The freshly released Avengers: Infinity War trailer sets up an ominous and iconic moment from Marvel Comics' Infinity Gauntlet storyline, where Mad Titan Thanos comes to possess the combined abilities of all six immeasurably powerful Infinity Stones — powers he uses to wipe out half of all life in the universe with a single snap of his fingers.
"The entire time I knew him, he only ever had one goal," Gamora warns of her adopted father's blood lust. "To wipe out half the universe."
"If he gets all the Infinity Stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers." She demonstrates. "Just like that."
In the Comics...
Avengers: Infinity War is inspired in part by the 1991 six-issue Infinity Gauntlet limited series, which saw Thanos come to possess and wield the powers of all six Infinity Stones.
The demon Mephisto served as his acolyte, who told the now godlike Thanos within his purple-fisted grasp "rests the infinite."
"None shall deny me my righteous place in the pantheon of the cosmic gods," Thanos declared, effortlessly crafting ruin with the simple wave of a wand. "I claim a seat at the head of the table."prevnext
Warning of a Great Danger
In New York City, the cosmic-powered Silver Surfer crashes into the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme.
Dazed and terrified, the weakened Surfer comes bearing an ominous warning: "His arrival... could herald... the end of the universe... THANOS is coming!"
Infinity War adapts this moment, right down to fellow sorcerer Wong being present — but in the movie, it's a dazed and defeated Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, who comes smashing into Strange's domicile.prevnext
Thanos had been personally resurrected by a personified Death to do her vile bidding.
"I know, you thought him dead. He was, but he is no longer," the Silver Surfer tells Doctor Strange. "How could any of us know that Mistress Death would resurrect this monster? Apparently Death has long thought the fact that there are more people alive today than have ever died was a type of cosmic imbalance."
"This was an irregularity she sought to right using the dark powers at her disposal. And so she made the tragic mistake of retrieving Thanos, the Mad Titan, from the realm of the dead," Surfer says of Thanos' fatal mission. "Through him, Death would mold the universe to her liking. Along with renewed life, Death gave him greatly augmented power. Thanos would need this might to perform the dark task his mistress assigned him."
"Death has ordered Thanos to slaughter half the sentient population of the universe!"
Official Infinity War character bios describe Thanos as a "cunning, intelligent, and fierce warlord," who is a "ruthless cosmic threat consumed with saving the universe from itself."
You may have noticed actor Josh Brolin's booming voice promising talk of "balancing the universe," but it's a mission movie Thanos seemingly undertakes of his own accord.prevnext
Thanos Reigns Supreme
Back in space, Thanos muses about his newfound power.
"I am now omnipotent," Thanos tells him. "What should I do with such almighty power?"
"The answer to that is really quite simple," he says. "Anything I want."
"There is nothing I need worry on, for I am Thanos. And Thanos is supreme."
As the Surfer tells it, Thanos was too arrogant to be anyone's thrall, and schemed to wield the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet laced with a complete set of Infinity Stones: stones of the soul, the mind, power, time, reality and space.
"Not even Death realized what limitless might the Mad Titan was striving for. Through cunning, sheer strength, and murder, Thanos wrested the Infinity Gems from those that possessed them," Surfer says, telling of Thanos' growing mastery over each cosmic power with each new acquisition.
Thanos had been granted the powers of a god. And he touted himself as one.
"He is all and all there is is now his to command," Surfer says. "Thanos is now mightier than Death herself. More powerful than any force in the universe."prevnext
"Even Ultimate Power Does Not Make You The Master of All You Survey..."
Silver Surfer recalls confronting Thanos alongside the Destroyer, but their mission proved to be a fatal miscalculation.
A laughing Thanos effortlessly defeated the mighty cosmic duo, using the power of the Soul Gem to steal their spiritual essence. Silver Surfer and the Destroyer found themselves within the metaphysical world of the Soul Gem, described by Surfer as the most bizarre place he's ever encountered.
