We're tracking down every single Marvel Comics reference and Easter egg in Avengers: Infinity War, but we need your help!
This article is full of MAJOR Avengers: Infinity War spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, read our spoiler free review here.
Well, it’s finally here. The culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived with Avengers: Infinity War, and as we all suspected, it’s insane, and absolutely packed with everything fans want to see.
But don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a story about Thanos wielding an all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet to make life miserable for all your favorite Marvel superheroes. Avengers: Infinity War is full of crazy surprises, and all the comics knowledge in the world won’t prepare you for what’s coming. We’re trying to track down all of the Marvel easter eggs in the movie…but we need your help. So if you spot something that we missed, shout it out down in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter, and we’ll keep updating this until it’s the most complete Marvel easter egg guide to Avengers: Infinity War around!
Now, let’s get to work…
The Infinity Gauntlet
– The movie takes plenty of liberties with The Infinity Gauntlet story. In fact, you can’t even really call this movie an adaptation of that story…and it’s certainly not an adaptation of The Infinity War comic, either. But there are still some early similarities. But the fact that Thanos spends most of his time gathering the stones during the movie makes it more of a loose adaptation of The Thanos Quest by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim than anything else. But again, it’s a pretty loose adaptation.
– The Hulk falling to Earth from space and landing in Doctor Strange’s Sanctum is reminiscent of something that happened early on in The Infinity Gauntlet comics, except there, it was the Silver Surfer who warned Strange of Thanos’ coming, not Bruce Banner, right down to the “Thanos is coming.”
– Loki is dead. Most fans (including me) expected Loki to serve the kind of role that Mephisto did in The Infinity Gauntlet comics. There, Mephisto was kind of an obsequious “guide” for Thanos, and that’s the word that Loki offers…before he tries (and fails) to betray Thanos. Well, if you’ve gotta go, this is the way to do it.
Also, Loki’s attempted betrayal/stabbing of Thanos reminds me of Prince Thun trying to take out Ming the Merciless in Mike Hodges’ masterful Flash Gordon movie.
– Wong tells the origin of the soul gems, which is kind of like the creation myth of the entire Marvel Universe when you think about it. Something very similar was done right around the time of The Infinity Gauntlet comic, and which basically hinted that they were fragments of God himself, if I remember correctly. Somebody help me out, please!
– The weird reality-warping “deaths” that Thanos inflicts on Drax and Mantis is really reminiscent of the ways that Thanos tortured Eros, Nebula, and others in The Infinty Gauntlet comic.
– In the comics, and certainly by The Infinity Gauntlet era, Thanos was known as the Mad Titan, and he was a pretty irrational dork most of the time. Thanos was in love with the cosmic physical manifestation of death, and this whole thing was a way for him to impress him. He’s a really needy, giant purple MRA, basically.
But here, Thanos is kind of rational, if still a dick. Here is obsession is with bringing balance to the universe to preserve resources, and his motives are almost like, I dunno, an extremely shitty environmentalist or something.
Thanos’ armor and helmet bears the strongest resemblance to recent designs in the comics, as well as the design for Thane, his son’s outfit in Infinity.
– Gamora has “always hated” Thanos’ weird throne/chair, which is pretty hilarious considering it was such an iconic part of the character’s whole “thing” for so many years.
– Have we seen Thanos’ vaguely Ancient Egyptian looking guards before? They’re the ones guarding Nebula while she’s being tortured. What a cool design they have. I feel like maybe they were hanging around with Ronan in the first Guardians movie, but my brain is so fried from this movie I can’t trust myself.
– Thanos creepy army of Alien-looking drones are called Outriders, and they’re also from the Infinity crossover.
– Thanos’ crack about how he could “finally rest” once he achieves his goal is a reference to the “Farmer Thanos” he became in the comics, and that we glimpse at the very end of this movie.
– Thanos literally snaps his fingers to bring about the end of half of all life in the universe, which is exactly what he did in the first chapter of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. And that’s what he did BEFORE the fighting started there!
– In the closing credits, there’s a line that reads “the producers would like to recognize Jim Starlin for his significant contribution to the film.” Saying Starlin made a “significant contribution” to this movie is an understatement. The vast majority of Thanos stories, and certainly the Thanos stories that matter, were written and drawn by Jim Starlin. That’s HIS character, just as surely as most of the others on screen are Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s.
The Black Order
We’re introduced to Thanos’ Black Order early on, and they first appeared in Jonathan Hickman’s massive Thanos vs Avengers story, Infinity. In the comics, they were also known as the Cull Obsidian, and are basically Thanos’ generals, but here it’s implied that they are Thanos’ children. We went into MUCH more detail about them right here.
