Avengers: What Is the Infinity War?

Today, Marvel Studios made a lot of big announcements and, as always happens, a lot of them were just "Character Name" or "Character Name and Number," without a clear direction to indicate what the movie might be about.

That's in no small part because they introduced a bunch of new franchises, which is pretty exciting in and of itself. There's also the fact that whenever Marvel does provide such a title, fans immediately jump to the conclusion that they know how the film is going to play out. Typically, this leaves the less well-versed among our readers scratching their heads a bit.

So, we're going to take a look tonight at the three big stories that were title-dropped in the Phase Three slate of films, starting with Avengers: Infinity War.

First thing's first: it's likely that Avengers: Infinity War will not be a direct adaptation of Infinity War. There are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the prominent role played by numerous characters not owned by Marvel for the purposes of live action motion pictures. Sony has Spider-Man and his related characters, while Fox has the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises locked up. You can see that all four of the FF and Spider-Man appear on the cover above.

Also, Infinity War is a sequel, and without having done the first part of the story -- The Infinity Gauntlet -- it's hard to imagine that it would have the same punch. That suggests that the reason the film is broken up into two parts is to that they can restructure the narrative, presumably to pick and choose the best parts of both stories.

We'll start with the basics: The Infinity Gauntlet, as an object, exists in both the Marvel Comics and Marvel Cinematic universes. It is a literal gauntlet -- a metal glove -- that allows the bearer to harness the power of the Infinity Stones, items of massive power which were introduced onscreen in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Gauntlet was fashioned by Thanos, the grinning, purple guy seen in the post-credits sequence from Marvel's The Avengers and then again in Guardians. The idea was to harness the power of the Stones to allow the bearer of the Gauntlet to do literally whatever he wills. The Gauntlet is so powerful when all the Stones are attached that Thanos essentially becomes God, allowing him at one point to wipe out half of all live in the universe by snapping his fingers.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's only been seen once, and briefly. In Thor, there is a shot of the Gauntlet in a vault on Asgard. It appears intact, with most if not all of the Stones set in the Gauntlet, so one has to ask how it came to be there and how the Stones later were scattered to the wind. Perhaps that's a story for another movie, or perhaps the Gauntlet was originally just an Easter egg and not intended to be overthought.

The Infinity Gauntlet -- the story -- takes place when Thanos assembles the Gauntlet and sets about killing as many people as he can, because he is in love with (read: obsessed with) the physical manifestation of Death.

That she's...not that into him...is irrelevant to Thanos, as he's used to getting what he wants. To his credit, though (or maybe it's just a fetish?), he refuses to use the power of the Gauntlet to change her mind, preferring to win her over "honestly."

It's likely this element of the story will be changed for the films. It's difficult to pitch the "he's in love with the Grim Reaper" story to the uninitiated without them tuning out. That said, one could have said the same thing about Guardians of the Galaxy, so who knows.

The surviving heroes of the universe assemble under the banner of Adam Warlock, a character who hasn't yet been seen onscreen in the films but whose cocoon (he comes out of a cocoon, just roll with it) was seen in Thor: The Dark World and then again in Guardians of the Galaxy. At the end of that film, the cocoon was empty. Thanos allows them a "fighting chance" but turns them back easily using the power of the Gauntlet, killing more and more beings, moving eventually on to cosmic forces like the Celestials (a race of powerful, ancient giants also seen in Guardians) and Eternity.

Ultimately, he takes so much power into himself that he sublimates a physical form, becoming one with the universe...at which point the Gauntlet is left unprotected and is stolen by Nebula, Thanos's "least-favorite daughter," played by Karen Gillan in Guardians. Nebula used the power of the Gauntlet to betray Thanos, reversing the damage he'd done with it and also repairing her own mangled form.

It's worth noting that this development may have been very, very subtlely hinted at by Guardians of the Galaxy, where Nebula is given the option of allowing her "sister" Gamora to save her and chooses instead to chop her own hand off and take her chances falling out of the Dark Aster. So...she's got no left hand now, and the world's most powerful weapon just happens to slip over your left hand like a -- ahem -- glove.

The heroes get the Gauntlet back from Nebula, and Adam Warlock plans to hang onto it for himself. Thanos retreats, faking his death.

...and then comes The Infinity War.

Yeah. That was literally just the prequel to the story our film is being titled after. In all likelihood, the film will contain both, but The Infinity War makes a lot less sense without at least running down the events of Infinity Gauntlet.

In order to wield the Gauntlet without greed or ego, Adam Warlock expels good and evil from himself and becomes a being of "pure logic." Because that never goes wrong. The evil side of him takes a corporeal form (called The Magus, this is actually a manifestation of an old enemy of Warlocks' -- a future version of Warlock corrupted by power, who traveled to the past) and seeks out the Gauntlet once a jury of cosmic entities find that Warlock shouldn't be wielding it at all and split up the Stones. He builds an army of dark dopplegangers of Marvel's heroes. He successfully assembles the Gauntlet -- or so it seems. Thanos had secretly been made a guardian of one of the Stones, with a convincing fake being placed in the Gauntlet itself.

Ultimately, the cosmic beings who had judged Warlock "unworthy" to wield the completed Gauntlet decree that the Stones should be split up and never used in unison again, no matter the cause.

There was a third chapter -- Infinity Crusade -- which saw The Goddess, Warlock's "good side," using Infinity Stones and other artifacts to simulate the power of the Gauntlet in another fashion. Ultimately, Warlock and Thanos teamed up to defeat her, as well.

It seems most likely that the brunt of the story will deal with Infinity Gauntlet and, for whatever reason, used the title Infinity War.

In any event, the first half of the story will hit theaters in May 2018, while the second comes a year later, in May 2019. So far, nobody knows exactly what the story will be: Captain America: The Winter Soldier picked and chose elements of that story from the comics, as well as a number of other stories and some stuff they just made up. Avengers: Age of Ultron will not only not adapt Brian Michael Bendis's Age of Ultron miniseries but will play fast and loose with many of the concepts contained therein, including the origins of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Ultron and The Vision. We do know, from the teaser image produced at today's Los Angeles event, that Thanos will wield the completed Gauntlet at one point..but what he does with that power, and what form the story will take, is an open question.