It's no secret that people around the world have been eagerly awaiting Avengers: Infinity War. Fans fell head over heels in love with the most recent Marvel flick, Black Panther, but it's a whole different experience to see all your favourite superheroes and villains return to the big screen for another adventure. And we really are talking about everyone — the cast includes Iron Man, Thor and Loki, Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Gamora and Nebula, Scarlet Witch, Drax, Vision, Winter Soldier, Groot and Rocket, Star-Lord, Shuri, M'Baku... the list goes on and on. And they're all facing off against one particularly dastardly villain — Thanos.
Now, fans of the Marvel universe will know who Thanos is, but if you're just the type who follows the movies and haven't actually read the comics that inspired them, you may not know his whole story. Sure, you know he wants to snag the Infinity Stones — but there's a whole lot more to his character than that.
In honour of the release of Avengers: Infinity War, we've got 20 surprising things you may not have known about Thanos. He's still a villain, obviously, but his history gives him some much needed depth!
20 Thanos Isn't Even His Real Name
Okay, Thanos' real name makes a lot of sense to those who are up on their Greek mythology. While you can never be sure of a writer's inspiration, it's highly likely that his name was inspired by Thanatos, who is the Greek God of the afterlife (and, Thanos' whole obsession with death definitely makes this link seem a whole lot more likely). However, did you know that his real name isn't Thanos at all?
It turns out that his actual name is the far less intimidating Dione. The name twist is unveiled when Thanos ends up meeting a future version of himself who reveals a bit about his backstory.
I mean, given that many of the heroes have two names — their real, mortal names that they had before becoming superheroes, and their superhero names — it's only fair that Thanos get in on the double name action. Perhaps he can be Dione when he's just hanging out with his pals, and Thanos when he's out fighting the heroes and trying to destroy the world. One thing is for sure — if he was introduced with the name Dione, he probably would have seemed a whole lot less intimidating from the very beginning.
19 He's Only 6'7 — But He's 985 Pounds
Okay, talk about some majorly weird proportions. On screen, Thanos is a bit larger than life — he's not exactly a giant, but he's far bigger than most of the heroes he's battling. However, if you visit the actual comics to learn about his stats, they're a little bit baffling.
Apparently, Thanos is 6'7 in height — tall, but no taller than your average basketball player, so hardly superhuman. However, his weight is a staggering 985 pounds — that's right, nearly 1,000 pounds!
It's as if you lined a handful of basketball players up and just fused them together to create one wide, monstrous being. Of course, when it came to create his image on screen, they weren't too worried about crafting a physique that would be totally accurate to his supposed stats — they just wanted a scary, intimidating villain. Still, finding out his exact height and weight definitely makes you scratch your head a little. I mean, are the man's bones made of anvils? Those are some serious pounds to be carrying around. Although who knows, perhaps it can be explained away as some kind of quirk of being born somewhere other than earth; perhaps in earth pounds, he really would have been a respectable 200-something pounds.
18 He Celebrates Christmas
When you think about the superheroes and villains in the Marvel universe, you don't really associate any of them with the holidays. Sure, there may be the odd scene or two, but they're too busy fighting crime and trying to save the world to gather around for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanos in particular is one that we just can't see carving a turkey and trimming a tree — however, apparently, the villain does in fact celebrate Christmas.
His festive spirit isn't really for himself – it's for the benefit of his daughter Gamora, and there are a few panels depicting their celebration in the comics. Apparently, Thanos wanted to make sure that his adopted daughter didn't become a totally ruthless assassin with no conscience— and he found out that by giving her the full joyous Christmas experience, she would develop a bit of a conscience in the process.
So, he trimmed the tree, he wrapped the gifts, all in order to help his daughter. We've got to say, the image of Thanos preparing his home for the holiday season is a little bit odd. Can you just imagine him and Gamora sipping hot cocoa and hanging stockings by the fire? So strange.
