INFINITY WAR SPOILERS BELOW
After the infamously bold ending to “Avengers: Infinity War” in spring 2018, the Marvel fandom has been running wild with rumors, conjectures, and theories as to what direction the upcoming sequel might take. Every scrap of idle gossip spoken by the Russo brothers, the cast, or by Kevin Feige has been shared, documented and dissected to the point where the fan base is second guessing practically everything. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has certainly taken liberties with the franchise and characters, the original comics are still the roots they’re grown from, and the MCU dusts a sprinkling of nods and references wherever they can.
Obviously, there were some huge changes that took place between the comic and the film, most notably Thanos’ relationship and motivations involving Mistress Death, the role of the cosmic entities, the critical roles played by Dr. Doom and the Silver Surfer, and of course the glaring fact that at the start of the comic Thanos was already in control of all the gems.
While not accurate panel for panel, “Infinity War” was chock full of respectful allusions to the Jim Starlin’s 1991 Infinity Gauntlet series. Aside from the neat visual cues, the story arc for “Infinity War” also matched up pretty neatly with the concept from the comics: Thanos acquires the Infinity Stones and uses them to wreak havoc on Marvel’s superheroes, eliminating half the universe with a snap of his fingers.
Given both the general tone and the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s abundantly clear that they will not be following the comics frame for frame. However, we think it is likely that certain crucial concepts will be adapted to the yet-to-be-titled Avengers 4. We’ve listed what we think are the five most likely:
1. Nebula will be hugely important
Since audiences first saw her in the 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Nebula’s background and motivations were crystal clear: Like Gamora, she is the daughter of Thanos, molded into a deadly weapon of destruction. Unlike Gamora, Nebula was not the favored child. While her sister was praised time and time again for her successes, Nebula’s failures resulted in her being tortured and grotesquely mutilated with the twisted intent of enhancing her combat abilities.
Nebula has made it no secret that she wants Thanos deader than dead, and that she wants to be the one to do the deed. We’ve already seen that she was not affected by Thanos’ snap at the end of the film, and is currently with Tony Stark on the ruins of Titan. But what will be her role in Avengers 4? If it’s anything like the comic, you may be surprised just how important she’s about to become.
The power of the infinity gauntlet unsurprisingly sends Thanos on a huge power trip. In the comics his search for power and control go far beyond killing half the universe – rather, that’s where the power trip begins. Thanos’ conquest eventually leads to him overpowering even the cosmic entities of the universe – omniscient, almighty beings such as the Living Tribunal, Galactus, and Eternity. Upon defeating Eternity, Thanos himself becomes bonded with the very fabric of the universe, attaining literal godhood.
But this godhood is brief. When Thanos usurps the mantle of Eternity, his material body is left uninhabited. Nebula reaches forward and takes the gauntlet for herself, healing her injured and broken body, and reverting Thanos back to his physical body.
Considering that her revenge on Thanos is the driving motivation behind Nebula’s character in the MCU, we think that this scenario is very likely to play out on-screen, at least in some way. Perhaps she and Tony Stark will go directly to the farm planet where we saw Thanos at the end of the movie. They’ll make a plan to take him down together, but Nebula betrays Stark and takes the gauntlet for herself. Either way, her character has been building up to this moment from the start. Definitely expect a resolution.
2. Someone will play the role of Adam Warlock
If you’re at all familiar with the Infinity Gauntlet comic arc, you know that Adam Warlock is the linchpin from start to finish. The closest character Marvel has to a Christ figure, Adam Warlock is a cosmic demigod with superhuman abilities and power so vast that he is able to both foretell the future and to manipulate space on a quantum level. In the Infinity Gauntlet comics, Adam Warlock was the figurehead leading the charge against Thanos, and ultimately the one who defeats him and receives the gauntlet, resolving the crisis – at least for a time.
Though Adam was referenced at the end of “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2,” it is highly unlikely that he will make an appearance in Avengers 4, seeing as he’ll have had no screen time or introduction prior to its release date. As such, a different character would have to take up his role as the leader. There’s a good cast of characters for the MCU to choose from, but here are our three most likely candidates. Two we’ve listed below. The third we’ll get to just a little later:
Tony Stark has been the connecting piece for the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the very beginning. He’s the character that launched the MCU’s initial success, and we think it would be most appropriate if he were the one to see the Infinity War through to the end. Additionally, Tony Stark is one of the few characters we’ve seen interact equally with Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, the original Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Of the heroes to engage Thanos directly on Titan, he and Nebula were also the only two to survive.
If Iron Man takes on the role of Adam Warlock it would also be in line with what Dr. Strange said – the time stone had to go to Thanos and Dr. Strange had to die so that Tony Stark would live; only he can bring the band together to face off with Thanos. It’s also a great excuse for him to make amends with Captain America, something that Avengers 4 will undoubtedly highlight.
