It’s the end of the world that Marvel Studios has been building for a decade.
Or, at least, it could be.
Cosmic death-dealer Thanos shattered Disney’s D23 Expo on Saturday as it concluded with the first footage from Avengers: Infinity War. The video wasn’t released publicly, but here’s a rundown of what fans saw in the hall …
The villain, played by Josh Brolin, has been teased since the post-credits scene of the first Avengers movie in 2012, and next May that threat will be fulfilled.
“Almost every single hero we’ve ever introduced is going to be in that film. Why you ask?” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased the crowd as the presentation began.
Feige introduced the actor inhabiting that cosmic character. “Thanos bows to no man,” the producer said.
Asked what it was like to play the towering, purple skin tyrant, Brolin said simply: “Powerful.”
“We’ve been shooting all year, we wrapped the half-way mark on the movie,” Feige said. “Late last night a bunch of people got on a plane in Atlanta so they could be here.”
He introduced Vision actor Paul Bettany, Scarlet Witch’s Elizabeth Olsen, Drax’s Dave Bautista, War Machine’s Don Cheadle, Mantis’ Pom Klementieff, Falcon’s Anthony Mackie, Nebula’s Karen Gillan, and The Winter Soldier’s Sebastian Stan.
“There’s someone who didn’t arrive on an airplane, he used one of those cool, sparky portals … ladies and gentleman, Doctor Strange,” Feige said, introducing Benedict Cumberbatch.
“The only thing that could make me geek out any more is if Spider-Man swung in here,” Feige said, as Tom Holland came onstage. He then introduced Chadwick Boseman, saying, “What we don’t have out here is a king – the king of Wakanda: Black Panther.”
“We also have a Hulk – ladies and gentleman, Mark Ruffalo,” Feige said. “And you brought a friend from work, didn’t you? The Mighty Thor – Chris Hemsworth!”
Finally, the actor Feige described as “the man who started it all, Robert Downey Jr.!”
“It’s hard to believe we figured all of this out shooting at Stan’s Donuts for Iron Man 2,” the actor joked.
Downey then cut to the chase, nudging Feige to show a clip. “Come on, come on, let’s see it!”
He introduced Infinity War director Joe Russo, who spoke on behalf of his brother and co-director, Anthony, “who stayed behind to mind the store.”
“Think of all the stories Marvel has told with these characters,” Russo said, showing flashback footage of the studio’s past decade.
The footage dovetailed nearly seamlessly into the new footage from Infinity War. The video hasn’t been released – and won’t be – but here’s a description of what went down:
The Guardians of the Galaxy emerge from lightspeed in a field of asteroids and red gas. Something large was once in this sector of space – a planet, maybe? Now it is gone.
“Okay, Guardians, don’t forget this might be dangerous, so let’s put on our mean faces,” Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord tells his compadres.
Out of nowhere, a creature thuds against their windshield. It’s Hemsworth’s Thor. Unconscious. Beaten to hell. “Wipe it! Wipe it! Get it off!” Rocket Raccoon shouts.
The Guardians bring the stranger in, and Mantis revives him. “Who the hell are you guys?” Thor asks the motley crew.
From there, it’s rapid-fire imagery. We see Tom Hiddleston’s Loki offering the Tesseract up as a gift — presumably to Thanos, with whom he has been aligned since that first Avengers film.
There’s also a shot of Tom Holland’s Spidey-sense tingling as the hair on his arms rises while he reads on a school bus – then he’s in the gold-laced suit that Stark offered him at the end of Homecoming.
Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange strike defensive poses in another montage of introductions. Then Thanos emerges from a smoky portal as Brolin’s voice-over purrs: “Fun really isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe. But this … does put a smile on my face,” the space-tyrant says.
“I know what it’s like to lose, to fight so desperately with all your life, but to fail just the same,” Thanos goes on, as we see a tearful Spider-Man apologizing.
“Run from it,” Thanos says. “But destiny still arrives.”
We see that the villain already has two stones in the Infinity Gauntlet, which offer him phenomenal powers even without the others. (The two stones went by quick, but it appeared to be the blue Tesseract, or Space Stone, from the first Captain America, and the purple Power Stone, which was the orb from the original Guardians of the Galaxy.)
We see him on the surface of a blighted world, drawing a moon or another planet into the atmosphere of the realm where he is battling the Avengers, ripping chunks of it free as they streak toward the battle like cannon fire.
It’s definitely the end of that world.