- by Drew Mollo
Its so easy to see a villain and see nothing but evil intentions and a bad guy that needs to be defeated by the hero of the story. But the best or more memorable villains are ones that completely ignore the sinister reality of their actions or justify their choices with logic that apparently makes sense to them, even if it puts them in opposition with others. Marvel’s Thanos is one of the latter, an alien megalomaniac obsessed with Death and restoring balance to an unstable universe and he has no problem using his immense power to explain his reasoning with others. In the matter of Earth, homeworld to many heroes that have and will oppose Thanos’ will, the Mad Titan believes he’d be doing the planet a favor.
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In Silver Surfer #35 (1990), written by Thanos creator Jim Starlin and illustrated by artist Ron Lim, Thanos returns from the dead to discuss matters with Norrin Radd, better known as the Silver Surfer. After shrugging off the Surfer’s suspicion and energy blasts, Thanos discusses the cosmic balance between life and death and how he believes that cosmic seesaw is now imbalanced, leaning more toward life. He teleports both the Surfer and himself to Earth, a planet they are both well acquainted with, to be used as a living slideshow.
Narrated by Thanos, we see images of overpopulation, pollution in the form of vast landfills or smog pumped in the air from industrial factories pipes, and the depressing amount of nuclear weapons which leaves behind a depressing legacy for Earth’s children. Thanos concludes his presentation with him and the Silver Surfer standing in a destroyed and decimated Earth, declaring it Earth’s inevitable future. When the Surfer objects stating that Earth and its heroes would never allow such a thing, Thanos dismisses this and brings up the point of environmental conservation, stating that it is meaningless because humanity constantly looks to others for help and rescue while not realizing that they could save themselves but their downfall is that they choose not to.
Resurrected in the issue prior, Jim Starlin is direct about Thanos’ ideals, not only explaining his master plan but also showing the Silver Surfer why, in his opinion, it’s so necessary. After citing all the well-drawn reasons that humanity is killing its own planet, they visit another less civilized planet where Thanos reveals that the planet will suffer from overpopulation within two decades, leading to tribal warfare and cannibalism. After revealing that his plan to eliminate 50% of the universe’s population is the only way to restore balance, he wastes no time showing that he’s not only unafraid of the former herald of Galactus’ but that he’s already outmaneuvered him when the Surfer threatens to stop him. He reveals that their trip to the previous world had the Surfer infect the populace with germs from Earth which by then had decimated over half the planet’s population. Returning his iconic board, he gives the Silver Surfer a choice: stop him or save the rest of the planet from a plague he is partially responsible for causing.
Thanos’ charm and dedication to his mission, a goal meant to earn the affection of his beloved Death, would build toward the now legendary Infinity Gauntlet series which had Starlin and Lim working along famous artist George Perez to see Thanos accomplish his goal with the help from the all-powerful Infinity Gems. His lack of restraint and brutal honesty had Thanos reach the rare level of appreciation where you don’t just agree with the villain, you start to root for him as well. Thanos’ popularity would continue on in the MCU where his portrayal by actor Josh Brolin would inevitably change the very fabric of that universe forever, just as his comic book counterpart did years ago. In the matter of Earth, Thanos makes it clear that he didn’t start that fire, but that if he didn’t act to fight it, it would still burn on, and on, and on.
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About The Author
Drew is a reader, writer, artist, and creative professional based in Westchester, New York. He dabbles into cosplay, movie references, comics, and some anime while also being a Ghostbuster. He has a Bachelors in History, a Masters in Publishing and is excited to be working with Screen Rant. Previously his articles have been featured on Comic Book Resources and Iron Age Comics and he’s excited to see what happens next!
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