Despite what he said in Avengers: Endgame, Thanos is NOT inevitable. In fact, he has actually been beaten numerous times in the comics, with AND without the Infinity Gauntlet, and most of the time his ego is the very root cause of his downfall.
So, this begs the question – did Tony Stark really have to sacrifice himself to end Thanos? If not, then here are eight characters whom have beaten Thanos in the past, and could have provided an alternative ending to, well, Endgame.
Adam Warlock AKA The One is the first comic character to have ‘killed” Thanos, by turning him into stone in the epic Marvel Two In One Annual #2 (1977).
Had the Marvel Cinematic Universe paid more attention to one of the end-credit scenes in Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol. 2, they would/could have accelerated Warlock’s cocoon state en route to a larger role in Endgame. That 'turn Thanos into stone' scene would have been epic in Endgame!
Tarzan against a Demi-god?! Surprisingly, this David Vs Super Goliath battle did take place in the pages of 1997's Ka-Zar #11, in which Thanos decided to get his hands dirty by going man-o-man-o with Ka-Zar.
This no-holds barred/no-Infinity Gauntlet “Rumble in the Savage Land” appears to be supremely lopsided on paper, but an extremely lucky Ka-Zar rewrote the form books by notching an unimaginable victory against Thanos by first luring him into a volcano, then tricking him into a Terraformer and blasting the machine sky high.
Also read: Essential Thanos stories
As the battle against Ka-Zar proves, even Demi-gods do have off-days, more so when you go up against... the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!
With a perfect track record that boasts major “scalps” such as Doctor Doom, Wolverine and even Galactus, defeating Thanos.... is simply inevitable for our rodent-powered heroine.
In the pages of the Great Lakes Avengers Christmas one-shot, (2005), Squirrel Girl did the unthinkable, albeit off-panel! While the details are ....left to our imagination, Uatu The Watcher’s testimony that this did involve the real Thanos adds some credibility to this unorthodox encounter.
It was Star Lord who lost the plot in Avengers: Infinity War, resulting in the heroes failing to relieve Thanos of the Infinity Gauntlet during their battle on Titan. Hence, it will be poetic justice if it were Peter Quill who sacrificed himself to rectify his earlier mistake.
In Guardians Of the Galaxy #25 (2008), Quill was the one who defeated Thanos, with a little help from the Cosmic Cube. While that battle merely left the Mad Titan in a comatose state, it did pave the way for more future battles and collateral damage in future encounters. For the record, Star Lord isn’t the only Guardian who defeated Thanos, as Drax The Destroyer also did and even 'killed' Thanos in the 2007 Annihilation event.
Say what you want about Endgame's 'Fat Thor' - the fact remains that he is still one of the most powerful Avengers around, and even came close to killing Thanos in Infinity War (too bad he didn't go for the head).
He has actually done so in the comics, specifically in 1998's Thor #25, where the God of Thunder toppled the Mad Titan with the help of some mystical enhancements (the Belt of Power, Instruments of War and the Odin Force).
Way before Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, the original one, Mar-Vell, managed to defeat Thanos way back in Captain Marvel #33 (1974) by destroying the Cosmic Cube, from which he was drawing his power.
While Thanos wasn’t a grade A villain at the time, that defeat impacted him dearly, as it also resulted in his lover, Death, deeming him unworthy!
If only the Merc With The Mouth had been in Endgame! He could have replaced Tony in sacrificing himself, and his healing factor would have meant we didn't have to get sentimental about him dying. Of course, with a mind as warped as his shaping reality with the Gauntlet, who knows what sort of world the MCU would have become if that had happened.
In the comics, Deadpool and Thanos did indeed cross paths, in 2015’s Deadpool vs Thanos four-part mini-series, in which they were caught in a love triangle with Death!
It ended with Deadpool gaining cosmic powers from hosting a being called the Uni-Power, and kicking Thanos' butt, but not before pummelling our suspension of belief to infinity and beyond.
If there is one character that the MCU still needs, it's a villain like Doctor Doom. Having him in Endgame (or any other movie, for that matter) would have been great, though not the screen versions that have come before.
Doom and Thanos’ most significant (And probably only) battle happened in Secret Wars #8 (2016). While Thanos wasn’t equipped with the Infinity Gauntlet, Doom was in his omnipotent “God Emperor Doom’ state. Despite Doom’s superiority, his only request was for Thanos to bow before him. Obviously Thanos refuses and in response, Doom rips out his spine! Who needs to go for the head, eh?
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