Could Thanos defeat the All-father, Odin?

Without the Infinity Gauntlet? Not a chance.

With President Trump on vacation (after his first two weeks of turning the most powerful nation in the world into a neurotic mess) I returned to my mailbag of questions and sought for something to take my mind off of the deplorable state of the Union. As usual, it didn’t take long to find a VERSUS post with which I could take proper offense to.

The statement went something like this:

Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet was able to conquer half the Universe and imprison the most powerful abstract beings in existence. But even if he didn’t have the Infinity Gauntlet, he could take out someone as puny as Odin, without taking a scratch, or some such…”

I had a momentary seizure as I realized this person had no idea who Odin really was. He was confusing the Norse All-father, the most conniving, ingenious, belligerent, and often crazed of Marvel’s Skyfather deities of being able to be beaten by an Eternal… A very powerful Eternal to be certain, but in essence, the peak expression of genetic traits possible in a Human-like form.

This is not a contest. It just seems like one because both parties appear to be Human. One of them is absolutely anything but Human. Thanos is a god-like man who has tapped into a variety of forces he has learned to control. Odin is a man-like god, who is comprised of those very forces Thanos is trying to command. If unleashed, there is no contest between the two.

The Council of Godheads, the Skyfathers and Skymothers of Earth’s greatest pantheons discussing the Skrull invasion.

My response:

Thanos beating Odin? I don’t think so. Okay, it could happen if a writer said so, but given their respective histories, Odin should pretty much take this fight under almost any condition.

  • Maybe on his very best day and on Odin’s worst, there might be a challenge, but Odin is a force of nature, spawned from the energies of the cosmos itself, the combined essence of three divine beings (Odin, Villi, Ve) with the ability, under duress, to alter the fabric of time and space, making the impossible, reality.
  • Odin is a Master sorcerer; he is Asgard’s penultimate warrior, the Nine Realms greatest schemer and one of the wisest of the divinities associated with Earth, Odin collects knowledge like an anteater collects ants. What Thanos has been doing for a few hundred years, Odin has been doing for at least five thousand, probably a lot more.
  • Thanos has proven he can hold his own, briefly against the likes of Odin or Galactus, but he is punching upward and absolutely out of his weight class.

Who is Thanos?

Thanos is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is usually depicted as a Titanian mutantEternal superhuman. The character first appeared in Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973) and was created by writer-artist Jim Starlin. Debuting in the Bronze Age of Comic Books, the character has been featured in over four decades of Marvel continuity and a self-titled series.

While Thanos is quite powerful, I don’t think he outranks a primal deity, like Odin. Sky-fathers (and Sky-Mothers) are the peak deities of their religion. They channel not only their own lifeforces, but those of their people. This connection allows them to tap into the life forces of their pantheons making them even more powerful. Along with the secret reality-altering source of his powers, the Odin-force, Odin outclasses Thanos no matter how reluctant Thanos is to admit this.

As an Eternal, Thanos has access to a substantial power profile.

Thanos is a mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals. The character possesses abilities common to the Eternals, but amplified to a higher degree through a combination of his mutant–Eternal heritage, bionic amplification, mysticism, and power bestowed by the abstract entity, Death. Demonstrating enormous superhuman strength, stamina, and durability, Thanos can absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy and is capable of telekinesis, telepathy, and matter manipulation. Thanos is an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained in the art of war on Titan.

Even with his increased capacity with Deviant Syndrome (making him a metahuman mutant among the Eternals) and various technological enhancements stolen from all over the galaxy, Thanos still has to work to beat powerful Inhumans such as Black Bolt or godlike beings such as Thor without resorting to his technology. With said technology, he is significantly more durable and capable of stopping beings such as Thor or Odin, for a moment or two at least.

In a battle against Black Bolt, Thanos came equipped with technology capable of surviving Black Bolt’s powers, but it wasn’t a clean victory by any stretch of the imagination.

All of Thanos’ technology was destroyed having suffered three directed applications of Black Bolt’s vocal prowess. Black Bolt’s power is the ability to direct his energy manipulation abilities into destructive force rivaling that of multi-megaton nuclear warheads. Under duress, Black Bolt has shaken tectonic plates and ruptured the crust of planets.

