In the mega-hit crossover DC Versus Marvel (1996), two powerful abstract entities named the Brothers threatened the existence of the DC and Marvel universes. Namely, in order to decide whose universe survives a contest of champions was decreed by the cosmic entities. In a series of battles, the heroes of both universes duked it out in outcomes decided by fan-vote. Largely, the battles were a popularity contest though they indeed were fun!
In some respect, one element that has not been appreciated enough is the off-panel confrontation between Darkseid and Thanos. So, let’s ask the obvious question: Who would win in a battle between Darkseid, The Boss vs My Boy Thanos?
Really, both are A-list villains in their respective universes. Namely, Thanos is well known for conquering the Infinity Gauntlet and bringing the Marvel universe to his heel. At the same time, Darkseid achieved virtual omnipotence in his millennial conquest of the Anti-Life Equation, which threatened the existence of the DC multiverse. At the same time, Thanos also experienced real victory in Marvel: The End. But since the story is non-canon, we cannot use it to compare both villains.
So, let’s compare Thanos with the IG to Darkseid with the ALE.
Generally, formidability is the ability to compete, match and defeat a foe despite overwhelming odds. Usually, formidability indicates a warrior’s ability to defeat a stronger, more powerful and more resourceful enemy. For this reason, it is almost interchangeable with the Fighting Skills Level. For example, this explains why Batman is able to defeat Killer Croc or Bane who are in fact stronger or more powerful. Using tactics, training, technology, resources and intel, Batman is usually able to take on more powerful opponents.
Before we rank our two A-list villains, let’s list some rules.
First, the superhero should be able to consistently defeat opponents above their strength class or power level.
In terms of power level or fighting skills, they should have few or no weaknesses.
Consistently, they should face quality opponents that are at least able to destroy a city.
Finally, they should have fewer limitations in power, strength, ability or intelligence.
First, we will compare them in Strength Class, Intelligence, Preparation, Power and Leadership. Then, let’s rank Darkseid and Thanos in Formidability. To note, all scores are rated out of a 100.
1. STRENGTH CLASS
Generally, Darkseid is at least Stellar Level in Super Strength. Regularly, he takes on Superman-level foes and either matches or is below Superman in Super Strength. At the same time, Orion vs Darkseid showed what happens when the two strongest New Gods unleash their power all-out.
With the ALE, Darkseid is in a human body. Due to those limitations, he is still so powerful that we rated his Super Strength as Irrelevant. At the same time, Darkseid is subject to weakness exploitation with the Radion bullet. In Thanos’ case, his only weakness is mental.
On the other hand, Thanos is often stronger than the strongest warriors in the Earth-616 Universe. In Infinity, Thanos takes on the strongest heroes without the IG: Hulk, Hyperion, Thor.
With the IG, Thanos takes on the entire roster of Marvel’s heroes with just the Power Gem. Hence, he has access to Infinite Super Strength.
In the Intelligence department, Darkseid is among the most intelligent beings in the DC Universe. As a New God, he has access to the Mother Box, the Father Box, the Hellspores, and not to mention he rules the entire planet of Apokolips with its advanced tech, armies and defense systems. In addition, he regularly spies on New Genesis, intercepts its communications with the nigh-omniscient Source. In Death of The New Gods, Darkseid actually decyphers the language of the Source to claim the Soulfire. And of course, at the start of Final Crisis, he claimed the ALE.
Generally, Thanos is a super-genius. In some sense, Thanos is both a space conqueror and a cosmic being. With Sanctuary, his home ship and various other crafts, he can destroy entire planets. In an Adam Warlock story, Thanos threatened to destroy stars in order to win Death.
Though Thanos’ intelligence is cunning, it does not operate on Darkseid’s scale. Indeed, in Thanos: Redemption, the mad Titan was able to intercept Galactus’ files and figured out they had been tampered with. Of course, Galactus is an abstract on the level of Eternity. However, there is quite a difference of power and scale between the universal Eternity and the multiversal Source, which is the final frontier of the DCU.
In terms of strategy and preparation, Darkseid does not compare favorably. In order to gain the IG, Thanos largely operated on his own by besting the Elders of the Universe and other champions in single combat or by outsmarting them. Though, it took Thanos a relative short amount of time after discovering the Soul Gems in Death‘s realm.
In comparison, it took Darkseid millennia in order to obtain the object of his desire, the destructive Anti-Life Equation. As a New God, he intervened in Earth’s history, guiding it and planning in order to investigate that secret. And he still failed. In the end, it took the Death of the New Gods and the destruction of the Fourth World by the Source. Only in Heaven was the God of Evil able to conquer his prize.
Really, the gap in power between both is striking. Let’s start with Thanos. With the IG, the Mad Titan has Infinite power and is nigh-omnipotent. To this end, he was able to beat Marvel’s heroes. At the same time, at full power, he was able to defeat the cosmic entities, including Eternity. What is striking, however, is the fact that Thanos was able to affect only one universe and even Living Tribunal, the multiversal Judge, was not involved.