17 He Has A Deviant Syndrome
You'd have to be pretty blind to not see that Thanos isn't exactly human — however, you may not have realized exactly why he looks the way that he looks. Apparently, while most Titanians are gorgeous, Thanos was affected by Deviant Syndrome, because he carries the Deviant gene.
The particular mutation occurs only in Titanians, which is why he ended up being affected — and he's currently the only known person to have the syndrome, which would suggest that it's fairly rare. Some of the physical traits of the particular mutation include slightly strange physical proportions, purple skin, and the trademark furrowed chin that we all remember so well from the comics.
This is what we love about the Marvel universe — it's never enough to just have a boring old villain, you need to have someone with a bunch of hidden backstory that can slowly be revealed and add some major interest to the story. Who knows — if he didn't have the particular gene mutation he does, perhaps he would have just blended in with the other Titanians and led a regular life rather than trying endlessly to conquer the world. We'll never know what could have been — only that his genetic make-up had a big impact.
16 He Erased Half The Universe With A Mere Snap Of His Fingers
Most of the characters in the Marvel universe have some kind of awe-inspiring superpower, or even just a particularly amazing tool they can use, like Thor's hammer or Captain America's shield. However, they have nothing on Thanos' power.
In his history, there's a certain event where he had all the Infinity Stones at one point (it's a long story), he decided to test out the amount of power he could harness by snapping his fingers and seeing what damage he could do. Well... a whole lot, it turns out.
A simple snap of his fingers led to half of the life in the entire universe being erased. Seriously — talk about power! We're not sure exactly what his end goal is, and why he didn't end up just eliminating everything in the universe at that point if all he wanted was to dominate the universe, but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see! Let's just hope for the sake of all our favourite superheroes that he doesn't decide to snap his fingers again — who knows what kind of situation the Marvel universe will be in then? It's absolutely insane that one individual can yield such power simply by obtaining a few items.
15 He's Actually Based On A DC Character
The Marvel Universe and the DC Universe are two separate worlds, but let's be honest — many of us wonder how influenced one is by the other, and vice versa. After all, they're both creating worlds populated by superheroes and super-villains, with all kinds of mythical items and stories and tangled relationships. They're bound to get inspiration from their competitor from time to time — and that's exactly what happened with Thanos.
Jim Starlin, one of Thanos' creators, explained all about his inspiration an interview with Comic Book Resources. As Starlin said, "you'd think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said: 'Beef him up! If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!'"
What a crazy story! IT just goes to show that you can truly find artistic inspiration everywhere (even if other members on your team might not agree with the direction you take things at first).
14 He's In Love With Death (Literally)
It's no secret that Thanos is totally obsessed with destroying things, people, worlds, everything — and it turns out, that his thirst for destruction has caused him to form a somewhat unusual relationship with the embodiment of Death. We won't go into the whole tangled situation, but it's pretty insane.
At one point, after the two broke up, Death ended up banning Thanos from her realm, which meant he wasn't able to die, no matter what happened to him (this immortality doesn't remain forever, obviously, but it's a crazy part of their story). There's definitely a fair bit of unusual relationships in the Marvel universe, but the connection between Thanos and Death is definitely one of the more remarkable ones.
I mean, yes, Death is embodied to look like a dark and steamy woman in many of the comic books, so it's not as if he's attracted to some cloudy dust of dark particles — but it's still a little strange. Who knows, maybe at some point we'll get a happily ever after between Thanos and Death and, having captured the attention of his long-time crush, he'll finally stop trying to destroy the universe and just settle in with his new beloved.
13 He Has Many, Many Children
When you look at Thanos, you don't really think of him as a father figure — after all, how can someone that villainous and that bent on destroying the universe be a doting father? Well, we're not sure about the doting part, but he definitely does have children.
Many will remember his adoptive daughter Gamora, who had a leading role in several films, but he also had a son with Death. And, Gamora wasn't the only child he adopted — he apparently made it a bit of a thing to get children from the worlds he conquered and take them under his wing, acting as their father while teaching them to become ruthless killers like him.
