**Warning: Spoilers for several Marvel films thus far, including Thor Ragnarok**

Ho.  Lee.  Shit.

Avengers: Infinity War

Is this real life?  Is this movie actually happening?  The answers, respectively, are probably and most definitely yes.  The trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has arrived and if it’s any indication, this film is going to be Marvel’s biggest and boldest feature yet.

Let me start with a small disclaimer: I was fortunate enough to catch the leaked footage from San Diego Comic Con last summer (before it was taken down), so I’d seen quite a bit of this already, albeit in a blurrier, low-quality version.  Despite this, I was blown away by what I saw this time around and have been geeking out about it pretty much non-stop.

The basic premise is this: Thanos, the big purple dude we saw in the first Avengers, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy is after the Infinity Stones (or gems) and is coming to Earth to complete his collection and challenge Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  Said heroes are comprised of just about everyone we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far and may even include a few new faces.  This film is the culmination of everything we’ve seen and according to Kevin Feige, will provide, among other things, something no other superhero film has done: a finale.  The trailer does an amazing job of showing the intensity of the film and what we can expect when we see our favorite characters return, but like any good teaser, it poses more questions than it answers. Beware of spoilers within:

Where is everybody?  After the events of Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers are no-more and the heroes are scattered all across the globe (and beyond).  Also from a logistical stand-point, with a cast this huge, it would be impossible for everyone to share screen-time simultaneously.  Based on the footage we’ve seen, as well as the teaser poster seen at SDCC, it seems that our heroes are in select groups, one of which is comprised of main man Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, Wong, and Bruce Banner, whom we see hanging out at Dr. Strange’s place in New York. We also see not just Peter Parker, but his alter-ego Spider-Man, decked out in the Spidey armor teased at the end of Spider-Man Homecoming, which implies Peter and Stark meet up again at some point.

We also happen to see Banner share a moment with one-time lady-friend Natasha, aka Black Widow, now sporting a blond dye-job.  Both characters appear to be in Wakanda, the sovereign nation ruled by T’Challa, the Black Panther, who just happens to deliver the best line in the entire trailer.  “Get this man, a shield,” he says, before a bearded and battle-weary Steve Rogers emerges from the shadows.  Given his now-fugitive status, it makes sense for him to still be in Wakanda.  That’s where we last saw him, after all, just as his oldest friend Bucky was put back on ice.  You can’t keep a good soldier down, however, as we see Bucky back in action, once again armed and ready to defend Wakanda against alien forces.  Of course Captain America’s group wouldn’t be complete without his new BFF Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, who rounds out the Wakanda Team with War Machine and Banner’s alter-ego, the Hulk.

OK but what about everybody else? A few characters are noticeably absent, including Clint Barton and Scott Lang (Hawkeye and Ant-Man respectively), both of whom were last seen locked up after fighting Iron Man’s pro-registration team in Civil War.  Their whereabouts following Cap’s break-out are currently unknown.  Likewise, SHIELD agents Nick Fury and Maria Hill are nowhere to be seen.  However, the remaining Avengers do have brief but memorable apperances.  We see the Vision along with his boo Wanda, aka Scarlet Witch near the beginning of the trailer, with the normally green and red android looking remarkably like actor Paul Bettany.  Whether Vision has acquired the ability to change his appearance or this is a result of Wanda’s own magic remains to be seen.  The next time we see Vision, he is in his natural state but more on that later.

What about the Asgardians?  At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Thor and Loki teamed up to bring about the Twilight of the Gods, resulting in the destruction of Asgard.  Left without a home, the brothers rescued the surviving Asgardians and escaped into deep space, along with Hulk and new ally Valkyrie.  If you stayed during the credits (and of course you did) you saw our intrepid heroes plan to travel to Earth before being confronted by a menacing-looking spaceship.  So what happens next?  We know Hulk makes it back to Earth and that Loki ends up…somewhere (we’ll come back to him in the next bit) and as for Thor?  He shows up at the very end of the trailer, having met up with the legendary Star-Lord and his gang of galactic goof-balls.  The Comic-Con footage actually showed Thor crash into the Guardians’ ship, preceded by Mantis declaring the presence of “death.”  Is it possible the remaining Asgardians were destroyed?  Or did Thor attempt to sacrifice himself, giving the crew an opportunity to escape?  In any case, we know for sure there were at least two other survivors…

What is Loki’s play this time?  We all know Loki is shifty.  Trickster God, it’s in his name.  When we see him in the trailer, he’s walking across what appear to be dead bodies, his arm outstretched, clutching his favorite toy the Tesseract.  Known in comic book-lore as the “Cosmic Cube” this item was recently seen in Odin’s palace during the climax of Thor: Ragnarok, which proves the theory that Loki stole it during his moment of heroism.  While this may never have been in question, his motives certainly are.  Has his heroic side finally won out and he wants to use it to protect those he once sought to enslave?  Or has he been secretly working for Thanos behind the scenes?  The latter would certainly prove a popular fan theory that the Battle of New York that took place in Avengers was orchestrated and executed according to Thanos’ plan.

Vision RIP?   While it’s been teased that not all characters will live to fight another day, the top of everyone’s death-pool is sentient android Vision.  The reason being, right smack-dab between his eyes is the Mind Stone, one of the six Stones Thanos is after.  We see poor Vision in anguish, as someone is attempting to take the stone by force, though it’s hard to tell who.  We next see Thanos pushing a stone into his Infinity Guantlet.  While my first thought was, well clearly they spoiled Vision getting killed, my wife was kind enough to point out that while the Mind Stone is actually yellowish, the stones we see in the gauntlet are blue and purple.  So it’s unknown for sure IF Thanos even gets that stone.  Which then begs the question, who else might be taking the stone?  And given the ebb and flow of comic book science, would taking the stone from Vision kill him or simply change him?  The idea of a Vision still alive but irrevocably altered is far more intriguing than a dead one and that might just be what ends up saving him to fly another day.

What’s the purple guy’s deal?  So Thanos.  At the end of The Avengers, the Other tells him “to challenge [the humans] is to court death”.  In the comics, the Mad Titan has a weird crush on the living emobodiment of Death and is desperate to win her favor.  While it remains to be seen if the idea of courting Death should be taken literally, we know that Thanos has come to Earth to claim the missing Infinity Stones to power his guantlet so he can…do…something?  Perhaps he’s out to enslave the human race, perhaps he wants to destroy it.  Either way, he’s clearly a force to be reckoned with and no one is safe.  Even Stark looks visibly shaken throughout most of the footage and after several films, we know he’s not easy to intimidate.

What else can we expect?  There were lots of other great little moments, from the return of Veronica, aka Stark’s Hulkbuster armor to Josh Brolin’s intensely creepy narration to a slow-motion shot of Cap’s team rushing into battle.  We also go the return of angsty Teen Groot!  With the film’s release still another five months away, there will no doubt be plenty more questions and theories to drive the creativity of both casual and diehard fans alike.  In the meantime, I think it’s time for a re-watch!

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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