The trailer for “Avengers: Infinity War,” the first tease of the epic battle bringing together nearly every hero the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been developing since releasing “Iron Man” in 2008, dropped this week. The film, slated to hit theaters May 2018, is set to follow the Avengers, which is currently broken up and scattered after the disastrous results of “Captain America: Civil War,” as it reunites to fight Thanos. An already powerful villain, Thanos is a titan dedicated to searching for the five Infinity Stones: Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality and Power. When the stones are combined on the Infinity Gauntlet, the user is granted omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. A big three, honestly.
At the moment in the MCU, the Mind Stone powers the Vision, the Time Stone grants Dr. Strange the ability to manipulate it in the form of the relic the Eye of Agamotto, the Space Stone is inside the Tesseract Loki used to try to destroy Earth in the first Avengers film, the Reality Stone was given to the Collector at the end of “Thor: The Dark World” and the Power Stone is in the hands of the Nova Corps after the Guardians of the Galaxy defeated a henchman of Thanos to retrieve it. The final stone, the Soul Stone, has yet to make an appearance in any film.
In the comics, Thanos is driven by his desire to woo the cosmic entity Mistress Death, believing that collecting the Infinity Stones (referred to as Infinity Gems in the comics) will impress her and win Thanos her affections. His success in this pursuit results in the deaths of half the sentient life in the entire universe with a literal snap of his fingers. Eventually, Thanos moves on to the imprisonment of the Marvel Universe’s cosmic entities and leaves his physical body to become Eternity, the living embodiment of the universe itself. He’s defeated when his granddaughter, Nebula, who is currently marauding with the Guardians of the Galaxy in the MCU, steals the Infinity Gauntlet from his abandoned body and undoes the carnage. As of right now, it’s unclear what motivates Thanos in the film universe. I’m kind of hoping it’s because he wants to marry Death.
Here’s a play-by-play of what’s going on in “Infinity War” and what it might mean for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The first image in the “Infinity War” trailer upon first glance appears to be Earth, but may actually be an alien planet. The horizon features two different suns and an ominous orange glow threaded with lightning. A voice over reminds viewers of the initial pledge that brought the Avengers together, beginning with Samuel L. Jackson (who plays former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury) and switching off between heroes.
The first Avenger to appear in the “Infinity War” trailer is no other than Tony Stark himself, looking haggard and without his signature armor. At the end of “Iron Man 3,” released in 2013, Stark apparently gave up the Iron Man mantle, tossing the arc reactor (previously keeping the shrapnel in his chest from embedding itself in his heart) into the sea. This was clearly short lived as Stark dons the suit in “Civil War” and again briefly in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Following Tony Stark is a very human Bruce Banner, lying in the crushed remains of a staircase in what is presumably Dr. Strange’s New York City residence. In “Thor: Ragnarok,” Banner spent two years as the Incredible Hulk following the events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” fighting gladiator battles on the garbage planet Sakaar. Banner expressed concern in the film because he felt that his control over his angry green alter-ego was slipping; one more transformation into the big guy might be the last anyone ever saw of Bruce Banner. However, in order to defeat the Asgardian Goddess of Death, Hela, Banner surrendered to the Hulk’s control. “Ragnarok” concluded with Thor and the Hulk together on a ship containing the entire population of Asgard.
Thor, though, is nowhere to be found on Earth with Banner. Instead, Dr. Strange and his partner Wong look upon Banner with confusion, a massive hole in the ceiling between them. An end-credit scene for “Ragnarok” showed the Asgardian ship coming across Thanos’ war vessel, which cannot mean good things if the Hulk ended up on Earth and Thor didn’t.
The next scene features Scarlet Witch sharing a tender moment with a human Vision, a glowing yellow diamond on his forehead where his Infinity Stone is supposed to rest in his synthezoid form. Vision’s human appearance can mean two things: he and Scarlet Witch are in hiding after Thanos’ arrival on Earth, or Vision has lost possession of his Infinity Stone, which somehow turned him into a human instead of killing him. Vision frequently uses a human disguise in the comics, so it’s not completely far-fetched to believe the first option. Option two is possible only if it’s Scarlet Witch using her reality-bending abilities to keep Vision alive after his power source is stolen.
Thor finally makes his appearance in the trailer, a silhouette against a bay of mirrors displaying fiery carnage in a space melee. It’s more than likely the appearance of Thanos’ war vessel at the end of “Ragnarok” led to a bloody battle in which Thor and the Asgardians did not win.
Black Widow and Bruce Banner are shown reunited in Wakanda, Black Panther’s home hidden from the world due to the country’s incredibly advanced technology. Banner is tinkering with the detached arm of a Hulkbuster suit, created by Banner and Stark specifically to restrain the Hulk. If the Avengers are picking a place to hide out and regroup their battle efforts against Thanos, Wakanda is as good a place as any. The Black Panther solo film isn’t slated for release until February 16, leaving a wealth of information about Wakanda and possible “Infinity War” hints up in the air. After “Civil War,” Wakanda agreed to keep Bucky, the veritable Helen of Troy of the Civil War, cryogenically frozen while Captain America went on the run as a war criminal.