On the other hand, Darkseid with the ALE threatened all reality. That is, he threatened the entirety of the DC multiverse, past, present and future. All the way to Heaven or the Hyperverse. More importantly, unlike Thanos’ power dependency with the Gauntlet, Darkseid only had to upload the ALE over the Internet and speak it. Horrifyingly, the Earths of the DC multiverse were being dragged to Hell, by sinking into a singularity. How nightmarish!
In the end, all that was left of reality, was the Watchtower floating in space, where Superman and company made their last stand against Darkseid and his forces, even Mandrakk.
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Unquestionably, Darkseid wins in the leadership department. In his case, you actually have to beat him and be more powerful. Only Darkseid has succeeded in opposing everyone against Superman at the end of Final Crisis. With the ALE, the infected are an extension of Darkseid’s will.
In Thanos’ case, hubris undermine his leadership. Notably, despite having attained supremacy in the Marvel universe, Thanos was still challenged by lesser beings. Though he triumphed over his obstacles. Ultimately, Thanos unconsciously knew he was not fit for omnipotence and supplied the means to lose the IG.
Definitely, Darkseid is the Boss!
Strength Class: Irrelevant 100%
Weaknesses: Rare Minerals or Elements 75%
Quality Opponents: Reality 100%
Limitations: Weakness Exploitation 83%
Strength Class: Infinite 100%
Weaknesses: Hubris 50%
Quality Opponents: God or Abstract 100%
Limitations: Power Dependency 92%
And that’s our ranking! Don’t forget to leave comments if you liked the DC vs Marvel.
With the power source, Thanos effectively becomes omnipotent. Though the act is admirable, let’s list the reasons why the story is non-canon.
To begin, the first apparent reason is the changed history of pharaoh Akhenaten. Indeed, the basic elements of his story remain the same as Earth-616 continuity. Importantly, he was pharaoh in Egypt and was born in Thebes.
Then, he married Nefertiti. Outrageously, he stopped the polytheistic worship of Amun. Instead, he imposed the monotheistic religion of Aten. Due to his blasphemy, the gods of Egypt cursed him. After, his history diverged.
In 1334 B.C., while in the Valley of the Kings, he was taken by aliens known as the Celestial Order to be one of their chosen representatives. Initially unable to grasp his situation, Akhenaten was driven mad. Upon regaining his wits, Akhenaten was taught of the Heart of the Universe, a powerful cosmic artifact that would turn those who possessed it into a living god on par with the most powerful cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe. His mind danced with insanity for nearly 2000 years as he struggled to understand the scope of the astral revelations showed to him by the Order. He spent one century to master the Heart’s powers and two thousands years to earn the Order’s trust.
In the six-issue mini-series, Thanos seeks the Heart of the Universe in order to gain ultimate power. In fact, the Heart of the Universe grants its possessor true omnipotence and omniscience over the universe. After possessing the power source, Thanos defeated Akhenaten.
However, this powerful artifact does not exist in the mainstream Marvel Universe. In fact, it appears it can only act on a specific universe. Though, it allows Thanos to absorb all the cosmic entities even the Living Tribunal, the Marvel Multiversal Judge.
In question, the reality is Earth-4321. When Thanos gains true omnipotence, his senses are heightened to the astral level. Here, he sees all of Marvel Earth-4321’s history and realizes there is a fatal flaw.
Indeed, the continued resurrections of heroes after tragedies have fractured the astral fabric of the universe. For this reason, he laments the Almighty’s actions whom he has replaced.
2. THE ALMIGHTY ABANDONS THE UNIVERSE
In his awesome omniscience, Thanos realizes the One-Above-All has departed the Earth-4321 universe. And unable to repair the fatal flaw, he elects to act in true Thanos fashion: Destroy the universe.
When the heroes and the cosmic entities realize the Mad Titan’s move, they confront him. But, it is too late. True to form, Thanos absorbs the heroes, absorbs the cosmic entities, absorbs even Living Tribunal, and finally the Earth-4321 Universe.
1. THE EDITORIAL TEAM STATED THE STORY IS NON-CANON
In the mini-series, it appears Thanos has the last word. Though he sacrifices himself in the end in order to restore the universe.
Nevertheless, Marvel’s Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has stated that the mini-series is not part of mainstream continuity. Therefore, it is non-canon.
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FOR THANOS: HE SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO RESTORE THE UNIVERSE
At the end of the universe, only Thanos is left. Or so we think. In fact, Adam Warlock and Franklin Richards survived in a parallel dimension. Soon, Adam opens Thanos’ eyes to his foolhardy actions. When he realizes what must be done, Mistress Death appears to both.
For the first time, she speaks and congratulates the Mad Titan. With a final farewell, she kisses her lover then disappears into the nothingness. In order to set the universe aright, Thanos realizes he is the fatal flaw that must finally be extinguished. As he restores the universe, Thanos vanishes leaving no memory of his existence.
