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What you need to know about Gamora and Thanos' relationship

Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy knows better than anyone else that parents just don't understand — especially when they're power-hungry madmen like Thanos who aren't your real dad anyway. 

After ten years and 18 movies, Marvel Studios finally pulled the trigger on having the Mad Titan Thanos go toe-to-toe with the Avengers. But while everyone knows the nihilistic, deviant Eternal's main mission is to acquire all six gems for the Infinity Gauntlet, a big part of that mission revolves around his adopted daughter, Gamora. 

But how did this relationship begin in the first place? It changes depending on whether you're talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the comic books, and also depending on which comic you're reading — but the general skeleton of their relationship remains the same no matter what. 

Forget the finer details — this is all the stuff you need to know about the relationship between Thanos and Gamora.

As established in the comics, Gamora is the last surviving member of a pacifist race called the Zen-Whoberis — or Zehoberei, as they spell it in the MCU. When she was a young girl, her people were completely wiped out by a powerful invading force. Afterwards, Thanos discovered her alive and decided to adopt her, seeing great potential in her as a deadly warrior. On the surface, that's pretty selfish — but in an accidental fashion, it's also sort of nice. 

That act of compassion for the sake of violence in the midst of utter destruction would do a lot to warp Gamora's developing mind in the comic canon — but in the movies, it's so much worse.

In her comics origins, there are a couple of different groups that are credited with killing Gamora's race. But in the movies, it's established that Thanos himself is the one who killed the Zehoberei, giving their relationship an intense and complex twist with an icky undercurrent of emotional abuse. 

Over the course of her childhood and adolescence, Thanos was a stern disciplinarian of a father who only occasionally betrayed his compassion for his ward, and the harsh upbringing hardened Gamora into exactly the sort of warrior Thanos wanted her to be. Despite his goals of galactic domination and mass murder, he is not 100% evil. (Don't get us wrong, though — he's pretty close to it.)

Despite the abusive implications of raising a child warrior whose parents were killed with the intention of making her into a killer herself, Thanos does love his adopted daughter. While he's violent and harsh to Gamora, he's flat-out murderous to anyone who hurts her. 

The ninth issue of Warlock and the Infinity Watch, published in 1992, sees Gamora get attacked by a group of violent crooks who outnumber and outmatch her. While she was saved by Thanos, it was only after the gang had already brutally beat her. 

Her body broken, Thanos demonstrated his peculiar compassion by nursing her back to health, making her better, stronger, faster than she was before. 

This being Thanos, his idea of tender loving care didn't involve a regimen of chicken soup and cough syrup. Instead, he shot her full of painkillers and replaced her entire skeleton, enhancing her reflexes, respiratory system, and physical strength. 

He also removed her tear ducts, so that the young woman with the unspeakably hard life would never know sorrow again, which is just… so not how that works, on any level. (It says a lot about Thanos, though.) 

Gamora stayed a ward of Thanos into adulthood, sticking by her guardian's side until she discovered Thanos' genocidal ambitions, which he intends to realize with the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet.

 That realization was all the inspiration she needed to turn against the Titan. Once she realized that her adopted father's obsession with death on a massive scale was the real deal, she set out on her own, finally able to develop her own moral compass separate from Thanos, the Worst Dad Ever.

No spoilers here, but a major aspect of Avengers: Infinity War revolves around Thanos' genuine love for Gamora, giving the Death-obsessed Titan a disarming amount of emotional complexity. But that compassion is outweighed by almost everything else Thanos does, leaving Gamora with no choice but to stand against the man who raised her, and made her who she is.

That should catch you up on just about everything you need to know about Thanos and Gamora's relationship. See where it all leads in the certified-fresh Avengers: Infinity War, and prepare yourself for the arc to finally conclude in the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019.