This article contains things we’ve gleaned from comics about Avengers: Infinity War, and spoilers for Marvel movies to date.
In its latest round of phase three announcements, Marvel confirmed the title of the third Avengers movie: Infinity War. Split into two films, the title makes it clear that the Marvel cinematic universe is heading towards exactly the place most people have expected since the first Avengers stinger introduced Thanos: an adaptation (of sorts) of Marvel’s celebrated cosmic crossover, The Infinity Gauntlet.
But what does that actually mean in the context of the Marvel cinematic universe? Let’s take a look.
It’s likely that the ‘war’ here refers to a battle between several factions trying to recover the Infinity Stones. The stones – also called Infinity Gems – are objects of immense power which, when united, grant the user absolute omnipotence. In the original Infinity Gauntlet story, this feat was accomplished by Thanos, who mounted the stones on his glove creating an artifact known as the Infinity Gauntlet. It took the assembled might of all of Earth’s heroes to stop him, and that’s in a universe that also has the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.
It’s certain that Thanos will be a major player in the titular Infinity War, but he’s unlikely to be the only one trying to get his hands on the stones. The Collector (as seen in Guardians Of The Galaxy) is already trying to complete the set, and is closer than most: he currently has the Aether, which was (perhaps unwisely) given to him following the events of Thor: The Dark World.
We can’t imagine the Avengers being happy with either Thanos or the Collector getting the gems, so that creates another faction chasing them, and there could be room for yet more: the Nova Corps, the Guardians Of The Galaxy, the Asgardians, Hydra and Loki have all got (or had) one of the stones. Marvel is planning two movies.
The stones themselves are little more than plot macguffins in a very direct sense, giving the user vague power sets over concepts like time, space, and power. But that vagueness hasn’t stopped them showing up several Marvel cinematic universe narratives. There are six infinity gems in total, and so far the MCU has introduced four: The Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger, Loki’s Gem in The Avengers (recently confirmed by Marvel’s Kevin Feige to be an Infinity Stone), The Aether in Thor: The Dark World and The Orb (pictured above) in Guardians Of The Galaxy.
So in the run up to Avengers: Infinity War, we’ll probably see the stones re-emerge, and the final two will presumably be introduced.
It’s unlikely that Avengers: Age Of Ultron will introduce a new one, but you can bet Loki’s Staff (pictured above) will show up in it. The stinger from Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows that it’s currently being held by Hydra, and suggests that it’s connected to Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. While we’ve got a few months to go before we find out where it ends up after the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, it’s likely to be on Earth, and may even be in the hands of an Avenger. Either way, that’s going to provide a strong impetus for the ‘Infinity War’ to come to our planet.
As for the new gems, we can probably rule out Ant-Man as containing one, and thematically speaking it’d be hard to shoehorn a new one into Captain America: Civil War. Thor: Ragnarok could contain one, but it’s more likely that we’ll see the Tesseract and/or Aether reappear, since one’s in Odin’s vault and the other was introduced in the last Thor film.
Prime candidates for new stone introductions include Doctor Strange – because he already spends more time hanging around mystical gems than most – and Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, because if anyone needs a gem retrieved, they’ve already got the credentials to do it. It’s even possible that Black Panther could introduce one – his home country of Wakanda is famed for its strange metal, Vibranium, and it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for an infinity stone to be the source of that.
This does assume that all six stones will be introduced prior to Avengers: Infinity War, of course, which might not be the case. They could easily be introduced during it, and given that Captain Marvel and Inhumans are two space-faring properties sandwiched between the release of the two halves of Avengers: Infinity War, we wouldn’t rule out seeing a gem or two in those.
The speculation for the rest of the film is part wishful-thinking, part-extrapolation. Thanos and his agents are sure to come to Earth, which will probably mean the Nova Corps and definitely the Guardians turn up too. It’s even possible that we’ll see Marvel’s television characters joining in the fun. By the time Infinity War is ready, Marvel Television should have established Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. If they haven’t shown up in the movies by then, that would be the perfect place to do it.
It’s also worth remembering that Avengers: Infinity War represents the end of a contract for most of the original phase one cast. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr to Samuel L. Jackson will be free agents, and that means it’s either time to kill off some big names or recast them entirely – which in some cases, might be a worse fate. We’re sure Marvel’s got at least some vague plans in mind for leaping that hurdle – but Avengers: Infinity Warcould be a last hurrah for more than one of its bigger names. How that manifests in story terms will be interesting to find out.
Still, we’ll have to wait until the distant space year of 2019 to find out what the Marvel cinematic universe looks like once the dust has settled – assuming there’s one left at all. After all, that Infinity Gauntlet – pictured above – is pretty powerful…