The most notable of his children to go through the regime is probably Nebula, who didn't manage to develop a conscience like Gamora did. Often, the children of heroes and villains are somewhat minor, secondary characters if they appear at all, but that's not the case for Thanos' children — perhaps the fact that he's so powerful means that his children are that much more interesting and worthy of getting their own superpowers and storylines for fans to follow. Maybe Gamora and Nebula will get even more screen time in the future.
12 He Was Once Beaten By A Much Weaker Opponent, Squirrel Girl
You would think that someone with as much power as Thanos, someone who is able to end half the universe with the snap of his fingers when equipped with the right tools, would be virtually indestructible. After all, he manages to face off time and time again with not just one, but several heroes trying to conquer him at once. However, the one that manages to take him down in a particular storyline isn't the type of hero you would assume would have the ability to beat Thanos.
In a certain storyline, Thanos goes head to head with Squirrel Girl. For those who aren't familiar with her, she's a superhero whose powers include the ability to leap several stories, a slightly enhanced sense of smell, and small knuckle spikes/claws that can help her climb and slice wood (although nothing quite Wolverine caliber).
It seems like a poor match for Thanos' abilities, but apparently, Squirrel Girl and her sidekick Tippy-Toe manage to conquer Thanos (at least, for that particular storyline — he obviously ends up living on, or you wouldn't be seeing him on screen today!) We're pretty sure everyone at Marvel just wants the world to forget about that whole Squirrel Girl storyline.
11 He's Able To Shatter Vibranium
Vibranium is serious business — after all, the only indestructible material in the Marvel universe isn't something you want to mess around with. The fact that Wakanda basically established their entire society around all the advances that vibranium helped them achieve is just a testament to that. And time and time again, it's proven that it's indestructible — even tools from different planets, like Thor's hammer, aren't able to dent the superhuman substance.
Captain America's shield is made of vibranium, so it's considered indestructible — and for the most part, it is. That is, until it meets Thanos. Thanks to the power that the infinity stones give him, Thanos is no longer bound by reality.
While in a regular world absolutely nothing would be able to impact vibranium, in the new world shaped by the infinity stones, he destroys the shield as if it were made out of some regular metal with no special powers. That particular moment was a hugely impactful one — for fans who know all about vibranium's indestructible nature, the fact that Thanos so easily destroyed it definitely gives you a feeling of terror as you consider just what kind of damage the villain can do. After all, if he can destroy Cap's shield, he can destroy anything.
10 His Mother Tried To Destroy Him Right When He Was Born
There are plenty of characters in the Marvel universe who have complicated relationships with their parents, but Thanos probably takes the cake. Since Deviant syndrome is something you're able to see physically, his mother saw the moment he was born that something was different with her son. However, rather than embracing it and learning to love him, she apparently tried to kill her new mutated baby shortly after he was born.
I mean, something like that is bound to mess you up for life, and it certainly did with Thanos — he ended up having a lifelong hostile relationship with his family, battling his father and grandfather throughout the comics, and eventually destroying his planet's moon and ending life there just so he could get back at his mother for her atrocious thoughts after his birth.
It's truly fascinating to see the way people respond to mutations or powers in the Marvel universe — some think they're really cool and aren't freaked out in the slightest, while others are incredibly unnerved at the sight of any kind of difference and their first inclination is to just destroy the create that possesses the power. Still, though — his own mother? Talk about some major family drama.
9 His Brother Was Actually Part Of The Avengers For A While
Given that he's going up against the Avengers, and is frequently battling heroes, you'd assume that Thanos would have no connection to the 'good guys.' However, that's not true — he actually has a family member who was once part of the Avengers. And not just any family member — his own brother!
You see, for a while, Thanos' brother Starfox/Eros was an Avenger, fighting alongside some of the good guys. However, he had one particular issue — women. Starfox was a total womanizer who couldn't keep his eyes from wandering, and he ended up being kicked out of the Avengers because of a situation he got into with a married woman (conduct unbecoming of a member of the team, of course).
