Avengers disassembled: Breaking down the Infinity War comic book influences
From page to screen
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely created a Frankenstein's monster of a Marvel story for Avengers: Infinity War, a film that pulls elements from across Thanos' entire history in comics. "It has elements of everything that had the word 'Infinity' in front of it," Markus had told reporters, while McFeely said, "We steal all the things that are helpful to us, and we’re not slavish to anything that doesn’t." It's a strategy that worked well for the scribes since their days on Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. With the biggest Marvel movie to date in theaters now, here's a look at what they found "helpful" for Infinity War.
Captain America formed a group of superheroes operating off the grid as a direct response to the Superhuman Registration Act, a law that required individuals with abilities to register with the government. Iron Man supported it, Cap didn’t, and thus the Civil War of the comics began. Marvel referred to this team as the Secret Avengers, though it was also the name of a comic arc from Ed Brubaker that saw Cap leading a black-ops team that operated in shadow. On screen, Cap and his crew have similarly been operating in secret since the events of Captain America: Civil War. They were supposed to rendezvous with Wanda and Vision when Thanos' henchmen came knocking.
Launched in 2013 and written by Jonathan Hickman, Infinity saw Thanos searching for new worlds to conquer and force to pay him tribute. That’s when he was tipped off to Earth and his invasion began. Various elements of this comic book crossover were pulled for Infinity War, including the presence and look of the Black Order.
The Black Order
Hickman introduced Promixa Midnight, Black Dwarf, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Supergiant as the five “Dreadlord” generals of Thanos, each packing specific abilities and weapons. Only four made it into Infinity War. Black Dwarf, their version of a Hulk with an expandable axe, was renamed Cull Obsidian — which, in the comics, is another name for the Black Order.
Outriders are "genetically engineered parasite-assassins,” whose only whims are to fulfill the commands of Thanos. They are made, not born, and they do not have names. One such Outrider is tested with finding a new world to raze, and it’s while lurking in the mind of Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans, that he learns Earth’s heroes know what happened to the Infinity Stones coveted by Thanos. These creatures are much larger brutes when they descend on Wakanda in Infinity War. Okoye (Danai Gurira) is horrified when she sees them killing themselves without hesitation to break through her city’s barrier.
The torture of Doctor Strange
Ebony Maw needs to get the Time Stone from Doctor Strange in Infinity War, so he tortures the wizard to lift the enchantment protecting it. In his ship, he uses his telekinetic abilities to suspend Strange in midair and prod him with razor-sharp needles. The villain is much more subtle in the comics. Hickman writes that it’s believed Maw has no powers — “but that, like most things about him, could be a lie.” The villain uses his “black tongue” to manipulate Strange into turning against the Avengers.
Vision only has eyes for Wanda
Vision and Scarlet Witch have had a complicated relationship over the course of Marvel comics. At one point, Wanda even used her reality-warping powers to create two children — twin boys — who were eventually revealed to be apparitions, so Wanda lost her mind and sparked a world-altering event dubbed House of M. See what we mean? Complicated. After teasing the relationship in two movies, Infinity War finally saw this android and witch get together — only to be torn apart by Thanos' obsession with cosmic bling.
Tony Stark designed an even more high-tech suit for his protege as a welcome gift for joining the Avengers. Peter Parker turned down the offer in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but he got his new duds — based on the look from the Civil War comics — while helping to save New York from Cull Obsidian and Ebony Maw.
Thor's new toy
With "Mew-mew" (a.k.a. Mjolnir) in Hela-bad shape, let's get to know Stormbreaker. Thor travels across the cosmos to Nidavellir, where a new weapon must be forged to take down Thanos. The Asgardian first wielded an axe called Jarnbjorn (shown here, below) in the Thor: God of Thunder comics, even before his iconic hammer. But the name Stormbreaker shares a name with a weapon belonging to Beta Ray Bill. Here's another condensed Marvel history lesson: A cybernetically altered Korbinite, Beta Ray Bill defeated Thor in a series of battles and was found "worthy" enough to lift Mjolnir. As a result, Odin crafted Beta Ray Bill his own weapon from the same material as Thor's hammer, Stormbreaker. The Stormbreaker of Infinity War also has visual similarities to the Mjolnir from Mark Millar's The Ultimates.
Peter Dinklage's secret role
Eitri is the king of the dwarves of Nidavellir, one of the realms of the cosmos. Many of Asgard's weapons were forged here, though its appearance has varied throughout the comics, video games, and now Infinity War. Peter Dinklage emerged on screen as Eitri, who was forced by Thanos to craft the Infinity Gauntlet before watching his people be massacred. Eitri's home of Nidavellir is depicted on screen as a massive floating forge centered around a star, which Thor has to reawaken to forge Stormbreaker.
The Infinity Gauntlet
The Infinity Gauntlet, written by Jim Starlin, is arguably the most prominent text on Thanos and his obsession with the Infinity Stones — and it served as a major inspiration for Infinity War. Instead of decimating entire worlds to solve the problem of overpopulation, Thanos here wreaks destruction across the galaxy to appease the personification of death, with whom the Mad Titan has fallen madly in love.
An unexpected house guest
With help from Heimdall (R.I.P. Heimdall), Hulk/Bruce Banner was sent to Earth after Thanos attacked the Asgardian ship they were on. His Bifrost aim was off (you know, 'cause he was dying) and Hulk, rambling about the coming threat, crashed straight through the New York Sanctum Sanctorum. A similar instance occured in The Infinity Gauntlet when Silver Surfer dropped into Doctor Strange's study.
Nebula and Thanos never saw eye to eye. In fact, Thanos ripped out his adopted daughter's eye in the films. Infinity War then saw the Mad Titan torturing Nebula to force Gamora to give up the Soul Stone's location. In the comics, Thanos similarly tortures Nebula, his "granddaughter," by burning her flesh to a form more appeasing to Death.
As the Guardians accost Thanos on Knowhere, the Titan uses the Reality Stone to turn Drax into a pile of bricks and make string cheese out of Mantis. This stunt is directly pulled from The Infinity Gauntlet issue #2, in which Thanos deconstructs Nebula and his brother Eros (a.k.a. Starfox).
As previously mentioned, the Infinity Gauntlet story is fueled by Thanos' affection for Death. While she doesn't appear in Infinity War, there is an homage to the character. Thanos arrives on a planet called Vormir, where he finds the keeper of the Soul Stone, Red Skull, the old villain from Captain America: The First Avenger. Before we learn the figure's identity, though, he appears as a floating wraith swathed in a black cloak, reiminscient of Death's look on the page.
Stripped for parts
Vision's fate wasn't looking too good, what with the Mind Stone welded into his forehead. In another moment ripped from the comic book page, Thanos finds Vision in Wakanda and, after a minor hiccup, rips out the gem. The android loses all color and falls to the ground as a graying form, visually similar to the white Vision in The Infinity Gauntlet. That one didn't possess an Infinity Stone, but Thanos still tore into the bot and ripped out his circuits.
The snap felt around the universe
Snaps for Thanos wiping out half of humanity! With a simple gesture, our villain made a chunk of Earth's population disappear before Cap's eyes. The snap in the comics came at the very beginning of The Infinity Gauntlet issue #1, taking out heroes including Black Panther, Hawkeye, Wasp, Daredevil, and Luke Cage. Now we know why it took so long for Marvel to announce sequels for Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The fruits of his labor
Even Thanos' final moments of Infinity War were a nod to The Infinity Gauntlet. Both end with the Titan sitting on the steps of his home on some peaceful world. In the comics, he's living a simple farm life. In the film, he's enjoying the sunset after fulling his mission.