The Collector (Taneleer Tivan) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character has been featured in nearly five decades of Marvel continuity.
The Collector appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portrayed by Benicio del Toro, in a cameo in the mid-credits scene of 2013's Thor: The Dark World, and in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, and will reprise his role in Avengers: Infinity War.
Taneleer Tivan is one of the Elders of the Universe and is close to his fellow Elder En Dwi Gast (the Grandmaster). He apparently came to self-awareness billions of years ago, on the planet Cygnus X-1. He is an enormously powerful being who wielded the Power Primordial and, though at first he took the appearance of an old human, his true form is a powerful alien.
For millions of years, the Collector lived on an unknown world with his wife and child, spending his days in thought and contemplation. Over three billion years ago, when his wife, Matani Tivan, lost the will to live and relinquished her immortality, the Collector realized he would need a hobby to maintain his own sanity, and began collecting interesting artifacts and life forms from around the universe. Eventually, his obsession reached such heights he collected anything he considered rare or valuable often just for the sake of collecting. As such, he has a wide variety of rare or unique items at his disposal.
The Collector also had the power of prophecy, allowing him to foresee the rise of a being powerful enough to pose a threat to the Elders: Thanos. To protect life in the universe, the Collector created a massive museum of countless life forms to keep them safe from Thanos. For a time, he even possessed one of the six Infinity Gems, unaware of its true power, until Thanos took it.
At some point over his billions of years of life he came into contact with other beings who, like him, are the sole survivors of the first species in the universe. He often refers to these fellow elders as brothers though they usually only work together if they have a common goal.
In the modern era, the Collector eventually traveled to Earth. He captured the Wasp and sought to "collect" the other Avengers with help from the Beetle, but was defeated by them. He later enslaved Thor, then captured the Wasp and the other Avengers. He restored Goliath's size-change powers, but was then defeated by the Avengers again. He next compelled Iron Man to serve as his pawn against the warrior Val-Larr. He attempted to "collect" the Avengers once more, in Rutland, Vermont.
In The Incredible Hulk issues #197 ("...And Man-Thing makes three!") and #198 ("The Shangri-La syndrome!"), the Collector uses the previously captured Man-Thing and the Glob to capture the Hulk. After capturing the Hulk, the Collector muses on capturing the rest of the original Avengers. The Hulk escapes freeing several of the Collectors exhibits. The newly free exhibits die from old age because they are no longer artificially preserved by the power of the Collector's ship. Man-Thing also escapes disappearing into the Swamp. The Glob remains aboard the ship and though it is not shown, it is suggested that the Glob kills the Collector. The lines from the comic book are "What the Glob wants here is quite simple: He wants the Collectors life! The Collector's anguished scream fades long before it can filter through the museum-ships long corridors. For several seconds silence reigns both within the ship and without--"
After Thanos was defeated by Earth's superheroes, the Collector foresaw a second major threat: Korvac the Machine Man, a cyborg monstrosity from the 31st century of a divergent timeline, taking the form of a man named Michael in 20th century New York. The Avengers were also aware of a new threat but did not know his identity. In an attempt to protect them, the Collector added some of them to his collection and was probably planning to enlist their aid, when a second group of Avengers appeared and defeated him in combat. After the defeat, the Collector remained in seclusion until a human named Peter Tran of Avondale summoned him to Earth.
Sensing that his end was at hand, the Collector revealed that having learned of Korvac, he had made his own daughter, Carina, into a spy and living weapon to use against the Machine Man, imbuing her with the Power Primordial. Just as he was about to tell the heroes who their enemy was, Michael learned of his duplicity and used his cosmic powers to blast the Collector into atoms, proving the prediction of the aged scholar's own end to be correct.
In the 1982 miniseries Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions, the Elder known as the Grandmaster plays a game called the Contest of Champions with Death, which resulted in Death resurrecting his fellow Elder the Collector. The Collector captured Marrina, then battled Alpha Flight and Spider-Man. He aided the Grandmaster by tricking the Avengers into entering Death's realm.
The Collector also assisted his fellow elders in a plot to kill Galactus and recreate the universe, but he was thwarted by the Silver Surfer and consumed by Galactus. Since Death had vowed that the Elders could no longer die, they caused Galactus to have "cosmic indigestion" until they were forced out of him by Master Order and Lord Chaos. The Collector was one of the four Elders who aided the Silver Surfer and Nova in helping Galactus to defeat the In-Betweener. Once the battle was over the five Elders used their Infinity Gems to instantaneously travel very far away from Galactus and his vengeance. He later gave his Infinity Gem to Thanos in exchange for the Runner, who Thanos was holding captive. The Runner beat the Collector up upon his release.
