We’re closing in on the release date of Captain America: Civil War, which looks to be the last major storyline for The Avengers before Earth’s Mightiest Heroes realize that the real threat is out there in the cosmos. Avengers: Infinity War Part I is slated for release in May of 2018, with Part II following a year later, and this two-part story will be the ultimate climax to everything we’ve seen thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Infinity War will be centered around Thanos, who should at some point gather all of the Infinity Stones and combine their power using the Infinity Gauntlet. The Mad Titan’s quest for the stones will make him the most powerful being in existence should he succeed, and this storyline has already lead to one of the most widely beloved and intriguing story arcs in comic book history.
Between the events of Civil War and Infinity War, Marvel will be ramping up the MCU for a climactic encounter with Thanos, and it looks like the Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and Thor: Ragnarok films will likely serve as the primary stages on which the Infinity Wars foundation is built. Doctor Strange is a very important figure in the comic book version of events surrounding the Infinity Gauntlet story, while the Guardians of the Galaxy have already had a run-in with one of the Infinity Stones. Meanwhile, it's the Asgardians that seem to be the most knowledgeable beings in the MCU in regards to the dangers of these powerful objects.
Let’s take a look at what we know about the Infinity Gauntlet, the Infinity Stones, and Thanos himself in both comic book history and what we’ve seen so far in the MCU. The Infinity Gauntlet has appeared numerous times in Marvel comics throughout the years, but we’ll mostly be sticking to the story surrounding The Infinity Gauntlet saga, seeing as how the inspiration for the Avengers: Infinity War movies should pretty much be adapted from the pages of this story.
Here are 10 Things You Need To Know About The Infinity Gauntlet.
10 What is the Infinity Gauntlet?
As everything relating to the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins to ramp towards Avengers: Infinity War, the Infinity Gauntlet will be taking on a more prominent role in the events surrounding the MCU. So what’s so special about this gauntlet, and why does Thanos desire to possess it?
The Infinity Gauntlet (when fully assembled) is arguably the most power item in the Marvel universe, giving its wearer the power to basically do whatever the hell they want. If you desire half of the beings in the entire universe to simply disappear with only a thought, the Infinity Gauntlet can make that happen. The item is so powerful that even when in the hands of the good guys it can be dangerous, and seldom is anyone allowed to possess and control all of the Infinity Stones - the gems contained within the gauntlet, which are the real power here.
That’s right, the gauntlet itself is merely a tool used to harness the power of the Infinity Stones, much like Ronan the Accuser’s hammer was used to hold the power of one stone in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. But when in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet and all six stones, the wearer can pretty much shape the known universe to their liking, and that’s extra scary in the hands of someone like the Mad Titan Thanos.
So in order to truly understand the Infinity Gauntlet, we must first take a look at the Infinity Stones themselves.
9 What are the Infinity Stones?
The Infinity Stones are the actual source of the Infinity Gauntlet’s power, with each possessing considerable power on their own. With all six gems combined using the Infinity Gauntlet, the wearer possesses near unlimited abilities within the universe that the gems were created in (more on this later).
The Infinity Stones are also known as the Infinity Gems in the comics, and are sometimes referred to as the “Soul Gems,” but in the MCU they are being referred to as “Stones,” so that’s how we’ll refer to them going forward in order to avoid confusion.
Each Infinity Stone has its own specialization:
Space Stone: Provides the ability to travel through space via teleportation and can interfere with the motion of objects.
Mind Stone: Near limitless psionic/psychic abilities, including telepathy and telekinesis.
Soul Stone: Allows the user to attack or steal another’s soul and can be used to revert an individual to their natural state.
Time Stone: The ability to time travel, slow down or speed up the flow of time, and even slow or accelerate aging. Also allows sight into the future.
Reality Stone: Ability to alter all of reality.
Power Stone: Gives the user the ability to manipulate energy, as well as enhancing strength and durability. It can also enhance any superhuman power one already has.
