Marvels Avengers: Infinity War is on the horizon, and with its advent records and (hopefully) expectations will be shattered. The culmination of ten years of franchise building, arc wielding, and the establishing of a multi-film myth arc coming together after an impressive and unprecedented eighteen films.
Despite the tremendous hype Marvel has done an excellent job keeping a lid on the overall details of the film. Thus far only showing only select scenes, advertising specific elements, doing a simultaneous worldwide release, and not even letting the cast read the entire script much less see the entire finished film. So naturally speculation has run wild about the secretive two-part mega event.
But while many of the theories wonder about the end game, who will die and potential cosmic retcons. The general structure of the films is often overlooked. Perhaps this is because its assumed that since Infinity War and Avengers Four are a two-part story that it will be standard part A part B affair akin to Harry Potter and Deathly Hollows part One and Two. But interestingly enough in regards to the films structure Infinity War co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely said ““Can’t have the second one without the first one. But our hope is that it’s breakfast, and then lunch.” McFeely“It does not feel like you hit pause, and then unpaused it. It is two very different [movies].” So its worth wondering “what changes between the films?”
So to address that its wise if we first look at what has come before. Partially by design, fortune and reworking of loose plot elements; Marvels first two phases work into a loose adaptation of the Cosmic Cube saga chronicled from Thanos’ first appearance (by way of flash back) in Ironman # 55 (1973) and Captain Marvel 25-33 . In the arc Thanos operated from a distance sending out agents (the Blood Brothers, Super Skrull, the Controller and various others) to help achieve his means (namely obtaining the Cosmic Cube), until he had to become involved directly. The films play out similarly with Thanos using Loki and the Chitauri to attempt in gaining the Tesseract (the cinematic universe version of the Cosmic Cube). Then sending Nebula, Gamora , Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer to try to gain the Power stone to frustrating results. After this series of failures and betrayals Thanos decides to take direct and decisive action at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultorn setting the events of Infinity War directly into gear with the after credits scene of Thor: Ragnarok.
Which takes us to Infinity War the first of the two-part arc (with a yet unnamed sequel) Superhero crossover epic. So far whats known is that Thanos is shown with two stones, the Space Stone derived Tesseract last held by Loki and the Power Stone previously shown stored on Xandar. The Trailers also show a detained Dr Strange who holds the Time Stone in the Eye of Agamotto and Vision seemingly having the Mind Stone removed. Aside from these, Thanos or someone in his service would have to retrieve the Reality stone from the Collector (the same character who held the Reality Gem in the comics incidentally) who still holds the Aether having been given it for safe keeping after the events of Thor: the Dark world. Not to mention the still unaccounted for Soul Stone.
It’s actually interesting that they have gotten right up to the film proper with Thanos having so few Stones. Really the one he had the mind stone he lost with Loki’s capture in the first Avengers. This gets particularly interesting when considering Co-Director Anthony Russo described Infinity War as a heist –
“We’ve shaped an interesting narrative around him that in some ways leans heavily on a heist film in the fact that he’s going after the infinity stones in a much bolder, successful way than he has in the past. The entire movie has that energy of the bad guy being one step ahead of the heroes. We looked at a lot of movies that had that heist-style energy to them, [and] that brought some inspiration.”
It’s also interesting given that Thanos has been refereed to as the main character of Infinity War on several occasions particularly by co-writer Stephen McFeely
” You can kind of say this is Thanos’ origin story so that he will get the weight of any of the previous heroes in terms of the decisions he has to make in order to get what he wants.”
And a bit more directly President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige said-
“Thanos in Infinity War is, you know, in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say he is the main character, and that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called Infinity War.”
Taking all of this into account it seems highly plausible that Infinity War is not the loose adaptation of Infinity Gauntlet as has been assumed. But rather a loose adaptation of The Thanos Quest. The Thanos Quest was two-part 1990 limited series that set up the events of the Infinity Gauntlet (along with the events in Silver Surfer).
The Thanos Quest follows Thanos as he goes about gathering the Infinity Gems (Stones in the films) in order to complete the task of killing half the universe to appease Death. To do this he challenges, in various ways, the holders of the six Soul Gems which he renames the Infinity Gems. The story is as much a personal story about who Thanos is and what he wants (a theme which continues in The Infinity Gauntlet) as it is about cosmic battles and mind games.
If Infinity War follows suit it could allow the story to build a massive sense of the stakes and scale by having Thanos inch closer and closer to his goal before completing the Gauntlet near the end of the film. As well as showing off just what Thanos is capable of without it, which he is in need of having operated behind the scenes (pretty much entirely from his “space throne“) for the better part of a decade.
Being that the film is going to include scenes of Thanos childhood and past with a young Gamora it’s not a stretch that his motivations will be well explored and that the film is going to try to do justice to the complex character Jim Starlin crafted over 30 years. Indeed Starlin himself has praised what he has seen “I want to tell all you Thanos fans out there, without giving anything away, you’re not going to be disappointed, far from it.”
It would make sense for the film to manage developing Thanos motivations and showing his past alongside detailing his quest to gain the Stones thus giving more weight and understanding to why he is the way he is and why he doing what he is doing, as well as managing the monumental task of bringing together heroes and even supporting cast members of some eighteen films. Taking everything into account the comments about the film being a “heist” Thanos still needing to gather the entirety of the Stones at the beginning of the film, the reality stone being held by same person as in the comics (minor but amusing), the fact the story will focus on Thanos past and motivations as much as any of the established characters it sounds far more like the Thanos Quest than the infinity Gauntlet. In fact it sounds almost nothing like the Infinity Gauntlet at all being that story starts with Thanos having a complete Gauntlet. Which would possibly make sense of the comments about how different the two parts are.
Given that the trailers alone have twice referenced the iconic finger snap moment of The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, it begs the question are they building to the iconic moment? It would be almost odd to mention it twice. Once would be a reference twice almost seems like they are trying to make clear what a future action will be. Completing the Gauntlet then having Thanos recreate that scene ending the film on the snap would be one heck of a cliff hanger.
This would leave Avengers Four sometimes called “Infinity War part Two” as something more of an adaptation of the Infinity Gauntlet. Kevin Feige has said that the yet unannounced title of the second part would be a spoiler. While maybe a little too obvious The Infinity Gauntlet would be the most natural title given the source material of the general arc. But since Feige says it would be a spoiler to reveal the title and they used the title of the Infinity Gauntlets sequel for the first part (that is to say Infinity War) and from all reasonable appearances it seems Thanos will be spending this “heist film” gathering the Stones it would be no great stretch of the imagination to surmise that its going to be in the second film, the fourth Avengers When when the Marvel heroes face off against Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet proper.
Granted its conjecture based on a secretive film comparing the known facts to the comic stories, in a film series that doesn’t usually bother adapting specific stories. No real proof ” only a theory which happens to fit the facts.” but then again the Russos are comic fans and have thus far loosely based their stories on established stories. “We also look into the comics themselves for ideas. We may end up doing a different iteration, but a lot of the ideas are sourced from the comics. “