For what feels like infinity, the MCU has done its best to adapt arguably one of comics' most spectacular events to the silver screen and have seemingly managed to satisfy moviegoers and Marvel zombies alike. Introducing dozens of heroes and villains throughout twenty connected, self-contained films that have brought us the snap, as well as integrating the necessary elements to see the Mad Titan actually succeed, was no easy task.
Six stones later, and we're still reeling.
The focal points for this cinematic epic remained relatively faithful to the source material, however, there are several subplots and themes that went untouched or have, at the very least, remained dormant. This begs new questions as Avengers: Endgame (2019) is here, and will undoubtedly leave many fans frothing for more.
As cinephiles exercise their bladders in preparation for marvel's penultimate 3-hour epic to offer closure on one era while attempting to usher in the next of box-office domination, I want to take a moment to briefly explore it's original source in the hopes that it might provide us with a little insight into what is to come on Friday.
In the 90's storyline, Mephisto manipulates Thanos and his courtship with Mistress Death. The remaining heroes and villains united, only to miserably fail. The greatest minds and powers left standing banded together and schemed, including Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, and Adam Warlock (the very same Warlock cocoon teased in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). Captain America braved a noble last stand in his final fight. Thanos went cosmic, vanquishing beings like Ego, Galactus, the Celestials, as well as his own mistress, Death, and kept them captured in stasis. Thanos then ascended to a higher form, leaving his physical body, and the gauntlet, vulnerable.
An unlikely scenario sees Nebula breaking free of stasis and snatching the gauntlet. As she attempted to undo what her father had done, it was clear she could not control it, forcing Thanos and Adam Warlock into a reluctant team-up, along with the rest of the heroes, to take her down. The story leads you to believe that Adam Warlock fell to the gauntlet but actually ended up within the soul stone, shutting it down from the inside out. Donning the Gauntlet, he uses it to remove both positive and negative energies from himself, and inadvertently created the individual personas of his expelled good and evil, The Goddess and the villain known as Magus. After his desire for the gauntlet sparks more knock-down, drag-out battles, it's cosmically determined the Infinity Stones can no longer be wielded in unison, and only recently have the comics seen the resurgence of the powerful gems.
With summary out of the way, we can return to the MCU.
Part of what has been so special about the MCU is that they use the source material as a starting point, yet are unafraid to chart their own course within Marvel Comics lore. Endgame seems like it will follow this trend. Adam Warlock's absence from promotional materials doesn't discount his involvement in the film (we know Marvel is famous for altering their pre-release footage) and it seems likely that the stones will need to be split up at the end of this film. So while the broad strokes of the comics find their way to the screen, it's the rest that seems so hard to predict.
And that isn't even thinking towards the future.
The Disney/Fox merger will also ensure that a plethora of new plots and characters are introduced within Marvel's Phase Four projects. Parallels shine through, from the Celestials to the introduction and presumable demise of Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 (2017), and are quite suggestive, while the unlikely duo of a space-stranded Iron Man and Nebula, present a fresh take in familiar scenery. It will likely take at least a few more films before the Herald of the Devourer of Worlds or the King of Latveria grace our theaters, so it's anyone's guess what will become of the stones and their relevance after Avengers: Endgame. The cocoon of Adam Warlock, Captain Marvel's arrival on Earth, the Sorcerer Supreme, and the still-lurking, angst-ridden Celestials could play as guardians. Or consider the anger Nebula has for everyone, not just her father. Those daddy issues won't dissipate. Going cosmic paves the way for Marvel's first family, and only Reed Richards could have initial access to The Negative Zone. Or has that been cinematically tweaked as MCU's Quantum Realm? Here's looking for you Ant-Man. Could the stones provide sustenance for Galactus? Will we see them destroyed? Or separated for infinity? Echoing through every network we hear whispers of New Avengers teams, an undetected invasion, the coveted Secret Wars and drifting further into the cosmos, with the stones possibly following not far behind. Plenty to consider and look forward to without even having to mention the inevitable proper pop of the claws. Snikt!
Growing up reading comics for three decades, it's been a genuine pleasure to observe the last one unfold on the big screen, regardless of any missteps. With whimsical wonder I ponder not just what will happen in the next ten years, but how it will happen. Keep in mind, that while we hang on every Reddit thread and absorb every drop of input on message boards to theorize and predict what happens next and where our heroes will go, our children will likely be graduating... and beyond.