It’s been a few years since the Infinity Saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe concluded with Iron Man making the ultimate sacrifice to save the universe from the greatest villain the Avengers and their allies have ever faced. While this second, Multiverse Saga, is slowly building up the stage and anticipation for the next great villain and next big crossover event, we always like to go back in time when we were all hyped up to a maximum for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were some of the biggest crossover events that the world of cinema and TV has ever seen.
All the MCU fans remember the Infinity Saga’s main villain Thanos and his quest to find all the Infinity Stones to wipe out half the universe. The universe was built over the years, introducing the main heroes and each of the Infinity Stones, and Thanos himself before he became the ultimate villain of the franchise in Avengers: Infinity War. Before that, Thanos was teased several times before he decided to go into attack mode in Infinity War. In this article, we’ll look at all the MCU movies featuring Thanos.
How many movies with Thanos are there?
Thanos’ story as the main villain of the Infinity Saga long started long before he showed up as the villain in Avengers: Infinity War. He first appeared in the post-credit scene of The Avengers in 2012. After that, Thanos had a minor role in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie two years later. Thanos appeared again in the post-credit scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron before becoming the saga’s ultimate villain in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In the end, Thanos appeared in five MCU movies, out of which in two of them, he only appeared in post-credit scenes.
Thanos movies in order (at a glance)
One thing some fans still tend to forget is the fact that two actors played Thanos. Damion Poitier, an actor/stuntman who also worked on several other MCU movies, has portrayed Thanos in the character’s first appearance in the post-credit scene of The Avengers. Josh Brolin has been cast to replace Poitier in Guardians of the Galaxy, and he played the character in the rest of the movies Thanos appeared in. Down below, you can see all the movies featuring Thanos in order.
- The Avengers (2012)*
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)*
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
*Only in the post-credit scene
As the main villain of the Infinity Saga, Thanos was mentioned in a lot more MCU movies, even though he physically appeared in only five of them. Even after his final defeat, he’s still mentioned quite often. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness last year, we could’ve even seen a corpse of an alternate Thanos, who the Illuminati defeated in that universe. Even though Kang is slowly taking over and Infinity Stones don’t exist anymore in the main timeline, we have a feeling there will be more throwbacks, at least through dialogues, to that epic battle against Thanos throughout this Multiverse Saga.
Are movies featuring Thanos connected? Do you need to watch them in a specific order?
To answer this in the shortest possible way, yes, MCU movies featuring Thanos are connected, and therefore we really recommend watching them in a specific order, by release date, to be exact, which is actually the same as the chronological order if we only talk about those five movies mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Thanos is the main villain of the Infinity Saga, but basically, almost everything that you need to know about him you find out from the Avengers movies. We say “almost” because Thanos also had a supporting role in Guardians of the Galaxy, where we also met his adopted daughters Gamora and Nebula, who had big roles in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
What is the best way to watch movies featuring Thanos?
The fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are still arguing whether it is better to watch the entire franchise by the movie’s released dates or chronologically, by the place they take in the MCU’s timeline. The good news is that if we only look at the movies with Thanos, the order of watching them by release date is the same as the chronological order. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, you only need Avengers movies and the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie that will give more meat to Thanos’ backstory before you meet him entirely for the climax in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
All Thanos’ appearances in order
1. The Avengers (2012)
After filming several solo movies in Phase 1, the Marvel Cinematic Universe rose to its fame with the first crossover movie — The Avengers. This movie wasn’t seen on the big screen then, and it was one of the biggest movies of 2012. After we met Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and other characters in previous MCU movies, the Avengers assembled to stop Loki, who returned to conquer the Earth with the help of Thanos’ forces known as Chitauri.
