The Day One video for Avengers: Infinity War included a stunning piece of concept art, showing Tony Stark stood before a new Iron Legion. With the Avengers gone, it seems Stark is striving to rebuild his own army of Iron Men. But how will he run them? Stark already attempted to put together a sophisticated artificial intelligence, and unwittingly created Ultron. The world will naturally be watching any further AI experiments with real concern.
Appropriately enough, the solution may have been offered by the Avengers: Infinity War Prelude comic. It's revealed that another of Marvel's most prominent scientists has had a breakthrough in AI technology. That could easily act as a direct link between Black Panther and Infinity War.
What The Infinity War Comic Reveals About Wakanda
Shuri is the premiere scientist in Wakanda: an ingenious innovator who has an understanding of both science and spirituality. She's only 16, but she's been described as smarter than even Tony Stark. What's more, Shuri knows it; the prelude comics have shown her speaking with a brash confidence.
Wakandan science is tremendously advanced. The fictional African nation has pursued a different course to the rest of the world, exploring science that interacts with nature. Bolstered by their natural reserves of the rare metal vibranium, Wakanda has become possibly the most developed nation on Earth. But their scientific advances aren't limited to metalwork and energy manipulation.
The Avengers: Infinity War Prelude comic reveals that Shuri is skilled in a number of different fields. It turns out she's an expert in studying the brain as a machine, and she's the one tasked to help the Winter Soldier recover from his Hydra programming. With Bucky in cryo-stasis, Shuri created an artificial duplicate of his brain, and tested possible 'fixes' on it. She finally succeeded in creating an algorithm that could do this, and described it to T'Challa in fascinating detail:
"[The algorithm] will be able to flush the influence of the trigger words out while retaining the core context and content of those original memories. Essentially, I should be able to reboot him."
But Shuri added that this algorithm had far more potential. She could use it to advance Wakanda's own artificial intelligences. Remarkably, Shuri went so far as to compare this to the breakthrough that created Ultron (although, with typical confidence, she referred to the use of the Mind Stone as a "silly shortcut").
Shuri And The New Iron Legion
It's important to remember why Tony Stark created Ultron in the first place. He believed - and still believes - that a terrible threat is coming. When he flew through that wormhole at the end of The Avengers, Stark realized just how small and vulnerable the Earth really is. Everything he's done since then has been part of an effort to create systems and structures that will defend the planet.
Unfortunately, it's all gone badly wrong. S.H.I.E.L.D. fell, brought down by the cancer of Hydra that had grown within it. The Ultron project backfired spectacularly, and almost led to an extinction-level event. The Avengers themselves have fallen apart, and Stark can't even talk a teenager into signing up. The Infinity War Prelude revealed that he's set on creating a new defense, a new protector for the planet. That seems to involve creating both a new Iron Legion, and his latest armor.
Comic book fans have immediately recognized the armor Stark is wearing in Infinity War. It's known as the 'Prime Armor,' and it's actually composed of nanotechnology. This is easily the most spectacular armor Tony Stark has ever worn; it's also, frankly, well beyond any science he's dabbled with to date in the MCU. But here's the crucial thing: It's clearly not beyond Wakandan science. Trailers and TV spots have revealed that the Black Panther's outfit is nanotech, and forms in response to his will. It's possible Stark simply saw the Black Panther at work and duplicated the tech; more likely is that he's coordinated with Wakanda in designing his new armor.
If that's the case, this cooperation could easily have involved a lot more than just armor. Shuri could have given him access to Wakandan AIs as well - and one could be driving the new "Iron Legion" known to appear in Infinity War.
Will The New Iron Legion Be Set Up In Black Panther?
Black Panther is the last film before Avengers: Infinity War, and it's expected to feature a significant amount of setup. Fans are expecting the Soul Stone to crop up in Wakanda, for example; popular fan-theories tying this to Heimdall seem far less likely after Thor: Ragnarok. What's more, the trailers have teased a massive invasion of Wakanda, and Thanos is attacking Earth for a reason. He isn't just seeking to cause chaos; he wants to get his hands on the Infinity stones.
But there could be even more setup. Now, it's worth noting that the Infinity War Prelude charts events "a few weeks" after Civil War. With Black Panther believed to be set straight after Civil War, it's actually possible the comic is after Marvel's next film. If that's the case, there won't be too much explicit setup; Stark won't have gotten in touch with Wakanda just yet, and Shuri won't have made her breakthroughs in AI technology.
It's more likely that Black Panther will introduce viewers to Wakandan AIs, preparing the ground for cooperation between Stark and Shuri. After all, this is one of the fields Shuri specializes in, and she's an important secondary character in the film.
This may only be a theory, but it fits the facts. The Avengers: Infinity War Prelude comic spent far too much time focusing on Shuri's breakthrough in AI. Every other plot was essentially setup for a character's role and journey in Infinity War, reinforcing the sense that this is probably important. Meanwhile, there's already evidence that Tony Stark will have worked with Wakanda on his latest armor. So this theory works surprisingly well.
If it's accurate, Wakanda has become more important than fans ever expected. By the time of Infinity War, Wakandan science is the cornerstone of Earth's defense against Thanos. No wonder the Mad Titan decides to take this nation down in force.
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019