With Avengers: Infinity War out on DVD last week, I obviously rewatched it the other night. As I was watching it, a thought struck me that hadn’t before. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering who will live and who will die? after the dust has settled from Avengers 4 but I haven’t really thought about what will happen to the Infinity Stones? As I considered this my mind drifted to something I haven’t really thought about since the ‘90s – the Infinity Watch.
In the Marvel Comics, the Infinity Gems were first introduced in Jim Starlin and George Pérez’s 1991 miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet. In it, Thanos assembled the six Infinity Gems (Soul, green; Mind, blue; Time, red; Reality, yellow; Space, purple; and Power, pink) to wipe out half of all life in the cosmos in an attempt to win the favor of Death…who he loved…like, romantically. It’s simultaneously weird and super nihilistic. Anyway, after the assembled might of Marvel’s heroes stopped him, the Living Tribunal ordered the Gems split up to protect all of reality. Under the leadership of Adam Warlock, the Infinity Watch was formed. Each member possessed one of the six Infinity Gems and, as a team, they guarded the Gems and the cosmos. Adam Warlock was their leader and the guardian of the Soul Gem. Gamora was the guardian of the Time Gem while Drax guarded the Power Gem (incidentally, I first met Gamora and Drax care of the Infinity Watch). Moondragon was the guardian of the Mind Gem. Pip the Troll was the guardian of the Space Gem. Thanos, humbled by his experience with the Gauntlet, became the secret guardian of the Reality Gem, wanting to do his part to protect creation after attempting to destroy it.
Currently, in Marvel’s boring and uninspired move to cash in on the big movie the pages of Gerry Duggan’s Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars series, a new Infinity Watch has been convened by Doctor Strange. This time around, Doctor Strange is the guardian of the Time Stone (green). Adam Warlock once more holds the Soul Stone (orange). Black Widow guards the Space Stone (blue). Captain Marvel is the guardian of the Reality Stone (red). Star Lord is the guardian of the Power Stone (purple). And crime boss Turk Barrett holds the Mind Stone (yellow). Huh…isn’t it weird that once the Infinity Gems reformed in the Marvel Universe their names and colors changed? Where have I seen this color/stone scheme before………….*cough* MCU *cough.*
So…what if we get something like this after Avengers 4?? I’ll be honest, up until I was rewatching Avengers: Infinity War Friday night I was 100% sure the Infinity Stones would be destroyed at the end of Avengers 4. I still think that’s the most probable case too. One of my complaints with the film was the Russos couldn’t handle the power of the Stones in their narrative. As much time as they spent developing the cosmos-spanning chase and battle for the Infinity Stones they never seemed to understand the implications of wielding such power (or they understood it and ignored it in their writing). The most frustrating example for me (of the many, many examples in the film) was Doctor Strange literally had control of time. There is NO WAY Thanos could’ve won. Period. There is no believable conflict nor the potential for any believable conflict. Strange could have stripped Thanos of the Stones he had inside of a second without breaking a sweat. He could’ve frozen time and taken the Stones from and/or killed Thanos as soon as he came in contact with him. And there was literally nothing Thanos could’ve done to prevent this as Strange literally controls time. But I’m digressing.
Given how the Russos muddled having objects of such a massive power level in this film, I don’t see them leaving the Infinity Stones lying around the MCU. They are complex li’l macguffins and Jim Starlin and George Pérez took great strides to set their narrative up in a way where they worked, despite the Infinity Gems giving their holder the transcendent power of God. So, given their inherent complexity, it seems more than likely they’ll be destroyed in Avengers 4 and whatever the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe holds, it will be Infinity Stone free.
But what if the Infinity Stones aren’t destroyed? What if an Infinity Watch is formed??
It’s not that far outside the realm of possibility if you think about it! In an exclusive interview with ComicBook.com in July of 2018, Kevin Feige said the future of the MCU will be more and more cosmic. Nova’s appearance in the MCU has been teased and there’s no doubt the Guardians movies and Thor: Ragnarök have shown how rich the cosmic side of things can be. Plus Captain Marvel’s on her way and, with the Disney/Fox merger apparently a done deal, the arrival of the Fantastic Four keeps getting closer. The Infinity Watch would fit perfectly into an increasingly cosmic MCU. Also, with the powers of the Infinity Stones (when handled correctly…) could open up doors to tell stories through time and across multiple realities! That could make for some fascinating storytelling.
