Avengers: Infinity War is set to finally bring the might of Thanos against the Avengers, by why is that such a big deal?
Thanos was created by Jim Starlin to be a big bad in the Marvel Universe and he has built up a reputation as a villain who is not to be trifled with.
"If you took Darth Vader, and you multiplied him times ten ... Our job with Thanos is to make him the preeminent villain in the Marvel universe." co-director Anthony Russo said during a press visit to the film’s set. "That is his role in the comics, that's his role in these movies, and in order to be a preeminent villain, you have to do some pretty bad things."
During a separate interview, co-director Joe Russo said, “The stakes are incredibly high. I wanted to turn Thanos into Darth Vader for a new generation. He’s an incredibly intense character. Sociopathic. He takes no prisoners. I think the audience needs to be prepared when they go see these movies.”
But why is Thanos so thoroughly feared throughout the Marvel universe? Why did Kevin Feige and the folks at Marvel Studios decide to make Thanos the epic villain at the heart of the first decade of Marvel Cinematic Universe stories?
To find the answer, we're looking back at some of the highlights - or lowlights, depending on your perspective - Thanos' history in the Marvel Comics universe. What follows are some of Thanos' most heinous and brutal acts of violence. These are the kinds of acts that will get you mentioned in the same sentence as an iconic villain like Darth Vader.
Keep reading to see for yourself.
Thanos Rising tells the Mad Titan's origin story, including his fatal relationship with his mother, Sui-San.
Somehow, Sui-San always sensed the deadly killer Thanos would become from the day he was born. As soon as she gave birth, she looked at her child and immediately tried to kill him stop him from becoming what she foresaw. She was stopped by Thanos's father, Mentor.
Unfortunately for Sui-San, that decision came back to haunt her. As a child, Thanos become increasingly obsessed with death, partly thanks to the manipulations of Mistress Death herself. This obsession peaked when Thanos kidnapped his own mother and dissected her in his secret torture lab.
Mentor didn't manage to escape his son's murderous wrath unscathed. It would take many more years, but Thanos would claim his father's life just as he claimed his mother's, though perhaps more quickly.
The Thanos ongoing series was launched by Marvel Comics with Jeff Lemire writing and Mike Deodato. The initial storyline found Thanos inflicted with a disease that threatened to be the end of him.
Thanos was desperate enough to seek out his father's aide, knowing that Mentor was a brilliant scientist. Mentor made it clear that he couldn't help Thanos, but that he wouldn't even if he could. In that fleeting moment, Thanos finally found some respect for his father.
Then he obliterated him.
Thanos did a lot of terrible things during The Infinity Gauntlet event, but what he did to Nebula is arguably the most sadistic.
For some time before the events leading to The Infinity Gauntlet began, Thanos was dead. Nebula came on the scene claiming to be the Mad Titan's daughter.
When Thanos returned from the dead, he was not pleased with the pretender leading his pirate fleet. He made it clear that someone so devoted to death as he would never sire children (this was later retconned. He totally had lots of kids).
Rather than simply killing Nebula, he came up with a much more torturous punishment. He turns her into a living sculpture devoted to death, trapping her in a state of eternal pain without the hope of death's releases.
This is perhaps the most iconic moment in the entirety of The Infinity Gauntlet, perhaps Thanos' most iconic moment ever.
Thanos had been resurrected by Mistress Death for one purpose: to correct the cosmic imbalance between life and death. Since, by Mistress Death's calculations, there were more people living in the universe currently than had ever died in history.
To correct this perceived imbalance, she resurrected Thanos and set him about thinning 50 percent of all life on Earth. While she expected Thanos to take a direct approach, Thanos instead set about collecting all of the Infinity Stones so that he could wipe out half of all life in a single stroke.
This snap of his fingers was the culmination of that plan.
Thanos isn't the only one with a thing for Mistress Death in the Marvel universe. The near-unkillable Deadpool has also caught Death's eye.
Thanos didn't appreciate this and so he cursed Deadpool with eternal life, which also had the side effect of making it so no one else in the universe could die.
Deadpool tried to rectify this by finding Thanos, believing that killing the Mad Titan would lift the curse. Unfortunately for Deadpool, the Mad Titan is not so easily killed.
Thanos demolished Deadpool pretty quickly, turning Deadpool into a literal dead pool, nothing more than a sentient bloodstain on the floor.
Now we turn to a moment that technically took place outside of reality, but is no less brutal for it.
Late in Lemire's Thanos run, the Mad Titan sought the power to overcome his sickness from a place called the God Quarry. The God Quarry offered great rewards to anyone who could pass its challenge.
That challenge for Thanos meant entering a false reality where he was a hero. Not just a hero, but a member of the Avengers, fighting alongside Earth's Mightiest Heroes as one of their greatest champions.
Eventually, Thanos realized that this was all a fantasy and came to his sense. To punctuate the moment, he grabbed Captain America - Sam Wilson, at the time - and crushed the Avenger's skull.
Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw took over the Thanos ongoing series for its final arc, and they took a decidedly different approach.
In "Thanos Wins," Thanos was taken to a future timeline where he had already defeated the heroes of the Marvel universe. He even made the Hulk into one of his "pets."
There was one last foe Thanos needed to defeat to make his reign as king of the universe undisputed. Silver Surfer was still at large and endowed with the power of the Fallen One and the might of Mjolnir.3comments
Thanos and his future self had to work together to attack the Surfer. Silver Surfer managed to get the Hulk on his side, but Thanos quickly drove the Surtur's Twilight Blade through both of their chests.
Bruce Banner died pretty quickly. Then the two Thanos team up on the Surfer, eventually cutting off the arm that held Mjolnir and driving Surfer's face onto the hammer's handle.