Nothing. Nada. Zip. Less than zero. That’s how much the assembled cast and crew of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame can tell us about their new movie, the final instalment of a story 22 movies and 11 franchises in the making. We’ve grilled the actors. We’ve quizzed the directors. We’ve scoured the trailers. We’ve been on a quest far and wide for information, further even than the quest to unite the Infinity Stones, but we’ve still come up empty-handed. All we’ve learned is a questionable theory involving Ant-Man and Thanos’s butt that can’t be repeated in polite conversation.
Maybe, then, we should buff up our very own Time Stone and travel all the way back to 1991, when Robert Downey Jr was the fresh-faced young star of Air America, Chris Hemsworth was a seven-year-old schoolkid in Melbourne and Captain America was played by some guy named Matt Salinger.
More importantly, the six-issue limited comic-book series The Infinity Gauntlet had just hit shelves, in which the Mad Titan Thanos finally achieved his dream of assembling all six of the Infinity Gems, as they’re called in print, wiping out half of the universe with a click of his fingers. It’s a great read, and remains the cornerstone of the modern MCU in many ways. So, what can this critically acclaimed series tell us about the endgame of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Before we begin, you should know that the Infinity Gauntlet comic-book is wildly different from the storyline of the Marvel movies – and so any plot ‘spoilers’ should be taken with a pinch of salt. For example, the cast of characters in the comic-book is gigantic and spans the entire Marvel universe, including the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and, er, the Devil. The tone is also significantly more outlandish. For example, in the movies, Thanos claims to be bringing balance to the universe for the greater good, sort of like an intergalactic ombudsman, but in the comics, Thanos wields ultimate power in order to impress the Grim Reaper, Lady Death – weird flex, but okay. You should also know that when Death spurns his advances, Thanos eventually creates himself a girlfriend with big boobs. Do not expect to see this in Avengers: Endgame.
However, there are commonalities between the MCU and the comic-book original, and with a bit of creative thinking, one can draw some logical conclusions about how Endgame might play out. We dive in, with a little input from Fandom’s MCU community weighing in with their thoughts on what they think we could see on screen from the comics.
THANOS COULD BE HIS OWN WORST ENEMY
The Mad Titan does wield ultimate power, yes. But it is entirely possible he’ll be the cause of his own downfall. In the comic, Thanos could wipe out all of his enemies with a simple click of his fingers, but he forgoes this option to fight them on the level in order to show Death he is worthy of her love – in other words, he gifts the heroes a chance he never had to. He says it himself: “Pride: my one fatal flaw.”
In the fourth issue, Adam Warlock – a character who has yet to appear in the MCU – gets all introspective and claims to know Thanos’s true weakness from his time spent within the Soul Stone: the reason he loses ultimate power is because “deep in his soul he knows he is not worthy of it”. In other words, Thanos subconsciously supplies the means to his own defeat.
Read into this what you will. We know that the MCU’s Thanos has a planet-sized ego, and he considers Earth’s mightiest heroes to be mere insects – he doesn’t need to engage in combat with them, he could destroy them with no more than a thought. Yet we’ve already seen him fighting on their level to prove his superiority. More interesting is the concept that Thanos secretly knows he does not deserve the Infinity Stones. Some fan theories suggest that the final scene in Infinity War featuring Gamora as a child was set inside the Soul Stone – don’t bet against her reappearing somehow with key insights into Thanos’s true nature. Remember the tears he shed for killing his own daughter? Expect to see that weakness exposed tenfold.
MCU community member Chasemarc thinks we could even see Gamora reveal her true identity, bringing in a crucial element of the comics. They believe we’ll find out “that the ‘little Gamora’ in the Soul stone is really Death”. Interesting.
NEBULA MIGHT BE THE KEY
In the movies, Nebula is strong, capable and out for revenge. In The Infinity Gauntlet comic, however, she is basically a zombie – grotesquely scarred and half-dead, kept not-quite-alive by Thanos for cruel entertainment. However, it is she who ultimately wrestles the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’s wrist, capitalising on the moment when the villain becomes omnipotent and forgoes his corporeal form. Tsk tsk, Thanos – zombies always come back to surprise you. Haven’t you ever seen an episode of The Walking Dead?
Community member Httyd reckons we’ll see a reference to this in the film, with “Nebula saying ‘I wish I had the Gauntlet’ or something similar to that as a nod to when she had undone Thanos’ snap.”
Devgana, meanwhile, thinks we could actually see “Nebula getting the gauntlet and killing Thanos”, before shooting this theory down in favour of Captain Marvel or the “Holy Trinity” (Thor, Iron Man and Captain America) doing the honours instead.
