What th-? Captain Comics does his best to explain 'Infinity War'

Andrew A. Smith

Tribune Content Agency

May 3, 2018 -- “Dear Captain Comics: I have watched Avengers: Infinity War, and now I’m scared, heartbroken and a little confused. Can you help me? Signed, Worried Avengers Fan”

No problem, WAF. Ask your questions!

Q: Has all this happened before in the comics?

A: Some of it. Thanos has rolled over the Avengers at least three times in search of ultimate power, twice in stories involving the Infinity Stones. This movie bears the closest resemblance to the third, Infinity Gauntlet.

For example, Captain America punches the Mad Titan in the snoot in Infinity War, which was pretty satisfying – but also familiar. He managed that trick in Infinity Gauntlet (1991), and did the same with Adolf Hitler on the cover of the first issue of Captain America Comics (1941). He’s got a knack for it, doesn’t he?

Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half the universe happened in the first issue of Infinity Gauntlet, although who got dusted differs between comics and movie. Nebula being kept cruelly in a state between life and death is an Infinity Gauntlet feature, as is someone crashing through Dr. Strange’s skylight to warn “Thanos is coming!” (In the comics it was the Silver Surfer, who was not available for Infinity War.) When Thanos turned Drax into blocks and Mantis into ribbons, that mirrored what he did to two other characters in Infinity Gauntlet. Oh, and “Farmer Thanos” looking out over his unpopulated planet, a faint smile on his face, also happens in Infinity Gauntlet.

There were plenty of other comics homages in Infinity War, such as Thor replicating Captain America’s rescue from the ice in Avengers #4 (1964), but the ones above are the biggest.

Q: So the fourth Avengers movie will adapt the rest of Infinity Gauntet?

A: Not possible. Many of the major players in Infinity Gauntlet – Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, Mephisto, a variety of cosmic beings – aren’t available for Avengers 4.

On the other hand, Infinity Gauntlet was a six-issue miniseries, with each issue running 48 pages. That’s a lot of material available to reference or adapt, even if it can’t be lifted directly. Nebula, for example, is a huge part of Thanos’ defeat in Infinity Gauntlet #6 – and guess which adopted daughter of the Mad Titan is still alive and hanging with Tony Stark at the end of Infinity War?

Photo: Film Frame. ©Marvel Studios 2018

Infinity War ends with Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Drax (Dave Bautista, not pictured) all turned to dust. That makes for a pretty unpopulated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Q: What the heck was that post-credits scene about?

A: It told us at least three important things:

  1. It reinforces that Thanos erased half of life across the universe, not just in Wakanda.
  2. It told us where Nick Fury and Maria Hill were during Thanos’ invasion. (OK, maybe that’s not for everyone, but I was curious.)
  3. The symbol on Fury’s beeper is that of Captain Marvel, who appears to be the cavalry for Avengers 4.

 Q: Captain who?

A:Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, a U.S. Air Force pilot and intelligence officer, who becomes Captain Marvel when a Kree weapon infuses her with alien DNA, resulting in major super-powers. We’ll see all that in Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, a Marvel movie coming March 8, 2019 – three months before Avengers 4. It’s set in the 1990s, so Infinity War is still in her future.

Q: Is that the only Marvel movie between now and Avengers 4?

A: Nope, Ant-Man and Wasp is coming July 6, 2018. That movie takes place before (and possibly during) the events of Infinity War, but the cast will apparently be dealing a lot with the “Quantum Realm” – a place “outside time and space,” and therefore outside the reach of Thanos’ Time and Space stones. That may very well factor into Avengers 4.

Marvel-adjacent films coming out between now and next summer are Deadpool 2, Venom and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Venom is by Sony Pictures, and the other two by Twentieth Century Fox, so they are not affected by Infinity War.

Q: So … are all those people really dead? *Sob!*

A: Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man all have sequels planned or on the schedule, so they are not remotely dead. At least not for good. Dry your eyes, and consider the following:

1) In Infinity Gauntlet, not only does Thanos kill half the universe with a snap of his fingers, he also kills the remaining Avengers one by one. But none of it sticks, because the Infinity Gauntlet can resurrect as easily as it kills – and at the end of Infinity Gauntlet, it’s not the Mad Titan that holds title to that nifty glove.

In other words, there’s comics precedent that everyone who was “dusted” in Infinity War has a “Get Out of Death Free” card.

Photo: Film Frame. ©Marvel Studios 2018

Is the romance between (from left) Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Lizzie Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) really closed by the grim reaper?

2) It’s pretty likely that Valkyrie and the Asgardians aren’t dead at all – or at least not completely.

The film opens with what looks like the Asgardian refugees completely massacred. But Thanos always murders half his victims, which Thor alludes to later when telling the Guardians that Thanos “killed half my people.” So half the Asgardians aren’t dead, including those passengers we didn’t see – like Valkyrie, Korg and Miek.

