The leader of the intergalactic conglomerate the Tivan Group, Taneleer Tivan’s origins are shrouded in mystery. His obsession with collecting many different, nearly extinct specimens and rare objects gave him the moniker, “Collector,” and he controls a massive treasure-trove of both non-living and living items.
Unruly Attendants and Competition
Carina is a Krylorian and the Collector's slave and attendant. She welcomes guests, polishes cages, and defends her master, driven by her fear of him. In truth, she loathes him and his ill treatment of her, using the first chance she gets to try and harness the Power Stone against him.
The Mad Titan Thanos is a being of immense strength and cruelty who stops at nothing to possess all six Infinity Stones. In his quest to obtain them all, he travels to Knowhere to get the Reality Stone from Tivan.
The Tivan Group is a powerful galactic organization in the criminal underworld, controlled by the Collector. The group is wealthy and helps establish Knowhere, a mining company on the severed head of a Celestial that floats in space.
The Collector is not known for having true friendships, though he welcomes those who offer new items for his collection, including the Asgardians Sif and Volstagg and the Guardians of the Galaxy. One Guardian, Gamora, offered the Collector an Orb containing the Power Stone in exchange for money that she would split with her new teammates.
The Collector's Guide
After Thor retrieved the Aether—which was in fact the Reality Stone—from the Dark Elf known as Malekith, he tasked his fellow Asgardians Sif and Volstagg to give the relic to the Collector on Knowhere for safekeeping. The Collector asked the two why they did not keep it on Asgard, and they explained they didn’t think it wise to keep it alongside the Tesseract, another Infinity Stone already in their possession. When the Asgardians departed, the Collector said to his slave, Carina, “One down, five to go” in reference to the Aether, suggesting he desired the other Infinity Stones as well.
The Collector later received an offer from Gamora about an Orb which was thought to contain another Infinity Stone. Gamora delivered the Orb alongside her companion outlaws Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, but they were not impressed with the Collector or his museum of imprisoned sentient beings. The Collector offered to buy Groot's carcass upon his death, as he had never encountered his kind before.
As the Collector opened the Orb, which in fact contained the Power Stone, he explained Infinity Stone history to the outlaws and that the stones could only be wielded by beings of extraordinary strength.
The Collector, thrilled to see the stone firsthand, shook with delight and commented on its beauty. As Tivan gathered payment for the outlaws, Carina grasped the stone, wishing to use it to free herself from Tivan’s enslavement. The stone released massive pulses of energy and killed her, destroying the museum as well. The outlaws retrieved the Orb and escaped from Knowhere. Tivan, left in the wreckage, escaped harm with a minor head injury.
His museum in ruins, the Collector later shared a drink with one of his freed captives, Howard the Duck, while the dog Cosmo offered comfort to the Collector by licking his face.
Years later, when Thanos sought the Reality Stone, he traveled to Knowhere, where members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, there to stop Thanos, saw him interrogate the Collector. The Collector claimed he had sold the item, not realizing the Aether was an Infinity Stone, while Thanos sneered at his lies. Gamora attacked Thanos at the moment, and the Titan threw the Collector into one of his own exhibition cases, locking him inside. When Gamora thrust her retractable weapon into Thanos, seemingly delivering a killing blow, the Collector exclaimed that it was magnificent, clapping his hands together.
Thanos dropped the ruse that he was fatally injured, revealing had already collected the Reality Stone and that Knowhere was in fact destroyed and in flames. The Collector, who was also an illusion conjured by Thanos, disappeared.
It is as yet unknown whether Thanos killed the true Collector while retrieving the Reality Stone from him or if Taneleer Tivan still lives.