It’s not really a spoiler anymore, seeing as how the mid-credits sting on The Avengers doesn’t give any of that film’s plot away. It sets things up for a sequel, but by the time the sequel comes out, the revelation in the sting will be common knowledge. Heck, it pretty much is already. So, with that in mind, I’m going to call “spoilers” right now.
If you’re still here, I’m going to talk about Thanos and, more specifically, The Infinity Gauntlet, the storyline that all fans assume Avengers 2 will be based on. While Marvel has yet to confirm it, dropping Thanos in at the end of Avengers was a pretty big hint, and their future films seem to lay the groundwork for a variation on the storyline. Guardians of the Galaxy will introduce Adam Warlock, a major player in The Infinity Gauntlet, and rumors of a backroom character swap between 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios point to Marvel getting the use of Silver Surfer and Galactus (licensed to Fox through their Fantastic Four deal) in exchange for granting Fox an extension on Daredevil (though since then those rumors have been debunked).
Infinity Gauntlet, published in 1991, was a six-issue limited series (with two sequels, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade), by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Perez and Ron Lim. The story finds the villain Thanos in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, a glove adorned with six “infinity gems” that grant its wearer power over the entire universe. Thanos, romantically obsessed with a personified Death, uses the gauntlet as a show of love by causing mass deaths and disappearances. This attracts the attention of the heroes of the Marvel Universe (thanks to Silver Surfer), and a plan is enacted by Adam Warlock to wrest the gauntlet away from Thanos for good.
Just as a film critic can’t see every movie, a comic fan can’t read every comic, and somehow Infinity Gauntlet had escaped me all of these years. Now, with Avengers 2 falling into place (Whedon’s return is official), the time was right for me to dig into the classic Jim Starlin miniseries and see what was in store for Marvel’s big-screen plans. What I found was a fun story that in no way will make it to the big screen intact. If Marvel really does plan on bringing Infinity Gauntlet to theaters, there’s a lot of screenwriting work ahead. This really is a story that assumes you keep up with the cosmic corners of the Marvel U, and fans should know in advance that much of it will be cut and streamlined to make sense. Marvel Studios’ priority is making the best film possible, which means a lot of Infinity Gauntlet will simply have to go.
Here are five things that probably won’t make the cut.
Mephisto Sides With Thanos
Gauntlet starts with Mephisto, Marvel’s version of the Devil, bowing to Thanos in fealty, and attempting to dazzle him with a sculpture that declares Thanos a god. Through most of the comic, Mephisto acts as sort of a sniveling butt-kisser, but it’s all a ruse, and like any good Devil, Mephisto is just trying to lull Thanos into a false sense of security to nab the Gauntlet for himself. The problem is that Mephisto is licensed to Sony through the Ghost Rider property (and was played on film by Peter Fonda), so any chance of Mephisto being in Avengers 2 means more character exchange deals would have to be made (or Sony gives up Ghost Rider, which they may do following two sub-par films).
The good news is that you could cut Mephisto from the storyline with ease, and replace him with Thanos’s nameless Major Domo who appeared already in Avengers.
Dr. Doom Sides with Our Heroes
The one villain who most noticeably sides with the heroes is Marvel’s biggest baddie of all time, Dr. Doom. Doom’s intelligence and power are needed in the fight against Thanos, but many of the Avengers have a hard time learning to trust the despot, and with good reason. At one pivotal moment in the battle, Doom seeks to retrieve the gauntlet for himself and is fried to a crisp by Thanos. Much like Mephisto, Doom is tied up with a different license, in this case Fantastic Four. Maybe he’ll be part of a trade-off deal, but he’s a much easier character to write out than Silver Surfer, if push comes to shove.
Eric Masterson Is Thor
Thor isn’t Thor in Infinity Gauntlet. Well, he sort of is, but he’s Eric Masterson, a human architect hand-picked by Thor to be his successor on Earth. His powers are basically the same as Thor’s, but if he’s separated from the enchanted hammer Mjolnir for more than 30 seconds, he reverts back to his human form. Masterson’s self-doubt is a part of the storyline, and he doesn’t want to tip his hand to anyone that he’s not the Thor that the Avengers know. I’d bet Masterson is skipped entirely for the Thor we’re already familiar with. It may take some of the flavor away, but it’s just too messy to try and work Masterson in, especially when we already have a cinematic Thor.
The Weird Rebirth of Warlock, Pip and Gamora
By far the strangest part of Infinity Gauntlet, in a tale filled with strange things, is the story of the resurrection of Pip the Troll, Adam Warlock, and Thanos’s adopted daughter Gamora. Three unassuming drunks leave a bar in upstate New York, drive their car off of a cliff, and are resurrected slowly as three of Marvel’s cosmic heroes. Starlin used this as a means to bring a few “dead’ characters back to life quickly, but it’s an incredibly weird way to do so. If the characters are used in Avengers 2, Warlock and Gamora should carry over just fine from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, with no reason to have them reincarnate from a couple of schlubs. I doubt Pip the Troll is even used at all.
Intelligent Hulk and Wolverine Are Given the OK to Kill Thanos
Warlock takes Hulk and Wolverine aside and lets them know that no matter what the Avengers say, they have his explicit permission to kill Thanos should they get the chance. Wolverine is just not going to be in Avengers 2, so however they adapt this, he’s out. Hulk is a maybe, but the Hulk depicted in Infinity Gauntlet was during a time in the early '90s when Banner was at peace with his psyche and was a “whole” Hulk, with the monster’s strength and the doctor’s intellect. If the Hulk is used in Avengers 2, expect the same savage brute we’re accustomed to. Would Warlock be able to give this uncontrollable monster the same type of hush-hush command?
There are a few other things I’m not sure how they’re going to tackle. Dr. Strange plays a big role, and this would seem like the perfect place to introduce him, if they're adapting Infinity Gauntlet. They can always spin him off from here. And what about the villain Nebula? Thanos’s bitter rival Nebula starts the story in a barely living, dessicated state, so that Thanos can torture and punish her. She’s restored partway through Gauntlet and turns the tables on Thanos in such a major way that the final battle is more about her than it is Thanos. Can Avengers 2 establish her as a character, so that her part of Infinity Gauntlet remains intact, or will she have to be cut and another previously established character given Nebula’s role in the proceedings?
There’s no telling how faithful Marvel will be, or if they’ll rewrite the story of the Gauntlet from the ground up. We’ll know more as Avengers 2 approaches. What would you like to see The Avengers 2 be about?