The Infinity Gauntlet is Marvel's greatest McGuffin. When they needed a massive crossover to bring their popular characters in the same book, that's when they introduced it. In its first appearance, the Gauntlet was sought after by the Mad Titan, Thanos, who was intent on impressing Lady Death by wiping out half of the universe. Since those days, the Infinity Gauntlet is one of the most prominent objects in the Marvel Universe. It has reappeared in sequel titles to Infinity Gauntlet as well as alternate universes. It is also the central object behind the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Needless to say, the problems caused by this Gauntlet are extreme.
However, Thanos isn't the only one to have wielded the powerful hand glove. Many other Marvel characters have managed to use its power for either good or evil. Using the Gauntlet is risky business, though, as the universal strength can easily corrupt those who wield it. With that in mind, we'll be taking a look at various comic characters who actually held it, analyzing them on what they did with the Gauntlet, and ranking them from worst to best. Get ready for a cosmic power play as we rank these 15 characters who wielded the Infinity Gauntlet.
15 SANTA CLAUS
Marvel has done some weird things with holiday specials over the years. Arguably the strangest one was when Santa Claus found out that his reindeer were actually Skrulls. As a result, he still needed to deliver all of the toys, so he called up a special group of the Avengers in the hopes that they would lend him the Infinity Gauntlet.
Strangely enough, Earth's Mightiest Heroes agreed. However, as with all situations like this, Santa started to go a little power crazy and ended up fighting the Avengers. It took quick thinking and an abandonment of childhood in order to bring down jolly old St. Nick. Not to worry, though, the good boys and girls around the world still got their presents delivered on Christmas Eve.
Spider-Man is Marvel's biggest underdog. Amidst a wave of praised heroes and war veterans, Spider-Man is a street-level hero who is still making his way through high school. That said, none of it stops him from giving it his all and putting himself in harm's way for the protection of humanity.
In the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, he actually managed to contribute in the fight against Thanos, but it wasn't until Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet where he actually got the chance to use it. After it slipped off the Mad Titan's hand, Spider-Man quickly snagged it and undid all of the chaos and destruction caused by the villain. It's a fairly typical outcome and one that we'd expect from a moral do-gooder like Peter Parker.
What if the Incredible Hulk managed to have the Infinity Gauntlet? That's the question that the Ultimate Universe attempts to answer. In that continuity, there are two Infinity Gauntlets and a total of eight Gems to collect. However, they were all stashed away by S.H.I.E.L.D. at the wrong time. Kang the Conqueror showed up, released Hulk from his chains, and the monster found the Gauntlets.
The Avengers of that universe were quickly dismayed, thinking that life as they knew it would forever be over. However, it wasn't long before they realized that Hulk didn't have all of the Gems in the Gauntlet, making it fairly useless. At this, the Avengers were able to fight back, but they quickly learned that keeping a powerful object at S.H.I.E.L.D. was a seriously bad idea.
There have been a lot of complaints surrounding the new Marvel shows making their way to Disney XD. That said, there's no denying that the way Avengers Assemble portrayed Ultron was a lot better than James Spader's performance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the cartoon, Ultron manages to trick Tony Stark into giving him the Infinity Gauntlet.
After that point, though, Ultron doesn't wear the powerful glove. Instead, he essentially absorbs it as a way of turning himself into the Gauntlet. He then left into the cosmos, leaving the Avengers unsure of what he was going to do next. Unfortunately, fans would never get the answer, leaving us only guessing what the murderous Ultron would've done with the power of the Infinity Gauntlet. It's all speculation at this point.
11 DOCTOR DOOM
Doctor Doom is an extremely compelling character, but he's not without his seriously villainous moments. There was a time where he used the Infinity Gauntlet to fight against the Celestials and sacrificed himself in the process. He then woke up to an entire room full of different versions of himself.
Yet, for every heroic moment that Doom has, there's an equally dark one just around the corner. In What if Doctor Doom Kept the Beyonder's Powers?, Doom doesn't lose the insane strength he gained during Secret Wars. He uses this permanent power boost to bring himself the Infinity Gauntlet, which he wears on top of the nearly limitless abilities he already had at his disposal. Needless to say, it didn't go well for the rest of the universe after that.
10 MR. FANTASTIC
Reed Richards is not the most altruistic hero in the Marvel Universe. He's made some shady deals and caused certain events that are arguably at the expense of humanity. That said, he's still a noble man at his core, and that can be seen in how he used the Infinity Gauntlet. When the powerful object resurfaced, Reed knew that, as long as it remained, everyone was at risk. In order to handle this, he put the Gauntlet on and tried to use it to destroy itself.
Why Reed doesn't rank higher on this list is that his efforts don't work. In response, he takes all of the Gems out of it and gives one to each member of the Illuminati for safe keeping. Now, if only the Illuminati weren't such a shady group.
Nebula is a character defined by the Mad Titan, so it makes sense that she'd manage to appear on this list as well. Being the granddaughter of such an astronomical villain has a serious negative effect on a person's psyche, and it's amazing that Nebula made as much progress as she did. When it came time for Thanos to come knocking on Earth's door, Nebula was there to fight alongside the Avengers.
In the last issue, she manages to fight against her own father and take the Gauntlet off of his arm and use it for herself. However, she manages to overcome the evil temptations and instead save the world and undo the damage that had already been done. Due to Nebula's inclusion in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, it'll be interesting to see if that will be incorporated in the film.