It’s difficult to determine the chronology of the clips shown in the trailer, but it’s likely Thor is defeated by Thanos relatively early in the movie. Hulk crash lands on Earth and reverts back to Bruce Banner form in the company of Dr. Strange, Wong and a newly appeared Tony Stark.
Thanos begins his own voice over at this point, intoning doom and other villain-y things while Stark runs outside to see what’s causing the chaos in the streets. The trailer cuts to Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) on a school bus, whose Spidey-sense kicks in when a large portal and/or death machine undoubtedly used by Thanos suddenly appears on Earth. Parker turned down an invitation to join the Avengers at the end of his solo film “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Unfortunately, Thanos doesn’t care much if Spider-Man wants to finish high school in one piece or not.
The next scene reveals the gruesome fate of the Asgardians Thor departed with at the end of Ragnarok. A visibly battered Loki steps over the bodies of dead Asgardians holding the Tesseract, which he apparently nicked from Asgard before the planet was destroyed by Ragnarok itself. It’s unclear whether Loki is just surrendering or if he had been cooperating with Thanos the whole time; “Ragnarok” ended with Thor and Loki on relatively good terms, the God of Mischief a significantly downgraded threat with seemingly no intention to resume any attempts of world (or universe) domination.
Thor is conspicuously absent from this scene as well, suggesting he and Loki are separated once more after an intense battle Loki may or may not have orchestrated. The Tesseract grants the user the ability to generate wormholes for travel, which can allow Thanos to land on Earth much more quickly than by spaceship.
The last minute of the trailer is a barrage of clips from intense fight scenes in multiple locations on Earth and in space. Dozens of characters are involved in “Infinity War.” In order to tell a coherent story, it’s likely the film will shy away from a true Avengers reunion by following two or three different teams of heroes both on Earth and in space.
Peter Parker apparently joins up with Stark, Dr. Strange, Wong and Banner, given that Stark must have given him the Iron Spider suit previewed at the end of “Homecoming.” Parker hops on Thanos’ ring of death while the villain himself is finally shown on Earth, ready to kill.
Thor, through sheer strength and willpower, is either breaking apart or keeping together a ship. It could be he’s trying to save the remaining Asgardians from Thanos’ attack but ultimately fails, getting lost in space until the final scene of the trailer shows him getting picked up (rather battered and bruised) by the Guardians of the Galaxy. Either way, the outcome of that encounter results in Thanos definitively getting the Tesseract, as a later shot shows the Space Stone and the Power Stone (the Nova Corps didn’t do such a great job keeping that one safe) on the Infinity Gauntlet. This leaves four more stones for Thanos to collect.
Thanos’ arrival on Earth is immediately contested by a team-up consisting of Dr. Strange, Wong, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Spider-Man. Spidey gets bodied by Thanos, thrown against the ground in a chokehold. Unless the destructive portal Thanos arrived with transports our heroes to another planet, this battle will take place in the destroyed remains of New York City. The trailer calls back to the first scene we see of Tony Stark, who this time appears to be possibly holding someone and grieving a loss. Whoever is down for the count might motivate Stark to don the suit before he’s seen being punched out by Thanos.
The second main conflict appears to be centered in Wakanda where some kind of drone has landed and released a massive number of creatures to destroy Earth. Historically, Thanos has deployed the Black Order to help in his crusade to destroy worlds in search of the Infinity Stones. Their presence is confirmed with the appearance of Proxima Midnight, who is shown in a blur tossing a spear at Steve Rogers, disgraced Captain America with a beard. A member of the Black Order is presumably shown stealing Vision’s Infinity Stone; despite being spliced with scenes of battle in Wakanda, it seems likely Steve Rogers first appears to help the Vision and Scarlet Witch in the battle before heading to wake up Bucky just in time for another space war.
The Avengers team-up in Wakanda consists of Black Panther, Black Widow, the Hulk, Bucky as the Winter Soldier and the Falcon. Somehow, Bruce Banner gets to Wakanda from New York and goes green despite the immense risks. The presence of the Hulkbuster indicates that either Tony Stark made it, too, or Banner attempts to join in the fighting in the suit himself before a threat forces the Hulk to emerge.
The final shot of the trailer is Thor on a spaceship belonging to the Guardians of the Galaxy, asking “Who the hell are you?” Up until now, the Guardians have remained separate from the rest of the MCU.
The scope of “Avengers: Infinity War” guarantees someone will die. In fact, more than one person will die. Speculation heavily favors Tony Stark or Captain America as the heroes kicking the bucket; the original “Civil War” storyline ended with a sniper shooting Captain America in the head. Building up a villain such as Thanos for ten years means he can’t be defeated in a single movie like every other one-and-done Marvel antagonist. The fourth “Avengers” film slated for 2019 will most likely pick up with the aftermath of whatever happens in “Infinity War.”
Here’s to hoping every character I love survives relatively intact.