The Collector re-appeared when the Avengers fought Thane Ector and the Brethren, who were noted to have escaped from the Collector's collection. It was then noted later that the Collector had planned all of this, intending the Brethren to lay waste to the Earth so that he could "collect" the surviving humans. It was at this point he showed his true form to the Avengers and was noted to be very powerful; enough to subdue Thane Ector. The Collector was eventually thwarted by the Avengers, and the Brethren's Uni-Mind.
The Collector next used the Collection Agency and the Silver Surfer as pawns to capture a virus that caused insanity.
The Collector has become involved with Galactus once again when the latter entity wished to devour one of the worlds that held many of the entities the Collector had taken. Among them were the Starjammers and Wolverine.
The Grandmaster later makes a bet with the Collector who sets his team of Defenders (Hulk, Doctor Strange, Namor, and the Silver Surfer) against the Grandmaster's team of Offenders (which comprises the Red Hulk, Baron Mordo, Tiger Shark, and Terrax). The game results in Hulk claiming victory and the Collector complies with the terms of the game, giving the Hulk the lifeless body of Jarella.
Eight months after the events of Secret Wars as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel event, the Collector is shown in charge of Battlerealm, the small surviving portion of Battleworld. He engages in a new Contest of Champions with the Grandmaster, with the prize being an ancient cosmic artifact called the Iso-Sphere.
When the hammer of the Ultimate Thor fell to Asgard after Battleworld had been erased, the Collector took all of the currently-abandoned Asgard into his possession when he found that he was unable to lift the hammer himself. When Thor came to investigate rumors of the hammer's existence, the Collector took Thor prisoner, threatening to kill other aliens in his collection unless Thor would tell him the 'secret' of how to bypass the worthiness enchantment. He then encounters Proxima Midnight and Black Swan, who were sent by Thanos to retrieve the hammer. After Odinson, Beta Ray Bill, Odinson's pet goat Toothgnasher and the Helhound Thori escape and battle his army, the Collector tries to recapture Odinson, only for him to break free and grab the hammer. Odinson chooses not to claim the hammer, but he and Bill are able to channel its power to return Asgard to its true place, simultaneously decimating the Collector's forces, prompting him to kill his last soldier so that he can have the pleasure of destroying something unique.
The Collector possesses the ability to manipulate cosmic energy for a variety of effects, including projecting concussive force beams, and the increasing of his size and mass (and hence physical strength) at will. He also possesses limited shape-changing abilities. His precognitive abilities give him brief visions of alternate future, although he must meditate for long periods to identify the individuals he sees in the vision and its apparent point in time. He has telepathic abilities that enable him to make limited contact with the minds of other Elders. Due to a vow by Death, the Collector and all the Elders cannot die and are effectively immortal.
The Collector has a vast knowledge and comprehension of the advanced science and technology of numerous alien worlds, as well as a collection of devices and artifacts from those worlds. His armored battle-suit is made of the alien metal etherion, which amplifies the wearer's strength to superhuman levels, and it has jets that permit flight. He uses various weapons from many time periods and different worlds. Among his arsenal from Earth's past are catapults, Tibetan crystal balls that emit mystical rays, and magic beans that can conjure up warrior giants. He possesses a magic lamp that can summon a four-headed djinn with mystical powers. His "boxes" are rectangular "interdimensional traps" that can weaken a victim's strength or sanity. Other weapons include gigantic robot guards, a stun beam, and stasis beams. The Collector also has zoos of alien beasts which he can release to attack his adversaries. Among this is Snake-Eyes, an enormous alien serpent with hypnotic powers. Other items in his collection include the Obedience Potion, with which the Collector can compel a human victim to do his bidding; the Cosmic Viewer, with which he can monitor events on various worlds; a Kymellian translation/control device resembling a flute, with which he can communicate with other living beings; and a time probe enabling him to find and procure artifacts from other time periods. He uses starships holding museums of his collections, a Temporal Assimilator that allows time travel, Persian "flying carpets" and a "flying cape" that allowed flight. He formerly possessed the Infinity Gem that could control reality, but he did not understand its power.