Ever since the end credits scene in 2012’s The Avengers, it’s been clear that Thanos would eventually wield the Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU. But Marvel Comics offers us some intriguing possibilities when it comes to which heroes could take control of the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4.
Though the Infinity Stones (known in the comics as the Soul Gems or Infinity Gems) date back to 1972’s Marvel Premier #1, the Gauntlet didn’t arrive until much later. In the lead-up to The Infinity Gauntlet, 1990’s Silver Surfer #44 introduced the object that could combine all 6 of the powerful items. This also kicked off Thanos’ quest for the Gauntlet as part of his scheme to wipe out half of all life in the universe and impress Death herself.
We know Avengers 3 will homage the comics by replacing a key Silver Surfer scene with Bruce Banner, but it’s safe to assume that many Infinity Stones-related events from the comics will all be melded together. Indeed, despite the film’s name coming from the sequel to The Infinity Gauntlet, all signs point to Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity playing a big role in the MCU. As such, we can look at the entire history of the comics to determine which Avengers might take the power of the Gauntlet for themselves in order to stop Thanos.
There have been a lot of wielders of the Infinity Gauntlet across alternate timelines, one-off books, and animated shows, with everyone from Doctor Doom to Reed Richards to Darkseid controlling the Stones. That latter event came courtesy of a JLA/Avengers crossover book, and if you think it’s weird then you haven’t read Marvel Holiday Spectacular 2009 where Santa Claus wielded the Gauntlet. Of course, barring an MCU/DCEU crossover or Marvel’s answer to the Star Wars Holiday Special, those more eccentric takes aren’t likely to occur. And we know the Fox deal won’t affect Phase 3 of the films, which further rules out some characters.
So when it comes to characters we know will be in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 who have wielded the Gauntlet in the comics, there are only six options.
When it comes to which Avengers could wield the Infinity Gauntlet in this summer’s movie or its follow-up, Iron Man makes the most sense. He’s got the strength, smarts, and tech to stand against Thanos and maybe even grapple with the awesome might of the Gauntlet. Tony Stark also kicked off the MCU and is its biggest name, meaning Iron Man getting the Gauntlet would have some nice symmetry to it. But more than just making sense in the MCU, Tony harnessing the power of the Infinity Stones would mirror the comics.
Before Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel for DC, he crafted a number of comics with a big impact on the MCU. During his 2011 run on Avengers, low-rate villain The Hood began collecting the Infinity Gems. Iron Man was able to wrest the Gems and Gauntlet away from The Hood and send him back to prison. He then does the most Tony Stark thing imaginable: feigns the destruction of the Gauntlet while really teleporting it elsewhere. Following the showdown, the Gauntlet and the Gems fall under the control of the Illuminati, a secret group of Marvel’s biggest minds that fans have long been hoping to see in the MCU.
Subtract The Hood and it’s not hard to imagine Avengers: Infinity War ending with just such a move from Iron Man. The fight will look to be over, but an end credits scene then reveals Tony has hidden the Gauntlet away for a rainy day under the watchful eye of Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Bruce Banner, and a few key others. This could lead to a loose Illuminati adaptation for Avengers 4 which would once again cause a split between Tony and Steve. Either that, or the plot point could be how Avengers 4 ends and thus leads into Phase 4. There’s a lot of options, but one of the likeliest comic adaptations is some version of Iron Man getting the Gauntlet.
A little less likely but still a poetic and comics-inspired move would be if Steve Rogers gained the Gauntlet. The Stones have a way of influencing those who wield them, and if anyone has the moral strength to resist it’s Captain America. It may be more questionable that he could take the Gauntlet from Thanos, but Steve has held the Gems in the comics.
During Hickman’s lead-up to Secret Wars, 2013’s New Avengers #3 saw the Illuminati discover the collapse of the Multiverse. With another Earth about to collide with their own, the group decided to use the Infinity Gauntlet that they’d ferreted away. This time, however, it was reluctant new addition Captain America who took the glove. He was able to avert the catastrophe, but the Gauntlet and Gems were destroyed in the process. If Avengers 3 sees Tony take the Gauntlet and form the Illuminati, the plot of Avengers 4 could see Steve use the Stones. After all, there’s a chance Avengers 4 will adapt Secret Wars, which could set the stage for Phase 4 of the MCU.
Though T’Challa may be new to the MCU, it’s clear he’s already got the sort of weight and name recognition as some of the more seasoned Avengers. With his moral might, high-tech suit, and skills in battle, it’s easy to imagine T’Challa both securing the Gauntlet and successfully using it. He’s also been a member of the Illuminati and played a key role in the events leading up to Secret Wars in the comics. Not to mention, the Soul Stone may be in Wakanda, setting up an easy plot point that could lead to the king wielding the Gauntlet.
On the page, T’Challa actually did take control of the Gems during Hickman’s Secret Wars. Though technically a separate reality, in 2015’s Secret Wars #6, Black Panther dons the Gauntlet to fight Doctor Doom, travel back in time, and help reset the whole alternate universe. If any aspect of Secret Wars comes into play, we could see a version of this. We may also see T’Challa make a hard call the way Tony might. We’ve known the T’Challa in the MCU is a highly principled individual, but the stories leading to Secret Wars saw him compromise more and more for what he saw as the greater good. Avengers 3 and 4 could tease out this darker version of Black Panther when he’s forced to use the Infinity Gauntlet to save the Earth at any cost.
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