Remember that purple guy who popped up at the end of Marvel's Avengers and again in Guardians of the Galaxy? It may seem like he doesn't do a lot aside from collect pretty stones and avoid suntan lotion, but those in the know will tell you that Thanos is a villain of almost immeasurable power; one who's come dangerously close to wiping out the entire Marvel universe more than once.
Here's the thing about Thanos though; the Avengers always beat him, every single time, except for that one story where — well, you can read more about that elsewhere.
Regardless, Avengers: Infinity War will be the Mad Titan's time to shine, the moment where Thanos will finally prove to moviegoers what he's truly made of. To prepare for this monumental bout and figure out where to place your bets, we've rounded up five of the most impressive fights between Thanos and Earth's Mightiest Heroes for your reading pleasure.
1. Thanos vs. Everyone (Infinity Gauntlet #1-6)
All of the signs suggest that Avengers: Infinity War will be based on the iconic comic book series Infinity Gauntlet, rather than the actual Infinity War run that followed a few short years later. Confused yet?
In Jim Starlin's classic mini-series, Thanos finally obtains all six infinity gems, objects of incredible power that grant their owner omnipotence. With his new abilities, Thanos kills half of the earth's populations with a quick snap of his fingers. The remaining heroes are swatted away with ease, leaving no one to stop the Mad Titan from imprisoning cosmic entities such as Galactus and Eternity.
The Avengers regularly face impossible odds, but at this point, it really did seem like it would be game over for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Half of the planet was dead for chrissakes and Thanos had just decimated billions with a single thought.
Not content with total victory though, the Mad Titan decided to become one with the universe. In theory, that doesn't sound so bad, but the supposedly unstoppable villain stupidly left the gauntlet vulnerable alongside his abandoned mortal body, enabling his opponents to steal the gauntlet back and undo all of the damage.
Thanos really needs to be more careful with his stuff. There's a lot of bad people out there.
2. The Thanos War (Captain Marvel #25-33)
The Infinity Gauntlet may be the most famous Thanos story line to date, but this wasn't the first time that the Avengers caught the Mad Titan trying to cheekily steal super-powered objects for his own nefarious means.
Back in the '70s, Thanos regularly had run-ins with Captain Marvel — not to be confused with the super heroine of the same name — and in this classic tale, the Mad Titan fought to get his hands on the cosmic cube, an object that can alter the fabric of reality itself.
Long before Infinity Gauntlet hit the stands, Thanos gained god-like power during the Thanos War, which he used to kill innocents in order to bring himself closer to Death. Like a power-crazed magpie, Thanos just couldn't get enough of those shiny, reality-altering objects, but with the help of the Avengers, Captain Marvel thwarted the Mad Titan's plans, ending the Thanos War while saving countless lives in the process.
3. Thanos vs. Avengers, Thing and Spidey (Avengers Annual #7/Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2)
In what many regard as the definitive Thanos story line, creator Jim Starlin decided to mix things up by giving Thanos immortal power through use of the infinity gems, which he used to capture the Avengers with ease.
Despite this sounding like every other Thanos story line ever written, Starlin outdid himself here with a powerful story that saw Spider-Man selflessly throw himself into mortal danger to rescue his future teammates, who then proceeded to kick the Mad Titan's ass.
The ensuing fight is actually quite epic, even by Marvel's standards, and at the end, Earth's Mightiest Heroes even kill Thanos by transforming him into stone, admittedly with a little help from Adam Warlock.
Death never lasts long in the comics, but the panel depicting Thanos with his arms outstretched has still become one of the most iconic and enduring moments in Marvel history, one that has been parodied by countless artists keen to pay respect or who simply want to trace the original image to meet deadlines.
4. Infinity War #1-6
The success of Infinity Gauntlet a general obsession with company-wide crossovers at the time led to more Thanos led epics. While Infinity Crusade is often perceived to be the weakest of the trilogy, Infinity War had a number of redeeming features, despite the barmy story line, which was ridiculous even by '90s standards.
The story follows hero Adam Warlock, who uses the Infinity Gauntlet to remove the good and bad parts of his character in order to use the infinite power of the stones with logical objectivity. Unfortunately, this accidentally creates an evil version of Warlock known as Magus, who gains enough power to build an entire army of hero doppelgangers fighting under his control.
Sure it's cheesy, but there's something intrinsically awesome about watching superheroes fight evil versions of themselves, making this a crossover event for the ages. While Thanos is not the central villain in this run, the appearance of his doppelganger means that you get more Mad Titan bang for your buck with this series, as he unites with Magus to do what he does best; kill everything.
5. Thanos Vs Squirrel Girl!?
While Squirrel Girl isn't technically a card-carrying Avenger, the bizarrely loveable character has been a prominent member of the The Great Lakes Avengers and has even babysat for the Avengers children on occasion.
It seems strange though that this pint-sized hero has been relegated to the backburner in the Avengers Mansion, as she's single-handedly defeated both Dr Doom and even Thanos herself in the past, achieving something that even the likes of Captain America found to be an impossible feat.
Don't believe that a girl with mutant squirrel powers can take on the Mad Titan and win? The proof's in the pudding, guys.
Thanos often clones himself in order to confuse his opponents, but you heard it here straight from a Watcher himself; Squirrel Girl managed to take down the Mad Titan with nary a helping hand, aside of course from Tippy-Toe, Squirrel Girl's trusted ally. Yes, Tippy-Toe is a squirrel.
The fight itself isn't shown, so we can only assume that Squirrel Girl defeated Thanos by stealing his nuts. How else do you explain that defeated pose?
What do you think is the Mad Titan's greatest moment and more importantly, how the hell do you think Squirrel Girl defeated Thanos all on her lonesome?
More Thanos ass kicking can also be seen here in this clip from the Avengers Assemble cartoon, which features a cameo from Ultron too. You're welcome.