The long wait for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has finally come to an end, and now the countdown for “Avengers: Infinity War” can begin. Luckily, the new movie was full of hints that set the stage for the climactic two-part conflict.
[SPOILER ALERT: The rest of the article contains major spoilers for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”]
When the film ends, everyone’s favorite super-powered team has disbanded on relatively good terms. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) ran away to exile himself. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) decided to live a more quiet life, presumably to become the financial backer to the new Avengers initiative led by Captain America (Chris Evans). The film also ends with the star-spangled hero assembling a new group of Avengers including Vision (Paul Bettany), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).
Those familiar with the “Infinity War” plotline in the comic books will know that the team of superheroes is going to need all the help they can get. Still, this new roster of heroes does more to set up “Captain America: Civil War” than it does the Infinity War. That honor went to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who finishes off “Age of Ultron” by returning to Asgard to investigate the reason the Infinity Stones have been appearing so often in the last few years.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the Infinity Stones are pretty much the biggest deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the comic books, the Stones (or “gems”) are a collection of six very powerful cosmic entities: Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, Time and Power. When combined they make the person wielding them unstoppable.
The first stone to appear was the Tesseract in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” While it played a big role in the hero’s origin story, it was the real catalyst for the events of Marvel’s first “Avengers” film. Fans believe that the Tesseract was the Space Stone. It was revealed in “Age of Ultron” that the scepter Loki (Tom Hiddleston) used to control minds in the first “Avengers” was, appropriately, the Mind Stone. That gem is now planted in the forehead of Vision, where it is presumably safe. Other stones that have appeared include the Aether from “Thor: The Dark World,” which fans believe is the Reality Stone, and the Orb from “Guardians of the Galaxy” as the Power Stone.
After Thor dived deeper into his vision from Scarlet Witch in "Ultron," he learned about the stones and discovered that the Avengers have been pawns in a larger game the whole time. As the audience knows, the man playing that game is Thanos (Josh Brolin), who appeared in the post-credits scene of “Age of Ultron.”
In the scene, the Mad Titan picks up the Infinity Gauntlet and says he will have to collect the stones himself. It’s unclear what his next move for the stones will be, but he’s got until 2018, when part one of "Avengers: Infinity War" premieres, to get his hands on the four stones we’ve seen so far and the two that have yet to be revealed.
Savvy fans were surprised to see the Infinity Gauntlet, which is the only known object that can contain all six stones, in the custody of Thanos. Many eagle-eyed fans spotted a brief glimpse of the Gauntlet in the first “Thor” movie, tucked away safely in Odin’s vault. The end-credits scene seemingly hinted that Thanos had made his way to Asgard, but Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige put those rumors to rest.
“There are two different gloves,” he told CinemaBlend. “That was not Odin’s vault that you see at the end.”
This makes sense as the glove Thanos puts on at the end of “Avengers” is left-handed and the one that appears in “Thor” is right-handed. It looks like the Avengers will have a way to contain the stones once they get it away from Thanos in “Infinity War,” but that will likely be easier said than done.
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