By now, you probably know that Son Goku is one of the most powerful and potent fictional characters ever created. He is not the most powerful one, but he is at the very top. On the other hand, Thanos is an actual menace, even without the Infinity Gauntlet, his most powerful weapon. But who is stronger between the two? The protagonist of Dragon Ball or one of Marvel’s most dangerous creations. Goku or Thanos – who would win?
Son Goku would absolutely defeat Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet and he wouldn’t even have to give his absolute best since he is a more powerful fighter than Thanos. With the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos would have the upper hand, but it is not impossible to imagine Goku winning even under such circumstances, although it is far less likely.
Now that you have the short version of the answer, the rest of the article is going to be divided into three sections, with the first two introducing the characters, their powers, and their abilities. In the end, we’re going to give our final verdict and explanation on why Son Goku would ultimately be able to defeat Thanos the Mad Titan in a direct fight.
Son Goku and his powers
Son Goku, often referred to simply as Goku, is a fictional character and the protagonist of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga. Son Goku begins as a naive child with a monkey tail and disproportionate strength. Initially, only together with Bulma but later also with his other companions, he sets out in search of the magical dragon spheres that allow you to fulfill a wish. Later he discovers that he belongs to the extraterrestrial and warrior people of the Saiyans and that he is actually called Kakarot.
Growing up, Goku becomes the strongest warrior on Earth and faces numerous increasingly powerful adversaries who threaten the peace of the planet and the universe. Goku transforms into Super Saiyan for the first time when Frieza kills Krillin on planet Namek. As the series progresses, Goku reaches other levels of Super Saiyan, which, depending on the stage, make him change his appearance and increase his fighting strength.
The following stages reached by Goku after the first level are, in order: the second, the third, and the fourth stage of the Super Saiyan, the Super Saiyan II, and the Super Saiyan III. Goku also reaches an intermediate state between the normal Saiyan and the Super Saiyan I, called False Super Saiyan.
In the 195th episode of Dragon Ball Z, Goku confronts the members of the Ginyu Squad in hell. On this occasion, Goku’s hair appears raised as in the Super Saiyan stage but black, and the aura appears golden: it is not the False Super Saiyan (which is devoid of pupils and irises) but the consequence of a late script change (initially it was expected that Goku would face the Ginyu Team transformed into Super Saiyan, then it was decided to keep this form for the clash between the Saiyan and Paikuhan in the four galaxy tournament), which prompted the designers to limit themselves to recoloring Goku’s hair rather than redrawing the scene.
In Dragon Ball GT, Goku reaches the stage of the Golden Giant Monkey (the equivalent of a Super Saiyan in the form of a Giant Monkey) and Super Saiyan IV. In Dragon Ball Super, thanks to the energy of five other Saiyans, Goku reaches the level of the Super Saiyan God, which he later internalizes and manages to reach without the help of his companions.
In the movie Dragon Ball Z – The resurrection of ‘F,’ and also in Dragon Ball Super, after training with Whis, Goku reaches the stage of a Saiyan beyond a god, obtained by maintaining the power of the Super Saiyan God in the basic stage. Still, in the same film and in Super, he reaches another stage, the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan or simply “Super Saiyan Blue.”
In the Dragon Ball Super anime, he manages to combine the devastating power of the Kaiohken with the transformation of the blue Super Saiyan, giving rise to the blue Super Saiyan Kaiohken, in order to face Hit. In the Dragon Ball Super manga, Goku also manages to reach the final blue Super Saiyan stage in order to face molten Zamasu.
During the Tournament of Power, Goku manages to obtain Ultra Instinct, a particular condition that makes the body capable of reacting and adapting autonomously to threats, thus eliminating reaction times. The acquisition of Ultra Instinct provides Goku with two new transformations. The first, called incomplete Ultra Instinct, is the consequence of a raw and incomplete use of Ultra Instinct.
Goku’s irises turn gray, his body gives off a silver aura, and his hair sways upward. In addition to this, Goku’s gaze becomes more severe, and his voice deeper and more aggressive. The second, called Complete Ultra Instinct, is acquired by Goku as a result of the experience acquired using Ultra Instinct in the previous state. In this form, both irises and hair become silver in color.
Also, in this case, in the manga, the build corresponds to that of the Super Saiyan God. In this form, Goku’s power grows with anger, and in addition to enabling him to powerfully overcome the might of a God of destruction, it makes him virtually the most powerful mortal in the Seventh Universe.
Thanos and his powers
Thanos is a fictional comic book character created by Jim Starlin (text and drawings) and published by Marvel Comics. He made his debut in the series The Invincible Iron Man (vol. 1) #55. The character’s name derives from hánatos, the personification of Death in Greek mythology. He is the most powerful of the Eternals species.
