Marvel movie fans were first introduced to Thanos way back in a cameo during the first Avengers movie. The alien warlord gave Loki the Mind Stone and tasked him with conquering Earth, setting into motion the events that culminated with the final battle in Avengers: Endgame.
Across his five film appearances, Thanos solidified himself as a master tactician and an unparalleled warrior. Even the combined might of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t enough to bring the Mad Titan down. In the comics, however, it’s a different story. Here are ten superheroes who could have smacked down Thanos if they had battled him in Avengers: Infinity War.
Where DC has Superman, Marvel has Hyperion. Hyperion is an Eternal who was sent to Earth as a baby and raised by humans. Does that sound familiar? Much like his DC counterpart, Hyperion also possesses the powers of flight, super-strength, superhuman stamina, and freezing breath. Should Hyperion ever get into a brawl with Thanos, it’s easy to see who would win.
Most importantly, Hyperion can absorb cosmic energy into his body. This absorption fuels most of his powers, making him a formidable foe for someone who relies on the power of the Infinity Gems to do most of his dirty work. Unless Thanos had the drop on Hyperion and possessed all six Gems, Hyperion would easily crush the Titan.
The next entry on our list will be familiar to MCU fans. Thena, the legendary Eternal, is played by Angelina Jolie in the team’s self-titled debut movie. With her powers of energy absorption and super strength, she’s easily a match for Thanos. Interestingly, any member of the Eternals race could handle Thanos in a fight, given that the Mad Titan himself is technically an Eternal.
Thena is among the strongest of her race, as her abilities allow her to manipulate matter at will. Some characters in-universe have compared her skills to the Infinity Gauntlet’s, noting that both use cosmic energy to reshape reality. This power means Thena would be a match for Thanos even if he wielded all six Gems.
The original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, is a very different character in the comics than the version in the 2019 MCU film. Moviegoers know the character as Wendy Lawson, a Kree researcher. In Marvel Comics, he goes under the name Walter Lawson. He’s an alien warrior who turns against the Imperial Kree Empire and becomes the superhero Captain Marvel to battle injustice in the cosmos.
In a 1974 story, Captain Marvel embarrasses Thanos in a one-on-one duel. During the battle, Thanos wields the Cosmic Cube. This artifact gives him the ability to teleport and manipulate space. Even still, Mar-Vell destroys the Cube before humiliating Thanos in a brutal beatdown. The defeat is so thorough that Thanos’s lover, the personification of death, is ashamed to be seen with him.
In the MCU, the Carol Danvers variant of Captain Marvel is similarly capable of handing Thanos a vicious beating. The two battled twice in Endgame, and Danvers came out on top both times. Had either version of Captain Marvel been present in Infinity War, the purple alien would have never gotten his hands on all six Infinity Stones.
After super-powered demigods like Hyperion and Thena, it might seem strange to see Wolverine on the list of characters who could school Thanos. This one isn’t just speculation, though: Logan managed to bring the Mad Titan down in a 2009 issue of What If…?
This version of Wolverine is a member of the New Fantastic Four. Thanos attacks the group, threatening to conquer this alternate universe. Wolverine chooses to side with the alien warlord instead of pointlessly fighting him.
Thanos has already gathered the six Infinity Gems in this reality, so the Fantastic Four is helpless to stop him. That is until Wolverine reveals that he’s tricked his new boss. He gets close enough to chop the Titan’s hand off, removing the Infinity Gauntlet and single-handedly stopping his reign of terror.
While we’re on the topic of the Fantastic Four, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Franklin Richards. The son of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, Franklin is one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe. Franklin’s powers are godlike: he can alter reality at will. As a young child, he created a pocket universe for fun. Later, when the Incursion Crisis threatened to destroy the Marvel universe, Franklin used his reality-warping powers to consolidate all the disparate worlds and create a new continuity.
