AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR premiered this weekend to strong reviews and a half-billion dollar intake. Fans lined up by the truckload to see almost every character come together to fight the Mad Titan, Thanos. The nearly three-hour spectacle left fans thrilled, until its ending arrived. After that, audiences seemed to leave the theater a bit like this:

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

INFINITY GAUNTLET
It was so powerful, the color actually left the room.

What happened to stun fans so badly in a movie they waited a decade to see? Well… Thanos kinda won. And in doing so, he literally erased most of the Marvel heroes from existence. So this reaction makes perfect sense. However, that doesn’t mean fans need to be stunned into silence. The movie is simply following the template of its main source material — 1991’s THE INFINITY GAUNTLET. That means there is still hope for the MCU. So let’s take a closer look at this Marvel classic and see why.

Why AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is Absolutely Insane — A No-Spoiler Review

Cosmic Rumblings

The book begins with Thanos already in possession of the fully powered Gauntlet. This is a stark contrast to the film, which is all about Thanos’ quest to retrieve the Infinity Stones so he can reach this point. The writers and art team waste no time in letting the reader know just what Thanos has become. The artwork here shows the great use of color that Ian Laughlin and Christie Scheele put throughout the story. The stark red and whites of the letters stand out perfectly against the blackness of space. It draws the eye right to it, letting the reader focus on the big central concept of the book.

INFINITY WARS
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Despite the strong imagery, this version of Thanos is somewhat less focused than the version we see in the film. Writer Jim Starlin chose to present Thanos as both all-powerful and submissive at the same time: Thanos wields the power of the Gauntlet, but his power is dwarfed by his love for Mistress Death (the embodiment of Death). Thanos spends much of his time early on trying to win Death’s favor. He creates shrines in her honor, but Death never even speaks to him. This makes Thanos both pitiful and terrifying all at once. He’s literally wasting the power of a god on an uninterested suitor. However, he also grows more and more frustrated and unstable as his attempts fail. Considering who he’s trying to court and what he can do, that makes Thanos even more dangerous.

Snap, Snap

Thanos’ efforts don’t go unnoticed as the Silver Surfer comes to Earth to warn the heroes about Thanos. However, he’s too late as Thanos fulfills his vow to Death and wipes out half the universe. The book shows this huge moment relatively early, allowing Thanos to demonstrate just how dangerous he is. The movie ends on this moment, but by doing it early, the book whets our appetite for the further horrors that Thanos can unleash.

INFINITY GAUNTLET
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

This is one of my favorite parts of the comic. INFINITY GAUNTLET has a large art team (George Perez, Ron Lim, Josef Rubinstein, Tom Christopher, Mike Witherby, Bruce Solotoff, Christie Scheele, and Ian Laughlin), but this is a gloriously stark scene. The simple closeup of Thanos snapping his fingers makes even this basic motion feel epic. It’s a testament to everyone involved, especially the legendary Perez, that so much could be said in such a small a scene.

Gathering The Troops

Just like in the movie, Thanos’ actions remove much of Earth’s population, including many heroes. Those remaining start formulating a plan (as will likely happen in AVENGERS 4). However, it’s Adam Warlock who formulates the real strategy. Warlock arrives in the Marvel Universe earlier, but INFINITY GAUNTLET is where he truly shines.

Warlock is not only able to unify the Earth heroes, but even bring cosmic beings like Eternity and Galactus to his side. Again, this is a stark contrast to the film, which had a splintered group of heroes just reacting to Thanos’ arrival. In INFINITY GAUNTLET, the Avengers are together but stumbling due to the sudden loss of members. Warlock is the force that gives them focus, with Captain America functioning as his secondary (Iron Man is hardly a factor in the comics). It reinforces how much status Cap has in the MCU, which we may see in AVENGERS 4. The heroes are going to need a symbol of hope, and they don’t come much bigger than Cap.

Battle Plans

However, Warlock’s planning is an element of the comic that’s both good and bad. The slow build helps make the eventual fight seem bigger. It’s also impressive how many beings stand against Thanos. Another favorite scene of mine involves Odin summoning a variety of god-kings (like Zeus and Osiris) to Asgard to unite against Thanos. It just makes everything feel huge, and thanks to Perez and Lim’s pencils, INFINITY GAUNTLET looks the part.

INFINITY GAUNTLET
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

At the same time, it also means the first half of the story is build up (which is an element the movie carries too). There is a lot of talking and arguing and Thanos postulating on his new powers. It can get somewhat tiring at times, even with Thanos’ power causing other problems on Earth. It doesn’t match the action as well as the film does, at least at first. However, when Warlock puts his plan into motion and everyone goes after Thanos, it’s epic. It’s hard to even critique this part of the book because it’s just an epic fight scene. The heroes hit with everything they have, and Thanos just disposes of everyone. Even the cosmic beings aren’t enough. However, something does happen that shocked movie fans should keep in mind.

Revival and Revelations

Thanos revels in his victory, to the point where he lets his guard down. This allows Nebula (who Thanos has resurrected as a corpse), to snatch the Infinity Gauntlet away.

INFINITY GAUNTLET
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Nebula brings herself back to full life after being tortured by Thanos in THANOS QUEST, the prequel to INFINITY GAUNTLET. She stumbles through some uses of the Infinity Gauntlet before (and this is the big moment for moviegoers) undoing everything Thanos has done. All the damage, all the death, everything is reversed. She even banishes Thanos. That doesn’t mean the story is over, though.

Warlock speaks with Thanos, and Starlin takes this moment for some insight. Warlock discusses how Thanos has allowed himself to be defeated before, and says that Thanos subconsciously knows he isn’t worthy of godly power. Thanos is stunned, but can’t deny it. This is a very unique approach to mentally subdue a villain like Thanos, and even bring him over to the other side for the final battle against Nebula. The story does repeat itself here, but it manages to reach a conclusion that is both a cop-out and a satisfactory end.

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Final Thoughts On THE INFINITY GAUNTLET

THE INFINITY GAUNTLET is a Marvel classic, without question. Even though its story can be boiled down to buildup to two cosmic fights, there is still a lot to enjoy here. The artwork is solid, especially with George Perez getting to put his pencils on the page. The story may be slow at times, but there is a constant sense of danger and buildup that helps to alleviate it. While the film did make some good changes (such as Thanos), it shows that it understands those qualities from its source material. Knowing this, fans can sleep a little easier until next May rolls around with AVENGERS 4.

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