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The end begins here!

A six-issue limited series by Marvel Comics, published in 1991, written by Jim Starlin, pencilled by George Pérez and inked by Ron Lim.

Thanos, the mad Titan, collected the Infinity Gems before the story started. The gems are cosmic MacGuffins that each granting their wielder great power over an aspect of the universe. There are six gems: Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Power and Reality. When Thanos puts them all on his glove, they form the Infinity Gauntlet, granting him power over basically everything. Thanos had long been in love with the incarnation of Death and this miniseries is about him trying to use his ultimate power to woo her. He starts by killing half the population of the universe in a second. The heroes of Earth (and, eventually, basically everywhere else) come for him, led by Captain America and Adam Warlock. In the ensuing battle, he turns off most of the gems just to prove that he can still do a lot of damage with just one.

In the end, the good guys win and manage to fix the damage Thanos did, but this 1991 miniseries spawned an ongoing series, two more miniseries that make up a trilogy with this, and cemented the reputation of everyone who worked on it. It was also adapted into two video games by Capcom--an arcade fighting game which serves as a prologue of sorts to the Capcom vs. Whatever series, and a more traditional platformer with some fighting elements on the SNES. Descriptions of the sequels follow:

Infinity War

The sequel of the Infinity Gauntlet saga. During Adam Warlock's brief period of power, he subconsciously expelled both good and evil from himself to be ruled by logic alone. His evil side becomes a new incarnation of Warlock's evil persona, the Magus, who creates evil doppelgangers of Earth's superheroes and, like Thanos before him, tried to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet. While the Infinity Gauntlet began with Thanos assembling the gauntlet and was all about how he used it, this series was about the Magus's quest to assemble it. He never succeeded, although for a while he and the reader were tricked into thinking that he had.

Infinity Crusade

The antagonist of this miniseries was the Goddess, the good part of Warlock, created at the same time as the Magus. She tries to use the power of Cosmic Cubes and Cultlike More Than Mind Control to subvert Earth's more idealistic heroes to serve her against the rest to establish a Utopia by any means necessary. Defeating her required the help of Mephisto.

See also Marvel Super Heroes, the Capcom Fighting Game based loosely on the Infinity Gauntlet storyline.

Infinity Gauntlet, along with its prequel of Thanos Quest, would later serve as the basis for the plot of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.

Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade provide examples of:

