SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from ‘Avengers: Infinity War.’ Proceed at your own risk.
Marvel Studios pulled it off. In Avengers: Infinity War, they made a coherent and hugely entertaining space fantasy war comedy (right?) that delivers on its promises. Kudos to directing duo Joe and Anthony Russo for neatly wrapping up this ambitious undertaking, which brings together fistfuls of superheroes in an appetizing and ultimately satisfying package. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t left with a bunch of puzzlers to chew over following its conclusion. Here are the biggest questions we’re asking.
What the heck has happened to everybody?
The obvious answer is that Thanos has succeeded with his purge plan. That would mean that Spidey, Black Panther, Strange, Bucky, Star-Lord and the rest are dead and gone. But if that’s the case, can they be brought back? The Time Stone could do that presumably if someone on the Avengers’ side is able to swipe it somehow and make good use of it. Or if Thanos has a change of heart. What? It could happen.
Another theory is that when Mantis used her soporific skills on Thanos, and Spidey and co. were attempting to wrestle the Infinity Gauntlet from him, they managed to dislodge and pocket the Reality Stone. Allowing them to enact a plan to distort reality so that Thanos believes his plan worked. The post-credits scene kind of puts a spanner in the works where that theory is concerned, though.
One other option is that all those who disappeared have actually gone somewhere else. Maybe to the Quantum Realm, an alternate dimension where space and time are thought to be irrelevant. The Quantum Realm has featured in spin-off TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as Doctor Strange and Ant-Man and looks set to be explored further in Marvel’s next films in the roster, Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel. Those films may well be laying the groundwork for it to feature more prominently in Avengers 4, which will be the conclusion of the Infinity War.
Alternatively, perhaps they went to another planet, as in the Red Skull reveal. When the villain long thought dead pops up in Infinity War, he tells Thanos that after he held the Space Stone in his hand, he was banished to Vormir, the planet on which the Soul Stone resides. So if an Infinity Stone has the power to transport one person elsewhere, then it follows that the same could also work for our superheroes.
Or, could it be that everybody who didn’t disintegrate is amongst the doomed batch? This would make sense as it’s largely the old guard left behind – Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and Tony Stark, among others. If Marvel is set on clearing the way for new heroes in its big-screen outings, then an “out with old and in with the new” attitude fits with this theory.
What happens to Red Skull now?
As explained above, in Infinity War, Red Skull is revealed to have been existing on a deserted planet known as Vormir. Where he’s been consigned to the task of watching over the Soul Stone.
He tells Thanos, who is presumably his first visitor in a looooong time: “A lifetime ago, I too sought the stones. I even held one in my hand.”
But, he says, it cast him out and banished him to Vormir, “guiding others to a treasure I cannot possess.”
After he informs Thanos of the stakes required in order to possess the Soul Stone, and Thanos complies and becomes the beholder, Red Skull’s job is, on the face of it, done. So what’s next for him? Assuming he’s now free of the curse that saw him imprisoned on Vormir, he’s presumably now able to come and go as he pleases. Mostly go, you’d imagine. But given that he’s long been a fan of gathering Infinity Stones if he hasn’t learned his lesson, will he now be after the Infinity Gauntlet? Or has he met another fate?
What about Shuri – and is Vision really dead?
So, then. Let’s think about the last time we see Black Panther‘s tech genius Shuri. Her sole role in the film is to try and separate the Mind Stone from Vision without killing him. She says she needs as much time as she can get to do this, but she’s sure it can be done. While she’s in the act, she’s interrupted by Thanos’s minions, who promptly take Vision.
However, before they get their hands on him, she seems to wind up what she’s doing. She makes an effort to log out carefully and close down the app, or whatever programme it is she’s using to carry out the intricate operation.
Shuri says that the stone’s structure is “polymorphic,” meaning it’s able to have more than one form. With all this in mind, does this suggest that she was able to finish what she was doing? Potentially separating the forms of the Mind Stone to produce a duplicate version of it? And if so, could that be the key to helping them undo Thanos when the next film rolls around?
According to the comics, the Mind Gem gives the holder psionic powers, such as telepathy and telekinesis. It can also augment existing mental power. Used with other gems, it can also link the beholder with all the other minds in the universe.
They make a big point in the film of saying how Vision is far more than just the stone, and theoretically can be separated from it and be largely unaffected.
While Thanos ultimately gets his hands on the stone buried in Vision’s forehead, by ripping out a chunk of his skull, and Vision apparently dies, does that necessarily mean he’s gone for good? Time Stone and its possibilities aside, is there a way for Shuri to resurrect Vision? Perhaps.
One of the breakout new characters introduced in Thor: Ragnarok was Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie. At the end of that film, she was very definitely with Thor on his ship. Which we see attacked by Thanos at the beginning of Infinity War. With a good proportion of those passengers killed by the Mad Titan, including Heimdall and Loki, it’s surprising not to get a glimpse of her on board – dead or otherwise.
So where is she? She’s reported to make an appearance in Avengers 4 after she was spotted on set, so we can assume she survived. Thanos’s plan in Infinity War is to kill half the universe’s population. If he executed half of the people on board Thor’s ship, perhaps she was among those spared by him. Or perhaps she got away in an escape pod, or similar. Tessa Thompson herself has another explanation, though, tweeting that Valkyrie is absent from the film because she was in the bar with Hawkeye, another Infinity War absentee:
they are at the bar … ? 🍻 https://t.co/Mm5OWsPdEZ
— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) April 25, 2018
And finally, where’s the Collector?
In the film, we see the Guardians of the Galaxy head to Knowhere in an attempt to head off Thanos. When they get there, they see a deserted planet, and Thanos standing on the Collector, asking him where the Reality Stone is. Benicio del Toro’s Collector says he sold it.
But it’s all a ruse. Thanos got there ahead of time, it seems, and already has the Reality Stone in his possession. Which he has used to distort reality and make the Guardians believe that what they’re seeing is actually happening. When Gamora attacks her adoptive father and apparently stabs him, he reveals the truth. It’s all a vision he’s created. The Collector isn’t really there, and Gamora hasn’t really stabbed her father. He uses the opportunity to force his daughter to come with him, all the while leaving the Guardians – and us – wondering what the heck just happened.
So where actually is the Collector? Did Thanos kill him? Or is he elsewhere? Perhaps we’ll find out next year when Avengers 4 hits screens. That’s if he doesn’t pop up before then.
Avengers: Infinity War is in cinemas now.