Scheduled to be the next hero introduced to the MCU, we already know much about Captain Marvel’s importance in Infinity War 2. Kevin Feige and James Gunn have both confirmed that she will not only be the most powerful female character on the roster, but one of the most powerful characters that the MCU has ever seen. With a resume like that, it certainly sounds like she could fit the role of a game-changing character like Adam Warlock. It’s also telling that in his last few moments before being sadly disintegrated, Nick Fury’s first instinct was to immediately reach out to her, of all people.
Lastly, we feel Captain Marvel is a logical choice because of the character’s connection to the Kree-Skrull wars. While it’s unlikely that we’ll actually be seeing Thanos face off against the cosmic entities as he did in the comics, we do think it’s logical that we would see other factions in the universe try to oppose the Mad Titan. If you’re interested in other Marvel villains we might see on the big screen after Avengers 4, check out our list here:
Since the upcoming Captain Marvel film is set to take place in the 1990s, it could very well be that we get to see Carol Danvers make some deal with the Skrull that they need to “pay in the future.” It’d be cool to see the Skrull coming to the aid of Earth’s Mightiest Superheroes to acknowledge a deal they made with Captain Marvel decades ago. And it’d be cooler still if the Skrull afterward reneged on their deal, making for a smooth segue into the Secret Wars saga.
3. Soul World will come into play
Since Thanos has gained the elusive soul stone, it has remained the only stone about which we still know next to nothing. While we’ve witnessed other stones hypnotize, create wormholes, alter reality, and bend time, the unique powers of the soul stone remain a mystery.
Soul World was first alluded to in Jim Starlin’s Strange Tales 179, published in 1975. Closely tied to Adam Warlock, Soul World served as a kind of purgatory for the souls captured by Warlock, and acted almost as a “pocket dimension:” A realm housed within the soul stone itself. If time travel is not involved in Avengers 4, the most likely explanation for Thanos’ finger snap is not that those victims were killed per se, but “removed” – their consciousnesses transferred into the soul stone.
This brings us to our third candidate for a character to take on Adam Warlock’s role from the Infinity Gauntlet story arc – Dr. Strange. Seeing as we’ve established that the Infinity Stones do work on each other (Thanos uses the time stone to repair the broken mind stone), it would make sense that Dr. Strange saw himself in the Soul World along with the half of the universe that was imprisoned there.
Given his notorious ego, Strange may not have been referring to Tony Stark when he told him that “it had to be this way,” but rather to himself: The only way that the universe could come out on top was if the lives trapped within the soul stone were unified and assembled unbeknownst to Thanos.
Adam Warlock had a very close relationship with the soul stone, and was able to even live inside of it. He was also able to emerge from it when he needed to, which is how he was the one to wrest control of it from Nebula’s grasp. Dr. Strange seems the type to know his artifacts well enough. It would be awesome to see him and a bunch of other “dusted” superheroes emerge from the soul stone to take down Thanos when the time was right.
2. Characters killed by the gauntlet will be restored
In the comics, any and every character that was killed by the Infinity Gauntlet ended up being restored by Nebula. It wasn’t at her behest, however. Surprisingly enough, it was Thanos who pushed her to restore them; more as an act of guile and manipulation than any earnest desire to restore them.
While it was a refreshingly dark spectacle to see Marvel actually kill some of its cast of characters, does anyone really believe this is the last time we’ll be seeing some of these guys? They’ve already confirmed “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and rumors abound pertaining to a “Dr. Strange” sequel. After the record-breaking success of “Black Panther,” we’re sure to be seeing a return of King T’Challa as well. As such, this is one similarity to the Infinity Gauntlet comic you can count on making it to the big screen.
1. Captain America will face down Thanos by himself
The final allusion to the comics that we’ll be seeing comes down to Captain America. For the second time in his life, the First Avenger’s closest friends and allies have disappeared, this time before his very eyes. In Infinity Gauntlet, Captain America was one of the many heroes to take on Thanos on the titan’s own turf. He fought his damnedest while his brothers in arms heroically died in the line of duty around him until he was the last man standing. Despite Thanos’ cynical jeers, Captain America stood strong, delivering an stalwart speech about fighting the good fight and dying with dignity. It’s one of the most beautiful moments for his character.
Chris Evans’ portrayal of the star-spangled hero resonates perfectly with this aspect of Captain America’s character, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see this scene play out in the movie exactly as it did in the comics. It may also be Evans’ farewell to the character seeing as it’s the end of his contract with the studio. If it really has to happen, it’d be hard to have a more poignant sendoff.
We’ll be armed with tissues.
We hope this list has given you some insight as to what elements of the Infinity Gauntlet comics the MCU might try and incorporate into Infinity War 2, and look forward to seeing you in theaters come 2019!