Major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers: Infinity War has one of the most shocking endings of not just the MCU, but the entire superhero genre. Today we're going to break down how that cliffhanger came to be and what it means for Marvel movies going forward.
As the marketing has made heavily clear, Infinity War is everything the ten-year Marvel Studios experiment has been building up to, dubbed repeatedly as a "culmination". Narratively, that's obvious. The film follows Mad Titan Thanos on his mission to collect the six Infinity Stones to wipe out half of the universe, a quest that's been hinted since Thor in 2011 and been the explicit end goal since Infinity War - Part 1 was announced in 2014.
Yes, that's right: Part 1. Culmination also implies climax, and so Thanos couldn't just be dispatched like any generic Marvel villain (of which there's been a lot). The solution that Kevin Feige and the Russo brothers found was to do it over two movies, leaving us with one heck of a deadly cliffhanger at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Here's what happened, how it links to the comics, what it really means, and where we go from here.
Thanos' Finger Snap
Thanos wanted to collect the Infinity Stones for an altruistic purpose: kill half of all life to save the universe. The strife of overpopulation was what he deemed the ultimate barrier to progression, something he'd already witnessed on his homeworld of Titan, and so he went planet-to-planet enacting his wrath. However, the Infinity Stones provided a shortcut; collect all six and he could do it with a snap of his fingers.
As promised in the pre-release hype, collecting the Stones came with sacrifice: the Power Stone led to the sacking of Xandar; the Space Stone the death of Loki and half of Asgard; the Reality Stone the (presumed) death of the Collector; the Soul Stone Thanos' murder of his favorite daughter Gamora; the Time Stone the seeming breaking of Doctor Strange's oath; and the Mind Stone the murder of Vision. However, while many had assumed it was a sacrifice on the Avengers' part, this seems to take more of a toll on Thanos, with each Stone meaning something greater to him. Gamora is obvious, but both Power and Space see him correcting his ego-driven plans from previous movies (Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers respectively), Reality has him kill Elder The Collector, Time us not killing Tony Stark, and Mind the destruction of his own purpose.
Whatever the torturous method, Thanos gets all the Infinity Stones in Wakanda and despite the best efforts of Thor and his new weapon, clicks his fingers. Thanos wins and half the universe dies. The End.
The snap is an iconic moment in the comics from the Infinity Gauntlet arc, in that case as a move by Thanos to impress his paramour Lady Death, and has evidently greatly informed the movie Infinity War, with Thanos likewise killing half of all life with a click. This means that while this is certainly shocking, it has some degree of expectancy. Indeed, what's so interesting is that this is a lot more faithful a take on Thanos' snap than many theories suggest; in the comic, the snap isn't a cliffhanger, rather the inciting incident halfway through the first issue - and given Avengers 4 is coming, the same seems true here; it's the start of a bigger story. Before we get to that, though, first we need to do a death count.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019