Following the Incursion Crisis, Franklin no longer had most of his powers. When he possessed the full breadth of his skills, however, Franklin could defeat nearly any opponent. Even other reality-warping entities wouldn’t stand a chance against Franklin at full strength. That includes Thanos with all six Gems, too!
The fast-talking mutant Deadpool has an interesting rivalry with Thanos. The two disagree about nearly everything, from how serious they should take the world around them to which one of them should be Lady Death’s one true love. For those who are unfamiliar, the comic version of Thanos is in love with the personification of death and locked in a lopsided love triangle with Deadpool.
Deadpool is essentially immortal thanks to his mutant healing factor. This makes him “forbidden” to Lady Death, and thus she is fascinated with him. This rivalry leads Thanos and Deadpool to battle one another for her affections in the aptly titled 2015 mini-series Deadpool vs. Thanos.
During this series, the longtime enemies team up to save Lady Death from the god Eternity. When they find her, Thanos threatens to wipe out all life in the galaxy by killing the life-giving deity that kidnapped her. Deadpool convinces Lady Death that Thanos isn’t honoring her by taking away her job. Eternity agrees, imbuing Wade with the power of Captain Universe.
With the powers of the universe itself coursing through him, Deadpool punches the Titan so hard that he becomes stardust. Thanos just can’t catch a break, getting beaten to a pulp in front of his girlfriend regularly.
The omega-level mutant Storm is one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe. Her abilities started simply enough: she can manipulate the weather. The implications of these powers have come into focus recently in the comics, though, and they’re terrifying. Storm controls the elements of nature. She can control lightning, water, wind, and ice. She can even summon these forces in the vacuum of space.
If Storm and Thanos ever went toe-to-toe, it wouldn’t end well for the omnicidal maniac. Storm could hit him with a Category 5 hurricane before he even snapped his fingers, defeating him without the Infinity Gems ever coming into play.
Adam Warlock is in the MCU—sort of. That’s him in the golden sarcophagus during the post-credit scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Marvel’s golden boy is one of the strongest cosmic superheroes, and he’s tangled with Thanos plenty of times.
Usually, Warlock comes out ahead. In the legendary Infinity Gauntlet series, Adam Warlock ultimately defeats the Titan and uses the Gems to undo the damage he caused. If Warlock had been around in the MCU during the events of Infinity War, Thanos probably wouldn’t have secured even the Power Stone on Xandar.
Why? Because Warlock’s powers make him essentially invulnerable. Even if he’s defeated, he enters a regenerative cocoon and is reborn with new superpowers.
Scarlet Witch is the one person on this list who has confronted the Mad Titan in the MCU. First, she battled him in Infinity War, holding him off with one hand while destroying the Mind Stone with the other. This feat is all the more impressive because Wanda was also sacrificing her husband, Vision, as she disintegrated the Infinity Stone.
She was far from the height of her powers when she faced him in Avengers: Endgame but still managed to toss Thanos around like a rag doll. After the events of WandaVision, she’s become a Nexus Being, capable of altering reality around herself. If she were to battle Thanos at this point, it’s unlikely the Mad Titan would stand a chance, even with all six Stones in the Gauntlet.
Squirrel Girl defeated Thanos single-handedly in the GLX Holiday Special in 2005. The battle takes place entirely off-panel and includes the timely arrival of Uatu, the Watcher, who helpfully tells readers that Squirrel Girl beat the real Thanos, not a clone or Life-Model Decoy.
This entry requires a bit of outside explanation. Thanos was created by writer Jim Starlin and first appeared in Invincible Iron Man #55 in 1973. Starlin would later explain in a solo mini-series that any story involving Thanos’s defeat couldn’t be the real Thanos, and instead would have to be a duplicate. Writer Dan Slott, who penned the GLX Holiday Special, decided to poke a bit of fun at Starlin by having Marvel’s silliest character make a fool out of Thanos.
Uatu’s timely arrival, adding some context to the scene, is the cherry on top of this petty “who would win” sundae.