8 SILVER SURFER
The Silver Surfer is one of Marvel's most powerful characters, being granted the Power Cosmic by the Celestial known as Galactus. He now travels the galaxy, warning incoming planets that his master is on his way to devour them. That said, Surfer gave up a lot of his old life in order to save his own planet in servitude to the giant.
One of the famous Marvel What If? issues saw Silver Surfer get a second chance at life. He managed to get his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet and used it to restore his old life. He brought his love back from the dead and lived a life of peace and harmony. He even gave up the Gauntlet and the Power Cosmic at the request of his girlfriend so that he wouldn't be corrupted. Everyone say it together: Aww.
If we told you that Marvel put together a superhero team full of entirely animals, you'd be probably call us crazy. Nonetheless, the Pet Avengers are a real thing, and it gets even crazier when Lockjaw takes their command. In Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, the Inhuman dog talks with Reed Richards about gaining all of the Infinity Gems. Putting his brilliant mind to good use, the dog makes quick work in finding them.
Eventually forming a collar with all of the Gems, Lockjaw forms of a team of famous pet heroes, including the likes of Throg and Redwing. Thanos eventually comes to take the Gems, but Lockjaw effortlessly defeats him. He also doesn't get taken over by the cosmic power and ends up giving the Gems to Mr. Fantastic. What a good boy!
Marvel and DC have very similar characters, and fans have been arguing who would win in a fight. Among those battles, one that seems to never end is who would win in a fight between Thanos and Darkseid? Well, JLA/Avengers seems to give us the answer. When the Marvel and DC Universes collide, Darkseid comes across the Infinity Gauntlet. Because the Gauntlet only works in the universe it's created in, Darkseid tosses it away as a waste of his time.
Later on, he and Thanos cross paths, and he scolds Thanos for being emotional and compromised. When you compare the two, it's easy to see their differences. Thanos is a love-stricken villain who wants to impress his lady, while Darkseid is an all-powerful king who is prepared to wage war on all those who stand in his way. Tell us, which one would win?
5 ADAM WARLOCK
Adam Warlock is one of those characters whose claim to fame is so connected to Thanos. It makes sense that he would have held the Infinity Gauntlet as well. Where he really starts to shine is when he works with the Avengers to take the glove away from Thanos. After subduing the Mad Titan, Adam Warlock uses the Gauntlet to become a purely neutral being so that he can better serve the universe.
The problem is that, in doing so, Adam Warlock separated the good and evil personas out of his body, which manifested in separate beings, both of which managed to cause some problems in the Marvel Universe later in the Infinity Gauntlet saga. Adam Warlock would rank a bit higher due to how important the Gauntlet is to his character, but considering he caused even bigger problems with it, we have to knock him down a few pegs.
4 BLACK PANTHER
When Doctor Doom stole the powers of the Beyonder, the entire Marvel Universe was thrown for a loop. All worlds were mashed together in a realm known as the Battleworld. It was here that Doom attempted to design the universe in his own imagine and give himself the life that he always wanted but could never have.
However, there were many Avengers still ready to fight for the greater good, and that's exactly what they did. This is where Black Panther enters the picture. After finding a usable Infinity Gauntlet, he wages war against Doom and saves the world. He uses it to alter events in time so that the universe can set back to the way it used to be. That said, the damage had already been done, and the Marvel Universe was changed forever.
Adam Warlock hasn't had the happiest history, but it all took a turn for the worst when he got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet. The threat from Thanos was over, but he ended up creating an even bigger problem. By separating his good and bad consciences from his own mind, they manifested in two different beings. The evil conscience turned into a being known as Magus.
Right after Warlock did this at the end of Infinity Gauntlet, it all moves toward the Infinity War storyline. Magus hatches a serious plan to gain all of the Gems back from the Celestial beings who took them. His only big mistake when doing this was that one of the Gems was a fake and he didn't notice it. He was extremely powerful but not powerful enough. He was eventually defeated by the Avengers.
2 CAPTAIN AMERICA
Leave it to Captain America to know what to do with the Infinity Gauntlet. Cap was a member of an organization known as the Illuminati, who had the Infinity Gauntlet in the backroom ready to use. Unfortunately, they had to pull it out when another Earth was on a direct collision course with Earth-616. The only way to stop it without killing anyone was to use the Infinity Gauntlet.
Thankfully, Captain America was up to the challenge. Wielding the Gauntlet, he put as much energy as he could into stopping the collision, but the Gauntlet broke under all of the pressure. The rest of the Illuminati were thinking of another solution that involved blowing up the other Earth, but Cap wouldn't hear it. This resulted in him being knocked out.
Of course, the one who started it all would be taking the top spot. There's an entire comic series called Thanos Quest which delves into how the Mad Titan gathered the Infinty Gems for the Gauntlet. He's a fascinating villain to watch unfold on the pages, and his arc in trying to destroy the universe is one for the history books. After all, he managed to wipe out half of all live in the universe just to get close to Death itself.
His only hubris is that he thinks very highly of himself, and that led to his defeat several times. What made him more interesting is that he didn't keep trying to find the Infinity Gauntlet. He ended up living a life of peace as a farmer after the events of Infinity Gauntlet. If Marvel decides to keep the MCU version close to the comics, then there's plenty of reason to be excited.