Together these stones mean a bad time for whoever doesn’t possess them, especially if/when Thanos gets his hands on them. And in case you haven't been paying attention, we’ve already seen a few of these stones on the big screen.
8 Infinity Stones in the MCU
While the location of some of the Infinity Stones within the MCU is still unknown, we’ve already seen four of them front and center in the Marvel movie universe so far. Whether more will show up individually before Infinity War begins remains to be seen, but let’s take a look at the ones you’ve already seen, whether you realized it or not.
Space Stone: The Tesseract - Captain America & Avengers
The Tesseract is initially believed to simply be a construct of Asgardian technology — seeing as how the Asgardians live in a world where magic and science are one in the same — but during Thor’s vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he sees the Tesseract shattered, revealing the Space Stone. He also sees the other three Infinity Stones we’ve been introduced to so far in this vision.
The Space Stone is currently located on Asgard, under the protection of Heimdall.
Mind Stone: Loki’s Scepter/Vision’s head gem - Avengers & Avengers: Age of Ultron
After seeing Loki use his scepter to control the minds of others in the first Avengers movie, it’s pretty obvious that said scepter contains the Mind Stone. Ultron then came into possession of the scepter and used the Mind Stone contained within to bring Vision to life during Age of Ultron. If Thanos is to possess all of the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Infinity War, it would seem Vision may be a casualty of his acquisition.
The Mind Stone is currently embedded in the forehead of Vision. Don't expect it to stay there.
Reality Stone: Aether - Thor: The Dark World
The red liquid-like substance known as the Aether in Thor: The Dark World is in reality...the Reality Stone. The symbiotic force that is the Aether can enter the body of a host, giving them unlimited control of all reality. In the MCU, both Malekith and Jane Foster have been host to the Aether. During Thor’s vision he sees the red liquid of the Aether from into the Reality Gem.
The Reality Stone is currently in the possession of The Collector after being brought to him for safekeeping by Sif and Volstagg.
Power Stone: Orb - Guardians of the Galaxy
Star-Lord swiped a small, valuable orb from the dead planet of Morag in Guardians of the Galaxy, but it turned out that the artifact was in fact the Power Stone. Thanos enlisted Ronan the Accuser to acquire the Power Stone for him, but Ronan intended to use the stone for himself to destroy Thanos and his other enemies. The Guardians stopped him through the power of friendship, or maybe it was the power of holding hands, we're not quite sure.
The Power Stone is currently in the possession of the Nova Corps.
So we’ve already seen four of the six Infinity Stones in the MCU,but did you know we’ve already seen the Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU a couple of times as well?
7 Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU
Aside from the individual stones, we’ve also already seen the Infinity Gauntlet a couple of times in the MCU, and both appearances were mere glimpses of an item which will end up being such a primary focus of the MCU in the coming years.
The most obvious appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU was of course during the post-credits scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which Thanos puts on the stoneless gauntlet before saying “Fine, I’ll do it myself,” referring of course to gathering the stones himself. The Mad Titan has seemingly grown weary of underlings who constantly fail him, and is taking matters into his own hands, quite literally. This however, was actually the second time we’d seen the Infinity Gauntlet on screen.
The first time we saw the Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU was in Odin’s trophy room during the first Thor movie. While some may wonder why Thanos is scouring the universe looking for the stones Odin has already apparently assembled, it’s important to note that this appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet was just an on-screen easter egg for fans to geek out over, because the MCU was still young at this point. The trophy room wasn’t intended to be the current location of the Infinity Gauntlet in the MCU, especially once it became clear Mavel was headed in this direction for the climax of their films. The gauntlet in Odin’s trophy room has been explained as merely containing replicas of the Infinity Stones, leaving plenty of fighting over the stones for future movies.
So you’ve got the rundown on the Infinity Gauntlet, the stones, and their place so far in the MCU, but who is this Thanos guy, and what makes him so dangerous in the Marvel Universe?
6 Who is Thanos?
Thanos made his first appearance in Marvel comics with Iron Man #55 back in February of 1973. Thanos is widely considered one of the more powerful beings within the Marvel Universe, even when not wielding the infamous Infinity Gauntlet.