How this was done is suggested in a Facebook post by Mikey Sutton – Paper Cuts blogger, ComicBookMovie.com contributor and World’s Greatest Chloe Bennett Fan. Sutton, whose connections in the biz are second to none, says a deleted scene shows Thanos ordering half the Asgardians into escape pods. Since Tessa Thompson, the actress who plays Valkyrie, still has several more movies on her contract, her survival seems assured.

3) Dr. Strange looked at, like, a bajillion futures and found one, and only one, in which Thanos loses. And he’s the guy who handed over the Time Stone to Thanos, telling Stark “It’s the only way.” The only way what?

The only way to win, obviously. And he was the master of the Time Stone, with plenty of time before the battle to, oh, I dunno, put a spell on it or something, so that it does something Thanos doesn’t want it to.

Evidently, Avengers 4 will be all timey-wimey. That assumption is supported by set photos that show various scenes taking place in the past, and various Avengers in retro costumes.

The Infinity War trailers also showed Bucky Barnes (aka White Wolf), Black Panther, Black Widow, the Dora Milaje, the Hulk, Steve Rogers (aka Nomad), a Wakandan army and War Machine charging into battle. But in the movie, that scene never appeared – Bruce Banner was in the Hulkbuster armor, instead, because Hulk refused to emerge. Does it make sense that Marvel would spend money filming that scene with the Green Goliath just for the trailers? Or will that scene get re-played in Avengers 4, this time with a fighting-mad Hulk?

In short: One can expect that the Time Stone will take us back before everyone got dusted. That means we should see the a painless, plausible resurrection for Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Drax, Falcon, Nick Fury, Groot, Maria Hill, Mantis, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Star-Lord and White Wolf.

4) Things are less certain for those who died in other ways:

LOKI: After killing the trickster, Thanos said “there will be no resurrections this time.” On the other hand, the God of Mischief told Thor before dying, “The sun will shine on us again some day, brother.” Resurrection Odds: 50/50.

Photo: Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2018

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) told Thor (Chris Hemsworth, not pictured), “the sun will shine on us again some day, brother.” Thanos begs to disagree.

HEIMDALL: Would all those Asgardians come along for the ride? Seems unlikely. Odds: 10 percent.

VISION: If The Dusted are returned, the Android Avenger might be also, having been killed at much the same time. He’s an important character in the comics, less so in the movies – where his story with Scarlet Witch is only half told. Odds: 90 percent.

GAMORA: Her death was very convincing – there was even a body! – but I find it hard to believe she won’t be back in time for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Fortunately, there’s an established way out: When Thanos killed Gamora in the comics, Adam Warlock (whom you will meet in Guardians 3) sucked her soul into the “Soul World” in his Soul Gem, a plane of existence where souls can live on in peace and harmony after the deaths of their bodies. Later, Warlock implanted Gamora’s soul into a dying woman to serve as a vessel for Gamora’s resurrection.

And wouldn’t you know it? In Infinity War, Thanos visits a plane of existence with tangerine skies, and chats with a too-wise child version of Gamora. Since the Soul Stone is orange, that’s just what you’d expect Soul World to look like. The presence of Gamora’s soul all but guarantees her return. Odds: 99.9 percent.

Q: Whew! I feel better!

A: I knew that you would.

Find Captain Comics by email (capncomics@aol.com), on his website (captaincomics.ning.com), on Facebook (Captain Comics Round Table) or on Twitter (@Capncomics).

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Cap. I thought I picked up on the biggest hint of the end shenanigans but I'm not seeing much reference in the various 'how do they get out of that?' features...

I'm remembering Thanos vs Iron Man and Thanos 's (cryptic?) comment - "Stark! - You're not the only one burdoned by knowledge!" ( or similar) .

To me that sounded like Thanks  is aware someone-called-Stark will defeat him... ?

I was actually paying a lot more attention to the line, "I hope they will remember you." That sounded very much like a "Robert Downey Jr. is doomed in Avengers 4" kind of conversation. It would be so writerly for the MCU phases 1-3 to begin and end with Iron Man.

OTOH, Strange -- the only one who knows the "one way" to defeat Thanos -- made sure Stark stayed alive, even giving up the Time Stone to make sure of it. And I have no idea what "burdened with knowledge" means. So I hope you're right!

I dug out Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 from my closet. Maybe I'll do a review if that's all right.

As I said on the other thread, I finally saw the movie on DVD.

Fortunately, there’s an established way out: When Thanos killed Gamora in the comics, Adam Warlock (whom you will meet in Guardians 3) sucked her soul into the “Soul World” in his Soul Gem, a plane of existence where souls can live on in peace and harmony after the deaths of their bodies. Later, Warlock implanted Gamora’s soul into a dying woman to serve as a vessel for Gamora’s resurrection.

This reminds me of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The third Guardians movie could be dedicated to resurrecting Gamora. I enjoy Zoe Saldana's movie appearances, starting, for me, with Avatar.

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