With two arms, two legs, a single head and torso, fans who prefer their cosmic villains as unfathomably large, cthulu-esque monstrosities may find Thanos rather boring. Additionally, his feats -- while notable -- are often written off as being enabled by the Infinity Gauntlet. The Snap certainly wouldn’t have happened without the golden glove, but the Mad Titan has plenty of other abilities that make him a universal threat, defeating many of Marvel's elite superheroes thanks to his unique alien physiology. Not only has he bested the Hulk in combat, but he's also outsmarted Asgardian deities, perfected inter-dimensional travel and mastered the supernatural during his time in the comics.
Here's a look at what's under the glove that makes Disney’s most famous California raisin so chipper.
His odd purple tones aside, the first thing many people notice about Thanos is his bulky frame. At just over 6.5 feet tall and closing in at nearly 1,000 pounds of (mostly lean) muscle, it’s easy to see why the average human would find him intimidating.
While comic Thanos’ strength may vary wildly, the MCU’s Thanos is capable of lifting 120 million pounds -- which explains why he was able to toy with the Incredible Hulk who, while still the 'Strongest There Is' by earthly standards, would struggle to lift a fraction of that. An argument could be made for Dr. Banner simply not being angry enough at the time, but that point is easily rebutted by the fact that it's immensely difficult for the Hulk to be angry when he's unconscious -- a likely outcome when witnessing the ease with which Thanos handled him in Avengers: Infinity War.
Speaking of crushing the Hulk, beating the aforementioned Avenger with ease as Thanos did would take more than just brawn. Thanos, for all his accomplishments, is rarely seen as a 'Speedster' character in the realm of comics. As Hulk’s strength increases with his anger, avoiding the increasingly powerful swings of his hammer-like fists would take reflexes and superhuman speed.
While his speed is mostly a moot point (Thanos travels via teleportation and/or spacecraft most of the time), film fans of this character will be pleasantly surprised to learn of his comic history of defeating the Silver Surfer, a character who can travel faster than light. Not only that, but he did so while collecting the Infinity Stones during a period where the Surfer had access to the Power Cosmic -- a boon granted by none other than the 'Devourer of Worlds' and rumored next MCU big bad himself, Galactus.
His Deviant Gene
Thanos is an Eternal, a race of offshoot humanoids created by the Celestials (God-like space scientists). A million years ago, while they experimented on what would later become humanity, the Celestials also created the X-gene in humans (yes, that X-gene) in addition to the Deviants -- a race of religious, hideous counterparts to the more science oriented, often aesthetically pleasing Eternals. Immensely intelligent and powerful on their own, the Eternals turned to the skies and inhabited the stars -- in particular, Saturn's moon, Titan.
Deviants each carry a one-and-done mutation that is never repeated within the species. Some even mutated to the point where they were considered the monsters of human mythology. As it turns out, Thanos’ Grimace-like appearance is due to the fact he carries a Deviant gene and subsequently 'Deviant Syndrome' -- which, while giving him his trademark chin and pigment, unfortunately drove his mother to attempt to kill him at birth. While certainly tragic, he would later pay her back in kind.
Like their name suggests, the Eternals are functionally immortal. Immune to disease and the withering effects of age, Eternals are generally considered to live forever- provided a being with immense power doesn't kill them. They are also durable and possess immunity to most conventional human weapons in addition to being tolerant of extreme temperatures.
Thanos has benefited greatly from his heritage on both sides, being incredibly durable thanks to his thick, purple skin (given to him from the Deviant gene) and possessing great strength (due to his Eternal background). While Eternals may live for extended periods, none boast immortality like Thanos, who was spurned by the embodiment of death (his lover), and banned from entering her realm, thus making him unable to truly die.
Thanos, whose birth name is Dione, was a gifted child who had a brain that excelled past his tiny physique while growing up. As a genius without rival in nearly any field of science on his home moon, he created the Space Throne, which is not only capable of faster-than-light travel, but also capable of teleportation and inter-dimensional travel.
As a tactician, there are few who rival his prowess -- for his run in the MCU, he outclassed the hyper-intelligent and mischievous Loki (predicting many of his actions including an assassination attempt) and actually succeeded in outsmarting both Dr. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark during his victory in Avengers: Infinity War. In addition to his intelligence, he also possesses telepathy and telekinesis, both useful traits when triggering the Hulk into a blinding rage against his teammates or when defending himself from psychic attacks from telepathic opponents.