And he just didn't seem to learn, even going so far as to attempt to strike up a connection with She-Hulk when she defended him in court. Tony Stark may have a reputation as a bit of a womanizer (at least, before he met his main squeeze Pepper), but he's definitely got nothing on Starfox — we can't imagine what the Avengers would have looked like with him on their squad, so it's a good thing he ended up getting kicked out.
8 His First Comic Book Appearance Was In 1973
The Marvel universe has been around for decades, so even though you've only been seeing some of your favourite characters on the big screen for the past ten years, they've were created long before then. Thanos is no exception.
While he only made his motion picture debut back in 2012, less than 10 years ago, he appeared in the comic books for the first time back in 1973, in Iron Man #55, which Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin worked on together (with Starlin illustrating the new villain). And, here's another fun fact — while we know he was partially inspired by some characters in the DC universe, Starlin was also apparently inspired to create a character like Thanos based on a psychology class he took in college.
He wasn't sure at first what Thanos would look like physically, but he had a clear idea about his motivation — he wanted an individual who had a fascination with death and was motivated by nihilism. Well, that certainly sounds like Thanos! We wonder if the professor who taught Starlin in that class ever had a discussion with him about the concepts that inspired him to craft the character — talk about a unique source of inspiration to work with!
7 Though He's Super Powerful, He Travels With A Squad
Destroying the world may be fun, but it's always more fun to do it with some sidekicks by your side, right? Plus, with so many heroes trying to battle you in order to save the world, sometimes you just need a little back-up, even if you're majorly powerful.
Thanos could easily tackle anything that came his way, but he wanted a few associates to work with him and help do some of the smaller tasks he didn't want to waste his time on, so he created The Black Order. His squad includes Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and Supergiant.
And, they have some pretty impressive powers between them, including telepathy, skill at persuasion, mastery of hand-to-hand combat, impenetrable skin, and a pike tool that can cut through literally anything in the world. And, a major part of what they do to help him is to explore the universe and destroy planets as they search for the infinity stones to bring back to their leader. Their role in the movie may be different from their role in the comic books, but they'll be featured right by Thanos' side — after all, even the most dastardly villain needs a crew to roll with.
6 He's Not Otherworldly — He Was Born On Titan, In Earth's Solar System
Given his powers and unique appearance, many people who don't know much about Thanos might assume he's from an entirely different universe, like Thor and Loki.
However, he's from a planet within earth's solar system — Titan, one of Saturn's moons. While he's a Titanian by birth, the Titanians themselves are Earth-originating Eternals, which means they kind of seem like regular humans (albeit far more flawless). It just goes to show how diverse the backstories are for the various characters in the universe.
Some grow up in regular old cities on earth and end up getting superpowers later in life, others live on an entirely different planet with its own set of rules, and there are plenty who are somewhere in between on the spectrum. One thing is for sure — Titan plays a huge role in Thanos' life, and he likely wouldn't be the character he is without the negativity he faced from his fellow Titanians because of his mutation. If he would have had a happy childhood, chances are, he may never have left Titan, let alone destroyed it, and would just be content to find a gorgeous Titanian woman, settle down, and live a quiet life that didn't include plans to take over the universe.
5 He Was A Space Pirate For A While
There aren't many villains who jump straight into being the most terrifying force in the universe. After all, even if you're powerful and have an appetite for destruction, you still need to learn the ropes a little bit. That's exactly what Thanos did in his younger years.
When he left his planet, he was chasing adventure and death, and he ended up becoming a space pirate thanks to those natural skills he possessed. His skills make him an asset to the team when it comes to actually getting things done, but he's not much of a team player and doesn't respect his superiors — which he proves by eventually doing away with his captain and just stepping into the leadership position on his crew.
Then, of course, he takes all the lessons he learned during those years of planet hopping and puts them to use with his own agenda in mind — destroying the world and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. We're not sure if he learned any leadership skills from his former captains, given that he didn't show them a lot of respect, but perhaps he learned some valuable lessons about working together as a crew, or demanding respect from your subordinates.
