It was only a few weeks ago that every Marvel fan (and every DC fan, let’s be real here) was counting down the days until the release of Avengers: Infinity War. The excitement was so palpable that the release of the film managed to become a global phenomenon — and it isn’t even done yet. The film was highly-anticipated because it not only paid off 10 years’ worth of storytelling, it also brought many fan-favorite characters together on-screen for the first time. And, on top of that, it introduced the walking threat that is Thanos, who became Marvel’s best and most accomplished villain with a single film.
The movie counted more characters than any single Marvel film before and it was also the longest Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date. For that reason, every scene, every moment of the film was chock-filled with information, amazing visuals, exciting character moments and dazzling visual effects. From one second to the next, things were simply not winding down. For that reason, you’d be forgiven for missing the smaller details. Such things, like important story details or possible nods to the comic books, are easy to miss in the grand scheme of things, but they are still there to be found. Today, CBR lists 20 secrets that only superfans caught on repeat viewings.
20. THE NOVA CORPS IS DESTROYED
The Nova Corps had a very big role to play in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. In fact, the entire final battle of the film took place on the Corps’ home planet Xandar. The confrontation with Ronan The Accuser was devastating for the planet, but the Guardians managed to defeat him and contain his weapon, the Power Stone. The Infinity Stone was then left in the care of the Nova Corps, who would protect it and anyone who would wield its cosmic power. Many Marvel fans took that development as a death sentence for Xandar, knowing that Thanos would one day come for the purple gem.
We may not have seen it, but make no mistake, the Nova Corps is no more.
While many believed that Infinity War would begin with the destruction of Xandar, that scene did not take place. Instead, when first we meet Thanos, he is already in possession of the Power Stone, making us wonder how he came about it. Well, the answer is actually found later, when Thor is saved by the Guardians of the Galaxy. As the God of Thunder tells the space heroes of his battle with Thanos, he says that Xandar was recently obliterated by the Mad Titan. It’s an easy line to miss, especially for those who don’t remember that Xandar was the home planet of the Nova Corps.
19. GAMORA IS TRAPPED IN SOUL WORLD
One of the most elusive mysteries going into Avengers: Infinity War was the location of the last Infinity Stone – the Soul Stone. While all five others had surface throughout other Marvel films, the Soul Stone came with a big question mark. However, viewers were left surprised to learn that Gamora actually knew the location of the Soul Stone for quite a long while. When she was taken prisoner by Thanos, Gamora had no choice but to reveal the location of the final Stone to her adoptive father, who coerced her into telling the truth by torturing Nebula.
Once the two reached Vormir, they were informed by the Stone Keeper that in order to be given the Stone, one had to trade a soul for a soul. Reluctantly, and to the shock of everyone, Thanos ended up sacrificing Gamora, killing the only daughter he truly loved. The death was equally surprising and devastating, leaving us to wonder if the death of Gamora would truly stick. Later in the film, when Thanos snaps his fingers, he briefly finds himself in an ethereal place, where he sees a young Gamora. After repeat viewings, it’s clear that this is in fact Soul World, the reality held inside the Soul Stone, and that Gamora’s soul is trapped within it.
18. THE ORIGINAL SIX AVENGERS REMAIN
After Thor failed to kill Thanos, the Mad Titan had enough time to snap his fingers, unleashing the full might of the Infinity Gauntlet. With this simple act, the villain managed to wipe out half of all life in the universe, on every planet and in every corner of the cosmos. And yes, on Earth as well. Audience members could do nothing but cry as they watched fan-favorite character after fan-favorite character die before their very eyes, crumbling to ash. Bucky Barnes, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Black Panther, Drax, Star-Lord, Mantis, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, they all disappeared, along with Nick Fury and Maria Hill.
As shocking as this scene was to watch, it was difficult to do an exact head count. But after a few repeat viewings, we now realize that most of the departed were of the new wave of Avengers. The original six, Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk are all safe, and we assume Hawkeye is as well. War Machine is still safe, but he was around in Marvel’s Phase 1 of movies. This leaves only Rocket and Nebula from the subsequent Phase of movies. Clearly, the fact that all the original Avengers are still around is not a coincidence, and it may give us a clue as to what will happen in Avengers 4.
17. THE WATCHERS WERE PRESENT IN NEW YORK
Just before Spider-Man swung out of his high school bus, every fan cheered, laughed and applauded when they saw Stan Lee as the bus driver, grumbling to the kids to relax and sit down even if there was a spaceship flying in the sky. As with all Stan Lee cameos, fans had every reason to cheer, considering the popularity of the Marvel creator. However, it’s easy to forget what we actually learned about Stan Lee’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As viewers might recall, the final post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 managed to redefine Stan The Man’s importance in the MCU.