While the origins of Thanos have not yet been, and may never be, covered in depth in the MCU, we know that in the comics, Thanos grew up on the moon of Saturn known as Titan. Thanos was born an Eternal, an ancient race of humans modified by the Celestials, but carries a gene from a related race known as the Deviants. This Deviant gene left Thanos disfigured and different from his Eternal brethren, ostracizing the young Titan and leading to his fascination with nihilism and death.
Thanos has played villain to plenty of Marvel superheroes, including Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men, and many others. The Mad Titan often appears center-stage during large events in the Marvel Universe, including large crossover events. When the Marvel Universe needs to come together to take on some huge evil, Thanos can often be found somewhere in the fray.
5 Why does Thanos want the Infinity Stones?
We’ve become accustomed to movies changing around the details of some of our most beloved superheroes and their stories, so Thanos and his quest for the Infinity Stones could see any number of twists and turns along the way, but for now all we can do is look into the Mad Titan’s history with the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics in order to find his motivations for acquiring the power the stones possess.
First and foremost, Thanos is simply power hungry. If there is power within the universe that is equal to or greater than his own, he wishes to possess it simply because he can. It’s the driving motivation behind plenty of bad guys in stories told via any medium. The drive to simply be the most powerful being in the known universe is enough motivation for some, but in the comics, Thanos has another reason for seeking all that power - he wishes to court Death herself.
There’s a nice line that Marvel threw into the end of the first Avengers movie, and one that wasn’t missed by hardcore comics fans. When The Avengers thwart Loki’s chitauri invasion, Thanos’s underling (The Other) reports back to him, stating “To challenge them, is to court death”. To those only familiar with the MCU itself, this line may come across as simply a grandiose way of telling Thanos that The Avengers are a force to be reckoned with. Thanos’s grin upon hearing this statement however, is a nod to fans of the original Infinity Gauntlet event in Marvel comics, and his desire therein to impress Death.
In the comic, Thanos is madly in love with the comic book personification of Death, and is willing to go to extreme lengths to impress her. When removing half of the population of the universe from existence with the snap of a finger doesn’t result in so much as a yawn from Death, Thanos is enraged. At the end of the day, the biggest baddie in the Marvel universe commits the most unspeakable acts, all in order to impress a girl.
With the MCU being as “grounded in reality” as one can be when depicting superheroes, superpowers, space travel, and magic, it’s highly unlikely the movie version of Thanos will actually be looking to court the personification of Death. The “power-hungry Mad Titan” approach seems a much more likely story for movie-goers to digest, leaving the grin at the mention of Death in the first Avengers film as simple an easter egg. Infinity War could end up being a love story. A really weird love story, but a love story nonetheless.
With Death unimpressed by the advances of Thanos, he begins to sink deeper into madness, becoming more dangerous than ever.
4 What did it take to stop Thanos when he wielded the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics?
If ever one was to describe a comic book event as “epic”, The Infinity Gauntlet saga would be that event. It involved the entire Marvel Universe, and included at least brief appearances by nearly every character the company was currently publishing. And despite these odds against him, Thanos technically didn’t actually lose, even to the entire Marvel roster.
You see, Thanos learns something about himself during the original comic — he subconsciously wants to fail, and allowed himself to be defeated because deep in his soul, he knows he isn’t worthy of such power. It’s a massive character flaw, and the only reason he doesn’t remain the most powerful being in the universe. Essentially, the Marvel Universe got lucky that this guy has self-doubt issues. That’s pretty scary.
Despite their best efforts, the heroes who are opposing Thanos can’t defeat him as long as he possesses the Infinity Gauntlet, but Thanos provides them the opportunity needed in order to defeat himself. You see, once he becomes the living embodiment of the universe (yeah the Infinity Gauntlet can do that), his body is left lifeless. The body which is in physical possession of the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity Stones. While his body is immobile and his consciousness is distracted with being, well, the universe, his daughter Nebula takes the gauntlet from him.