"It was there that I met a strange and enigmatic man called Adam Warlock, apparently the spiritual leader of the Soulworld," he says.
Returned to reality, the Silver Surfer set off towards Earth to warn its greatest heroes of the universe's impending doom.
Off world, Thanos visited his lover, Mistress Death, seeking her forgiveness for his "duplicity" in gaining the Infinity Gems -- which is what they were named at the time.prevnext
"I Be Now a Deity, Yet First I Was a Man"
A wordless Death turns her back to Thanos. Her scorn wounds him deeply, Thanos admits, while Mephisto thinks to himself of his unpredictable overlord: "Will his fragile heart be his undoing?"
One of Death's loyalists tells Thanos his love is bondage, to which Thanos vehemently disagrees. "My love is worship!"
"The Mistress of the Hall of Death has no need for sycophants."
"NO!" Thanos yells. "You are wrong! Death should be revered! Shrines should be built to her!"
A dangerous gleam glows in his eyes. With that, a sprawling shrine in Death's honor forms before them.
Thanos offers Death the universe on a silver platter.
"In the depths of eternal night you and I are queen and king! Our domain be all the universe! From these thrones we shall decide the fate of a million solar systems and all that inhabit them! From this vantage point tomorrow shall be designed! As a token of my heartfelt esteem, Mistress Death, I give thee all that is!"
She stares him down and refuses his outstretched hand.
"Still she spurns me?!"prevnext
"Mistress Death is a dark spirit, ebon in her ways," Mephisto tells Thanos, a literal devil on his shoulder. "Her mate must be of a like bent. Are you up to such a challenge?"
"What have I done to deserve such rejection?" Thanos asks.
Mephisto has his answer.prevnext
"He's Really Going to Do It."
"Perhaps it is what you haven't done that riles the maiden," Mephisto says.
"My love bade me to extinguish the light of half the universe's populace," he says. "It is a task I have yet to complete. How inconsiderate of me. My behavior has been inexcusable. No wonder you have been angry with me. A lover should always follow through on a vow given."
Without another word, Thanos steps to the edge of the universe.
He raises his left hand towards the sky.
Mephisto can only watch. "He's really going to do it."prevnext
Thanos' gloved hand snaps. A white flash.
In New York, Spider-Man swings overhead when he experiences what feels like a wave of vertigo. He stops above Times Square and looks down — only to see a tightly packed crowd become decimated and halved with the blink of an eye.
At Avengers Headquarters, Captain America can only stand by helplessly and watch as Avengers Hawkeye and Sersi disappear.
The phenomenon happens across the world, and is indiscriminate: babies disappear, people across the world go poof with a blink, even half of all animal life on the planet has mysteriously vanished.
At the Sanctum Sanctorum, Wong is the next to disappear.prevnext
From Bad to Worse
"They're all DYING!" Silver Surfer cries. "Billions upon billions of souls are blinking out of existence!"
Strange is confused.
"Not a one knew what struck them. Horrible!" Surfer exclaims.
"I could taste their dread and confusion! They are with... and part of death now. Just too much... to bear... to much..." He collapses.prevnext
Setting Things Right
"All is right in the Heavens for Thanos possess the six Infinity Gems," Thanos says.
"The universe will now be set right. Made over to fit my unique view of what should be. Let nihilism reign supreme!"
"Ultimate power is now mine and I shall reshape the universe with it," Thanos warns as his complete Infinity Gauntlet glows. "Nothing must interfere with this holy mission."
With half the universe wiped out, it's up to Earth's mightiest heroes — and every sympathetic cosmic being they can assemble — to unite and thwart Thanos' plans as he aims to enforce his maniacal rule on a devastated universe.4comments
It remains to be seen if Gamora's snap will prove to be prophetic foreshadowing — forcing the heroes of the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe to live up to their name and avenge.
Avengers: Infinity War opens April 27th.prev