Thanos has superhuman physical abilities and intelligence and is immune to any type of disease; his aging is blocked upon reaching adulthood and has accelerated healing processes. Among his main powers is generating and manipulating cosmic energy at will, which he uses to further increase his strength or release it in other forms. The maximum range of this faculty is unknown, but with his attacks, he was able to stun Thor and Hulk and even knock down Galactus by slightly damaging his armor.
By joining his forces with those of the Intermediary, he managed to free the latter from the prison where Master Order and Lord Chaos had relegated him. He also possesses limited ability to manipulate matter, having turned Skragg to stone on one occasion, and great telepathic powers, having been shown to be able to withstand the psychic attacks of Dragoluna and Mantis, to force the Hulk to attack the other Avengers, of to induce the Anti-Man to destroy the cell in which he was locked up and even to drive the Priests of Pama mad.
He is also able to use a psychic technique called Time Mind Sync Warp, once used against Drax the Destroyer in Captain Marvel (vol. 1) #28, which brings the victim’s mind into a dimension of terror that causes blackout or the death.
Through very advanced cybernetic grafts, he has increased his physical prowess to far exceed that of the strongest of the Eternals. After having resurrected him, Death has amplified these abilities, making them immeasurable, if not impossible, quite limitless.
He has, in fact, proved capable of repelling with a single punch a furious frontal attack from the Hulk, smoothly subduing Beta Ray Bill and Ronan the accuser (also destroying the Universal Weapon of the second), to easily defeat the Silver Surfer, to fight with Thor. At the same time, the latter was powered by the Gem of Power and, giving full vent to its power, to destroy entire planets with the power of its blows alone.
He has further increased his strength thanks to a special external energy source; he even managed to face Tyrant in combat. He was hit by three screams of Black Bolt and Norrin Radd’s rays without sustaining any injuries and, during the clash with the God of Thunder described above, a series of furious attacks he launched caused only a slight loss of blood from the nose. He has also withstood blows of planetary power, exposure to an artificial singularity and even the rays of Odin and Galactus.
He is also an expert in hand-to-hand combat and in the mystical arts to the point of being able to curse Deadpool in a similar way to what Death did to Thanos himself by banishing him from the realm of his beloved: in this regard, it can be seen how the Mad Titan does often use of a special techno-mystical throne, with which he possesses a powerful telepathic bond, thanks to which he is able to generate impenetrable energy barriers, to teleport wherever he wants and to fly at super-luminal speeds.
He also has a state-of-the-art time machine called the “Time Probe” and a fleet of powerful spaceships including the Sanctuary, the Demeter, and the Dreadnaught-666. He even built the prototype of the special Stasis Rifle, a weapon capable of firing a single but powerful shot that locks the target inside an impenetrable cube of energy inside which it lies in a state of stasis and has its service an army of state-of-the-art drones equipped with various functions. He was also in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet for a while, thanks to which he was essentially omnipotent.
Goku vs. Thanos: Who wins?
Now, comparing Goku and Thanos is by no means an easy task, but had we decided to use categories, the outcome wouldn’t be overly realistic. Namely, the two of them don’t really overlap in many categories – for example, Thanos uses weapons, whereas Goku does not, and Goku is a trained martial artist, whereas Thanos is not. These are just a couple of examples, but there are more. This is why we’ve decided to explain it like this. The comparison is, actually, going to be made using two situations – Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet and with it.
In the first case scenario, Goku would defeat Thanos easily. Okay, we cannot ignore Thanos’ physical prowess, he is a truly powerful character, a resilient fighter, and a formidable enemy in every aspect, but Goku is on a completely different level. He is a trained martial artist, but on top of that, he has become a monstrously strong fighter over the years and has defeated enemies that are much more powerful than Thanos. He is, on top of that, a god and has managed to survive a fight with Beerus, who would literally obliterate Thanos.
This is why Thanos doesn’t stand a chance against Goku without the Infinity Gauntlet, even in Goku’s basic form. We’re so certain that Goku would win that we think that he wouldn’t even have to access his Saiyan powers to do it.
Now, if Thanos had the Infinity Gauntlet with him, the fight would be much closer. Goku, in his basic form, is simply not fast enough to stop Thanos from using the Gauntlet, nor is he resilient enough to resist the Gauntlet’s powers. This is why Thanos would be able to defeat Goku easily, but only in his basic form. We know that Goku has several other forms he can use and each is more powerful than the other. This is why we’re not certain that one of Goku’s Saiyan forms wouldn’t be able to resist the power of the Infinity Gauntlet, which would allow Goku to defeat Thanos, but that is only a hypothesis.
And with this, we’re done without comparison. Without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos doesn’t stand a chance, even against Goku’s basic form; with the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos has the upper hand, but we’re not sure that he has it against all of Goku’s Saiyan forms.