It is here. We are mere hours away from the premiere of Avengers Infinity War. Now I’m sure some of you might have done your private Marvel movie marathon, some working on costumes to wear for the premiere or debating theories on who will die, who will win, etc. The point being there is a huge amount of hype riding for this film, possibly bigger than other major ensemble Marvel movies such as Avengers (2012) or Captain America: Civil War (2016). But these are still movies based on comic books and as such, there is source material available that may provide insight to the characters, the stories woven within the primary story as the Avengers prepare to face a force unlike anything they’ve ever seen: Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.
1. The Infinity Gauntlet (1991): Although the movie has the title of the sequel series, Infinity Gauntlet has been the primary inspiration for the film that Marvel has been building towards since 2012. Written by Thanos creator Jim Starlin and drawn by artists George Perez and Ron Lim in the 1990s, the series has the Mad Titan Thanos gather the Infinity Gems into the Infinity Gauntlet which makes him nigh-omnipotent. We see Thanos obliterate half the universe’s population, destroy the heroes assembled by his former ally now enemy Adam Warlock, and overthrow powerful cosmic entities who oppose his new rise to power all in a pursuit to prove himself worthy to his silent lover : Marvel’s embodiment of Death. This bestselling series would define Thanos as a threat never to underestimated for years to come and would be followed by two successful sequels Infinity War (1992) and Infinity Crusade (1993)
2. Infinity (2012): This 2012 story written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn artists Jim Cheung, Dustin Weaver and other artists began in Hickman’s New Avengers series and grew to involve the entire Marvel Universe. When most of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are called off planet, Thanos and his enforcers known as the Black Order see a perfect opportunity to invade and conquer Earth. While the remaining Earth heroes battle their invaders and attempt to notify their comrades-in-space, the invasion is revealed to be a cover for the real mission which may give the heroes a chance to defeat Thanos once and for all. This grandiose and intense series marked a significant change in the status quo of the Marvel Universe but also introduced the Black Order who will make their feature debut in Infinity War. Both Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity were used as inspiration by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for the script of Infinity War.
3. Thanos: Uprising: Sometimes the best part of a villain is learning how they came to become one. In this 2013 mini-series written by Jason Aaron with artwork by Simone Bianchi tells the origin of Thanos. From his mother attempting to kill him after birth, his childhood transitioning to adulthood was full of heartbreak, death, madness and the curious quest for knowledge and power that typically leads to infamy. Aaron tells a dark tale full of haunting artwork telling how a peaceful and isolated young man on the planet Titan would become Thanos, an infamous pirate and maniac obsessed with power and Death. While there’s no guarantee it will be referenced in the movie, it stands as a strong and melancholy origin story for one of Marvel’s most infamous villains.
4. Secret Avengers Vol 1: This 2010 ongoing series written by Ed Brubaker with art by Mike Deodato, David Aja and Michael Lark detailed the actions of a covert Avengers squad. After Steve Rogers returned seemingly from being dead and lost in time, he was made the new primary law enforcement agent by the President and established a group of Avengers specifically for black ops. This team consisting of Black Widow, Nova, Moon Knight, Valkyrie, Beast, and War Machine was tasked with the directive of keeping tabs on known threats with no hesitations of being proactive or cleaning them up. Having relinquished the title of Captain America to his friend Bucky Barnes, Steve operated as his own character as his team took on all manner of threats ranging from international criminals to secret shadow organizations attempting to usurp arcane artifacts or advanced technologies to take over the world. With Infinity War occurring two years after the events of Civil War, the movie details a bearded Steve Rogers who has operated in the shadows with a small fraction of the Avengers protecting the world on his own terms. While not exactly Thanos-heavy, this espionage Avengers book could give context to what Steve Rogers and his Avengers were doing during that time on the run.
5. Warlock by Jim Starlin: The Complete Collection: This 2014 collection details writer Jim Starlin’s evolution of the character known as Adam Warlock. Originally a perfect artificial human who rebelled against his creators, it was Adam’s connection with the Soul Gem which tipped Thanos off to the power of the Gem and the other Gems scattered throughout the universe. Although they were once allies, they would become allies and their battles would include the Earth heroes Adam considered friends and allies. Although the battles came with serious consequences, Adam would consistently reappear in matters regarding Thanos and his quest for power. Under Starlin’s pen, he played an integral part in the Infinity Gauntlet series and would even wield the full power of the Infinity Gauntlet at one point. The character of Adam Warlock was referenced at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol .2 (2017) and I would surprised if Adam didn’t make an appearance in either movie as pivotal character in the Earth’s heroes battle against Thanos on the big screen.
Well that’s all for our countdown regarding Infinity War. It’s been fun looking back at the past and remembering how far in advance Marvel and the people behind the MCU have been working toward this moment. Hopefully the movie succeeds in telling a great story worthy of these characters and everyone involved. They sure have enough source material to go off on. So enjoy yourself and remember, no spoilers!