No Marvel Comics character has seen their profile increase more over the past few years than Thanos the Mad Titan - who went from being notorious only in comic book circles to being considered basically the Darth Vader of a new generation. Thanos’s appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame made it all but inevitable that he’d become a staple of mainstream popular culture. Of course, those who read comics have been enjoying his exploits for decades.
As in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos is primarily an antagonist in the pages of Marvel Comics, albeit a complicated and nuanced one. The cosmic dictator’s motivations differ between the comics and the MCU, but both serve to humanize him - and even add some reasonableness to the supposedly Mad Titan.
In fact, Thanos’s most positive attributes have led him to team up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on a handful of occasions - though he always finds himself back on the side of villainy before too long.
Thanos Joins Marvel's Heroes To Take The Infinity Gauntlet - From Nebula?
In the comic books, Thanos’s greatest moment of villainy comes during the events of Infinity Gauntlet. The storyline has many of the same trappings as the MCU's Infinity War: The Mad Titan collects all six Infinity Gems (as they’re known in the comics), snaps half of reality out of existence, and clashes with the heroes of Earth. Despite all that evil, Thanos eventually finds himself on the side of the good guys - because he loses the Infinity Gauntlet to Nebula and has to help the Avengers and their allies get it back.
In the comics, Nebula is a fraudster who claims to be Thanos’s granddaughter rather than his adopted child. For that hubris, Thanos treats her cruelly in a form of "living death" for much of Infinity Gauntlet. When Nebula breaks the spell to snatch the gauntlet away from him, she’s quickly overwhelmed by madness. Thanos is forced to team up with everyone else to relieve her of omnipotent power.
With the help of the Mad Titan, the heroes succeed - though not before Thanos makes one last desperate bid at using the gems.
Thanos Fights Against The Magus In The Comic Book ‘Infinity War’
In the pages of Marvel Comics, the Infinity War storyline plays out differently than the film of the same name in the MCU. In the comics, the arc features the Magus - essentially an evil version of cosmic hero Adam Warlock - who wants to conquer existence with an army of nefarious doppelgangers.
This planned assault necessitates the entire Marvel universe uniting against the Magus - including such cosmic villains as Galactus, Kang, and, of course, Thanos. In the end, it is Warlock who defeats Magus, but he can’t do it without some serious help from the Mad Titan.
The Mad Titan Takes Part In An ‘Infinity Crusade’
Thanos has found himself in the middle of a lot of comic book stories with “Infinity” in their titles, but the Infinity Crusade might just feature Thanos at his most heroic.
This storyline has the Mad Titan and Adam Warlock teaming up with other heroes to defeat the Goddess, who is yet another malevolent manifestation of Warlock himself - though, in contrast to the Magus, the Goddess represents Warlock's "good" side.
Thanos collaborates with Professor Xavier to boost his own telepathic powers and overwrite the manipulations of the Goddess. Towards the end of the plot, Thanos also tricks the devil himself - or at least Mephisto, the Marvel Comics version of the devil - to prevent the Infinity Crusade from spilling out into another conflict altogether.
Thanos Brings Down A Crazed Thor
Thanos the Mad Titan and Thor the God of Thunder have gone toe-to-toe plenty of times, and typically it's Thor trying to prevent one evil plot of Thanos or another. In the crossover known as Blood and Thunder, however, it is the Asgardian prince who has been driven to violent madness - and Thanos who is called in to save the day.
When powerful heroes like Adam Warlock, the Silver Surfer, and Odin himself are unable to stop Thor’s rampage, they call in Thanos as an expert on the subject. The Mad Titan buys enough time for the others to cure the god of his "Warrior Madness."