From all reports, many coming your way exclusively from Cosmic Book News, that while Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige digs both cosmic and our beloved Guardians of the Galaxy, he is also – as are we – fascinated by the growth of knowledge of our own Marvel U. through the films.
“Suddenly, you have a million people who had never heard of an Infinity Gauntlet or a Mad Titan learning those terms,” said Feige. “I love that. I love when the experience goes beyond the movie theater and encourages people to look deeper into our universe.”
Sure enough, the Infinity Gems (on the Gauntlet) appear very briefly amid a group of relics in an Asgardian vault in the movie Thor, and Thanos the Mad Titan himself sneaked into the closing credits of the blockbuster The Avengers in controversial fashion.
But what are the Infinity Gems? Glad you asked (or this would be a much shorter article).
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3240:]]The bobbles, sometimes referred to as “Soul Gems,” are six immensely powerful jewels. Whoever holds all six Gems in the Infinity Gauntlet gains omnipotence, omniscience, God-like power -- and usually a terrible temperament, too! In later storylines of the jewels, Marvel added a little-discussed seventh Gem, but it is not required to form the Gauntlet.
The Soul Gem first appears in The Power of Warlock, with all six appearing during the second Thanos War storyline in Avengers and Marvel Two-in-One annuals, with Thanos harnessing their latent energies to power a giant Gem to extinguish every star in the universe.
In the third volume of the Silver Surfer title, the character refers to the Gems as Soul Gems, with Thanos referring to the entire set as Infinity Gems in the limited series Thanos Quest once reunited under his control as the Infinity Gauntlet.
That series also reveals the origin of the Gems, with Thanos explaining to the Runner that the set are actually the remains of a once-omnipotent but lonely being. Unable to endure eternity alone, this entity eventually commits suicide, although a fraction of the being remains and becomes the Infinity Gems.
Thanos becomes omnipotent and in the Infinity Gauntlet limited series exerts his will over the universe (by erasing half the population of the universe in a tribute to his Lady Death), but eventually loses the Gauntlet to the space pirate Nebula.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3241:]]Nebula's attempt to wield the Gauntlet fails due to her inexperience. She is debilitated after undoing an action performed by Thanos, who is defeated by Earth's heroes. In the Warlock and the Infinity Watch title the Gems are separated and distributed by Adam Warlock to his group. The Man-Beast abducts these members and uses the combined Mind, Power, Space and Time Gems to create a monstrous energy humanoid called the Infinity Thrall, although both are eventually defeated by Warlock. The Living Tribunal then declares that the Infinity Gems can no longer be used in unison.
This decree is overturned -- courtesy of the machinations of Warlock's evil alter ego, the Magus -- in the Infinity Watch limited series. The character unites the Gems and plans universal conquest until tricked and defeated, with Warlock revealing that the Reality Gem was a fake. The Gems then feature in the Infinity Crusade limited series. In the one-shot title Rune/Silver Surfer the Gems are stolen by the extradimensional vampire Rune and dispersed throughout the alternate universe called the Ultraverse.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3245:]]The Asgardian god Loki enters the Ultraverse and collects the Gems, also discovering the existence of a seventh Gem -- Ego. The character learns the Infinity Gems were originally part of a gestalt being known as Nemesis. The Ego Gem, possessed by the Avenger Sersi, merges with the other Gems to reform Nemesis and battles the Avengers and Ultraforce before being dissipated once again.
Big G, Galactus, himself collects all six Infinity Gems in the Thanos ongoing series, intent on ending his need to consume planets. The plan fails, however, and instead allows a deadly inter-dimensional parasite access into the 616-Universe (it was this parasite mentally influencing Galactus' actions all along; as Thanos noted, he could have simply used the Gems to finally wish away his hunger). After the threat is averted, the Gems are scattered with the exception of the Soul Gem, which the Titan Thanos retains for Warlock.
The Gems reemerge in the New Avengers: Illuminati limited series and become the possessions of the covert group. Reed Richards attempts to will the Gems out of existence to prevent further misuse, but the Watcher reveals that the Gems must exist as part of the cosmic balance. The Gems are then separated and each is placed in the care of an Illuminati member, who vow never use them or reveal their location.
Scribe Brian Michael Bendis and artist John Romita Jr. began their second Avengers (comic) arc with the Infinity Gems in #7. While in Ryker’s Island, the villainous Hood befriended an Inhuman named Ertzia and learns the location of one of the Infinity Gems.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3243:]]Once out, Parker Robbins hires several people to take him to the former location of the Inhuman secret city, Attilan. After eliminating them, he locates the Reality Gem.
Each of the six Illuminati took possession of one to make sure they would never again fall into the wrong hands. But at this point, Black Bolt is believed dead and the Royal Family didn't know about the Gem he had hidden when they moved the Inhumans off Earth, thus it was left unguarded.
Using the Reality Gem, the Hood swiftly uses it to steal the Power Gem from Reed Richards. His quest next takes him into conflict with the Red Hulk and the Avengers. The Hood then targets the other Illuminati members for the other Infinity Gems.
The Hood uses the red (Power) and yellow (Reality) Gems to steal the purple (Space) Gem from Iron Man, using it to teleport the Avengers away to an unknown location, where upon entry, he is faced with Thor and Red Hulk, Thor having the orange (Time) Gem. During the conflict, Red Hulk manages to steal the Power Gem from Hood.
As Uatu watches on, Thor implores the Hood to surrender, lest he kill himself. He declines the offer, and teleports to the ruins of Xavier Mansion where Professor X is leading a team of Avengers against the Danger Room to try to secure the Mind Gem.
Effortlessly, the Hood gets the Gem and engages in a mental battle with Xavier, emerging triumphant.
[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3244:]]Robbins then warps to the Astral Plane to get the Soul Gem, but is confronted by its wielder – Thanos! In reality, “Thanos” is one of Doctor Strange's illusions. When this trick does not work, Red Hulk, in possession of the Power Gem, punched the Hood, and Robbins wished Iron Man out of existence. Iron Man later reappeared with the Infinity Gauntlet, calling the Reality Gem to come to the Gauntlet. While the Hood protested that he had done nothing that the other superhumans present wouldn't do if they had lost their powers, Iron Man and the other heroes simply rejected his words, using the Infinity Gauntlet to send Hood back to jail.
The Illuminati then again take possession of the Gems, with Captain America joining the organization in Black Bolt’s absence.
Where will the Gems and Gauntlet appear next? Perhaps in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie slated to premiere Aug. 1, 2014!