This article contains Loki episode 5 spoilers.
Lots of major superheroes and supervillains have those moments that they just can’t live down. Those obscure situations that are always brought up for a laugh. There’s Batman’s inability to get rid of a bomb or his exclamation of, “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!” Spider-Man’s time on Broadway is a joke that will never stop being funny. Captain America once got sad because a reporter yelled at him for not having a MySpace page. Superman once shook hands with Jared from Subway. Deadpool was a mouthless Baraka that one time. Magneto was once tricked by a wooden gun and was so broken up about it that he forgot he had powers.
Yes, stupid stuff happens a lot with comic properties and Thanos is no different. The fifth episode of Loki, “Journey Into Mystery,” played into that by referencing one of his earliest and silliest comic moments. As Loki and his various counterparts wandered through the Void – a junkyard-like version of Earth at the end of time, littered with discarded pieces of pruned alternate realities – they passed by a helicopter with “THANOS” on the side of it.
The Thanos Copter is Real
That’s right. Of all the deep cuts, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has chosen to remind the world of the Thanos Copter.
So what is the Thanos Copter? Our legend begins in 1979. Spider-Man had his own comic for the very young crowd called Spidey Super Stories. Issue #39 featured a story involving then-recently-created villain Thanos trying to hunt down the Cat and reclaim the Cosmic Cube so he could rule the world. We’re so used to seeing Thanos as the be-all/end-all of supervillainy that it’s hilarious to read this early, all-ages piece and see him lose like a doofus and get led away in handcuffs by the local police.
What makes this story so memorable is that in three panels, Thanos flies around in a run-of-the-mill helicopter with his name on the side. It’s not even futuristic or alien in any way. It’s such a bizarre concept that it’s stayed with readers for decades. Thanos, scourge of the cosmos and once ruler of all time and space…just flying through New York City in a branded helicopter.
The Legacy of the Thanos Copter
Over the last several years, the Thanos Copter has made its presence known here and there in interesting ways. For instance, Deadpool #45 featured a backup story about Deadpool stealing the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos and using it to host his own superhero roast to make some big meta point about how painful and empty Wade’s life truly is. ANYWAY, Thanos’ appearance in the story included him flying around in the Thanos Copter because of course.
Then there’s Infinity Wars: Fallen Guardian. Thanks to the Infinity Gauntlet, Drax the Destroyer has been split into two forms: his green humanoid self and his pre-origin self Arthur Douglas. Arthur has his mind wiped and gets to live a normal life, but he still has weird dreams. Dreams of his family being attacked by a purple alien in a helicopter.
The video game LEGO Marvel’s Avengers allowed you to fly the stupid thing. Hell, Marvel even officially released it physically in different forms, from a Hot Wheels model, to a remote control toy, to a Heroclix figure.
Of course, it gets referenced by internet culture all the time. When Death Battle did an episode of Thanos vs. Darkseid, their rocking, animated throwdown included a cameo appearance by the Titan’s vehicle. Epic Rap Battles of History did an installment with Thanos battle rapping J. Robert Oppenheimer, which included the lyric, “Got my name on this win like it’s the Thanos Copter!”
This technically isn’t even the first time the Thanos Copter has been referenced in the MCU. In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos wields a giant two-sided blade that he occasionally spins around. Fans feel that its resemblance to a helicopter is just a sly wink and nod to that one silly issue of Spidey Super Stories that everyone refuses to forget, reimagining something goofy into something totally badass.
I wonder if Loki will take any more inspiration from Spidey Super Stories panels. Hm…
Guys, I think I know where they’re going with the finale!