For the past fifty years, few names have struck fear into the hearts of Marvel’s greatest heroes quite like Thanos. The Mad Titan is without a doubt one of the most powerful villains of all time. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Thanos is completely emotionless no matter how much he would like to be. In fact, it is the emotions that the villain so often denies that have always been his greatest weaknesses, and a classic holiday story proved it.
Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, and Terry Austin’s “Yule Memory” from the pages of the 1992 Marvel Holiday Special found Thanos in the midst of piecing back together one of his old hideouts. Among the relics uncovered was a doll that had once belonged to none other than the Mad Titan’s adoptive daughter Gamora, and with it his best memories of their time together. Specifically, Thanos recalled the day that Gamora sacrificed that very same doll to save him from an otherwise unseen assassin. On the surface, this sounds like something any loving child would do for their father, but Thanos and Gamora’s relationship was always anything but that.
Thanos’ Love for Gamora is His Greatest Weakness
As the last surviving member of her species, Gamora was seemingly rescued by Thanos when he decided to take her under his wing. After imbuing Gamora with profound superhuman abilities, Thanos trained her alongside Nebula to become his assassin. Though she gladly followed in Thanos’ footsteps for years, Gamora would eventually realize the extent of his obsession with death, subsequently turning her back on him before finding friends among the Mad Titan’s enemies.
Although the two were close at one point, Gamora and Thanos’ relationship was never built on a loving or honest foundation. Even when the two of them did show genuine concern for one another, the underlying impetus behind their relationship was ever-present in at least one of their minds. Once this came to a head in Gamora’s later years, there was simply no longer any pretending that the two had ever really been father and daughter. At least, not on the outside.
Thanos Has Never Been Able to Stop Loving Gamora
As much as he would like to be the cruel, calculating, absolutely unfeeling Mad Titan, he couldn’t let go of that heartfelt memory of Gamora back then, and there is no reason to think he could today. This isn’t to say that Thanos isn’t an abjectly terrifying villain of the worst kind, but rather that there is still a base amount of empathy residing within him. It may be hard to believe considering this is the same being who murdered his own parents, yet Gamora was the family he chose, which makes her infinitely more meaningful to him than the family he was born into.
Unfortunately, this still doesn’t make the Gamora of today any more capable of bringing about an end to Thanos’ reign. Not only has he only grown worse in terms of his villainy in the years since the two have fought on the same side, but his latest deathly crusade has also put him on track to take on an even more ruthless form than ever before. If anything, the fact that Thanos feels anything at all for her is a sign of how special Gamora truly is to him.