Check out the whole skeevy squad in the movie…
From left to right, that’s Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian. Your ears do not deceive you, that is Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight.
“Even in death you have become children of Thanos” – this line from Ebony Maw (who never shuts the hell up) hints at Thanos’ obsession with death as a concept, even if the movie gives him a more practical outlook than his comic book counterpart, and a less physical manifestation of Death herself. We’ll get into more of that in a bit. I also couldn’t help but feel that Ebony Maw kind of acts like a “herald of Galactus” when it comes to announcing the coming of Thanos.
But speaking of death…
Heimdall is dead, and it’s always going to be a shame that this franchise never used Idris Elba to the fullest.
Guardians of the Galaxy
– The song playing during the Guardians’ intro here is “Rubberband Man” by The Spinners, and it’s kinda great. I have to wonder if James Gunn helped pick this, because he’s the one who carefully crafts all of Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix tapes.
– Teen Groot is playing a handheld version of the 1981 arcade game, Defender, which is an all-time coin-op classic.
– Thanos calls on the Collector to pick up the reality stone from him. In The Thanos Quest comic, he does indeed kick the Collector’s ass for a stone, but there it was for the soul stone, not reality.
By the way…what is the tree in the Collector’s place, there? It looks familiar, but I can’t quite place it, and I feel like I’m going to look like an idiot as soon as one of you points it out to me.
– As the Guardians are heading into the Collector’s lair, there’s some circuitry on the wall that kind of reminds me of the Jack Kirby-esque designs we saw so much of in Thor: Ragnarok.
– The unnecessary reference to Footloose is a callback to the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but also feels a little out of place with Spidey. It makes sense that Spidey would be down with things like Star Wars and Alien, but Footloose? C’mon. Nobody his age cares about that flick.
– Drax is eating a bag of Zargnuts…which makes me think of Zagnut, the candy bar that Beetlejuice used to lure an insect to its death in Tim Burton’s classic movie which had seriously better never have a sequel or reboot ever. Anyway, this is perhaps an unnecessary pop culture connection to make and I now apologize to Peter Parker about my Footloose crack above.
– Worth pointing out that Nebula is Thanos’ daughter in the MCU, but she’s his granddaugher in the comics. His shitty treatment of her remains the same. Seriously, dude…lighten up.
We see Nebula half-disassembled and held in stasis, in a state of constant agony. In the comics, Thanos used the power of the Gauntlet to burn her to a crisp and keep her in a state between living and dying. Zombie Nebula with flesh dripping off her skeleton might have been a bit of a stretch for PG-13 MCU stuff, but this is the closest we’re likely to get to that. It’s definitely inspired by the comics.
– During the flashbacks detailing how he adopted Gamora, I’m pretty sure you can spot those giant Chitauri worm ship things from the first Avengers movie.
– In the comics Gamora has always been a big fan of blades and edged weapons. I feel like we get the “origin” of that with the knife here.
– Is the secret Gamora refers to ever explained? Is it the thing she was wrong about…that Thanos has never loved anyone? Or could it be something else? For example, in the comics, Thanos always plants the seeds of his own defeat, because subconsciously he feels that he isn’t worthy of power. Is this something Gamora knows?
– While Gamora’s death is a powerful scene here, this is the one proper on-screen death that I don’t expect to stick. James Gunn has plans to complete the team’s story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and I can’t imagine Marvel would rob him of one of his most important and interesting characters.
– This movie has the best Thor moments of any of his big screen appearances. And yes, I’m including the wonderful Thor: Ragnarok. The fact that they took us to Nidavelir, the home of the Norse Dwarves, and instead made it the heart of a star where Mjolnir was forged, well, that’s a pretty wonderful way to do things.
– Making Peter Dinklage into the dwarf, Eitri, was even better. The Marvel Comics version of Eitri isn’t nearly as cool as Peter Dinklage, but he made his first appearance in Thor Annual #11 in 1983.
– Is this the first time we learn Thor’s actual age is 1500 years old?
– The whole sequence of Thor “starting up a star” is the kind of crazy “only in comics” thing that I love so much, and it feels like something that would come right out of the mind of Jack Kirby or Jason Aaron.
And c’mon, tell me this next shot doesn’t look like a Jack Kirby panel come to life!
– Oh my god, Thor is wielding Stormbreaker now! Stormbreaker wasn’t ever really Thor’s weapon in the comics, but rather that of Beta Ray Bill, the noble, horse-faced replacement Thor, who we kinda sorta got a glimpse of in Thor: Ragnarok.
