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Infinity War: Who is This Thanos Guy and Why is Everybody Out to Get Him?

May 2, 2018
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Avengers: Infinity War As usual the Avengers: Infinity War film is based on events in the Marvel (Comics) Universe. And the big bad Thanos is 1 of the top villains in the MU. I'll lay out here an overview of his life, illustrated by some key issues we have in our database, and indicate where this film and some of its characters sprang from.

And if you want to find some more issues with the big purple guy in just click on his character head in any of the issues below and see the complete list from our DB.

Thanos himself is the brainchild of Jim Starlin. And a lot of his story has been written and/or drawn by him. And we'll discover that Thanos has a complicated villain/hero status. Also he's had several lives - he's been killed 3 times to my knowledge.

LIFE 1 (mid-70's)

Iron Man #55 Starlin introduced us to Thanos in IRON MAN #55 and also to Drax the Destroyer, a being created to be his nemesis .

Then JS took over the Captain Marvel series and used #25-33 to tell the story of how Thanos used the Cosmic Cube to temporarily become a god.

After that Jim revived Adam Warlock in Strange Tales and then in his own restarted series. This run introduced Gamora, trained by Thanos to be 'the most dangerous woman in the Galaxy'. Most of it was Warlock vs his evil self Magus but Thanos helped him to defeat Magus - with his own ulterior motive of course.

Starlin completed this story in AVENGERS ANNUAL #7 and its sequel. Here Thanos gathered 6 Soul Gems (1 from Warlock) which he intended to use to destroy all the stars in the universe as a present for his love Death. But Warlock and Thanos killed each other (sort of), and Gamora died too. Drax was left with no aim in life.

Marvel left the dead in peace for a decade and a half. Thanos' only appearance in that time was in Marvel Graphic Novel #1: The Death of Captain Marvel (by Starlin again) where he welcomed CM to the afterlife.

Iron Man meets Thanos
Iron Man meets Thanos

LIFE 2 (in the 90's and 00's)

Jim Starlin returned to Marvel and took over the Silver Surfer series and he immediately recreated his old sandbox, but this time only as writer. The 1st thing he did was bring Thanos back to life, and later Warlock and Gamora. Thanos retrieved the Soul Gems again, mainly from Elders Of The Universe like the Collector and the Grandmaster. But this time he knew they all had different powers. He renamed them the Infinity Gems and he mounted them on a glove he called the Infinity Gauntlet.

Infinity Gauntlet #1 This lead into the mini-series INFINITY GAUNTLET, 1 of those events that has tie-in issues everywhere. In #1 Thanos used the Gauntlet to eliminate half the population of the universe including half the Marvel heroes.

You can see that the preceding 2 paragraphs provide the basis for the Infinity Wars movie.

There's a large overlap between the characters here and those in the film, but with some big differences. Silver Surfer obviously isn't on the screen because another company owns the rights. They've chosen not to include Warlock, but his cocoon has been seen in an earlier film so he could turn up in part 2. The comics story doesn't have the Guardians of the Galaxy because they hadn't been invented yet. But it does have Drax and Gamora. And also Nebula who in the Marvel (Comics) Universe claimed to be Thanos' granddaughter.

Infinity War #1 This leaves the rest of the Infinity Gauntlet series to be the inspiration for the sequel film. It probably won't spoil things to say what happens in the comics because the film-makers won't follow it that closely. Basically Thanos defeats everybody including some big cosmic entities. But then Nebula gets the Gauntlet off him and brings everybody back to life. And then Warlock gets the Gauntlet off *her*.

After that Thanos realised his lust for power was futile and became a good guy as part of Warlock & the Infinity Watch who each guarded 1 of the Infinity Gems in their own series. They fought in the INFINITY WAR event (*not* a model for the film, vs the returned Magus). Thus began a long sequence of Thanos-based titles with Infinity in them.

Thanos continued to be a hero for a while but all too soon slid back into villainy as other writers sometimes took the helm. Until eventually Drax achieved his life goal of killing him at the end the Annihilation mini-series. It was the sequel Annihilation: Conquest event which formed the Guardians of the Galaxy.

LIFE 3 (2010 - 16)

Thanos: The Infinity Finale #1 Thanos was only dead for 3 years this time before he was bought back in his own mini-event Thanos Imperative. This trapped him in the Cancerverse for a year but then he was back again.

The INFINITY event brought him into the long build-up to the end of the Marvel multiverse. But he was 1 of the few chars from the main Marvel timeline to survive into SECRET WARS III. And there Dr Doom killed him again at the end.

Jim Starlin had been writing some Thanos graphic novels and mini-series while all this was going on. THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE GN was the end of that sequence and spanned the end of the multiverse.

LIFE 4 (2016 to now)

But of course Thanos managed to get himself back into the new multiverse via the Ultimates. And now he's involved in the prequel to the new Infinity War comics event starting with INFINITY COUNTDOWN: ADAM WARLOCK. And Starlin's back with the 1st of a new set of GNs with Thanos: The Infinity Siblings.

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