How Thanos Was Defeated In The Comic Book Version

Art by Jorge Fornes and Chris O’Halloran, from the cover of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Prelude #2, 2018

Thanos Can't Win, Can He?

Thanos, the gigantic bluish-purplish villain who is hell-bent on power and destruction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… what will be his fate? Since his first appearance in the comic books in 1973, Thanos has been a bane to the existence of pretty much the entire Marvel universe.

What do we know about Thanos? His origin story, first written in 1990, states that he is an Eternal, born on the moon Titan in our own solar system. Born as an ugly, misshapen beast next to his beautiful and glorious brethren, even his childhood was filled with misery and anger. These feelings only grew as he grew, and he eventually became consumed by a lust for power, with a strong obsession with death as a concept. As such, throughout the Marvel universe, he is definitely one of the greatest villains any marvel superhero would face.

How is Thanos defeated, then? As with most comic books, there are multiple storylines, and multiple endings, meaning there are multiple ways Thanos is either killed or otherwise defeated. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done a fantastic job of simultaneously keeping true to the original comics while coming up with their own well-constructed stories, meaning all bets are truly off. Instead, let’s take a look at how Thanos has been beaten in the comics.


Art by Jim Starlin, from the pages of Captain Marvel #28, 1973

The Cosmic Cube and Infinity Gems storyline depicted Thanos' first defeat. This storyline showcases his obsession with death and is presented through his wish to impress Mistress Death herself. To gain omnipotence and impress Mistress Death, Thanos used the Cosmic Cube to grant his wish before discarding it. Using his newfound abilities, he finds and taunts Captain Marvel, forcing her to gain the help of the Avengers to try to destroy him. Eventually, the team finds and destroys the cube, which doesn’t kill Thanos, but does hurt his pride enough to make him disappear for a while. Later, the Sovereign-made Adam Warlock enlists Thanos to help him in the defeat of Magus, a religious fanatic. Thanos helps, but while doing so, he steals Warlock’s soul little by little, eventually capturing the soul stone that gives Adam Warlock his powers. This is, again, part of a ploy to gain the favors of Mistress Death. Eventually, after many battles and the collection of all of the stones for the first time, Warlock is resurrected through the soul stone and sends both Thanos and Captain Marvel to Death’s realm.


Art by Ron Lim, from the cover of Silver Surfer Vol 3, #34, 1990

In the sequel series to the one I just explained, the Infinity Saga, Thanos is attempting to again collect the infinity stones to finish the Infinity Gauntlet. Again attempting to gain the affections of Mistress Death, he uses the gauntlet to wipe out half of everything alive in the universe. Warlock somehow convinces himself and many others that Thanos is not quite as bad as they thought, and instead of defeating him, entrusts him with one of the stones. The theory is that Thanos knows, deep down, that he is not worthy of the ultimate power he craves, and so will keep the stones safe from anyone even less worthy. Although a different kind of “defeat,” than one might otherwise assume, the Titan does, indeed, do everything in his power to do something good. This equates to the defeat of a villain, and the birth of something else.

Other storylines, which do not feature the Infinity Stones at all, end with his defeat in many different ways. For instance, in one reality, he is defeated by the humorously named Squirrel Girl. In another, Drax the Destroyer, who we have grown to love in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, kills Thanos to prevent the Titan from releasing the Devourer of Worlds, also known as Galactus.


Art by David Marquez, from the cover of Civil War II #1, 2016

Lastly, the most touching story, if there is such a thing, although the story starts off in the traditionally destructive manner. After having been brought back to life by Galactus, Thanos enters into battle with the Avengers. He kills War Machine, wounds others, and eventually is brought to his knees by Black Panther, Blue Marvel, and Monica Rambeau. The three create a powerful device to stop his brain from working right.

After more destruction, Thanos realizes that he is now dying. Hela recruits him to help her defeat Thor and reclaim her lands, Hel. He is finally complete, after realizing that she can offer him a true death, something which he has longed for through life.

In the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie, one of the post-credit scenes shows us the leader of the golden Sovereign looking over a sarcophagus. She lovingly names the creature inside Adam. This is likely going to be the birth of Adam Warlock, making it possible for him to be the end of Thanos for good in the Cinematic Universe, possibly in a similar way to the first defeat of Thanos. Or, because the MCU has a way of surprising us… well, anything could happen, right?

I am Ashlyn, Mother of Goblins, Queen of Snakeys and Puppies, Writer of Abundance, and Eater of All the Foods.
Gamer Since: 1988
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Civilization VI
Top 3 Favorite Games:Civilization IV, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, The Sims 3: Dragon Valley

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