Also, while the Guardians of the Galaxy have become a central (and profitable) pillar of the MCU, Disney’s seemingly permanent firing of James Gunn leaves their future in doubt. While sources have said Disney will stick with Gunn’s script, the film will obviously have a different feel in the hands of a different director. Only time will tell if whoever takes over Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 can capture the magic Gunn delivered. However, if the Guardians start to falter without Gunn’s unique vision and heart (and if more of the cast have misgivings like Dave Bautista has voiced about going forward without James Gunn), then the Guardians as we know them may not exist after Avengers 4 and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3.
If the Guardians of the Galaxy don’t work as well as a team/film without Gunn and/or if more of the actors choose to walk away after their contracts are up, then the Infinity Watch could be the cosmic team to anchor the MCU’s Phase Four. We know Adam Warlock was going to be central to Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 and, with Gunn’s script still in play, that shouldn’t change. Starlin and Pérez’s The Infinity Gauntlet is arguably Adam Warlock’s most iconic storyline and the MCU’s version of that is playing out without him. But an Infinity Watch would give Adam Warlock a home in the MCU. He could take some of the Guardians of the Galaxy with him too! It would be a version of what happened in the comics, only in reverse.
As I said above, I don’t think it’s likely but I think it could be very, very interesting. So, for the sake of fun, if the Infinity Watch enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who should hold each Infinity Stone?? I’ve spent a little time thinking about it (but nowhere near as much as I normally obsess over something like this (at least not yet)) and here are my thoughts on the matter:
Soul Stone – Adam Warlock
This one just seems obvious. Warlock’s history is tied so tightly to the Soul Gem/Stone, it would feel very wrong to have a version of the Infinity Watch bouncing around the Marvel Cinematic Universe without Adam Warlock being the guardian of the Soul Stone.
Time Stone – Doctor Strange
Like Warlock above, this one just makes sense. In the MCU they made the Time Stone and the Eye of Agamotto the same mystical talisman. Unless all the Stones are destroyed, I can’t see a version of the story play out where the Time Stone doesn’t end up back with Doctor Strange. He was very insistent about his duty to guard it in Avengers: Infinity War and the Eye of Agamotto is an iconic part of the Sorcerer Supreme’s arsenal. Also, with many of the MCU’s biggest players most likely stepping away after Avengers 4, Benedict Cumberbatch – along with Chadwick Boseman and Brie Larson – will undoubtably be part of the MCU’s new core, as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson have been for the last ten years. Strange seems to fit more organically here than he would on an Avengers team.
Power Stone – Gamora
This may seem like a surprise but I think she makes the most sense, of all the Guardians (if they disband), to make the jump. If they aren’t just written out, Rocket and Groot could do their own thing or show up in the Thor films. I doubt we’ll see Drax, given Dave Bautista’s feelings toward Disney. And as much as I love Nebula, I’m not sure how much longer Karen Gillan wants to shave her head/part of her head every few years. Also, in the comics Gamora always had a rich, complicated relationship with Adam Warlock – lovers, teammates, adversaries – so bringing her in makes narrative sense too. Also, as Gamora’s the deadliest woman in the galaxy, the idea of her having the Power Stone could make for some incredible fight scenes.
Mind Stone – Moondragon
Granted, this is entirely contingent on her showing up in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 which I have NO reason to believe she will outside of my wanting her to do so. But I think, if the Infinity Watch was to form in the MCU, it would make sense that we have a few characters who aren’t already tied to their own solo films or already present in a bunch of other Marvel movies. I loved Moondragon’s character in the Abnett and Lanning Guardians comics and I’m sad she hasn’t shown up already in the MCU. Also, her character in the comics is Drax’s daughter. If they kept that family tie in place it would be away to keep “Drax’s presence” alive after Dave Bautista most likely finishes out his contracts with Disney and walks away from the franchise. As a powerful telepath in her own right, it’s only fitting she’d wield the Mind Stone as she did in the comics.
