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Oh Snap! Thanos, the Mad Titan Explained

4 Minute Read
Sep 14 2023

Whether he’s trying to balance the universe or attract the attention of Death herself, Thanos makes war crimes look like a snap.

Thanos is one of the biggest bads in Marvel Comics history, and thanks to the MCU he is also one of the biggest names in comic book villains ever. The ‘Mad Titan’ hasn’t been around for as long as some other well-known characters, but he’s managed to make one of the biggest impacts on the world of comic books and comic book movies all the same. But who is Thanos? Why is the whole universe scared of him? And how does he manage to get rid of all of his problems in a snap?

Thanos’s Comic Book Origins

First Apperance: The Invincible Iron Man #55, February 1973
Creators: Jim Starlin & Mike Friedrich

Thanos was first introduced in an Iron Man comic in 1973 but continued his introduction tour through Marvel Comics in Captain Marvel, Daredevil, and Avengers titles into 1974. And since then he’s been back with periodic but consistent regularity.

Born on Saturn’s moon, Titan, Thanos is a grandson of Kronos and a carrier of the Deviants gene. Making him a similar sort of character and pseudo-cousin to the Eternals. In his youth, Thanos fell madly in love with Mistress Death–who yes, is the physical embodiment of of death itself. He was also sent to Earth by Mephisto to fight the Prehistoric Avengers but was defeated and sent back.

“I am inevitable.”

– Thanos

As an adult, Thanos increased his physical strength through science, mysticism, and cybernetics and would go to great lengths to gain the attention and affection of Mistress Death. Including siring- and then killing- his own children, bombarding Titan with a nuclear attack, and seeking the power of the Cosmic Cube.

Thanos’s Powers & Abilities

Thanos naturally has superhuman abilities as a Titanian with Eternal lineage. But he amplified his powers and strengths exponentially through unnatural means. As a result, Thanos has speed, strength, and stamina far surpassing what many would even think of as ‘superhuman.’ He is also immortal and invulnerable and can absorb a huge amount of cosmic energy, telekinetic, and telepathic.

Thanos doesn’t need food, water, or air, doesn’t age, is immune to most forms of disease, is resistant to psychic attack, and can manipulate matter. Plus, for good measure, he’s also a genius and advanced in just about every known study of science in the galaxy. His strategies are often flawless, and has mastered the powers of space flight, protective fields, teleportation, time travel, and movement through the multiverse.

Thanos in the MCU

Like his comic-book counterpart, Thanos is absurdly strong in the MCU. All of the combined participants of the existing MCU titles joined forces to barely take him down. And that victory was at great personal cost.


There were a few key changes to live-action Thanos, however. In the MCU we never see or even hear of Mistress Death. Instead, Thanos’s drive, inspiration, and motivation all seem to come from a need to reduce the number of people in the galaxy draining resources and causing unnecessary shortages and loss.

Some of his powers also seem to be toned down or glossed over. He’s still a super-genius character with unnatural strength and speed. But many of his other powers it seems are supplemented by the infinity stones and gauntlet.

And to be fair, all of these things likely work better on the screen than a version that would have been entirely true-to-the-comics. Explaining that he threw Gamora off a cliff, not to progress his life’s mission, but to make his girlfriend show up, may have been a hard sell to audiences.

Why is Thanos so Durable?

A mixture of natural ability and enhancements make Thanos as strong and durable as he is. Naturally, as a Titanian and an Eternal, he has always had a high constitution. But with the help of cybernetics and other enhancements, he’s made himself into one of the strongest beings in the galaxy.

Does Thanos Need to Snap?

Nope! In fact, he’s seen a number of times throughout the movies and comics using various infinity stones without making any specific movements. In the comics, he uses the stones and snaps to kill half of the universe in order to win the affection of Mistress Death. The movement was written into the movie because it’s what he does in the comics and became something of a defining move for him.

What Was the Thanos Google Trick or Easter Egg

Shortly before the release of Avengers: Infinity War in 2019 Google added a fun Thanos-themed feature. When users searched for certain keywords such as “Thanos,” or “Infinity Gauntlet,” and then clicked on the cartoon image of the Infinity Gauntlet that turned up, it would snap and turn your search results to dust.

The feature was removed about a year later in 2020. But Google has a history of including fun and interesting Easter eggs with their search features. So we expect that there will be more Avengers-themed Easter Eggs for future web searches.


What is your favorite Thanos moment or appearance? What did you think of his inclusion in the MCU? Did you get a chance to snap your Google search away for yourself before the Easter egg went away? Let us know in the comments!

Happy adventuring!

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