‘Avengers’: Marvel Could Be Setting Up the Big-Screen Return of the Infinity Stones

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is at a creative crossroads following Avengers: Endgame. With so many narrative threads neatly tied up by the end of that film, the MCU is having to build momentum all over again. Both on the big screen and on Disney+, Marvel Studios faces a whole new era.

The Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduce new corners to the MCU. But much of the Phase 4 slate feels like it’s designed to follow up with existing players, such as Falcon, Scarlet Witch, and Doctor Strange.

If an upcoming comic book arc is any indication, however, the Avengers might bear witness to a shocking return.

The Infinity Gauntlet at the Marvel Studios's 'Avengers: Endgame' opening day marathon
The Infinity Gauntlet at the Marvel Studios’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ opening day marathon | Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

The past two ‘Avengers’ revolved around the Infinity Stones

Both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame hinged on an intergalactic showdown between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Thanos the Mad Titan. The fulcrum upon which that conflict fell, of course, was the collection and use of the six Infinity Stones.

These mystical gems have been an ongoing thread in the MCU since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. And the very next year, Marvel Studios put its chips on Thanos as the ultimate villain with the mid-credits scene of The Avengers. Since then, the Infinity Stones have been a constant thread throughout the MCU’s interconnected web of stories.

In fact, Marvel Studios has since dubbed its first 23 films — from Iron Man to Spider-Man: Far from Home — as “The Infinity Saga.” After all, these objects have been carried over through just about every solo franchise. And it’s only because of their threat the entire MCU banded together to victory. But with this storyline over, fans must have seen the last of the Infinity Stones. Right?

Marvel Comics is bringing the Infinity Stones back again

As fans of the comics know, nothing lasts forever. Characters once believed dead can return to play central roles. Storylines that strayed from what worked can be retconned. And fundamental elements like the Infinity Stones never truly disappear.

Case in point, Marvel Comics has resurrected the stones several times over the years. But an upcoming arc — dubbed “Infinite Destinies” — looks to do so once again. Running from June 2020 to September, the story builds on characters’ connections to the stones, which have been scattered across the universe.

In recent issues, characters such as Star — an anti-hero introduced in 2012 — have become bonded to the Infinity Stones. This mirrors what the MCU has done, specifically with characters like Vision and Scarlet Witch. Both those heroes received their abilities due to experimentation with the stones. So it’s possible Marvel Studios might look to these comics for inspiration.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been catching up to the comics

After all, the MCU has increasingly been taking its cues not just from Marvel Comics but more recent incarnations. Earlier Marvel Studios productions were clearly inspired by classic stories of the 1970s and 1980s. But the last few years have shown much more reverence for the 2010s.

For instance, Sam Wilson only assumed the mantle of Captain America in 2014. Carol Danvers took on the name Captain Marvel in 2012. And Jane Foster — a character introduced in 1962 — became Thor in 2014. All that either has already taken place in the MCU or is set to do so. Since its filmmaking focus kicked off, Marvel might have been laying the groundwork for potential storylines in the comics.

To that end, the continued prominence of the Infinity Stones in the pages of Marvel Comics is telling. The MCU might not dip back into the Infinity well anytime soon. But it does feel like a flag is being planted for Thanos and/or his six all-powerful MacGuffins to make a triumphant big-screen return in the coming years.