– We get our first ever MCU use of Peter’s Spider-sense in this movie when the ships arrive!
– Peter swaps out his regular costume for Tony’s “17A” model, which we glimpsed at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is the cinematic equivalent of the dreadful “Iron Spider” armor Peter wore in the Civil War comics, right down to the extra appendages it gives him. This design is a little better than the comic book one…but only a little. It’s kinda hideous, really. Go back to the blue and red, kid.
– Spidey’s line, “I’m being beamed up,” is a slight nod to Star Trek.
– But more importantly, and please tell me whether or not I’m crazy here, does the Tony/Peter relationship and banter in this movie feel like Rick and Morty to anyone else? I didn’t get that vibe in Captain America: Civil War or Spider-Man: Homecoming, but it definitely felt that way here.
The Stan Lee Cameo
– You all spotted Stan Lee driving the bus, right? Good. Now, someone get Stan away from the skeevy vultures currently handling his affairs, please.
The Avengers 4 Roster
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the folks who survived are the core Avengers from the first movie. Our Avengers 4 roster will consist of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye (even though he’s not here, we can confirm he isn’t dead…more details here), plus War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel.
The Post Credits Scene
The post credits scenes kind of drive home the fact that the ending of Avengers: Infinity War is basically the beginning of the MCU version of The Infinity Gauntlet comic. In the second chapter of Infinity Gauntlet we saw how the world was affected when half of all humans just disappear, and yes, that includes car accidents, aviation mishaps, etc.
That final symbol you see belongs to Captain Marvel, but since this article is long enough already, I wrote in much, much more detail about the post-credits scene and everything it means right here.
Miscellaneous Cool Stuff
– Did I hear this correctly, and is the Asgardian spaceship known as the Ice Guardian? I know they also say “Asgardian families” when sending the distress call, but I feel like this was how they identified the ship.
– Overall, the opening to this was more akin to a Star Wars movie than anything Marvel usually does, just dropping us right into the jaws of a defeat with a seemingly unstoppable villain. Shades of A New Hope right off the bat…although some of the genuinely gruesome carnage with the dead bodies lying all over the place made me think of the end of Rogue One.
– At the Central Park reservoir, before Tony is told that “the fate of the universe is at stake” (which is some proper comic book dialogue right there), he makes a reference to Pepper having an eccentric uncle named Morgan. I’m drawing a blank on what this might be a reference to, though.
– You can basically just consider Cap’s team the Secret Avengers in this. The lineup is similar enough!
Cap taking on Thanos in hand-to-hand combat is amazing. Thanos is, after all, a guy who could go at it with Thor or Hulk and come out OK. But this in particular reminds us of a specific scene from the original Infinity Gauntletcomics…
Cap is the best, you guys.
– Tony calls Corvus Glaive “Squidward” which is pretty great. I…don’t have to tell you who Squidward is, right?
– During the fights on the streets of NYC you can spot a New York Post newspaper dispenser. Still no sign of The Daily Bugle in the MCU. Seriously, what the hell? Although it’s fun to point out that the layout and logo of the Bugle in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies was based heavily on the Post. I’m just surprised they used the Post here and not the Defenders-centric New York Bulletin.
– When Glave tries to take the Eye of Agamotto from Strange, his hand gets burned/branded, like Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
– Captain America’s phone number appears to be 678-136-7092. I haven’t called it yet.
– I’m pretty sure that Vision and Scarlet Witch never lived in Scotland in the comics, but I’m willing to be corrected. Still, they’re right on the verge of committing for life here, and assuming poor Vision manages to make a return at the end of Avengers 4, I’d love to see them get married, like they did in the comics.
This is a pretty radical departure for Black Widow. It’s actually referencing the second comics Black Widow, Yelena Belova, who was created in Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s late ’90s Inhumans series and ended up being an evil foil for Natasha.
– Who the hell has a bass guitar in Avengers HQ? Please tell me that’s Thor’s.
– The Alien tribute with Ebony Maw is an absolute highlight.
– When we’re on Titan, and see the flashbacks to how it was before, are we basically seeing the seeds of Eternals society, there? They do have a movie in development, now.
– Vormir (the location of the Soul Stone) is a “real” place in the comics, existing way the hell out in the Kree galaxy. It was first mentioned in Avengers #123 in 1974.
– C’mon, admit it, NOBODY saw that Red Skull surprise coming, right? Can anyone confirm if that’s Hugo Weaving? It sure sounded like him!
OK Avengers, it’s time to assemble! Let us know what we missed down in the comments or on Twitter, and if it checks out, we’ll update this!