DC and Marvel have often been inspired by the designs and characters of each other’s story. Marvel's Nova Corps were inspired by the Green Lantern; DC's Lobo was inspired by Wolverine. However, Marvel's biggest villain, Thanos, was hugely inspired by DC's biggest for: Darkseid.
In an interview with ComicBook, Thanos creator Jim Starlin revealed that Darkseid was hugely influential on the design of the Mad Titan. However, contrary to popular belief, the character was actually based on a lesser DC character.
Thanos looks like Darkseid but based on Metron
In the ComicBook interview, Starlin puts to bed the long-running rumour that Thanos is just a straight-up Darkseid Clone. Originally, the creator turned to DC's New God Metron for inspiration. However, when taking the character to Marvel editors, his inspiration was refocused.
Starlin recalls a conversation with Marvel Editor Roy Thomas who told him to use Darkseid as inspiration instead. Compared to the character of Metron, Thomas saw the Ruler of Apokolips as the best villain in DC’s lineup. With Marvel desperately needing a powerful cosmic foe, the two DC inspirations fused into Marvel's finest.
"If you're going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!"
Marvel Editor, Roy Thomas.
While Starlin would keep a lot of his Metron influence for the character traits of Thanos, Darkseid would inspire the design. The body would see increased muscle mass and a very similar silhouette to DC's villain. However, instead of a chin-guard, he would wear a very silly looking hat.
Despite being the original, Darkseid is becoming vastly less popular than Marvel's Mad Titan in pop culture. Due to the success of the MCU, Thanos is now a household name on the level of Darth Vader. On the other hand, the recent success of Zack Snyder's Justice League is at least making Darkseid more popular than he was before. However, it's clear that DC's original is far more deadly.
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