Once the Infinity Gauntlet is taken from Thanos, it is used to restore the universe to its rightful alignment, reversing all the wrongs Thanos committed. In the end, becoming the most powerful being in existence cost Thanos everything, and he ends the Infinity Gauntlet saga as a farmer on a far away planet, for the time being retired from a life of supervillainy.
3 Who else has worn the Infinity Gauntlet?
Thanos isn’t the only being who has held the Infinity Gauntlet over the years in Marvel comics, so let’s take a look at some of the other characters who have wielded the power the Infinity Stones possess:
Nebula - The alleged granddaughter of Thanos in the comics, Nebula seized the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’ lifeless body after he made himself the embodiment of the universe. With Nebula having an existing character in the MCU with links to Thanos (adopted daughter-type links), we could see someone other than Thanos hold the Infinity Gauntlet in Infinity Wars.
Adam Warlock - At the end of the Infinity Gauntlet story arc, Adam Warlock took possession of the gauntlet, eventually dividing the Infinity Stones among others in order to keep them from being assembled again in the future. This, of course didn’t last long, but his heart was in the right place.
Mr. Fantastic - Reed Richards secretly gathered all six Infinity Stones with the help of a secret group known as the Illuminati. With all six stones in his possession, he attempted to use their power to will them out of existence. This plan failed and he divided the stones among members of the Illuminati to be hidden so that they could not be gathered again. You can guess how that went at this point.
Iron Man - When The Hood attempted to steal the Infinity Stones from their hiding places in order to assemble their power once again, Iron Man ended up gathering the stones, becoming the first human to successfully use the Infinity Gauntlet. He transported The Hood back to prison and seemingly made the stones disappear. In fact, since the stones could not be willed out of existence, he had transported the gauntlet back to the Illuminati, where the stones were once again divided amongst the members.
Captain America - Captain America wielded the reassembled Infinity Gauntlet when an alternate reality Earth was set on a collision course with Earth-616 (the world where the primary Marvel Universe takes place). The power required to stop this catastrophe destroyed the gauntlet, shattering all of the Infinity Stones except the Time Gem.
Darkseid - Wait a minute…Darkseid is a DC comics character. How’d he get on this list? Well, aside from being the character that Marvel copied nearly wholesale when creating Thanos (artist Jim Starlin has admitted to being inspired by Darkseid when creating Thanos), Darkseid has also gotten his hands on the item so closely affiliated with Thanos during a Marvel/DC crossover event. Do you remember earlier when we mentioned that the Infinity Gauntlet could only be used in the universe in which it was created? Here’s where that comes into play. Darkseid quickly discovered that the Infinity Gauntlet couldn’t be used in his universe (the DC Universe), making an item that could destroy universes a mere trinket and utterly useless in the DC existence.
There have been a few other characters who have had their hands on the Infinity Gauntlet at one time or another, but for now let’s go back to the MCU, and talk about what could be in store for the heroes we’ve come to know on the big screen, and how that story will likely differ from the one told in the pages of comic books.
2 What we probably will and won’t see from Infinity Wars in the MCU
Obviously, Thanos is on a quest in the MCU to acquire all of the Infinity Stones, and has had enough with underlings failing to bring him any of them. With Thanos now going hands on with the whole Infinity Stone gathering process, business is about to pick up in the MCU.
With Infinity Wars being split into two films, it’s pretty unlikely Thanos will already be in possession of the completed Infinity Gauntlet when Part 1 hits in 2018, at least in the opening sequence, but that leaves a convenient opening for the conflict between himself and the heroes of Earth. With Vision in possession of the Mind Stone, it could very prove to be the final stone Thanos needs, leading to his arrival on Earth and a battle with the heroes of our planet. Vision’s death and Thanos’s acquisition of the final stone he needs would be a truly dramatic and climactic ending to the first film, leaving us waiting for the now all-powerful Thanos to begin ruling the universe in Part 2.
