Thanos, the primary villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, decimated half of universe’s life, including half of the superheroes, in Avengers: Infinity War. How will he be defeated? Let’s turn to the source material.
Avengers 4 is still in production and it is going to be a long wait before it hits cinema halls. Meanwhile, speculation about the upcoming movie is in full swing on the internet. For a very good reason, too, since the fate of half the Marvel Cinematic Universe hangs in balance.
Avengers: Infinity War ended with a cliffhanger. Thanos, the primary villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, decimated half of universe’s life, including half of the superheroes, all of the newer ones – Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and more. After achieving his twisted goal, Thanos is content. But the Avengers, dealing with deaths (some say they did not die, and merely got transported to another realm) of their comrades are going to take the fight to the Mad Titan.
There are several threads here, much to speculate and conjecture. Doctor Strange saw millions of futures and let Thanos win, for he likely saw only in that case could the heroes defeat Thanos — but only after the destruction of half the universe. He posited that Iron Man would somehow play a role in the upcoming battle. Then again, Captain Marvel has entered the picture. She is coming to join the fight and is also getting her standalone movie before Avengers 4.
So what happened in comics?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has, traditionally, not depended on the comics so much. What they have done is taking plot elements, big and small, and padded them with original stories. So we do not know if Thanos will be defeated in Avengers 4 in the same way he was defeated in comics. But we can expect there would be a couple of nods to the events in the source material.
Anyway, here is what happened in Infinity Gauntlet storyline from which the Infinity Stones’ story is derived. The 1993 comic-series begins with Thanos already in possession of all the Infinity Stores. It is a character called Mistress Death (personalisation of death; she was rumoured to appear in Infinity War) who asks Thanos to correct the “imbalance” of the universe by killing off half the population. Thanos does that, and the actual story deals with the aftermath.
The destruction of half the cosmos is a big event, and this attracts the attention of most powerful cosmic entities of the Marvel universe like Kronos, Epoch, the Living Tribunal, Galactus (a character Marvel will not own until Disney’s Fox acquisition is completed) and others. Thanos kills nearly all the Avengers when Doctor Strange opens a portal for the heroes that leads to Thanos. Then he defeats all the cosmic entities as well and traps them in a sort of statis. A victorious Thanos leaves his corporal form and enters an astral form. Nebula, who was tortured by Thanos just like in the films (though she is his adoptive daughter in the MCU), sees her chance and steals the Infinity Gauntlet and becomes the most powerful being in the universe.
Thanos agrees to help the remaining superheroes after Adam Warlock, a cosmic character that might appear in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, proves he is unworthy of the Infinity Gauntlet. He manipulates Nebula into undoing the events that occurred after the finger-snap. Warlock used his connection to the Soul World (the world inside the Soul Gem) to create disharmony among the Infinity Gems and acquires the Infinity Gauntlet for himself. Warlock, too, is declared unfit for the Infinity Gauntlet by The Living Tribunal and he gives five gems to five different individuals. He finds Thanos living as a farmer on an unknown planet.
Since we do not have Adam Warlock in the MCU yet, perhaps Doctor Strange (who also perished with the fingers-snap) or the new entrant Captain Marvel will act in the role of Adam Warlock, since she has travelled through the universe because of her Starforce connection. This is, of course, assuming the films will follow the comic-book storyline. Unlikely, since there would be no suspense or thrill for those who have read the comics. And after what happened in Infinity War, Avengers 4 is certainly going to have at least one big twist.
Avengers 4 releases on May 3, 2019.