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Thanos is coming. We have seen the ‘Mad Titan’ in action already. Watched him dispatch his Chitauri troops to aid the Norse God Loki in the failed conquest of Earth. But we have been privy to his presence even before this. What is Marvel’s grand plan with Thanos? Does this grand Marvel strategy culminate in one last destructive dance between the heroes of Earth and Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet? The signs are pointing in that direction. Let’s discuss what we know.

The Infinity Gauntlet
First off, for those not in the ‘KNOW’, what is this talk of the Infinity Gauntlet? What is it and What does it do? And lastly, why so much focus on it?

From the Marvel Database:

The Infinity Gauntlet was designed to hold six of the ‘soul gems’, better known as the Infinity Gems. When used in combination their already impressive powers make the wearer able to do anything he/she wants. The Infinity Gauntlet granted virtual omnipotence to its wearer.

Each ‘Infinity Gem’ has a unique and powerful capability all its own, and when all six are gathered and combined with the Infinity Gauntlet, it becomes literally the most powerful element in the universe. And if the stories carry anywhere near what transpired in the comics, Thanos WILL at some point posses the Infinity Gauntlet.

We first see a fleeting glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet, in the movie Thor, when the Frost Giants infiltrate the vault and you see the gauntlet being displayed in the background. Our first introduction of things to come.

The ‘First’ Infinity Gem – The Tesseract!
The Tesseract
Captain America: The First Avenger reveals what we will later realize to be the ‘first’ Infinity Gem, the Tesseract. An ancient device of immense power and energy, sought after by the Red Skull and his special branch of German Nazis during World War II. Captain America defeats the Red Skull and ‘liberates’ him of the Tesseract. The Tessearct is later recovered by the senior Stark and given over the S.H.I.E.L.D. who laters loses it to Loki in The Avengers and recovered and taken back to Asgard by Thor.

Thus, we now have the ‘first’ Infinity Gem…

Thanos Revealed
The ‘Grand Master of Ceremonies’ so-to-speak rises from the shadows at the conclusion of The Avengers, having revealed himself as the architect of the Chitauri invasion of Earth. Led by the Asgardian Loki, The Avengers defeat the alien army, and despite this, we get a sly grin from the Mad Titan Thanos, an ominous beginning of terrible things to come, no doubt.

The ‘Second’ Infinity Gem – The Aether!
infinity stone aether
Which brings us to Thor: The Dark World and the Dark Elves led by their vengeful, blood thirsty leader Malekith The Accursed. Driven to possessing the power of the Aether, yet another Infinity Gem of immense destructive capabilities, Malekith lets nothing stand in his way as he pursues its power throughout the film. Eventually taking possession of it, Malekith sets forth to bringing darkness to the Nine Realms, and nearly succeeds before being brought down by Thor.

** Spoiler ** in the bonus clip at the end of the film, we see Volstagg and Lady Sif handing over the Aether (Infinity Gem) to the immortal being known only as The Collector, for safe keeping. In parting, we hear The Collector mutter under his breath “One down, five to go.” A clear reference to the Infinity Gems.

Where Do We Go From Here?
We now know that the Infinity Gauntlet does indeed exist (Thor) and that there are Infinity Gems being revealed and gathered up (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World). We also know that Thanos is around and clearly has a much larger role to play in the coming years. The rumor mill is just warming up and already news is spilling out from interviews and discussions from around the Marvel Universe:

‘Thor 2′ Mid & Post-Credits Scenes Explained: What They Reveal About Future Marvel Movies A discussion and explanation of the bonus scene after the movie. Somewhat confusing to those not totally in-tune with the Marvel universe, this article helps answer questions…

Marvel CEO Kevin Feige discusses the introduction of another ‘Infinity Gem’ in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy, confirming that the underlying theme of the Marvel films is the Infinity Gauntlet…

James Gunn confirms that Thanos will make an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Thanos is coming and sooner than we originally thought with James Gunn stating that the Mad Titan will make an appearance (more than likely a brief one like in The Avengers) in Guardians of the Galaxy…

Marvel Studios President Hints at Buildup to ‘Avengers 3′ Infinity Gauntlet Storyline
And lastly, in what is referred to as phase 3, we will finally see years and years of buildup come to a cataclysmic finale when The Avengers (and hopefully others…) come to meet up with Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Can’t wait…

Thanos is coming and all Marvel films from here on out lead to his door. Do you doubt?