With the upcoming Infinity War film, all eyes are turned to the modern classic The Infinity Gauntlet. Released in 1991 and with a lead-up spanning months of issues, the six-issue story has been regarded as one of the best Marvel Comics stories ever told. When the Mad Titan, Thanos, obtains the six Infinity Gems and places them inside the powerful Infinity Gauntlet, he obtains a power which rivals that of the universe’s strongest entities. So long as he holds the Gauntlet, Thanos may very well be unstoppable. The heroes prevail, but the journey to victory is a long and arduous one.
Most notable in The Infinity Gauntlet is possibly the death of numerous heroes. During the battle with Thanos, Adam Warlock enlists a number of Marvel’s most powerful beings but knows going into it that they’re likely all going to die. Warlock is right, as most of the heroes fall in brutal and violent fashion before Thanos’ newfound godhood. We’ve listed these deaths in the order they happened in the original story. Be it the Sensational She-Hulk or the Living Legend of World War II, no one was safe from Thanos -- and that includes Thanos himself! Here are the most brutal deaths in The Infinity Gauntlet.
15 THE WEST COAST & JAPAN FALL INTO THE OCEAN
Before the attacks begin, even before the heroes are united to go into space, things are dreadful on Earth. People begin disappearing, including members of the Avengers and the X-Men. The heroes unite but are unable to find where they could have gone to. And then things go from bad to worse.
Iron Man is attacked while working in outer space and falls from orbit. As Iron Man falls back down to Earth, he witnesses the American west coast break off and fall into the ocean. Elsewhere, it’s confirmed that the islands of Japan are gone, submerged underwater. Tsunamis rage and waves wash ashore. Millions of innocent civilians die in the opening salvo of Thanos’ attack on the universe, and no hero on Earth is powerful enough to do anything.
14 NAMOR AND SHE-HULK SUFFOCATED BY SPACE FUNGI
Looking to topple the Mad Titan, Adam Warlock called forth the strongest of Earth’s heroes. Even though he knew they were sacrificial lambs, they still had a chance as Mephisto manipulated Thanos into dulling his omnipotent senses. Leading the charge were two of Earth’s heaviest hitters, Namor the Sub-Mariner and She-Hulk. Sadly, the onslaught was short lived.
The two managed to get a few licks in as Thanos struggled to adjust to his newfound yet slightly lesser Godhood. Leading the first wave of attacks, the two struck quickly but eventually succumbed as he shoved them away. They were surprised to discover a strange fungus sprouted up from where Thanos touched them. She-Hulk and Namor clawed away at it, but could not remove it before it overtook their bodies, suffocating them where they stood.
13 WOLVERINE’S BONES ARE TURNED TO RUBBER
Of course, Wolverine’s a tough cookie to kill. The X-Men’s resident problem solver, Wolverine’s healing factor was still relatively tame during The Infinity Gauntlet (it would be a few years before it reached a level of overpowered that allowed him to heal from a drop of blood) but combined with his fighting prowess and unbreakable adamantium skeleton, he’s clearly on par with the Hulk.
Wolverine is part of the first wave to attack Thanos, and he gets a good shot in -- one that Silver Surfer thinks might be the kill shot. Driving his claws right into Thanos’ shoulders, it looks like he might be able to do some damage. But the Mad Titan shrugs it off and deals with Wolverine soundly by turning his bones into rubber. Wolverine’s mangled body is a hell of a sight, twisted and flailing about helplessly as Thanos doesn’t even concern himself with him.
12 SCARLET WITCH’S HEX POWERS ARE TURNED AGAINST HER
Often depicted as the most terrifying superhero in the Marvel Universe, the Scarlet Witch’s reality warping hex powers are so mysterious, even she doesn’t necessarily understand them. Affecting probability on a minuscule level, an unhinged Wanda was capable of rewriting reality in the modern classic House of M. When going up against Thanos, the Scarlet Witch is clearly someone you want on your side.
She’s paired with fellow mutant Cyclops, as both attempt to foil Thanos. It doesn’t pan out so well though, as both seem to do little more than irritate him. Thanos reaches out, and with his godlike powers, pushes the Scarlet Witch’s hex power against her. Despite her best efforts, Wanda succumbs to her own power and dies on the spot, standing no chance against Thanos whatsoever.