  • Achilles Heel: Gauntlet established that Thanos's weakness is chronic self-defeatism.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Badass Finger-Snap: In what may be the Trope Codifier, Thanos snaps his fingers and half the universe dies.
  • Batman Gambit: The mother of all Gambits happens in the first series, where Adam Warlock manipulates most of Earth's most powerful heroes, a whole host of universal entities, and sacrifices nearly all of them just to get Thanos to raise his hand at a specific moment.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Thanos' battle with the heroes of Earth is one of the few times Captain America's shield has been broken, something normally impossible. The ending sets it right again.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The heroes who serve under the control of the Goddess in Crusade.
  • Crisis Crossover
  • Deal with the Devil: Thanos makes one with Mephisto in order to stop the goddess in Crusade. But see the spoiler below.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: The Magus' Batman Gambit in Infinity War involved the manipulation of some of the Marvel Universe's most powerful cosmic beings, from Galactus up to Eternity and even the Living Tribunal. And the Magus himself was outmaneuvered by Adam Warlock and Thanos.
    • Speaking of Thanos, he literally scammed Mephisto at the end of Infinity Crusade. "You wanted a cosmic cube but didn't specify it had to be functioning..."
      • This leads to a Badass Boast from Thanos: "Even devils must be careful when making a deal with Thanos of Titan."
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The Gauntlet. Complicating matters is the fact that the Gems want to be together, and possessing two or three makes the others much easier to find.
  • Enemy Mine: Doctor Doom helps the heroes against Thanos.
  • Enemy Without: Magus in War and goddess in Crusade (the latter being a rare example of a good-aligned version of the trope).
  • Even More Omnipotent: Not even Eternity can match the completed Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Evil Knockoff: The many doppelgängers of Earth's heroes created by Magus in War. Some of them even managed to defeat their good counterparts.
  • Exact Words: Nebula returns everything to as it was twenty-four hours ago, save her retaining possession of the Gauntlet. This also returns her to being a shrivelled zombie. As Thanos says, one must take care when one's words become reality.
  • Full Set Bonus: The Gauntlet. Justified, as it's mentioned that the Power Gem especially takes the abilities of the others and backs them with its infinite power.
  • Gambit Pileup: The plot of Infinity War. The Magus' plan to get the Gauntlet sets off alarm bells everywhere. The heroes of Earth and various cosmic entities have their own diverging opinions about how the gems should be used or protected. Doom and Kang form a temporary alliance to beat him to it. It eventually turns out that the Magus' plan is ridiculously complicated, depending on all the above Unwitting Pawns. And yet it would have worked if the Warlock and Thanos hadn't anticipated it and kept one Gem hidden.
  • A God Am I: Controlling all of the Infinity Gems grants the wielder omnipotence. In fact, Infinity Gauntlet begins with Mephisto explaining to Thanos just how this trope applies to him.
  • Heel Face Turn: Thanos.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thanos gets so much power with the Gauntlet that he takes Eternity's place as the incarnation of the universe, but that also means his physical body becomes an empty husk that can be easily separated from the Gauntlet.
  • Karma Houdini: Thanos at the end of Gauntlet.
  • Knight Templar: Goddess, who is more than willing to destroy all of existence so that she can remake it without evil.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Much of the action in Crusade was hero-on-hero. In part because, thanks to mind control, many of the world's villains have surrendered to heroes and are awaiting trial peacefully.
  • Light Is Not Good: Despite being decked out in light and wanting to eliminate all evil in existence, the Goddess? Yep. Definitely not good.
  • Mister Seahorse: Adam Warlock goes through a Journey to the Center of the Mind Vision Quest in which he is turned female, culminating with her giving birth.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: The ending.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Thanos.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In Infinity War, we all knew that Doctor Doom and Kang would betray each other, but since Doom Will Not Tell a Lie, one would expect a Loophole Abuse moment from him. Instead, he just betrays Kang the old way.
  • Red Skies Crossover: During Infinity War, some Marvel series included brief appearances of the heroes' doppelgängers, but nothing else related to the main plot.
  • The Starscream: Thanos' doppelgänger to the Magus.
    • Mephisto, to Thanos, in Gauntlet.
  • Status Quo Is God: At the end of Infinity Gauntlet, all damage is undone. Even the living beings who were wiped out return.
    • Also done with similar Hand Waves in the other two parts.
    • Sort of. Infinity Gauntlet ended with the formation of a team, the Infinity Watch, intended to guard the Infinity Gems and police cosmic threats of that caliber, and Infinity War left behind at least one doppelganger who lingered as an ongoing villain for a while. In addition, the character of longtime Marvel villain Thanos developed over the course of the trilogy from an Omnicidal Maniac to, almost, Cincinnatus, as he got a taste of ultimate power and realized he didn't really need it. Each miniseries included huge changes that were reset at the end, and Thanos' personality reverted at least partially, but the status quo was hardly preserved.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Adam Warlock is forced to disperse the six Infinity Gems amongst a team to safeguard each one. He chooses one one for himself, four for his friends... and he hands off the Reality Gem to Thanos, although this isn't revealed until Crusade.
  • Throwaway Country: During Infinity Gauntlet, the entire island of Japan sinks to the ocean. Of course, like most of the disasters during the story, it got a Reset Button at the end.
    • Your Mileage May Vary. The entire planet Earth got hit by a massive shockwave that, it was eventually revealed, derailed the planet from its very orbit, causing it to start drifting away from the sun and the possibility of a new Ice Age starting up being quite large. Japan being covered over by the ocean around it could almost be considered lucky, with what was happening to everyone else afterwards.