Who Could Have Wielded The Infinity Gauntlet Before?
Wearing the Infinity Gauntlet gives the wielder omnipotent power over all of existence, so if someone has used it before, they could have "reset" reality, or at least part of it, so that everyone but the Gauntlet's wielder would be unable to perceive the changes. On the other hand, there could be worlds in the Marvel Cinematic cosmos that have been touched by the Infinity Gauntlet's power and still remember its effects. Maybe they pass down tales of its devastation from one generation to the next. The first time Thanos assembled the Stones in the comics, he wiped out half of all life in the universe, causing beings to vanish into death with a snap of his fingers; an event that had major repercussions.
Who else could have wielded the Gauntlet in the past? There's a surprisingly large number of people in Marvel Comics who have worn it over the years, including Adam Warlock, Nebula, Spider-Man, Reed Richards, Captain America, Black Panther, Iron Man, and Victor von Doom. In fact, during a rare crossover with DC Comics, Darkseid actually wore it! But these are all current characters in the MCU, and none of them have been around long enough to have worn the Gauntlet before Thanos.
If it didn't come from Thanos, and he's never worn it before now, then who could have once possessed and/or wielded it? The Collector comes to mind, but his reaction to the purple Power Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy was that of someone seeing it for the first time. There's the Grandmaster from Ragnarok, who in the comics is a sibling to the Collector and just as old. However, the third Thor movie revealed very little about the Sakaar dictator, so there's no way of knowing how much Jeff Goldblum's character has in common with his comic book namesake.
Odin or Hela could have worn it long ago, but it's unlikely; Odin would probably have wisely feared its power could corrupt him, while Hela would never have taken it off. Dormammu could have worn it if he ever had a physical body, but that didn't seem to be the case in Doctor Strange. Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was old enough, although he was so preoccupied with procreation that he probably would have had little interest in collecting gems. The same goes for the various villains who used a single Stone for their conquest, like Malekith in Thor: The Dark World.
Related: Where Are Marvel’s Infinity Stones?
What about the Celestials? Per Guardians of the Galaxy, we know not only that these ancient cosmic beings exist in the MCU but that they at one point owned at least one of the Stones; the Guardians were shown a vision of a giant Celestial destroying a nondescript world using the purple Power Stone. However, even together, a group of Celestials were not strong enough to control the Stone, suggesting they never got as far as using a gauntlet (one that would be far too small for them anyway).
The MCU has kept the extent of its cosmic history close to its chest for seventeen movies now, but with Avengers: Infinity War finally paying off the slight teases, now's the right time to give us the backstory of Thanos - and his magic glove.
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