Not long ago, Marvel Studios released the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, and the entire world went wild! Fans got to see a preview of Thanos beating up our favorite heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy meeting Thor, a battle for Wakanda, a bearded Cap, and a bunch of other things that brought them to optimal hype levels for the May 2018 release.
For those not aware, the film is going to be a loose adaptation of Marvel’s legendary Infinity Gauntlet story, where Thanos goes around gathering all six Infinity Stones before bringing the know universe to its knees. In the MCU, audiences currently know the location of each of the stones (with the exception of the Soul Stone). In the comics, the rocks are called Infinity “Gems” and have been around since the 1970s, meaning that they switched owners several times before Thanos finally got them together in 1991.
In the years since the epic story, the gems have popped up in Marvel stories whenever the writers wanted to play around with the status quo or give readers a taste of what particular characters would be like if they were given ultimate power. Note: We are sticking strictly to the comics here, so MCU Stone wielders won’t count.
Here are 15 Characters Who Have Possessed An Infinity Stone.
15. Norman Osborn
Though he has yet to appear in the MCU, Norman Osborn, aka Green Goblin, is the Joker to Spider-Man’s Batman. Up until Venom came along, there was no question that the Osborns were Spidey’s greatest enemy; since his return from the dead in the ’90s Norman has become more of a big-league player across all Marvel titles, so much so that he’s essentially now the Lex Luthor of Marvel.
In the elseworlds story What If? Infinity- Dark Reign, Norman employs a team of supervillains to collect the Infinty Gems for him. He traps Spider-Man in a time loop that forces him to relive Gwen Stacy’s death over and over and then uses the rest of the stones to take over the world.
Norman resurrects his abusive father to show him his accomplishments, but when his father remains unimpressed, he eradicates him from existence and accidentally erases himself from history in the process.
14. The Illuminati
What if Marvel’s greatest minds got together and formed a secret society to secretly deal with crises of epic proportions in their world? This was the idea behind the Illuminati, a team consisting of Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, and Dr. Strange; the group was most famously known for their infamous judgement that the Hulk was too dangerous for Earth and their subsequent decision to send him into exile in space.
After recovering one of the gems from a supervillain who was using it for evil, Mister Fantastic tasked his teammates with finding the rest of the stones and hiding them away for safekeeping. Uatu the Watcher appeared to the Illuminati, warning them that this action was unwise and would have dire consequences. He was right (but we’ll get to that later on).
13. Santa Claus
Oh yes, you read that correctly: Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas was once in possession of the most powerful item in the Marvel Universe! The Marvel Holiday Spectacular 2009 features a story in which Santa discovers that his reindeer are Skrulls in disguise.
Fearing that he won’t be able to make his delivery on time this year, the Illuminati lend Chris Kringle the gauntlet and infinity stones to get the job done. Instead, it makes Santa go mad with power and the superteam has to bring him down.
In the end, Santa is freed of the stone’s influence and Tony lets him borrow his robotic reindeer to get all his presents delivered on time. This issue actually raises a lot of questions… Does Santa have superpowers? What happened to the reindeer? Were they mutants to begin with? Why does Iron Man have robot reindeer just laying around!?
12. Black Panther
It’s really, really hard not to get hyped for Black Panther. Brought to life by the charming and regal Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa was a breakout character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Not to mention, the movie has an amazing cast consisting of Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’O, Andy Serkis, and Angela Bassett. It’s about time that Marvel’s first black superhero got his time to shine!
The Panther temporarily became the most powerful being in the universe during the events of 2015’s Secret Wars. After being transported to Doctor Doom’s “Battleworld,” T’Challa was able to find a completed Infinity Gauntlet tucked away in Doctor Strange’s secret island. He was able to use the gems to help the Avengers defeat Doom and transport himself back in time to prevent the terrible events from this crossover from ever happening.