During their confrontation the building Black Bolt and Thanos were standing in was vaporized and the city the building stood in was partially destroyed, as a result of only a few seconds of fighting between the two. I know this was mitigated by Thanos’ technology because normally a city would be completely wiped off the map after Black Bolt spoke once, let alone three times.

The natural powers of the genetically-enhanced Eternals are considerable and Thanos is considered to be at the top of the pyramid except for his Father (called Alars or Mentor) and his uncle (Zuras) whose abilities are greater still.

Eternals manipulate cosmic energy (an ability given to them by the Celestials) and can be channeled for a number of superhuman abilities. All Eternals are potentially capable of:

  • Superhuman strength. The limits of their strength can be increased as a result of years of focusing some of their energy towards that purpose.
  • Projecting concussive blasts, heat, and/or blinding flashes of energy from their eyes and hands
  • Flight (and levitating others)
  • Reading/controlling minds
  • Generating illusions
  • Teleporting vast distances, though most Eternals prefer not to use this ability as many find it uncomfortable (and according to the 2006 series, it also greatly depletes their store of cosmic energy)
  • Transmuting objects, altering both their shape and composition. (The extent of this ability can vary from one Eternal to another.)
  • Forcefield generation providing invulnerability to harm.
  • In addition, groups of Eternals, as few as three at a time, can initiate a transformation into a gestalt being called the Uni-Mind, a vastly powerful psionic entity that contains the totality of the powers and abilities of all the beings that comprise it.

Some Eternals choose to focus on a particular power in order to increase their effectiveness with it. Sersi, for example, has developed the power of transmutation farther than any other Eternal. Additionally, some Eternals choose to focus their cosmic energies into other, non-standard abilities. Ikaris, for example, channels cosmic energy to greatly enhance his senses, while the Interloper uses his to generate fear in others, and Makkari uses his cosmic energies for superspeed.

Thanos’ powers are quite considerable with vast superhuman strength sufficient to battle both the Thing and the Thor single-handedly with Iron Man and the Vision providing backup. This was before his powers were further augmented by Death.

But when he goes up against powers greater than his own, his technique is to use guile, his considerable intellect and to prepare a plan which he sets up before the battle.

That is how he beat most of the Elders of the Universe whose normal power profiles and VAST EXPERIENCE should have made short work of him. Their overconfidence was their undoing.

Given Thanos’ comparative age, no strategem created by him should have been a threat but he manages to secure all of the Infinity gems from their various holders one after another through duplicity when force was insufficient to the task.

Witness his capture of the Soul Gem from the Inbetweener during the Thanos Quest Saga:

Thanos makes mention of his considerable might being further augmented by Death as a result of his being her minion. While we are given no true indication of what such enhancements might be, we are given an understanding he is more than merely an Eternal now.

On his trip to capture the first Infinity Gem, he must pass through varying realms of chaos and order until he can reach a passage to the Nexus of All Reality, a place of order and chaos in perfect balance, inhospitable to normal life.

This is the prison of the Inbetweener, an agent of Master Order and Lord Chaos, primal entities of the Marvel Universe.

The Inbetweener, as an agent of Order and Chaos has a curious power. He can be between any two circumstances or conditions. A living Heisenberg event, he is neither here nor there, as powerful as he can conceive of himself being and capable of resisting all but the mightiest of mortal foes. Only beings with the ability to manipulate reality can normally stand against him. His task is to keep the Order and Chaos in the Universe in perfect balance.

However, despite all of his power, the Inbetweener fails periodically and is given prolonged time outs until his masters need him again. This was one of those times. I think the panels will take care of rest. Note Thanos’ comments about their comparative power levels. He is aware the Inbetweener’s powers dwarf his own.

Knowing he is outclassed in terms of raw power, Thanos notes the circumstances of the Inbetweeener’s prison and uses the nature of its surroundings to his advantage. Realizing Master Order and Lord Chaos left him his powers inside his cage would ease his suffering somewhat, their failsafe was to ensure even if he could escape his bubble prison, he would be torn apart by his guardians since the bubble was housed at the Nexus itself, he would have no powers being at the center of perfect balance between Order and Chaos.

Taking advantage of his foes powerlessness, the Soul Gem was easy pickings. Brain over brawn is primary in Thanos’ skill set. He defeats all of the other Elders in a similar fashion, using their arrogance against them.