By the time Infinity War hits theaters, we will have been introduced to a few more characters in the MCU, perhaps the most important of which is Doctor Strange. Strange is a key figure in the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and his introduction later this year to the MCU seems to spell a similar role in Avengers: Infinity War for the Sorcerer Supreme.
While The Infinity Gauntlet saga in the comics featured nearly every hero Marvel had ever produced up until that time, we will obviously be seeing a much smaller roster of heroes taking on the Mad Titan. The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy should be key players in Marvel’s cinematic climax, but it’s looking like a few other key characters will go unseen.
Most notably is Silver Surfer, who as of the time of this writing, still has his movie rights owned by Fox. There are constant rumors that Fox and Disney are in talks to share the Fantastic Four, and thus Silver Surfer, following the latest Fantastic Four movie flop, but those remain only rumors with little substance behind them. Luckily for the fans, there’s still time for Marvel/Disney and FoX to work out a deal much like Marvel and Sony did with Spider-Man, so perhaps the Surfer could still make an appearance.
One key character Marvel does still own the movie rights to but has yet to introduce to the MCU is Adam Warlock, the man who wields the Infinity Gauntlet once Thanos is defeated. Fans have speculated that a large cocoon seen in the Collector’s vault in GotG could have been an Adam Warlock easter egg, but we’re still not sure if he will actually be showing up in the MCU, or if an existing character will fill the role Warlock played in The Infinity Gauntlet story.
There are plenty other Marvel characters who played at least a small role in The Infinity Gauntlet story, but much like the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, budget restraints and movie rights will likely leave us with a smaller roster of heroes taking on the Mad Titan in Avengers: Infinity War, rather than the entire Marvel superhero lineup.
1 What the Infinity Gauntlet could mean for the future of the MCU
Here’s where we go from educated guesses to pretty much pure speculation, so let’s have a bit of fun. There’s a long way to go before we see the final scene of Avengers: Infinity War, but what we know about the Infinity Gauntlet could make for some interesting directions for the MCU after the credits roll.
The first thing we have to come to grips with is the fact that the actors we have accepted as our favorite Marvel superheroes won’t be able to play those heroes forever. We know, we can’t imagine a Marvel Universe without Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark either, but eventually it’ll have to happen. The Infinity Gauntlet allows several possibilities for a “reboot” of the MCU in a way that can be accepted by fans who know what the gauntlet is capable of.
Movies of course love to throw in a death here and there for drama, so we could be losing one or more of the veteran heroes we’ve come to love over the course of Avengers: Infinity War. If Marvel keeps with the previous story of Thanos wiping out half of the population of the universe, we could see several characters simply disappear, although many of them could be resurrected once Thanos is defeated. Maybe somebody doesn’t make it back, or must sacrifice themselves permanently for Thanos to be defeated. Either way, it creates a possible exit for an actor looking to move on to other projects.
A much less dramatic possibility is that one or more heroes decides to hang up the tights following the battle with Thanos. The fight with Thanos is sure to be epic, and it could be an excuse for someone like Tony Stark or Steve Rogers to call it quits on the whole superhero thing. Everyone has their limits.
And then there’s also the possibility that the power of the Infinity Gauntlet itself changes the MCU forever in a way that is not or cannot be reversed. The gauntlet has to power to alter reality in any way the bearer imagines, so perhaps new characters are blinked into existence to carry on the mantle of a now departed actor. Alternate realities aren’t exactly something Marvel shies away from in the comics, and that could stretch into the MCU. The Infinity Gauntlet is powerful enough in the comics to justify a complete reboot of the MCU, and it’s possible that by 2019 that reboot will be needed.
We of course know that new superheroes will be getting their own films following Avengers: Infinity War, including Captain Marvel and the Inhumans, so Marvel could just move on from the characters we’ve been following for years now, but an opportunity to create some epic drama is one it would be surprising to see Marvel skip.
Did we miss any of your favorite Infinity Gauntlet factoids? Let us know in the comments section.