11. Adam Warlock
This should be a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever picked up a Marvel comic. Next to Silver Surfer (and currently the Guardians of the Galaxy), Adam Warlock is the company’s go-to hero for cosmic stories. He and Thanos are arch-enemies, so it’s only natural that Warlock would gain control of the Infinity Gems at some point in time.
Much like the Vision in the MCU, Warlock’s entire existence is tied to an Infinity Stone! Though Adam was originally created to be just the “perfect human,” he is given the Soul Stone by the cosmic being The High Evolutionary in order to save the planet Counter-Earth. He continues to use the gem until his death at his own hands (a story for another time). During the events of Infinity Gauntlet, he is resurrected and regains possession of his stone.
Though she has yet to make an appearance on screen, She-Hulk is a immensely popular hero in the comic book world. Jessica Walters was the cousin of Bruce Banner until she suffered a terrible injury and was given a blood transfusion with Banner’s blood. This led to her becoming a more intelligent and calm version of the Hulk. Currently, she is permanently stuck in her green skin.
Right before the events of the Illuminati series, She-Hulk came into contact with the Power Gem. A cosmic fighter called the Champion was using the stone to defeat his opponents in the ring until Walters informed him of it’s true nature. It eventually fell into the hands of the villain Titania, but She-Hulk once again was able to take it forcefully. After two encounters with the stone, she turned it over to Mister Fantastic so that he could protect it.
9. Captain America
Steve Rogers, a possesor of the Infinity Gauntlet? You’d better believe it! Steve Rogers doesn’t want fame or fortune or power; he just wants to see the world in a better place than he left it and to bring justice to anyone who would try to hurt others. This makes it no surprise that, once all the other heroes have fallen and his shield has been broken, Cap still confronts Thanos face to face (resulting in his death).
In the days leading up to 2015’s Secret Wars, an Incursion occurs that threatens to crash an alternate universe into the 616, destroying both worlds. In a move of desperation, Cap dons the completed gauntlet and manipulates space so that the universes don’t collide. This act of sheer power shatters five of the six gems and causes the Time Gem to vanish.
8. Reed and Susan Richards
With a deal between Marvel and Fox looming on the horizon, we could be seeing the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer in the MCU sooner rather than later! The Fantastic 4’s cosmic nature would be perfect for the MCU. Now that Earth’s mightiest heroes have been exposed to the likes of the Mad Titan – the Celestials, Annhilus, and Galactus can’t be far behind.
In Silver Surfer #16, Sue Storm comes into contact with the “Soul Gems” (what the Infinity Stones were called at the time) and becomes completely possessed. Reed and the Silver Surfer to try and remove their influence from his wife, but during the ensuing battle one of the gems comes into contact with Mister Fantastic, turning him mad as well. Although the Surfer was able to break the couple of the gem’s influence, this was the first taste into just how powerful the cosmic items were.
7. The Silver Surfer
It’s downright criminal that the Silver Surfer hasn’t gotten a proper film yet. Sure, he appeared in the Fantastic Four sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer, but that movie made a complete joke of Marvel’s cosmic lore. The Surfer has always been one of the company’s go-to heroes whenever they want to tell a story involving space, and he played a huge role in the original Infinity Gauntlet story.
Because of this, the writers often like to contemplate what would happen if the Surfer got ahold of the Infinity Gems. In a literal “What If” issue, the hero is able to gain control of all six stones, turning himself into the god of the universe and turning Death into a “cherished” being. In the show Superhero Squad, he is able to get the gauntlet as well, but it possesses him and turns him into the Dark Surfer.
6. The Pet Avengers
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers was one of those Marvel stories that was so ridiculous and over-the-top that it just… worked. The plot goes as follows: Mister Fantastic comes to fellow Illuminati member Black Bolt to tell him he fears the Infinity Gems have gone missing. The Attilan pet, Lockjaw, overhears the conversation and finds the Mind Gem. He then assembles a team of other famous Marvel animals to help find the rest of the gems.
