Who’d have thought a comic-book franchise could get so complex?
For those who need to refresh their memories - or for those who don't know a lot about this incredible universe - here’s a wham-bam rundown of what you’ve missed, because nobody can deny that Avengers: Infinity War is one of the biggest and most awaited moments in modern cinematic history...
Warning: Contains SPOILERS for the previous films
Intro: Behind the scenes...
“There was an idea...To bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more...So when they needed us, we could fight battles that they never could…”
WHO AND WHY?
Ok, first of all who and what are The Avengers? Let's pretend one second you've been living under a rock for the last decade...
If the MCU has taught us anything over the years, it's that different people with great abilities (yes, superheroes...although you’ll never hear them calling themselves like that) live in our world, or in some case, just visit from others.
Each one has a different story and different background, but the main goal in one way or another is the same: save the world and kick some bad guy butt. Simple right?
However, now enter Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) – the eye-patched director of the S.H.I.E.L.D, a special espionage agency – who decides to corral them into a team of heroes, united fighting force known as the Avengers. The original team includes:
WHAT BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER ?
Originally owned by the Asgardian race, and able to open wormholes to other dimensions, this ancient power source was the plot device that drove 2012’s The Avengers.
At the start of that first ensemble movie, the dastardly Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston), brother of Thor (yeah, just in case you REALLY don’t know anything...) agrees to steal the Tesseract on behalf of a race of space-reptiles known as the Chitauri, in exchange for their armies supporting his takeover of Earth.
And because heroes rise when the world needs them most, we see the Avengers come together to defeat the Chitauri armies and claim their first victory, saving the world in the process...but that was only the beginning!
WHO IS BEHIND EVERYTHING....
It looks like every evil guy in the galaxy - including the Chitauri - are really working for the notorious warlord Thanos (played by Josh Brolin in Infinity War).
Hailing from the planet Titan and obsessed with death, this bull-necked villain’s mission is to halt the universe’s booming population. He calls it “rebalancing”, of course, but that’s really just middle-manager-speak for “killing everyone”. But we bet there’s something more...
....AND WHAT IS HE LOOKING FOR?
The Infinity Stones
In Marvel folklore, before creation, there were six ‘singularities’, and when the universe exploded into life, each was fused into an Infinity Stone (Space, Mind, Reality, Power, Soul and Time).
All you really need to know is that Thanos’ final goal is to find all the six Stones (which also means invading Earth) to power his Infinity Gauntlet, like it’s the galaxy’s most destructive Pandora glove.
OK, BUT WHAT HAPPENED MEANWHILE?
After Loki's attempt to conquer earth, fast-forward to 2015’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
Tony Stark’s tinkering gets him and the others into trouble, as the peace-keeping Ultron robot, originally designed to make Earth a safer place, goes rogue and recruits the fleet-footed Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (a conjurer with telekinetic powers) and plots humanity’s extinction.
Ultron gets canned in a city-shaking showdown, but the credits footage of Thanos suggests the warlord was pulling the strings all along (“Fine,” he mutters ominously, “I’ll do it myself…”).
The Civil War
After the events of Age of Ultron, things get a bit more complicated in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
This movie drives a wedge between Captain America (who refuses to believe that his old friend, Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier, has turned to terrorism) and Tony Stark (who is haunted by the error of creating Ultron in the last movie and is now helping the government hunt Bucky down). Also, the main debate is between those who think the Avengers should be a government run organisation (Iron Man’s team) and those who believe in the independence of the group (Captain’s team).
In the end, the Avengers split, leaving Tony Stark/Iron Man on his own trying to build a new team and Steve Rogers/Captain America going hiding with some members of the old team. The bad blood sloshes into Infinity War, with co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely explaining that this latest film will inject drama into the Avengers dynamic by “tearing them apart”.
WHO ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
The Guardians of the Galaxy
Every Avengers movie to date has recruited a few new heroes to the payroll, but Infinity War will play the ultimate wildcard, introducing the cosmic criminal rabble known as the Guardians Of The Galaxy, previously showcased in two hit movies, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 (2016) .