11 CYCLOPS SUFFOCATES IN A CLEAR BLOCK
Despite his incredible powerset, optic blasts aren’t much use against the likes of Thanos. One could probably reason that as leader of the X-Men, Cyclops was brought into the fold more for his tactical and leadership skills than his raw power. And that’s a smart decision, given how many scrapes Cyclops has successfully pulled the team from. But it just doesn’t matter against Thanos.
Cyclops tries to hold his own, even after Wanda’s death. His tactical prowess on display, his first effort is to stop attacking. Without the force of his optic blast pushing back, Thanos is temporarily thrown off his guard and left open for attack. It doesn’t last long, though, as Thanos creates a clear block around Cyclops’ head. Despite Captain America rushing to his aid, Cyclops suffocates inside the block, unable to free himself in time.
10 THE VISION HAS HIS INTERNALS RIPPED OUT
With his nature as a synthezoid, The Vision may have something of an advantage. The “son” of Ultron, Vision’s ability to alter his density and phase through objects may prove beneficial in a fight with Thanos. And indeed, as part of the first wave, he manages to catch Thanos unaware. Phasing through his body, Vision is able to throw Thanos off his guard, but he recovers and retaliates against his attackers.
Having been successful once, Vision tries again, but to no avail. Thanos by this point is on to Vision’s ploy and plucks him out of his own body. Holding Vision by the throat, one of Infinity Gauntlet’s most visceral images may be the violent death of The Vision, as Thanos reaches through his chest and rips out handfuls of sparking wires. The Vision dies a lonely death in Thanos’ grip, and it’s one that stuck with readers for years to come.
9 CLOAK IS IMPLODED
You won't believe this, but Cloak may have the most unsettling death of Infinity Gauntlet. There’s a brief moment of victory as the heroes think they’ve won when Cloak surprises Thanos within his cloak, trapping him inside of the Darkforce Dimension. But as with most victories in Infinity Gauntlet, it’s short lived as Thanos violently breaks free of his prison.
Mid-sentence as the heroes discuss their apparent victory, Cloak implodes as Thanos escapes. It’s pretty disturbing to see Cloak explode right there in front of his friends, and the sudden nature of it really adds to the squick factor. Thanos, naturally, doesn’t give it a moment’s pause and goes right back to wrecking our heroes. Given the upcoming Cloak & Dagger TV show is a Freeform series, this moment will probably be sorely missing from the upcoming Infinity War, but that remains to be seen.
8 IRON MAN IS BEHEADED BY TERRAXIA
Nearly universally revered as a founding Avenger, Iron Man is a stalwart hero and a tragic figure in his own right. There’s been plenty of stories about him as both a hero and very nearly a villain, and plenty of moments where you could argue he deserved death. Tony Stark, like the rest of the heroes seen here, dies an awful death in Infinity Gauntlet.
See, Tony doesn’t necessarily die on panel. He’s being beaten and then Terraxia is shown trying to rip his helmet off. Terraxia appears holding the helmet (presumably still containing his head), bouncing it around like a basketball and gloating to Thanos about their victory. There’s not a lot of gravity given to Iron Man’s death, and in fact, you may even miss it your first time reading the book. Tony’s head remains present through the few pages, rolling along on the ground like a discarded toy.
7 THOR IS TURNED INTO GLASS AND SHATTERED
Dealing with Thanos’ newfound Godhood, it only makes sense that you’d put him up against an actual god. Fortunately, the Avengers has several of them but most notable is Thor, the God of Thunder. During this period though, it wasn’t the original Thor, but rather Eric Masterson. Having been mortally injured, Thor was bonded with Eric Masterson to save his life, serving as Thor’s alternate identity.
Masterson has a hell of a time fighting Thanos, even being separated from Mjolnir and very nearly suffocating in space. But when he recovers and goes to strike once more, Thanos deftly recovers, transforming the Thunder God into a glass visage. Despite the efforts of other heroes, Thor is shattered into a million pieces with a single swipe of Thanos’ hand, removing Thor from the battlefield.
6 NOVA IS TURNED INTO LEGO
Space's top cop and a member of the New Warriors, Nova is perhaps one of Marvel’s more surprisingly powerful heroes. The last surviving member of the fallen Nova Corps (the Marvel equivalent to the Green Lantern Corps), Richard Rider had long been a mainstay of Marvel’s more cosmic affairs until his death in 2007’s The Thanos Imperative.