This movie featured two Infinity Stones that Thanos wanted, the Space Stone in the Tesseract and Mind Stone in the Scepter. Thanos’ plan was to help Loki conquer the Earth in exchange for the stones, which Avengers didn’t know then. After Loki was defeated, Thanos’ plan failed, and only the post-credit scene showed that he was behind everything.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
After failing to obtain the Space and the Mind Stone with Loki’s help, Thanos switched his focus and recruited Ronan the Accuser to bring him the Power Stone, hidden inside the Orb that Peter Quill/Star-Lord previously found. Thanos sent his adopted daughters Gamora and Nebula to assist Ronan, but Gamora ultimately betrayed both Ronan and Thanos when she joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ronan eventually gets his hands on the Orb, but after discovering it’s actually an Infinity Stone that Thanos wants, Ronan betrays Thanos, and Nebula sides with Ronan to attack Xandar. The Guardians eventually defeated Ronan, reobtained the Orb, and gave it Nova Corps on Xandar to keep it safe. Once again, Thanos’ plan to obtain an Infinity Stone failed.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The sequel to the original Avengers movie featured the title team dealing with a new threat called Ultron. Loki’s Scepter, the Mind Stone, was present in the movie as Ultron tried to create a new body, made out of vibranium, for himself with the power of the Mind Stone. The Avengers managed to steal the Regeneration Cradle and install Jarvis into it instead of Ultron, creating Vision, a new Avenger.
With the help of Vision and Ultron’s former allies, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, the Avengers defeated Ultron. In the post-credit scene, after the failure of both Loki and Ronan to obtain the Stones for him, Thanos takes the Infinity Gauntlet and decides to find the Infinity Stones on his own.
4. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Introducing Thanos and all the Infinity Stones in the MCU has led to the moment where Thanos decides to find each Stone with the help of his loyal children, commonly known as the Black Order. After Loki took the Tesseract from Asgard before it exploded in Thor: Ragnarok, Thanos attacked their ship. Threatening to kill Thor, Thanos convinces Loki to give up the Stone, and it is shown that he already obtained the Power Stone from Xandar prior to the events of this movie.
Avengers: Infinity War is the movie where Thanos has the most screen time compared to all the movies he appears in. Five out of six Infinity Stones were introduced in the MCU before Infinity War, and this movie introduced the last one, the Soul Stone, for which Thanos had to kill his adopted daughter Gamora. By the end of the movie, Thanos finally obtained all the Stones and snapped his fingers, erasing half of all life in the universe.
5. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
After successfully finishing his life call, Thanos “used the Stones to destroy the Stones.” The remaining Avengers eventually found him, and Thor decapitated him. Five years later, Avengers started their time heist to retrieve the Stones from the past. Although the Avengers managed to bring all the Stones to 2023, an alternate Thanos from 2014 was also brought with all of his forces.
This led to an epic battle between the Avengers, accompanied by all of their resurrected allies, and Thanos, accompanied by Chitauri and the Black Order. Despite doing his best to retrieve the Gauntlet with the Stones again, Thanos was eventually defeated by Iron Man, who snapped his fingers, destroying all of Thanos’ forces. Realizing that he’s defeated, Thanos just sits down and accepts his fate.
Where to watch the above-mentioned movies?
Thanos is a Marvel character for which the rights are being held by Marvel Studios, which is a subordinary to Disney. Therefore, all the movies featuring the Mad Titan Thanos can be streamed on Disney+.
Will Thanos appear in more movies?
Even though he’s defeated once and for all, Thanos will always remain inside the heads of the MCU characters that have faced him at the climax of the Infinity Saga. The corpse of an alternate Thanos was shown last year in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse after the Illuminati defeated him in their own universe, and we wouldn’t say, if we physically ever see Thanos again, it won’t be more than something like that.
It is very unlikely that Josh Brolin will ever reprise the role of the Mad Titan in the future of the MCU since Kang the Conqueror is now taking over as the next big bad. But, given that we’re in the Multiverse Saga now, where basically any character that ever appeared in the MCU can have his alternate self, we’d also say to never say never. One thing is for sure; the original Thanos was defeated in Avengers: Endgame, and if we see him again, it definitely won’t be in the same sense and on the same scale as it was in the Infinity Saga.