Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame.
For the last year, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been wondering how (and even IF) The Avengers could defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Back in 1991 the heroes took him on in the comics and won - just barely. So how similar is their movie victory to the original version?
Avengers: Infinity War ended with our favorite superheroes losing. Thanos snapped his fingers and half of all life in the MCU disappeared. Sure, he thought he was doing everyone a favor, but no one else saw it that way. Fans couldn't know how the MCU's heroes could un-snap the Infinity Gauntlet, and in the movie, they both did and didn't. Their plan isn't based on what happened in the comics--but some might even say it was BETTER.
How The Avengers Get Revenge For Infinity War
In the 1st act, the remaining Avengers go to find Farmer Thanos in "The Garden," after using the stones again and thus allowing himself to be found by tracing the power spike across the galaxy. After confronting Thanos about the stones and discovering he used them to reduce themselves to nothing, Thor cannot hold himself back, cutting off the mortal Thanos' head with his new axe Stormbreaker. The Avengers are left with no hope and the movie jumps five years in to the future. But it's not the last Thanos that the Avengers will have to kill.
In the final act of Endgame, past-Thanos comes to the present thanks to past-Nebula (who uses The Avengers' time travel device to bring him, Gamora, and their entire army including the Black Order to Avengers Headquarters) after she swapped herself out for present-Nebula. No one suspected anything, because they were too concerned with constructing what we'll call an 'Iron Gauntlet' to hold the Infinity Stones--thus creating not one, but technically two 'Infinity Gauntlets' in the Marvel Universe. A glove that can only be worn by someone like Professor Hulk who is of non-human enough nature to survive when snapping the vanished back into existence. The plan is to bring them back to this present time, not take everyone back to before Thanos snapped his fingers.
Marvel's Second Infinity War Begins
Thanos and his army appear and fire on Avengers Headquarters, starting the MCU's second 'Infinity War' and what is quite possibly one of the most EPIC battle scenes in any movie ever. On one side, it's Thanos and his army. On the other, it's every hero returning for Avengers: Endgame after being snapped away, as well as the living heroes. There even seem to be alien species helping out because, if you recall, Thanos snapped away half of the entire universe. Captain Marvel joins in, Captain America wields Mjolnir, and Tony Stark discovers he's the only one who can save the day and wield the Infinity Stones, sacrificing himself to save the world.
Tony snaps his fingers and in doing so, dusts away Thanos' entire army, the Black Order, and even Thanos himself. Justice is finally served. But after Infinity War established that a single human being cannot wield the power of even one stone without consequence, Iron Man has fought his last. Tony passes away knowing that he just put the lives of many others above his own, and established himself as Marvel's greatest hero.
It's a fitting end for an entire phase of Marvel movies, that also sets up the future of Marvel movies... but how does it compare to the war and victory in the original Marvel Comics? Fans are going to be surprised, and possibly even disappointed.
How The Avengers Beat Thanos in The COMICS
The filmmakers left little doubt that the Infinity War movie would be nothing like the comic, and it begins with the reason fueling Thanos' desire to collect the Infinity Stones and kill half the universe. Originally, it was all a product of his infatuation with Lady Death--a love he wished to demonstrate by collecting the Infinity Gems to become a supreme being who would be worthy of her love. And once again, it's his (grand)daughter Nebula who pays the price.
In the comic books, Thanos doesn't worry about disassembling Nebula, he suspends her in a place between life and death. Using the Infinity Stones, he sculpts her into a "Walking Death" as a gift for his love. Keeping Nebula in this limbo, he claims, is his "tribute to the blasphemy of life and the glorious promise of death." When even that is not enough to gain Lady Death's affection, he wipes out half of the universe... with a snap of his fingers.
Silver Surfer rushes to warn Doctor Strange about the cosmic calamity (a role filled by Hulk in the Infinity War movie), triggering a superheroic team-up of their own, including Master Order, Lord Chaos, Quasar, Lord Kronos, Galactus, and a couple of Celestials. But where the movie version of Iron Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Hulk fought valiantly for their friends... Adam Warlock confesses to Silver Surfer that he sent the gathered heroes in as "sacrificial lambs"who will die before the real battle even begins.
Once the battle begins, the heroes start dropping like flies, eventually leaving only Captain America to stand against Thanos. In the film, Cap's final stand triggers the arrival of a victorious rally. In the comics, it's this moment Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer have waited for, swooping in to grab the Gauntlet--but miss their chance. It's then that Thanos becomes an even more powerful and terrifying supervillain than the MCU could even fathom, using the Infinity Gems, Thanos usurps Eternity's rightful position and takes his place among the stars, leaving his physical body behind. And that's exactly when the hero of the fight takes their shot. Not Iron Man... but Nebula.
Even in her between-death state, Nebula stumbles over to Thanos' mortal body and removes the Gauntlet from his arm. Once Nebula puts on the Infinity Gauntlet she is returned to her natural state, and wields the powers of the Infinity Stones. Despite being a supervillain in comparison to the MCU's semi-heroic Guardian of the Galaxy, Nebula has endured months of pain and anguish at the hands of Thanos, and immediately zaps him away into space.
Adam Warlock realizes this situation is actually worse, having no idea what Nebula might do with unlimited power (something you could actually say about the MCU version, as well). Warlock eventually tricks Nebula into removing the Gauntlet, and uses the power of the Infinity Gems to return everything back to the way it was.
As fans will notice, Nebula has a major impact in both stories. Deception and surprise is a part of both Nebula twists, turning the tide toward the Avengers winning in the comics, and helping Thanos get his massive battle by fooling the Avengers in Endgame. But even if the final showdown confirms that Captain America is just as worthy of Mjolnir in the MCU as the Marvel Comics Universe... the final chapter of the Thanos story is as different as every previous step along the way. Though we doubt fans will mind, since the final piece of the MCU's 'Infinity Saga' puzzle was never really about the villain.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019