Oh, yes, we got a team consisting of Lockjaw, Frog Thor, Redwing (Hawkeye’s falcon), the Speedball pet Hairball, Shadowcat’s pet dragon Lockheed, and Ms. Lion (from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends). The team finds the rest of the stones just as Thanos arrives to steal them; the Pet Avengers use the combined powers of the Infinity Stones to send the Mad Titan to an alternate dimension and then return the artifacts safely to Mr. Fantastic.
Aside from Thanos, Galactus is Marvel’s go-to baddie when they want to pull out the stops and go for a universe-ending threat. The oldest being in existence (he existed pre-Big Bang), this goliath keeps his longevity by consuming entire planets without regard for the lifeforms who live on them. The villain is always accompanied by a herald (originally Silver Surfer); when Galactus shows up in the Marvel Universe, you know things are about to hit the fan!
For a short period of time, however, he tried to quell his taste for worlds. In the Thanos series of comics, Galactus once gathered up all of the Infinity Gems and connected them to a machine that would drain their power and keep him sustained. Instead, the combined powers allowed an evil entity called “The Hunger” to enter their universe. The creature was eventually defeated, and Galactus lost possession of the gems.
The characters in the Marvel Cosmic Universe all have really convoluted backstories. Not that it’s a bad thing, but to try and explain them takes a really long time. Nemesis was one of these cosmic entities that was actually the first being in existence; she created a universe that went completely evil and then eradicated it. Lonely, Nemesis destroyed herself, creating a new universe and seven Infinity Gems in the process.
Naturally, the seven gems were sent to the Ultraverse alongside some of Marvel’s greatest heroes. Adam Warlock was able to find them, but reuniting the six gems with their long-lost brother (the Ego Gem) brought Nemesis back to life. After a brutal battle that required the effort of multiple alt-universe versions of the heroes, Nemesis and the Ego Gem were destroyed.
3. The Hood
The Hood was one of those characters who was created during the “Grimdark” period of the superhero genre. Debuting in his own MAX series (which was known for being more violent and R-rated than most comics), the character was a supervillain who gained the ability to turn invisible and levitate thanks to a cloak stolen from a demon.
Remember when we said the Illuminati having the Infinity Stones was a bad idea? In the Heroic Age storyline, the Hood goes across the universe stealing the gems from each member of the Illuminati, culminating in an epic battle at the X-Mansion. The villain is only defeated when Iron Man appears with the actual Infinity Gauntlet, which he uses to call all six stones back to himself; he then uses the powers of the gems to put the Hood back into prison where he belongs.
We couldn’t do a list of famous Infinity Stone wielders without including Thanos’ “granddaughter,” Nebula. She played an integral part in the downfall of the Mad Titan during Infinity Gauntlet and looks to have a similar type of role in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
Once the Mad Titan kills off all the heroes and ascends to a higher plane of existence, he leaves his Earthly body. Nebula sees this as an opportunity for revenge against her cruel grandfather, who had reduced her to little more than a walking corpse earlier in the story.
She steals the gauntlet and, out of spite, she undoes all the things Thanos had done previously. Ironically this reverts her back to her near-death state and revives all the heroes; they make one final stand and are able to defeat Thanos and his minions.
Thanos and Darkseid, depending on who you ask, are seen as cheap rip-offs of each other. Jack Kirby’s creation (Darkseid) undoubtedly came first and has more “street cred” in the world of comics, but Thanos is much more well known to the casual fan of superhero fare, thanks to the MCU.
Darkseid would eventually wield Thanos’ greatest weapon in the events of the 2003 crossover JLA/Avengers. This storyline saw powerful artifacts from both publishers scattered across both of their universes, with the dueling super-teams attempting to find them. To everyone’s horror, they arrive at the location of the Infinity Gauntlet just in time to see Darkseid put it on. However, they are in the DC Universe when this happens, and the Infinity Gems have no power outside of the one they were created in. Darkseid tosses the useless gauntlet aside and moves on to bigger and better things.
Did we forget anyone who’s held an Infinity Gem before? Let us know in the comments!
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