These two films expanded the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, exploring new worlds and characters who fight to keep order in the galaxy.
So how do Chris Pratt’s space pirate (Peter Quill), Bradley Cooper’s wisecracking racoon (Rocket), Zoe Saldana’s green-skinned femme fatale (Gamora), Dave Bautista’s troubled beefcake (Drax The Destroyer), Pom Klementief's young empathic alien (Mantis) and Vin Diesel’s living tree (Groot) slot into the world of the Avengers? Quite simply, it’s because they have a common enemy: Gamora is Thanos’s adopted daughter and one-time personal assassin. They've also crossed their paths with the Infinity Stones a few times...
We have planet Earth, we have other galaxies and we have Doctor Strange’s world.
Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a powerful sorcerer and a leading member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts - in other words, people who can control and travel through alternative dimensions. Strange became the protector of the New York Sanctum in New York City, as well as Earth's protector from any inter-dimensional threats.
So you can imagine why he’ll have to be involved in the upcoming Infinity War….Oh, and he has an Infinity Stone too...
WAIT! BUT WHERE ARE ALL THE INFINITY STONES?
This is the first stone seen in the MCU, first appearing in Captain America: The first Avenger. It is contained within the Tesseract, and has the power to control space itself.
At the end of the film, the Space Stone ended up lost at sea, until Howard Stark (father of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark) found it and put it in the capable hands of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Having been kept safe for over 60 years, it fell into the wrong hands once again in Avengers Assemble, as Tom Hiddleston's Loki (assisted by Thanos), managed to swipe the stone right from under the noses of the Avengers.
After defeating Loki, the Space Stone/Tesseract got locked in Asgard's vault. But as we see in Thor: Ragnarok, right at the end of the movie, Loki once again comes across the Tesseract....Does he have it again?
That mind-controlling sceptre Loki had as a weapon? That hides the Mind Stone. But after his defeat, it went into the Avengers' hands, until Ultron stole it from them.
Ultron's plan was to use the stone to create a 'synthezoid' Vision (Paul Bettany), but thankfully the Avengers managed to recruit him to fight for the good guys.
The yellow stone currently still resides in Vision's forehead.
This red gem first showed up in Thor: The Dark World in a liquid form. With the power to convert physical properties into dark matter, the Reality Stone accidentally found a host in Thor's ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman).
Later, it is taken by the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) for sinister purposes. After managing to defeat Malekith, Thor took possession of the Reality Stone and gave it to Benicio del Toro's character, The Collector.
This purple stone appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, as we saw Star Lord (Chris Pratt) swooping in to steal it in the opening scene.
Star Lord decided to sell it to The Collector, but baddie Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) – who was working for Thanos - tracked down the Power Stone and used it to blackmail the galaxy.
However, the Guardians were able to defeat him and reclaimed the Power Stone, before leaving it with intergalactic defenders, the Nova Corps.
As we learn in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star Lord/ Peter Quill can manage to contain this stone’s power because he’s half human and half celestial (an ancient race of semi-gods).
This green gem had its home in Nepal's Kamar-Taj, where Stephen Strange travelled to be trained in the Mystic Arts.
We see Doctor Strange using the powers of the Time Stone to defeat his enemies and we do understand that its power includes the ability to control, alter, accelerate and reverse time.
After seeing him in Thor: Ragnarok, we realise that Doctor Strange still has the Time Stone.
Currently the only stone that has not appeared in the MCU is the Soul Stone.
Rumors (and latest Infinity War trailer) suggest that it could be in Wakanda, considering that hints that a big battle seems to take place there.
Perhaps Thanos will decide to attack the kingdom in order to find the Soul Stone? Nevertheless to say, its power is also a secret, but we bet it’s devastating…
WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
Book your tickets! 'Avengers Infinity War' is hitting cinemas on 26th April, don't miss your chance to be part of the biggest Marvel film ever!