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Marvel’s Collector: the Obsessive Villain from Outer Space

Marvel’s Collector is a mysterious figure, who gathered a lot of attention after briefly appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Also known as Taneleer Tivan, his comic origins place him into intricate intergalactic stories as well as confrontation with various superheroes.

His comics background includes encounters with the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine, The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, X-23, and Deadpool. Despite his origin and life being unrevealed in the beginning, throughout various issues we began to learn more about him.

His moniker stems from the fact that he travels the Universe gathering all sorts of intriguing life forms and objects to expand his collection. He fills not only his spacecraft with such contents but countless planets and locations as well.

Though not as well-known as other Marvel villains, The Collector’s debut happened early on, in Avengers issue #28.  Subsequent appearances in issues #174 and #339 made his narrative become full circle. In addition the answers to some of the villain’s mysteries in the process.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

Marvel’s Collector in Avengers #28

When Hank Pym, formerly known as the giant man, is unable to rescue his wife Janet, aka The Wasp, he needs to ask the help of the Avengers. Initially resistant to trust Hank, they start the mission after he proves to be himself by using his powers. Now renamed Goliath, he and the others go looking for Janet.

The Avengers’ appearance on The Collector’s lair was no surprise for him since after capturing The Wasp, his intention was to lure the superhero group. Such an interesting and colorful ensemble would be a nice addition to his collection which includes almost all types of creatures, objects, and weapons scattered around the Universe.

The superheroes proved much harder to capture than he expected. Not even his wild array of weapons was enough to stop the Avengers’ mission. However, his display of weapons proved to be an engaging trait that made battles more entertaining. For instance, during the conflict, he uses a catapult from the Middle Ages and a crystal ball.

His physical appearance is somewhat close to recent iterations. He sports his characteristic white messy hair and magician-like clothes. Though his characterization in the issue is flat there is enough on the story to keep us curious. After he disappears using a time machine the mystery of his origin keeps hanging in the air.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

Avengers # 174

Twelve years after his first appearance, The Collector graces the comic book pages with his presence once again. This time with the intention to expand his collection in the superhero department. After the disappearance of 13 avengers, the remaining members, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and The Wasp must rescue their colleagues

This time, Marvel’s Collector has even more futuristic and powerful weapons, but again they’re not enough to achieve victory. After the Avengers defeat him, they demand an explanation for his actions. Therefore and we get a one-page explanation about the intentions behind the villain.

We learn he is one of the elders (more on that later), as such he came to be soon after the creation of the Universe. He lived in peace with his wife and child until he began having visions about the destruction of the Universe by Thanos. As a response, he decided to acquire samples of different life forms and preserve them from destruction.

After Thanos was defeated, he could have stopped collecting creatures, but sensing a greater threat he continued his endeavor. As the aforementioned threat, acquired the knowledge that his identity was soon to be revealed to the Avengers by The Collector, he decided to eliminate the godly being.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

Avengers #339

As it is usual with so-called immortal beings, when they die, it’s not for long. The Collection Obsession saga, spanning from Avengers #334 to #339 sees The Collector meeting the Avengers once again. This time he asks the heroes’ help to capture some powerful beings who escaped his grip. However, it was all part of a villainous plan.

Now more powerful and more villainous than ever, the galactic being reveals his true form to his enemies as well as his true intentions. Not only does he want to capture the Avengers for his collection, but to destroy the rest of humanity. He explains that the value of his items increases when they become rare.

Therefore, destroying humanity would make the superheroes the last humans in the Universe and a prized possession for the elder. Moreover, he reveals to The Watcher that what fuels his actions is not only the wish to preserve species from annihilation but by his own obsession with the hobby.

According to Marvel’s Collector, his need to collect is simply something he cannot control. A character trait linked to his galactic origin, just as The Watcher’s compulsion to only watch and never act. At the end of the issue, the Avengers defeat Taneleer once again, but this would be far from being his last appearance in comics as well as other media.

The Elders

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

The Elders are a group of beings who emerged right after the Big Bang. Each one of the Elders is the last representation of the race they stemmed from. Moreover, they possess a quantity of the energy from the creation of the Universe that keeps them alive as long as they commit to a task.

Hence The Collector’s obsession with collecting and The Grandmaster’s obsession with garnering fighting champions. These two have a close relationship, they consider themselves brothers. Though there are many other elders in the comic pages, these are the ones that received more attention, as well as the only ones to appear in the MCU.


Like the other elders, Marvel’s Collector is immortal. His body is immune to cell deterioration and he can’t be harmed by disease or piercing objects. He is also able to regenerate any part of his body. Despite all of that, he possesses normal physical strength.

In addition, he has the power to see flashes into the future and change his form. Initially appearing as an elderly man, when he changes into his true form, he acquires superhuman strength and the ability to manipulate cosmic energy for defense.

Marvel’s Collector in the MCU

The Collector made appearances in some Marvel Movies including Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Infinity War. Portrayed by Benicio Del Toro his characterization onscreen denotes a more flamboyant personality, even gentleman-like with his clients but extremely cruel with his slaves and enemies.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

Marvel’s Collector actions were connected to the infinity stones, as his demise by the hand of Thanos. Tanaleer seemed eager to acquire all stones and he was able to possess one of them. Whether this eagerness is due to his obsession for collecting valuable items or to some sinister purpose is unknown.

Thor: The Dark World

In a post-credit scene from the second Thor movie, we learn that after the events in Asgard regarding the stone known as the Aether, Sif and Volstagg traveled to Tivan’s museum in order to deliver the stone.

According to the Asgardians, they decided to keep the Aether out of their hands because they already had the Tesseract. Keeping two infinity stones together could be dangerous! The scene ends with the collector remarking after they leave, that now that he has one stone there are only five more to go.

Guardians of the Galaxy

In the space opera movie, The Collector hired Gamora to retrieve the Orb, which housed the Power Stone, and deliver it to him for 4 billion units. The Guardians arrive with the artifact and Talaneer explains the origins of the infinity stones to them.

Distressed by her enslavement, Carina decides to harness the power of the stone for her, but ends up exploding along with Talaneer’s Collection. The Guardians manage to leave safely and in possession of the artifact. Talaneers is revealed to have survived as well.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

Marvel’s Collector Impact

The Collector had an important part in the MCU regarding the context of the infinity stones. The shared universe started setting up the McGuffins as early as Captain America: The First Avengers, and while comic book fans had an idea of what was going on throughout the movies, general audiences needed proper contextualization.

The scene in Guardians of the Galaxy explaining the origins of the infinity stones does a good job to prepare the audience for what is coming next, as well as implying the vastness of the Marvel Universe and its galactic beings.

Still a lot of potential left

Though it is implied in Infinity War The Collector was killed by Thanos, as comics have proved time and time again, you can never trust the death of an immortal being. There are still many facets of powerful beings to be explored in further phases of the MCU.

Marvel's Collector
Source: Marvel

For instance, a team-up with The Grandmaster would be an awesome thing to see onscreen. It could provide complex dynamics and conflicts of interest to showcase the affection and backstabbing that comes with this relationship.

What do you think? Will The Collector appear again in the MCU or will never see him again?

Let us know in the comments down below!

Written by Marjorie Fagundes Soares

Marjorie Soares is an enthusiastic writer about all things involving pop culture. Her pastimes include reading, trekking, watching movies, and playing video games. A great search for the deeper meaning of things drives her actions, as well as the intention to have fun in whatever she does.

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