4 Thanos' Co-Creator Came Up With A Sneaky Way To Restore His Reputation
Thanos is supposed to be this super powerful being who can destroy just about anything in his wake. So, when he gets destroyed by various lesser characters in a handful of storylines throughout the comic books, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense — after all, how can people like Squirrel Girl and Ka-Zar destroy the almighty Thanos?
Well, his co-creator Jim Starlin obviously didn't have a hand at crafting every single storyline where he's featured, so he came up with a bit of a solution in 2002's Infinity Abyss. He crafts a background story where Thanos has a group of individuals called Thanosi, who are android/clone hybrids that bear a striking resemblance to Thanos.
The only difference is, they don't quite have his strength and intelligence, which means they can be conquered in situations where Thanos would have won. So, he explains away all the Thanos defeats in other storylines by saying that those individuals didn't actually beat Thanos — they just beat a member of the Thanosi. Given that you can't exactly go back and rewrite a storyline itself, it's just about the best solution available in the particular situation — props to Starlin for thinking on his feet!
3 Despite Being A Supervillain, He Lacks Major Self-Confidence
Okay, this character flaw is one that we kind of love, because it makes Thanos seem less like a cartoon villain and more like a complex, flawed villain whose storyline we're dying to see play out. It's explained time and time again that the almighty Thanos is just about indestructible — I mean, the man is a monster.
However, there are several situations where he's able to finally destroy the universe as he apparently wants to, and reign supreme. The only true enemy he faces? Himself. Crazy, right? There are several instances where Thanos is so close to achieving victory, and it ends up slipping through his fingers solely because he lacks self-confidence and ends up doubting himself.
We're not sure if it's some deep-rooted childhood issues that stem from his mother not wanting him, or if he just never developed the level of self-confidence he needed to carry out his plans, but one thing is for sure — it adds some major complexity to an already fascinating character. I mean, looking at Thanos and all he's achieved, you'd assume he'd be arrogant, not filled with self-doubt! We have to hand it to the creators on this one, it's a pretty unique twist to throw into the mix.
2 He's Able To Hold The Infinity Stones — Something Many Can't Do
Okay, anyone who has been following along with the Marvel movies knows all about the infinity stones. Thanos desperately wants to have them, and there are many pictures of him with the stones in the infinity gauntlet.
Now, for the average mortal, possessing the stones is just not something that can happen. It's not because they wouldn't be able to find them — it's solely because the stones are so insanely powerful that simply by touching them, a burst of energy is provoked that causes major destruction. And, given their immense power, it's not proven how every individual would react to them — perhaps someone like Thor could handle them with no issue, but someone who is originally mortal with added superpowers would end up harming themselves by touching the stones.
Thanos possesses the gauntlet in certain storylines, but even when he doesn't, he's proven that he can touch the infinity stones with his bare hands — which means he's able to harness all their power without having to worry about the consequences. That's a total recipe for disaster. We can't wait to see how the drama with the infinity stones unfolds, and whether someone else can take possession of the infinity gauntlet from Thanos.
1 He's Played By The Legendary Josh Brolin
When it comes to characters in the Marvel universe, the actor cast to play them is almost as important as bringing details like the costumes, weapons and home planets to the big screen. After all, if the actor just doesn't seem to fit the part, it can totally destroy the character for the viewer. And the actors who seem to have the toughest time are the ones who are in serious costume that impacts their face — after all, it's a lot harder to express things when you're wearing layers of prosthetics and make-up.
They ended up selecting Josh Brolin to play Thanos, which was a majorly smart decision — Brolin has tackled complex characters in films like Milk, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit. He's not afraid to play someone with some major demons, and Thanos certainly falls into that camp.
His experience is a bit different than the average actor's in the Marvel universe, because he plays Thanos through a combination of motion capture and voice acting, but still — it takes talent to bring someone larger than life like Thanos to the big screen, and the movies definitely wouldn't be as effective if Thanos wasn't a worthy villain who managed to provoke terror.
References: dailydot.com, thegamer.com, wittyfeed.me, polygon.com, ranker.com, cbr.com