With this in mind, it’s entirely possible that Nebula will be the key to defeating Thanos in Avengers: Endgame. Although there’s no shortage of candidates for heroes willing to step up to the plate and undo his handiwork (E-124 Poldedge reckons it’ll be “Iron Man wielding the Infinity Gauntlet”), Nebula is perfectly positioned to be the one to end Thanos’s reign. He’s beaten her, mutilated her, defeated her, and thinks of her as nothing more than a pathetic plaything. Could it be that he thinks so little of Nebula, his ego won’t even allow him to consider her a potential usurper?
Karen Gillan, like all Avengers cast members, has kept schtum during interviews and won’t divulge what her role in Endgame entails, but she did say that filming Avengers: Endgame was an “incredibly satisfying” experience. Odds on the girl in the blue being the one to stitch up her daddy? History says she’ll definitely have an important part to play.
CAP WILL FIGHT TO THE END
We all feel it in our bones: our precious Captain America is not long for this world. Something about the way Chris Evans has been positioned front and centre for Avengers: Endgame suggests that Cap is gearing up to make the ultimate sacrifice. And then, of course, there’s the fact his contract with Marvel ends with this movie. Prepare the sad gifs and begin the memorial beard-growing process.
“I only want Cap say in the last battle ‘Avengers assemble’, and if Cap dies I want Tony’s speech like in the comic.” — Lorenzo Scandone
There is precedence for Captain America putting his life on the line: he does the exact same thing in The Infinity Gauntlet. Comic Cap squares up to Thanos as the last man standing between the Mad Titan and total victory. His veins may be thick with super serum, but he remains a man, fixing to fight a god. The exchange goes like this:
Cap: “As long as one man stands against you, Thanos, you’ll never be able to claim victory.”
Thanos: “Noble sentiments from one who is about to die.”
Cap: “I’ve lived my life by those sentiments. They’re well worth dying for.”
“The scene in Infinity Gauntlet where Captain America tells Thanos so long as one man stands up to him he’ll never be able to claim victory. It would be a true shame if that moment never makes it into the MCU. Chris Evans and Josh Brolin saying the whole sequence word for word would by my dream.” — Blizzard1289
Tell me you can’t see that scene playing out word for word in Avengers: Endgame? It’s extremely on brand for the MCU Captain America. Hell, we’ve already seen in the trailers that Rogers, bruised, blackened and beaten, still manages to pull himself to his feet, straps on his shield and goes one final round with Thanos. He can do this all day. But before he bows out, of course, there are some fans, like Joham Mejía, who want to see Cap wield Thor’s hammer, just like he did in the comics: “Now that he’s clean about Bucky killing Tony’s parents, he’s worthy.”
Imagine Cap smashing Mjolnir down on Thanos’s skull. Crowdpleasing is an understatement.
COULD THE MCU GO TRULY COSMIC?
The entirety of Endgame and Infinity War take place over only one of the six Infinity Gauntlet comics – the Avengers’ battles with Thanos are over by issue #4. The remaining issues see Thanos battle omnipotent cosmic entities: characters like Kronos the God of Time; floating heads, Master Order and Lord Chaos; and Eternity, the manifestation of the universe, billed as “the actual embodiment of all that is”. It’s a little bananas, but honestly no less camp than a bunch of superheroes wearing tights, and you have to doff your cap to a comic-book willing to illustrate such lofty ambitions.
Avengers: Endgame won’t draw from this well – there’s no way in hell the MCU can conceptualise Galactus the planet-eater, or Mistress Love and Master Hate – but don’t discount a few nods towards the galaxy’s more colourful characters.
“The Cosmic Entities (Eternity, Living Tribunal, Stranger, etc.) [will] all appear, likely to stop Thanos — could be swapped with the Eternals.” — Bennyhef234
In actual fact, we’ve already had tasters of several of the astral deities seen in The Infinity Gauntlet, via the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. The 2014 original showed us Knowhere, a city built in the skull of an ancient Celestial, while the sequel gave us a glimpse of the Watchers in a Stan Lee cameo, plus a post-credits scene that teases the arrival of man-god Adam Warlock, who pretty much wears the captain’s armband throughout the Infinity Gauntlet comic-book series.
Then there’s the fact that Marvel Studios are already working on a movie based on the Eternals, a group of other-worldly beings who are described as “an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth”. Heavy. Endgame will be an Avengers showcase first and foremost, so maybe you’ll see some of these guys in a post-credits sequence.
It’s debatable how much of this is accurate, and it’s obvious that, to date, Marvel Studios have been using the comic-book storylines as jumping off points rather than strict guardrails – don’t be surprised if none of the above story developments play out as predicted. Ultimately, The Infinity Gauntlet is far more suited to the page – Avengers: Endgame has its own cinematic style and tone, and it’ll likely be a hugely satisfying ending to the first grand narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As long as the theory about Ant-Man and Thanos’s butt doesn’t turn out to be true, we’ll be happy whatever the outcome.
Avengers: Endgame hits screens in the UK on April 25 and the US on April 26.