Avengers: Infinity War, unsurprisingly, has some pretty big comic inspiration, although it may not be what many fans are expecting. When Marvel announced back in 2014 that their third team-up films would be titled Infinity War, cosmic comics readers excitement went through the roof. Following up Jim Starlin's The Infinity Gauntlet from the year prior, 1992's The Infinity War dealt with the fallout of Adam Warlock getting the Infinity Gauntlet and its six Infinity Stones. But like with Civil War and Ragnarok before it, Marvel is known to use comic titles and events as inspiration for their films more than making strict adaptions.
As more about Avengers 3 has been revealed, it's become accepted the film will be more based on The Infinity Gauntlet than it's sequel, at least in terms of the Avengers and their allies teaming up to fight Thanos as he gathers the Stones. However, the recent Avengers: Infinity War trailer makes it clear that an entirely different story involving the Mad Titan will actually serve as inspiration for next year's films: Jonathan Hickman's Infinity.
Infinity vs. Infinity War
Marvel and DC are both known for reusing titles for their events, with many often paying homage to their predecessor. For non-comic die-hards, however, this practice can be incredibly confusing. While DC has 'Crisis' and 'Rebirth,' Marvel regularly goes to the 'Infinity' well.
The early '90s books by Starlin will factor heavily into Avengers 3 and 4, it seems clear they'll be more sources of inspiration than pure adaptation. For instance, a classic scene from The Infinity Gauntlet comic was paid tribute to in the Avengers: Infinity War trailer. But while the bulk of that story involved the Avengers heading to space to battle Thanos as he tried to impress Death herself, the more Earth-based story that looks to be unfolding in Avengers: Infinity War bears a lot more in common with Hickman's more recent work.
Launched in 2013, Infinity marked the culmination of years of writing across multiple books by Hickman. It's nearly impossible to summarize the entire arc, but much of it involved the Earth's awakening in the cosmic consciousness and featured lots of heady concepts about reality and the multiverse. The events would eventually lead to the collapse of all realities in Secret Wars, but not before Thanos showed up on Earth to once again unite the Infinity Stones and destroy his enemies.
Much of the weightier elements of Hickman's work, like the Builders and Ex Nihilo, likely won't feature on film. Still, there are a number of big moments from Hickman's Infinity that form the core of Avengers 3's story. The most obvious thread is Thanos coming to Earth rather than the heroes coming to him. Avengers 4 might well feature such an intergalactic story, but next year's film will be more about defending the home turf.
The first inkling of Hickman's influence, however, came when we learned the Black Order were coming to the MCU.
The Children of Thanos
When Thanos invaded Earth in Infinity, he didn't come alone. Joining him were five of the galaxy's most fearsome warriors, Black Dwarf, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant, Ebony Maw, and Corvus Glaive. In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos' generals will be remade into more of his' children, along the lines of Nebula and Gamora. Luckily, this change should strengthen the thematic resonance of the powerful villains.
A few other changes will be made, meanwhile, as the film will nix Supergiant and change Black Dwarf's name to Cull Obsidian (another name for the Black Order in the comics). The group's inclusion as major forces of evil in the MCU marks one of the main reasons why it seems Marvel are pulling more than a little from Hickman's Infinity, but it's hardly the only sign. In fact, it looks like Avengers 3 will be lifting entire plots from the comic.
The Infinity War trailer confirmed rumors that Wakandan would serve as a front for Thanos' invasion. And taking on the Wakandan people and Captain America's Secret Avengers will be Cull Obsidian and the Outriders. In the Infinity comic, Black Dwarf heads to Wakanda and battles both T'Challa and Shuri. He also brings with him a race of aliens known as the Outriders, who we see both Cap and Black Panther fighting in the trailer. The events in Wakanda look to be a major part of the film, further strengthening the movie's ties to Hickman's comic. And as luck would have it, the whole story is about to be revisited early next year.
Marvel has always been good about putting out new comic series and events to coincide with their films. Both Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Age of Ultron saw new versions of those comic stories hit shelves to take advantage of the film. Even when Fox puts out an X-Men movie, Marvel has been sure to roll something out to go along with it. Naturally, Avengers: Infinity War will be no different. As part of Marvel's Legacy initiative, a new Infinity story will arrive in February. Just in time for May's big release, the story will once again see the Infinity Stones surface and likely pay homage to many of the event's from Hickman's original book.
Marvel has mined their recent comic stories more than anything else when it comes to the big screen, and the sprawling nature of Infinity is the perfect fit for the big screen. It kicked off Inhumanity, which saw a wave of new Inhumans pop up and was partially adapted on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It also led to the collapse of the multiverse and fed into Secret Wars, which rebooted Marvel Comics.
With word that Avengers 4 will end the MCU as we know it and begin a new chapter for Phase 4, could Avengers: Infinity War lead to a Secret Wars-like story in its sequel the way Hickman's comics did? As more looks at next year's film arrive, expect a lot more nods to Jonathan Hickman's Infinity to appear in Avengers: Infinity War.
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