The scene in question showed us that it was no mere coincidence that Lee had appeared in all of Marvel Studios’ movies.
As a matter of fact, we learned that he was actually working for the Watchers, celestial beings as old as the cosmos itself who are tasked with observing the most important events in the universe. Well, this means that Stan Lee’s Not-A-Watcher was present during Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian’s attack on New York, and that he will most likely report back the event to the Watchers. He may not be able to interfere, but another main Marvel presence was felt during this scene.
16. THE RED SKULL IS NOW FREE
When Thanos and Gamora find themselves on Vormir to locate the Soul Stone, they are greeted by a wraith who warns of the challenges that lay ahead. This hooded presence is welcoming, but foreboding in its message. Once the figure reveals itself, viewers were flabbergasted to realize that this was none other than the Red Skull, whom we had last seen in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. In the film, the Red Skull and Captain America fought over control of the Cosmic Cube, a confrontation that saw the villain disappear to parts unknown when the Cube’s energy teleported him away.
The Soul Stone now in Thanos’ grasp, there is no longer something for the Red Skull to be the Keeper of.
In Infinity War, the Red Skull informs Thanos that he has been on Vormir all this time, and that he was given the role of Stone Keeper. There, he saw many attempts to claim possession of the Soul Stone, but none ever succeeded when they were told they had to sacrifice what they loved most. But Thanos is not like the others that came before, and he doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice his daughter. The Soul Stone now in Thanos’ grasp, there is no longer something for the Red Skull to be the Keeper of. This means that the wraith of the Red Skull is now free from his role, and that he can now depart Vormir.
15. VISION MAY BE ALIVE
One of the bigger story threads of Avengers: Infinity War was in rallying everyone, from the Government-sanctioned Avengers to Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers and even the entire armies of Wakanda, to protect the Vision and the Mind Stone in his forehead. In order to obtain the last Infinity Stone, Thanos dispatches his forces, from the Black Order to an entire army of Outriders, to complete his Infinity Gauntlet. The plan of the heroes of the film was to have the brilliant Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, separate the Mind Stone from the Vision while trying to keep the hero intact. Then, and only then, could the Mind Stone be destroyed.
Shuri didn’t have a lot of time to work her magic, but she still gave it her all. As the Outrider army laid siege to Wakanda, Shuri tried to remove and change all the circuitry and connections that bound Vision and the Mind Stone together. But when the Scarlet Witch left her post and joined the battle, Corvus Glaive was free to attack Shuri, and the Vision. However, after repeat viewings, we can see that before Corvus attacks her, Shuri makes last-minute adjustments, and then turns off the equipment she was working on. This makes us believe that Shuri may have built a backup of the Vision in her workshop, and that even though the android was killed by Thanos, he may come back yet again. Then again, Vision’s consciousness might simply be part of the mind stone… meaning he is now part of the gauntlet.
14. DOCTOR STRANGE’S SWORD
There are so many things happening in the fight scenes of Avengers: Infinity War that many things were easy to miss. Whether it’s Captain America, Black Widow and Falcon fighting against Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight or the armies of Wakanda facing off against the might of the Outriders, the action of the film moves at such a brisk pace that repeat viewings can only show you new things you missed the first time around. Such is the case for a scene involving Doctor Strange.
When Strange, Stark, Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy devise a desperate plan to separate Thanos from his Infinity Gauntlet, each member of the attack party has an important role to play. As the fight begins, we see blasts flying left and right, and characters come and go from the screen. But, in the background, we can clearly see that Doctor Strange is fighting Thanos with a mystical sword in his hands. Maybe it’s just us projecting, but this might actually be a small nod to writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo’s Doctor Strange comic series, which saw the Sorcerer Supreme take on a more active and physical role in his mystical adventures, armed with a variety of swords and axes.
13. NEBULA’S CALLBACK TO GUARDIANS VOL. 1
In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, Nebula was an enemy of Gamora, Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket and Groot. She answered to Thanos, and she was allied with Ronan The Accuser to deliver the orb. In her alliance with Ronan, we saw Nebula fly a spaceship known as a Necrocraft when she was pursuing her sister Gamora on Knowhere. These ships belonged to the foot soldiers of Ronan, and they were used to hunt down any target they set their sights on. In the Necrocraft, Nebula even nearly killed Gamora. However, the relationship between the two sisters drastically changed in the sequel.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Nebula reluctantly joined the Guardians in their fight against Ego The Living Planet, and she eventually became an unofficial member of the team. Next we see her in Avengers: Infinity War, Nebula is on the hunt for Thanos. What’s more, she joins the fight between the Mad Titan, Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Guardians on Titan with a surprising entrance, as she proceeds to crash a Necrocraft right on top of Thanos. It’s easy to miss, but there is no mistaking that the ship Nebula crashes on her adoptive father is the same one that was seen in Guardians of the Galaxy.