In Marvel Universe: The End (2003) #5, Thanos faces the Marvel Universe assembled. However, the assemblage of Marvel’s cosmic entities and heroes is no match for the Mad Titan.
In his omnipotence, Thanos absorbs the heroes, cosmic entities, including Infinity, Eternity, the Living Tribunal and the universe within himself. Nonetheless, Thanos finds himself in nothingness and grieves his actions.
In ‘Infinity’ (2014) #6, titled ‘Amber’, Hulk performs a super strength feat. During the ‘Infinity’ saga, Thanos has invaded Earth in search of his Inhuman son, Thane. Hulk and the Avengers battle Thanos and his army at the Inhuman city of Orollan. During the battle, Proxima Midnight hits Hulk with the weight of a star until he reverts to Bruce Banner.
How much super strength does it take for Hulk to hold the weight of a star until he reverts to Bruce Banner?
HULK HELD DOWN THE WEIGHT OF A STAR CREATED BY PROXIMA MIDNIGHT’S SPEAR.
HULK GENERATED THE EQUIVALENT OF 10^41 JOULES OF WEIGHT, THE GRAVITATIONAL BINDING ENERGY OF A STAR, ENOUGH TO DESTROY A PLANET.
SUPER STRENGTH FEAT:
For our database entries on Marvel Power Levels, visit the Marvel page!
IN ‘INFINITY’, THANOS PREPARES THE ALIEN INVASION OF EARTH
In ‘Infinity’ (2013) #1, Thanos and his army set out to conquer Earth in an alien invasion. The Builders, the universe’s oldest race, have destroyed planets they deem unfit for life. They have destroyed Earth-13761 and are headed for Earth-616. Learning of the threat from Captain Universe, the Avengers leave Earth to face the Builders. In the Avengers’ absence, Thanos and his army send Outrider in order to gather intel about Earth.
Outrider searches through Avengers Tower and Jean Grey’s School for Higher Learning. Outrider arrives at Attilan and attempts to read through Black Bolt’s memory only to wake him up. Badly beaten, it notifies Thanos that the Avengers have left Earth and is given the reward-death. Thanos and his army prepare to invade Earth.
THANOS’ TRUE QUEST
In ‘Infinity’ (2013) #2, Thanos’ army invades Earth though there is some resistance. During the alien invasion, the Black Order confronts the Illuminati for intel about the Infinity Gems.
The Illuminati are a secret organization on Earth that shared information and strategy to solve crises. Their members were: Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Black Panther, Professor X, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt and Namor.
Black Panther managed to force Black Dwarf to withdraw, while Doctor Strange was embarked in a mental fight against Ebony Maw. Beast and the X-Men fought Corvus Glaive and Supergiant. Proxima Midnight confronted Namor in the ruins of an Atlantis where its inhabitants were annihilated by an attack from Wakanda, part of a conflict caused by Namor’s attack on Wakanda during the conflict between the Avengers and the X-Men. However, the Black Order left their different locations as soon as they discovered the Illuminati didn’t have the Infinity Gems.
Black Bolt was visited by Corvus Glaive to demand a tribute to Thanos: the head of Inhuman youngsters between ages 16 and 22 or face the annihilation of Earth’s inhabitants. He is given one day to decide.
Black Bolt used the Inhuman Codex to discover that the tribute was a cover for Thanos’ true quest for the alien invasion: to kill his Inhuman descendant son whose identity and location are unknown to him.
In ‘Infinity’ (2013) #3, Thanos faces Black Bolt in combat. During the battle, the Inhuman city of Attilan is destroyed. However, Black Bolt managed to activate the Terrigen Mists which are mutagenic vapors arising from the Terrigen Crystals that cause Terrigenesis by activating latent genes in Inhuman descendants and develop super powers.
As the heroes continued the fight against Thanos’ alien invasion, the Illuminati set out to locate Thanos’ son, Thane at multiple locations on Earth. In ‘Infinity (2013) #5’ Thane undergoes Terrigenesis. Ebony Maw locates him in the Inhuman city of Orollan in Greenland. Ebony Maw poses as an ally and offers Thane a containment armor then imprisons him in a containment field. He alerts Thanos.
THANOS TAKES ON THE AVENGERS
In ‘Infinity’ (2013) #5, the Avengers have liberated worlds from the Builders’ control. However, they learn from the Galactic Council that Earth has fallen to Thanos‘ alien invasion. They head for Earth. The Avengers soon locate Thanos and the Black Order in the Inhuman city of Orollan. In ‘Infinity’ (2014) #6, the battle begins. Thanos takes on the Avengers with the help of the Black Order.
During the battle, Captain America is injured by Proxima Midnight’s spear. The ricochets from Captain America’s shield injure Corvus Glaive who gets reduced to ashes by Hyperion’s atomic vision. Thanos takes down Captain Marvel with a punch, and Thor with a cosmic blast. Then, Ebony Maw double crosses him as Thane imprisons Thanos in a cube of “living death” ending the alien invasion and proving that only the strong survive.