A League of His Own

Odin is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is first mentioned in Journey into Mystery #85 (Oct. 1962), then first appears in Journey into Mystery #86 (Nov. 1962), and was adapted from the Odin of Norse mythology by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He is the father of Thor and former king of Asgard.

Odin has easily the same level or greater levels of capacity as any of the Elders of the Universe. A degree of capacity putting him still beyond Thanos’ advanced development as an Eternal. In a straight up fight without planning, Odin takes the day against Thanos, every time.

Odin has spent thousands of years as an active combatant throughout the Nine Realms and across the galaxy. No matter how old he appears, in most instances, Odin, bolstered by the Odin-force is simply in a league of his own, matched only by the Skyfathers of other Earth pantheons or god-like beings spawned on other worlds, in a similar fashion.

When Thanos faced Odin in Warlock #25, Odin spanked him outclassing him in terms of raw power. Not only does he fight Thanos but he handily dispatches the Silver Surfer in that same fight.

“Yawn. I am Odin, All-father, Master of Asgard, Protector of the Nine Realms… Is that all thou hast to offer?”
“Okay, I have to summon Gungnir, the Spear of Heaven to channel my powers a bit. I am impressed.”

Thanos survives his battle with Odin. Yes, I cherry-picked because for the most part, Odin totally owns this battle. Thanos spends most of it defending or picking himself off the ground. It’s just ugly.

Trash-talking aside, Thanos was done. Defiant, but done. Odin wasn’t even winded.

Odin’s powers are legion; he has superhuman strength, speed and stamina superior to even Thor if he chose to use the Odin-force to augment himself. He has control over time and space and can use any of the enchantments he has given to Mjolnir, including control over electromagnetic and fundamental forces.

He can manipulate time and space and to a degree control reality itself. If he feels pressed and wants to manipulate the Odin-force more aggressively, he can summon his Uru-Metal spear, Gungnir which is bursting with enchantments. If he summons his spear you can assume the fight just got serious.

As Thanos mentioned earlier, he is ever hopeful and as such he has, on more than one occasion tried bringing the battle to other higher order beings such as Galactus. He is almost always out of his league. Don’t get it wrong. Thanos gets his licks in. Often before the other side is ready. With Thanos, there is no such thing as a fair fight.

He puts up a good fight, too. He forced Galactus to have to raise his hands in anger, which is rarely seen. However, when Galactus is ready and well fed, Thanos never had a chance.

Thanos sues for mercy and Galactus grants it, mostly out of curiosity and the potential for novelty…

Thanos is no match for Galactus. The disparity between their respective power levels is too great. Thanos is physically powerful and technologically capable. Neither means much if your enemy is Galactus.

Odin on the other hand can bring the Thunder if he needs to. He won’t win but there is the feeling he acquits himself better.

In this titanic battle, Galactus is near-starving and seeking to gain an energy source of immeasurable power capable of feeding his lust for life force energies in perpetuity, which is protected by Odin in the Mighty Thor (2011) series. As expected, Galactus isn’t taking no for an answer.

The All-Father manages to knock Galactus (and himself) out with the grandfather-of-all-headbutts. He’s out long enough for him to fall from orbit into re-entry. A ten to fifteen minute period of unconsciousness. Not bad.

Odin brings the enigmatic Galactus to Earth rendering him unconscious for about twenty minutes. Odin, depleted of all of his vital energies, enters the Odinsleep to recharge. Without doing so, he would die, and the Asgardians would be lost.

Galactus channels the Power Cosmic and is instantly restored. Pyrrhic victory for Odin. Galactus wins. (Which in my mind seems only right, seeing the difference between Galactus and Odin, should be about the same as the difference between Odin and Thanos.)

Thanos is powerful but without the Infinity Gauntlet he is just a very dangerous Eternal who mastery of technology, psionics, dark magics and his own cosmic energy make him a foe to be wary of, but to the likes of Odin and Galactus, he is an interesting afternoon diversion, nothing more.

Odin engaged in performance review of the chief bouncer of Asgard, the Mighty Thor.

The Answer-Man’s Archives are a collection of my articles discussing superheroes and their powers in relationship to their respective universes. We deconstruct characters, memes, profiles and how superheroes relate to real world culture. You can find other Archives on Quora and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange or at The World According to Superheroes.

Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.

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