He is the obsessive keeper of the largest collection of interstellar fauna, relics and species in the galaxy by operating in a cosmic place named Knowhere. He is the estranged brother of the Grandmaster and the self-serving former master of Carina.
He made a minor appearance in the mid-credits scene of the film following the deaths of Malekith and the Dark Elves. He is tasked by Sif and Volstagg to protect the Aether (the Reality Stone) and keep the stones separated, because it would be dangerous. After they leave, Tivan utters the phrase, "One down, five to go", implying that he plans to collect all six of them for his collection.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Tivan struck a dubious bargain with Gamora, former assassin and agent for the Kree fanatic, Ronan the Accuser, to retrieve the stolen Orb for 4 billion units, which contained a cataclysmic Infinity Stone that Ronan desired. Gamora arrived at Knowhere with her companions, Peter Quill, Rocket Racoon, Groot and Drax the Destroyer. Drax was not present, but before their arrival, The Collector informed his attendant Carina that they had visitors and threatened her by reminding her about the result for the disappointment his previous attendant had been. Once the Collector reminds Carina of this, she gets back to work to prepare everything for the arrival of their guests.
Later, when Gamora and her team arrived, Tivan was presented and greeted Gamora, when his attention was then caught by the tree alien Groot. When Rocket commented on Tivan, he mocked him, calling him a "pet" due to his racoon appearance. Gamora broke it up and showed Tivan the Orb containing the Power Stone. Tivan explained the origins of the Orb and the destruction power that the Infinity Stones contained, much to the boredom of Rocket, who instantly demanded their payment for bringing the Stone.
Before Tivan was about to make the payment as promised, Tivan spotted Carina approaching the Power Stone. Ignoring his warning to step away from the powerful stone, Carina yells "I WILL NO LONGER BE YOUR SLAVE!" and grabbed the stone, despite Tivan's protests. Unfortunately, this causes the Stone to destroy most of Tivan's collection and kill Tivan's servants (including Carina herself) while Gamora, Groot, Tivan, Quill and Rocket survived and escaped. The Power Stone later ended up in the hands of the Nova Core of Xandar after Ronan's death.
In a post-credits scene, a depressed Tivan is seen sitting in his destroyed archive with two of his still living exhibits: a canine cosmonaut named Cosmos and an anthropomorphic duck named Howard.
Avengers: Infinity War
In the film, Tivan is confronted and threatened by the mad alien warlord Thanos, who intends to take the Aether by force during his quest to collect all six Infinity Stones for himself, much to Tivan's distraught.
Upon arriving at Knowhere and witnessing Thanos torturing Tivan, the Guardians attempt to ambush Thanos in an attempt to kill him and save Tivan. However, they soon learned too late that Thanos has already obtained the Aether and that the entire scene was an illusion to lure them into a trap as Knowhere is currently being burned down. This allows Thanos to kidnap Gamora to coerce her into giving out the location of the Soul Stone.
The Collector has been revealed to have survived Thanos' attack on Knowhere and the Decimation.
In the second episode "What If...T'Challa Became a Star-Lord", a variant of The Collector plays a very different role to the one his original counterpart had in an alternate universe where Prince T'Challa from Wakanda became Star-Lord instead of Peter Quill, as Yondu Udonta asked his fellow Ravagers to retrieve Peter instead of doing it himself. As Star-Lord managed to convince Thanos to give up in searching for the Infinity Stones because there were other ways to control the universe, The Collector was able to rise within the criminal ranks of the galaxy and rise up as the most dangerous criminal, keeping imprisoning several aliens as part of his collection. The Black Order, Thanos' adoptive children, also work now for him as his own enforcers, protecting his museum at Knowhere.
In 2008, a redeemed Nebula offers Star-Lord and the other friends, including Thanos, to steal one of Tivan's artifacts: the Embers of Genesis, which can terraform ecosystems and eradicate galactic hunger. Star-Lord agrees to do so and they perform an elaborate infiltration plan to steal the Embers while making it look they want to sell the Orb to Tivan. However, while Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight and Cull Obsidian were distracted by Thanos and Korath the Pursuer, T'Challa discovers a Wakandan ship among Tivan's collection, discovering that Yondu actually lied to him by telling him that Wakanda had been destroyed when in reality the Wakandan royal family was still searching for T'Challa. However, Nebula seemingly betrays them to fulfill a debt with Tivan.
Under Tivan's orders, Star-Lord is imprisoned in one of his collection boxes, but finding him irritant, orders Ebony Maw to execute T'Challa, but Carina decides to save T'Challa and shoots Maw to free him. However, Tivan finds T'Challa and they start fighting each other, with Tivan even trying to use a knife from Malekith the Accursed and the headdress of Hela to defeat the Wakandan prince while the rest of the Black Order are defeated by Nebula and Thanos, but Yondu comes to to his rescue and they ultimately succeed in knocking Tivan into one of the boxes he used to trap his "artifacts". They then give Tivan's bracelet to Carina, who decides to punish Tivan for all the abuse she had to endure by opening Tivan's box, but also all the boxes with his "artifacts". Realizing that he's gonna die, Tivan concludes that karma has finally come for him.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Citizens of Knowhere
The Collector meets Lady Sif and Volstagg after Carina introduces them.
The Collector holding the Aether in his possession after being advised by Lady Sif and Volstagg to safeguarded it; Unbeknownst to them, The Collector had been seeking the Infinity Stones with the Aether now in his collection.
The Collector summarizes to the Guardians about the Infinity Stones.
The Collector having a tranquilizing drink after surviving the explosion upon licked by his pet dog, Cosmos to cheer his spirits in which the action was being mocked by Howard the Duck.
The Collector being interrogated by Thanos.
The Collector's Funko Pop
It was confirmed that the Collector is the younger brother of Grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum), who appeared briefly during the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 before having a bigger role in Thor: Ragnarok.