas

Created in a lab in Tijuana, Mexico, or cloned in a test tube in Torrance, CA, depending on which story you think is a better origin story, Richard is, if such a thing exist, a second generation nerd. The son of a man who loved sci-fi, comic books and horror, and a woman who loved making costumes, reading sci-fi novels and watching cartoons, Richard was exposed to all this and more since a very young age.

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1 Response

  1. Cosmis Marvel = under-appreciated 

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