Dragon Ball Fighter Goku and Marvel universe's Thanos are easily two of the most powerful characters in international fiction. Fans have often theorized what would happen if the two clashed, with the main question being if Goku can beat Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet.
Dragon Ball fans will often engage in power scaling with characters of other series. While this is often good fun, some of the debates can get extremely heated. And the Goku vs Thanos is one such clash.
Dragon Ball's Goku vs Infinity Gauntlet-less Thanos: Who will win?
In terms of natural strength, both Goku and Thanos are quite exceptional.
Regardless of incarnation, Thanos is always portrayed as being quite well-built and able to fight without issue. The arguable current most popular incarnation of Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies has even been shown to wield a double-bladed weapon with ease. While unknown either way, it’s fairly safe to assume Thanos’ strength would eventually reach a physiological ceiling.
One of Goku’s main benefits of his Saiyan blood is the Zenkai power all Saiyans are born with; it the genetic trait of those with Saiyan DNA (even in as miniscule amounts as found in cells) to come back from near-fatal battles exponentially stronger. This is predominately showcased during the Dragon Ball Z's Frieza saga, but permeates the series and franchise as a whole.
Considering the amount of times Goku has fought to near death, the winner here is obvious; in terms of strength, Goku will easily beat an Infinity Gauntlet-less Thanos.
Goku: 1, Thanos: 0
Both characters are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to fighting. Thanos, in particular, has a great mind for war and the planning necessary; Goku is definitely the more impulsive fighter here of which we've seen multiple instances through out the Dragon Ball franchise. Given enough prep time, Thanos could surely come up with a suitable solution for Goku. That is the benefit of being a war-minded tactician.
However, in the heat of battle, there’s no question a Goku who has tapped into Mastered Ultra Instinct during Dragon Ball Super would win the battle IQ debate. He has spent his entire life fighting one-on-one battles, whereas Thanos had the Black Hand to do his bidding.
While Thanos’ various incarnations are shown to be more than capable of being on a battlefield, it’ll take more than competence to beat Goku’s battle IQ.
Goku: 2, Thanos: 0
Martial arts skills
The final relevant comparison for this fight is their martial arts skill. Arguably, this is the most important factor in this debate.
As mentioned earlier, Thanos definitely belongs on a battlefield and can more than handle himself. He’s been shown to use various weapons with skill as well as the knowledge of some basic unarmed martial arts. The Black Hand is subservient to him for a reason, and their members have shown themselves more than qualified in armed and unarmed martial arts.
On the other hand, Goku has perfected the unarmed martial arts arguably to the highest level one can go. Certainly within the Dragon Ball universe, Goku has learnt all there is to learn with his attainment of Mastered Ultra Instinct. This is quite literally a Godly power, and Goku is revered by the Gods of Destruction for attaining this power in the first place.
As a result, it’s clear Goku has superior martial arts skills, thanks to the Dragon Ball narrative
Goku: 3, Thanos: 0
In summation: Goku from Dragon Ball vs The Mad Titan Thanos
Although often asked, the question of 'can Goku beat Thanos without the Infinity Gauntlet' has a clear and easy answer. Goku can easily beat an Infinity Gauntlet-less Thanos, as the Saiyan’s expertise in all things fighting give him a clear-cut advantage.
Power scaling is an incredibly fun way for various fanbases to interact. While these debates often get heated, it’s important to be civil to everyone involved.