Unless you’ve been living on the distant planet of Knowwhere, by now you’re completely aware that it’s Avengers time in Tennessee! The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War, smashed its way into theaters over the past weekend with record-breaking crowds and millions in box-office revenue. Many of you might have already seen it, excitedly booking multiple screenings the day that tickets dropped and waiting hours in line just to get the best possible seats. Others are likely to be drug grudgingly by the kids who just can’t seem to get enough of Iron Man. If you’ve yet to make it to the theater or just need to regroup your thoughts after experiencing the epic smackdown smorgasbord that makes up Infinity War, we’ve got all the info you need to understand and enjoy this year’s biggest blockbuster.
Begun in 2008 with the release of the first Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is celebrating its ten year anniversary with the crossover to end all team-up movies (that is, until untitled Avengers 4 comes out to wrap up the story next year!) Thanks to the good folks at Marvel, the MCU has become the most successful franchise in cinema history, grossing a combined 14 BILLION dollars across 18 interconnected movies. Within this vast universe we’ve been introduced to stories both grounded and fantastical. Captain America: The First Avenger brought us a pulpy WWII action film. Thor’s first two forays took us into the realm of fantasy, while 2016’s Doctor Strange quite literally went out of this world into new and exciting dimensions. Ant-Man was a small film (see what we did there?) that pulled off its heist genre without a hitch, as Guardians of the Galaxy and last year’s Thor: Ragnarok hit all the right comedy beats within their space opera romps. Infinity War serves to bring all those different stories and tones together into a culmination event unlike any seen in modern history.
Here’s the rundown: Thanos the Mad Titan, an alien warlord, is hellbent on gathering the assorted infinity stones spread throughout the galaxy on his quest to annihilate half of all life within the universe. Other than the fact that Earth’s mightiest heroes join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy to try and stop him, we know precious little about the film. That makes it not only exciting, but also very frightening, as directors Joe and Anthony Russo have made it clear that this time around, nobody is safe.
For those who have been mind-wiped by Hydra or just need a short refresher course on the past movies, you may be wondering what the colorful infinity stones are and why they are so dangerous. We’ve got a short refresher course for you, just in case you don’t feel like binge watching over 36 hours of films before heading to the theater. Withing the MCU, the infinity stones were formed shortly after the creation of the universe from the remnants of the six singularities which form the building blocks of existence. Space, time, reality, mind, power, and soul, they grant total control of each of these elements by those strong enough to harness the stone.
The brilliant blue Space Stone was the first to be introduced way back in Captain America’s first outing, later having a starring role in the Avengers. Of course, we didn’t know it was an infinity stone then, because it was housed in a protective casing known as the tesseract. As Loki and his army of Chitauri invaders demonstrated, it has the ability to open portals between any two points in the universe. Thor’s brother Loki was last seen taking this from the vault on Asgard before escaping the doomed planet.
Next to show up was the Mind Stone, originally encased in Loki’s scepter he used to brainwash Hawkeye. Users of this gem can control any mind they desire. Avengers: Age of Ultron revealed that the stone also possessed an intelligence of its own, a fact Tony Stark found out the hard way when he accidentally used it to create the genocidal Ultron, and ultimately, the android Avenger known as Vision. He currently has the yellow stone embedded in his forehead and uses it to blast energy beams.
Perhaps the strangest and least-explained gem is the Reality Stone. This was the main macguffin of Thor: The Dark World. In the comics, the stone has the power to alter the fabric of reality itself, making the impossible become possible. The MCU version exists within a liquified red state, known as the Aether, and is able to convert regular matter into antimatter. After retrieving it from the Dark Elves before they could destroy the universe, Thor and company delivered it for safekeeping to the intergalactic packrat known as the Collector.
Guardians of the Galaxy brought us the Power Stone. Not only does it give its bearer almost unlimited physical power, but when combined with the other infinity stones, if ups their strength as well. One of the most dangerous stones, its purple energy blasts can destroy all organic matter it comes into contact with. The Guardians brought it to the planet Xandar at the end of their first film and gave it to the Nova Corps for safekeeping within their trusty vault.
Doctor Strange used the Time Stone in his first foray in the MCU. This trippy rock can stop, reverse, or speed up the flow of space-time. It actually doesn’t exist within time, and usually winds up disappearing quite frequently within the comics as it jumps to different eras. The good doctor keeps the bright green gem protected within the Eye of Aggamotto he wears around his neck.
Fans have anxiously waited for the Soul Stone to appear within the movies, but so far we’ve yet to see even a hint of it. Probably the most potent stone of them all, it can control the souls of every living being in existence. Always hungry, souls of both the living and the dead are constantly taken by the gem to trap them in the pocket universe which exists within it. Fan theories run wild regarding the orange stone, with some asserting the all-seeing Heimdall secretly keeps it in his possession. Others think it may be hiding in Wakanda. Wherever it is, we’ll get our answers no doubt within Infinity War.
We could talk about this film all day, but we don’t want to give away too much until you’ve seen it for yourself! Come back next week though, because we can guarantee The Loafer’s resident movie snob will have a very opinionated piece regarding the Avenger’s latest outing, even if it doesn’t included Batman. (We love you Ken!)