12. STARK IS KNOWN ON A COSMIC SCALE
Tony Stark was taken out of his element early on in Avengers: Infinity War when he was locked in a spaceship bound for the other end of the solar system. He may be a futurist and a genius, but he was still out of his depth when faced with the endless reach of the cosmos. Once he found himself on Titan, however, Tony was able to show that he was still able to be his most heroic self, when he faced Thanos head-on with his powerful new suit. Alongside Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and some members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Stark proved that he was one of the big hitters of the assault team when he managed to make Thanos bleed.
Then, the Mad Titan said something that perhaps none of us truly anticipated…
He called Stark by his name. When Tony asked if Thanos knew who he was, the villain answered yes. This means that through his work with the Avengers, Tony Stark managed to become known on a cosmic scale.. or did it? More likely, their connection that was established in Avengers had yielded some other kind of knowledge; a sort of “shared moment.” Or perhaps it was his creation of Ultron thanks to the Mind Stone. Whatever the case, it was quite surprising to learn that Thanos, who has never set foot on Earth, knows exactly who Tony Stark is.
11. THE INFINITY GAUNTLET IS DAMAGED
Thanos spent the entirety of Avengers: Infinity War trying to collect all six Infinity Stone in order to assemble his Infinity Gauntlet, which was built for him by the Dwarf Eitri from Nidavellir. Eitri revealed that he had built the gauntlet in the dwarven forges of his realm, and we learned that this weapon was unlike any other seen or wielded before. The power of the multi-colored gems are unmatched, and perhaps even Eitri didn’t know the full reach of their capabilities, or if one would even be able to wield their power all at the same time. But Thanos never let that stop him.
But this act also had an unforeseen consequence that we managed to understand more after a few repeat viewings.
When the Mad Titan finally had all the gems in his grasp, he achieved his ultimate goal of wiping out half of all life in the universe by snapping his fingers. But this act also had an unforeseen consequence that we managed to understand more after a few repeat viewings. After Thanos is taken on a brief trip to Soul World, we return to the Wakandan battlefield, where Thor asks the villain what he did. As he does, we see that the Infinity Gauntlet is now damaged. Clearly, the power it took to wipe out half of the universe was too much for the gauntlet to bear, and it broke. Since Thanos was still able to leave courtesy of the Space Stone, it appears that the Infinity Stones may now work in some capacity – but it’s unclear whether they can still work in unison.
10. VALKYRIE RAN OFF WITH SOME ASGARDIANS
Thor: Ragnarok left fans with a very ominous mid-credits scene. After Surtur destroyed the entirety of Asgard, only a few Asgardians remained alive from Hela’s cruel rule; they escaped on a spaceship where Thor was now crowned King. There weren’t many survivors left, but there was still hope. With Hulk, Loki, Heimdall and Valkyrie at his side, Thor aspired to save his people. Alas, the mid-credits scene showed us a ship that was roughly 50 times bigger threaten the Asgardian ship. While the scene ended there, it didn’t take much to come to the conclusion that this ship belonged to Thanos.
When Avengers: Infinity War began, we were already amid the carnage. Thanos and the member of his Black Order were killing all of the Asgardians on-board the ship, leaving no survivors. While Thor was the only one that we saw make it out of this attack alive, a repeat viewing of the film reminds us that while we saw Hulk, Loki and Heimdall, we did not see Valkyrie in the scene. Combined with the fact that Thor tells the Guardians that half of his people are still alive, this would mean that Valkyrie managed to escape Thanos’ attack along with some other Asgardians, whom she probably took with her on an escape vessel.
9. WONG DOESN’T ABANDON ANYONE
Poor Wong, Doctor Strange’s friend and closest ally, got the short end of the stick in Avengers: Infinity War. After fighting alongside Doctor Strange, Bruce Banner and Tony Stark in the streets of New York City, the Sorcerer Supreme’s assistant chose to stay behind after Strange was kidnapped and taken off-world by Ebony Maw. Then, we simply never see Wong for the remainder of the film. Of course, this led many to criticize the character after walking out of the film. He even became a meme, where he proceeded to “ghost” away whenever the situation called for his help.