In Infinity Gauntlet, Rider makes an effort to defend Thor after he’s turned into a glass statue, but his efforts are all for naught. Dismissing the young hero as little more than a child, Thanos waves his hand and turns Nova into a pile of Lego bricks, which scatter helplessly on the ground. Sadly, Thanos is likely too strong for even stepping on the bricks to affect him, removing Nova from the fight entirely.
5 SPIDER-MAN IS BEATEN TO DEATH BY TERRAXIA
Running into battle as the world falls apart is par for the course for your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in Infinity Gauntlet. Opening up with Spider-Man witnessing citizens of New York disappearing, the realization that Mary Jane may be among them rocks him to his core. Still, he joins up with the other heroes and sets out into space to fight Thanos. Spider-Man is somewhat of the everyman of the story for readers to relate to, clearly out of his depth and terrified beyond belief.
In space, though, Spider-Man seems to briefly get the upper hand. Webbing Thanos’ face and catching him off guard, even getting a surprise attack in. But it doesn’t last terribly long, as Thanos’ recently created lover Terraxia tosses him aside and begins to pummel him. As Thanos busies himself with other heroes, Spider-Man is unceremoniously beaten to death in the background.
4 QUASAR IS DISINTEGRATED
Usually, Quasar is the Marvel Universe’s heavy hitter. Even today the new Quasar, Avril Kincaid, was Earth’s secret weapon for Secret Empire. Powered by the awesome Quantum Bands, it makes sense why you’d want a cosmic powerhouse like Quasar on your side. During Infinity Gauntlet, Wendell Vaughn is still Marvel’s Quasar and is summoned by Adam Warlock to battle Thanos.
Having lost Thor, Spider-Man and countless others, Quasar stands defiant against Thanos, confident that the Quantum Bands can best him. But his bravado is short lived. Before he can strike, Thanos nullifies his power by exploding his Quantum Bands. As a shocked and wounded Quasar falls to his knees, a simple blast of power reduces Quasar to ash among the piles of other heroes around him.
3 CAPTAIN AMERICA’S NECK IS SNAPPED BY A BACKHAND
Loved by classic fans, Captain America's moments against Thanos are some of the most classic, and referenced as one of the most notable moments in the character’s history, if not comic books. “As long as one man stands against you, you’ll never be able to claim victory.” he defiantly states, ready to fight to the same death he sent his fellow heroes to. Captain America vs. Thanos should be a handily one-sided fight, but you truly believe he can win.
But here is where Adam Warlock’s plan is executed. Distracted by Cap, Thanos almost doesn’t see the Silver Surfer racing to pluck the Infinity Gauntlet from his hand. But he does, albeit barely, and Captain America pays dearly. Thanos, realizing how quickly he nearly lost, breaks Cap’s neck with a simple slap as he ceases dulling his near limitless powers.
2 TERRAXIA SUFFOCATES IN DEEP SPACE
Ever wonder what Thanos’ ultimate goal is in Infinity Gauntlet? He sought to appease Death, who he has long loved and longer been rejected by. To spite her, Thanos used the Gauntlet to create Terraxia, a being intended to be his perfect mate. The two bond near Death, flaunting their attraction, but Death pays no mind, further infuriating Thanos.
As the fight against the heroes carries on, Thanos and Terraxia make short work of them, with Terraxia killing several of them and Thanos even contending with the Cosmic Beings. But after bonding with Eternity, the opportunistic Nebula steals the Gauntlet from Thanos and banishes both him and Terraxia into deep space with her newfound power. There, Thanos awakens to find Terraxia dead, himself not having the foresight to create her with the ability to breathe in space.
1 THE COSMIC BEINGS ARE TURNED INTO STONE STATUES
Supporting Adam Warlock’s penultimate gambit, the Cosmic Beings are hands down the strongest entities of the Marvel Universe. Composed of the likes of Galactus, Sire Hate, Mistress Love, Eon, Eternity and more, the scale of the battle they have with Thanos is as terrifying as it is impressive. Thanos is victorious but weakened. In his weakened state, the disfigured and furious Nebula is able to steal the Gauntlet for herself.
The unstable Nebula is perhaps the last person you would want to have the Gauntlet, and she makes short work of the Cosmic Beings, turning them into twisted, grotesque statues overlooking the battlefield after she undid everything Thanos had wrought. Thanos ultimately teams with Warlock and the resurrected heroes to save the day, with Warlock ultimately possessing the Gauntlet.
Which death do you think was the most brutal in the Infinity Gauntlet? Let us know in the comments!