Space Stone – Captain Marvel
I went back and forth on this one. If there’s an Infinity Watch, would Captain Marvel be on it? I’ve always envisioned her and Black Panther being the new core of the Avengers after Iron Man and Captain America take their final bows. And that still may be the case. But, as she’s so cosmically anchored, seeing her here fits. And as she’s already pretty much the strongest person in the Marvel Universe, I think giving her the power to leap across the cosmos at the slightest sign of trouble would make a lot of sense. It could also easily facilitate her being on the Infinity Watch, in her own solo movies, and with the Avengers too. Plus, imagine Gamora holding the Power Stone together with Captain Marvel being as strong as she regularly is…those two could get into fistfights with Celestials!
Reality Stone – Peter Quill
If Peter Quill stays, giving him something as transcendent as reality could make for complex stories, seeing as he turned down the power of a god once before. Also, the idea of a love triangle between Peter, Gamora, and Adam Warlock could make for some interesting writing. I don’t know if I see Star Lord being the type of guy to take a backseat in the leadership role BUT he and Adam Warlock had an incredible relationship in Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians Of The Galaxy run and I think it could organically rise on screen too. Also, if we were to add another Guardian to the Infinity Watch, he – both with Chris Pratt’s bankability as a star and Peter’s place in the MCU – seems the most logical fit to follow Gamora. Conversely, if Chris Pratt/Peter Quill doesn’t want to sign up for the Infinity Watch, I could see Nova here, safeguarding the Reality Stone after Xandar was destroyed by Thanos.
I left out Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Hollands’ Spider-Man because, while they will undoubtably be central to the future of the MCU, neither of them feel organic to the Infinity Watch. Peter Parker is first and foremost our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and T’Challa’s highest duty will always be to Wakanda. The idea of either of them galivanting through space for large chunks of time doesn’t fit.
Ant-Man (while he’s spent some time with the Guardians in the comics) and Hawkeye each have kids so they aren’t going to be trapsing around the galaxy with things as powerful as the Infinity Stones either.
As a result, Scott and Clint would fit better on whatever Avengers team rises up after Avengers 4. Sure, the MCU’s going cosmic in a big way, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have a version of the Avengers. I see the newer heroes – Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, Ant-Man, the Wasp, – staying together under the leadership of Black Panther and/or Captain Marvel (hopefully the Black Widow… (and/or maybe Bucky Barnes once he takes up Cap’s mantle after Steve falls (like I said…I’m pretty sure we’ll lose Cap (and I don’t think the MCU is confident or progressive enough to make Sam Wilson Captain America))).
I also intentionally left out all the “classic” Avengers. They’ve had their time in the spotlight. As I’ve said before, I imagine Iron Man, Captain America, and probably the Hulk will fall in Avengers 4. If they stay around, it will be a more limited run. Thor will keep kicking in Taika Wattie’s Thor films (as will cosmic characters like Valkyrie and Loki, hence my not considering them above) and, given his power level, he doesn’t need a Stone anyway. As much as I would LOVE to see Black Widow on this team as she is in the current comics, we don’t know how much longer Scarlett Johansson wants to kick around the MCU. In an interview with Variety in 2016, she was asked about a Black Widow solo movie. She said, “Yeah, of course. I talked to them about it often. It would have to fit in the idea of where they want to go. I’m invested in that character. Marvel is greatly invested in that character. If I did it, I’d have to do it while I still actually wanted to wear a skin-tight catsuit. I don’t know how much longer that’s going to be.” Given Avengers 4 and the fact that Marvel seems to be FINALLY trying to get this Black Widow solo movie(s) together, I don’t see Natasha joining the Infinity Watch as likely. But it would still be AWESOME…
Okay, so those are my picks. How about you, dear reader? What do you think about the Infinity Watch showing up in the MCU?? And, if they do, who would you like to see wielding the Stones on the team??