But after re-watching the film, it’s important to take into consideration that Wong didn’t abandon the Avengers in their time of need.
Before Wong leaves, he explains that since Strange is now gone, he is the one who must protect the Sanctum Sanctorum. In the Doctor Strange film, we saw that there were many mystical threats out there, and we saw what happens when a Sanctum is destroyed. Thanos isn’t the only threat that can attack the Earth, meaning that the protection of Earth on the mystical side of things fell upon Wong. He didn’t abandon anyone, he’s actually keeping them safe from other threats.
8. THE CHITAURI’S BRIEF RETURN
In director Joss Whedon’s 2012 The Avengers film, Loki used the Tesseract to open a door to the other side of space right above New York City. As soon as this door was opened, a veritable swarm of Chitauri flew right through — an army of alien warriors laying siege to the city and its residents. The Chitauri, we would come to learn in the mid-credits scene of the film, actually answer to Thanos, and they were dispatched by the Mad Titan to be Loki’s army on Earth. However, the intervention of the Avengers led to the complete annihilation of the alien army, who were all wiped out in the aftermath of the battle.
Since this army was our first connection to Thanos, it actually makes sense for them to appear once more in Avengers: Infinity War.
Now, since they are dead, it would be difficult to see them just wandering about. But thanks to a flashback sequence, we see a time, long ago, when the Chitauri answered to Thanos on the battlefield. On Gamora’s home planet, we can see brief glimpses of a large number of Chitauri soldiers attacking the residents of the planet, as well as the Leviathan, the monster-sized squadrons of the alien army.
7. STARK AND WAR MACHINE ARE THE ONLY AVENGERS
With the implementation of the Sokovia Accords, the Avengers were fracture down the middle in Captain America: Civil War. Steve Rogers firmly stood against the Avengers answering to a military panel, while Tony Stark believed that the team was in need of oversight. This led to a confrontation between the two factions, with Vision, War Machine, Black Widow, Spider-Man and Black Panther joining Team Iron Man. Eventually, Steve Rogers ended up on the run, as did his followers, like Falcon and Wanda Maximoff. The Avengers now belonged to Iron Man, but that didn’t really mean much.
For starters, Black Widow changed sides and went on the run. Then, Black Panther went back home to Wakanda. As for Spider-Man, he spent the better part of his solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, trying to join the super-team, but he ended up turning down Stark’s offer to officially join. This meant that, going into Infinity War, there were only Vision, Rhodey and Stark as members of the Avengers. Worse still, we learn early in the film that Vision has been offline for the past few weeks. This means that, at the beginning of the film, the government-sanctioned Avengers only counted two members: War Machine and Iron Man.
6. NEBULA’S TORTURE
Contrary to most Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the timeline of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films is different, and less linear. While the time between most releases is reflected as real time in-universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 began only a few months after the events of the first film, even though nearly three years separated the films. This meant that Groot was still just a young infant, and that Nebula was still on the run. However, when Infinity War begins, years appear to have passed since we last saw the Guardians of the Galaxy, meaning that the team has gone through many changes.
It might be easy to miss, but this is actually a nod to The Infinity Gauntlet comic book!
As a matter of fact, Nebula is nowhere to be found. It’s only later in the film, when Gamora finds herself taken by Thanos, that we see that Nebula has been the Mad Titan’s prisoner for quite some time already. In fact, she is held in a stasis field, her robotic parts pulled apart in some brutal form of torture. It might be easy to miss, but this is actually a nod to The Infinity Gauntlet comic book, which saw Thanos use the power of the combined Infinity Stones to transform his disappointing daughter into a walking corpse. It may not be exactly the same method, but the result is the same – punish Nebula for her actions in a gruesome way.
5. IRON SPIDER’S PARACHUTE CALLS BACK TO HOMECOMING
In both Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, we saw a father/son, mentor/mentee relationship develop between Tony Stark and Peter Parker. While Peter spent the better part of his solo film trying to earn an Avengers membership, Stark actually kept him at arms’ length, in the hopes of moulding him into a better hero. But it wasn’t just about that – it was also about keeping Peter safe from the threats that Stark didn’t want a young teenager to face, no matter how brave or powerful he was. Such a development took place in Infinity War, when Peter joined the fight to help rescue Doctor Strange from Ebony Maw.
When Peter was starting to run out of air on Maw’s spaceship, Stark didn’t waste any time in dispatching the Iron Spider towards his protege. And as soon as it was on him, a parachute was deployed, in the hopes of taking Peter back home. The scene was played for laughs, but it, along with Peter’s “Oh come on!” line, was actually a callback to Homecoming. When Peter first faces off against the Vulture in the skies, an emergency parachute is deployed from within his suit, pulling him away from the fight.
