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So what exactly is an Infinity War?


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So what exactly is an Infinity War? We all know by now that the Avengers and co. are gearing up for the biggest fight (and crossover!) of their lives, but if you’re not totally caught up on all 18 (yes, 18) MCU films, don’t worry. We’ve got you.

Here’s everything you need to know so this film might make even a little bit of sense.

Thanos, the biggest of bads, is after the Infinity Stones so he can slot them into his tacky gauntlet and wield ultimate power. Our host of heroes is going up against him. Simple, right? 

We’ve seen Thanos before in the Guardians of the Galaxy films - he’s the huge purple guy not winning any dad-of-the-galaxy awards for his questionable parenting of his two daughters: Gamora (green Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (blue Karen Gillan).

He’s also the shadowy figure who helped Loki (Tom Hiddleston) out in The Avengers (2012) to get that alien army together to invade New York, so this has been a long time coming for Thanos!

The Infinity Stones themselves have been scattered round the universe (both actual, and Marvel Cinematic), and those of you up to date on your comic book lore will have been spotting them almost right from the beginning of the MCU. According to legend, they were formed by The Celestials — cosmic entities at the beginning of the universe — and represent different aspects of it: Space, Mind, Reality, Power, Soul, and Time. 

These are objects of great power, which give the wielder power over those aspects. Humans and most other beings would be destroyed by holding them without a buffer, which is why so many of the stones appear embedded in some sort of cool object. Let’s do a round-up of where they’ve popped up:

The Space Stone (blue):

The Tesseract first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), where we see the HYDRA leader Red Skull steal it from a Norse-decorated crypt, and use it to make futuristic weapons… with the unfortunate side effect of the whole Red Skull thing. The Tesseract makes it to the 21st century same as Cap — fished out of the sea by SHIELD. Deciding not to learn from the mistakes of history, they also attempt to use it to generate power, leading to the iconic opening scene of The Avengers (2012), where Loki steals it. With the help of Thanos, the Chitauri, and another Infinity Stone (we’ll get to that one in a sec!), he opens a portal allowing the invasion of New York to take place. When he inevitably loses the fight, Thor takes both him and the Tesseract back to Asgard. During the destruction of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), both Loki and evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) take interest in it, but ultimately it’s implied that Loki rescues it from the doomed city.

The Mind Stone (yellow):

Here’s the second stone that helped Loki out — contained in the Sceptre given to him by Thanos. He uses it to mind control (get it!) Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the rest of his minions into switching sides. It’s this Sceptre which Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) uses to close the portal created by the Tesseract, so it seems these stones do a pretty good job up against each other. Now, I know this is painful, but we have to turn our minds to Avengers: Age of Ultron to track this one. The gang are on a mission to retrieve Loki’s staff at the beginning of the film — somehow it fell into the hands of HYDRA member Baron Strucker, who used its power to give powers to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The Avengers liberate the Sceptre, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) uses the Sceptre’s power to create Ultron. Unfortunately, we all know how that went … but then Ultron steals the Sceptre, extracts the Mind Stone, and places it into the forehead of the Vision (Paul Bettany) — a more colourful robot version of Tony’s AI JARVIS. Vision’s forehead is where it has happily resided, presumably until Thanos gets his hands on him.

The Reality Stone (red):

We’d definitely forgive you if you skipped Thor: The Dark World (2013), but that’s where the Reality Stone is introduced as The Aether: a powerful and mysterious floating reddish cloud which is stumbled upon by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). It is absorbed into her body, which begins to deteriorate, and to make matters worse the Dark Elves, led by Malekeith (Christopher Eccleston) are after it too. There’s a whole convergence of planets thing, whatever, but basically Thor wins and Jane survives. In an after credit scene, we see Thor deciding it would be too dangerous to keep two Infinity Stones at Asgard (remember, the Tesseract is there at this point!), so he takes the Reality Stone to “The Collector” (Benicio del Toro) - a Celestial being of great power. Thor assumes it will be safe here, but the Collector seems pretty intent on collecting the rest, so we’ll probably be seeing more of him in Infinity War!

The Power Stone (purple):

The Orb that everyone’s after in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) houses the Power Stone. We see the gang take it to the Collector, who gives us a bit more about the whole creation story of the stones, but before he can acquire this second one in his collection, his helper touches it and causes a huge explosion. The climax of the film shows Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) wielding the power of The Orb with his bare hands and the help of his friends — this is only possible because, as we find out in Guardians 2 (2017), his father is actually a Celestial too. At the end of the first film, we see Star-Lord hand The Orb over to the Nova Corps for safekeeping.

The Time Stone (green):

Doctor Strange (2017) is probably another one you skipped unless you have a weird hard-on for Benedict Cumberbatch, so allow me to summarise. The object of interest throughout this film is The Eye of Agamotto, which uses the Time Stone. Dr. Strange uses the power of this stone to manipulate time, which is basically his whole thing (when he’s not using Asian culture to white-saviour actual Asian people). Trapping his nemesis Dormammu in a time loop allows him to negotiate his surrender. The end of the film sees him leave the Eye at Kamar-Taj, where he found it, in the safe keeping of side-kick Wong (Benedict Wong) until he’s mastered his powers enough to wield it.

The Soul Stone (orange):

This is the last stone, and supposedly the most powerful … and it hasn’t shown up in the MCU yet at all! This is the new aspect that’ll surely have a huge role to play in Infinity War — potentially Thanos might already be in possession of it! He’s got to have something to use against the Avengers at the beginning, right? Who knows. All we know (from Guardians of the Galaxy 2) is that it’ll be orange, so keep your eyes peeled!

So there we have it! The most ambitious crossover event in cinematic history has been a decade in the making, and the intricacies of all the threads coming together in this way really is impressive. We’ll just have to wait and see whether there’s any space for character development at all for any of the 30 or so lead characters!

Avengers: Infinity War storms into cinemas on April 26th.

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