4. THOR’S NEW AX CAN SUMMON THE BIFROST
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor goes on a quest of his own. After losing his brother, his father, his best friend, his home, his hammer and his hair, the God of Thunder doesn’t have much to call his own now, and the most recent devastating blow came at the hands of Thanos, who slaughtered half of his people, Heimdall, and his dear brother Loki. For that reason, Thor now seeks to kill Thanos. With the help of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, the God of Thunder travels to Nidavellir, the realm of the Dwarfs. There, he hopes that the smiths will be able to forge him a new weapon, a new hammer so that he says may kill Thanos.
Eitri mentions that, in theory, Stormbreaker might be able to summon the Bifrost, but he never knew for certain.
In Nidavellir, Thor meets his friend Eitri, the Dwarf King. Thanks to Thor’s efforts, the fires of the forges burn once more, and Eitri forges a new weapon, fit for the King of Kings: Stormbreaker. With it in his grasp, Thor is able to summon the Bifrost, and reach the battlefield of Wakanda in nothing but an instant. Eitri mentions that, in theory, Stormbreaker might be able to summon the Bifrost, but he never knew for certain. It’s easy to miss, or forget, but Thor’s epic entrance on the battlefield is made possible thanks to his new ax, and the unique power it now wields.
3. STARK HAS BEEN CARRYING STEVE’S PHONE EVERYWHERE
As Avengers: Infinity War begins, Bruce Banner finds himself crashing down from space, and right inside the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange. Then, with the Doctor’s help, Bruce finds an unassuming Tony Stark, and he warns his fellow science bro of the threat coming for Earth. As the two realize that they must protect the Vision, Tony says that they would need to call Steve Rogers for help. While Tony hesitates, he takes a flip phone out of his pocket, the very same phone that Steve sent to Tony at the end of Captain America: Civil War, in case he would ever need his help.
To everyone watching at first glance, it’s a perfect follow-up to the events of the Captain America threequel. But after repeat viewings, we come to realize that, yes, Tony had this phone on him, on a day when he was simply out for a run with his fiancee Pepper Potts. This means that, no matter the occasion, no matter where he goes or what he does, Tony is carrying Steve’s phone on his person, in case he would ever need to call his former friend. The duo’s friendship may have suffered a fracture, but the fact that Tony still has the phone on him at all times tells us he knows a time will come where he will need to contact Captain America once more.
2. QUILL AND GAMORA’S RELATIONSHIP EVOVLED OFF-SCREEN
The relationship between Peter Quill and Gamora has been quite complicated. The two started off as rivals in the hunt for the Orb, but it wasn’t long before their shared interests forced them to work together. Then, a few sparks slowly began to fly between the two. Star-Lord unleashed his trademark charm, which Gamora was quick to dismiss, but even she grew closer to the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the second film of the series, we saw that the two had grown a little closer, but nothing official yet.
They only kept talking about some “unspoken thing,” but they never acted upon it.
As far was we were concerned, these two had still a long way to go yet before becoming a full-blown couple. And yet, when we find them in Avengers: Infinity War, which takes place a few years after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we can now see that Star-Lord and Gamora are a new couple. They are close, and they share a passionate kiss. Even better, they are on “I love you” terms, as we can see when Gamora tearfully asks Quill to shoot her, lest Thanos finds the location of the Soul Stone. In-between the two films, the relationship between these two clearly evolved.
1. STEVE ROGERS STILL CALLS AVENGERS MANSION “HOME”
After failing to come to an understanding with Tony Stark over the Sokovia Accords, Steve Rogers ends Captain America: Civil War on the run. Last we see of him, he had broken into The Raft super-prison, about to free all those who sided with him over the internal conflict: Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man and Hawkeye. Over the next few years set in-between that film and Avengers: Infinity War, we come to understand that Steve has been operating in secret alongside Falcon, Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. He still wears his now-tattered costume from Civil War, and he still fights the good fight.
When Steve, Natasha and Sam rescue Wanda and the Vision from Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, we see a grateful Vision thank Steve for his help, even though they haven’t seen each other in years, and even though they fought on opposing sides of the conflict. When asked where they should go next, Steve simply answers with “Home.” Then, when next we see them, they are walking into the New York Avengers Mansion, making it clear that even though Steve spent years on the run from the authorities, he still considers this place to be his home. It’s easy to miss, or to make that connection, but repeat viewings make it easier to grasp.
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