Just when you thought Marvel Studios had unloaded all their big news at their Saturday Hall H panel those wiley motherfuckers went and tricked us all. They had set up a ‘Hall Of Asgard’ recreation on Comic Con’s showroom floor, and it was full of props and images from the upcoming movie Thor. Then Sunday afternoon they wheeled out a display case and showed it for about five minutes. The contents of that case:

The Infinity Gauntlet.

For those not in the know this is the kind of news that gets hardcore Mighty Marvel Marching Society members like me weak in the knees. So before I go on, a rundown of what The Infinity Gauntlet is:

In the Marvel comics universe there are six ancient artifacts known as the Infinity Gems. Each has a specific function and grants their wielder unimaginable power. There’s the Soul Gem, which allows you to control – and even destroy souls. It also contains an idyllic pocket universe within itself. There’s the Time Gem, which gives power over all time, allowing time travel, deaging, the halting of time – you name it. There’s the Mind Gem, which as you imagine give immense psychic ability and mind control. The Space Gem gives the wielder absolute authority over space, allowing them to be all places at once, or to travel to any spot in existence at their will. There’s the Reality Gem, which grants supreme control over the very fabric of reality, and grants wishes instantly. And then the Power Gem channels any power or energy that has ever existed, and when combined with the other gems reinforces their abilities. 

The mad Titan named Thanos collected the six Infinity Gems and wore them together on a glove – the Infinity Gauntlet. The Gauntlet made Thanos the supreme being of the universe. His goal was to impress the anthropomorphic embodiment of Death, and so his first act as the ruler of all was to kill half the beings in the universe, to better balance the scales between life and death. This all went down in the Infinity Gauntlet crossover event, where the most cosmic beings in the Marvel universe – including the embodiment of Eternity itself! – stood and fell before Thanos. In the end only Adam Warlock, a weird golden Christ figure, was able to stop Thanos. Or more specifically, was able to use Thanos’ own self-destructive tendencies against him.

The Gauntlet played into some more Marvel stories, and there was a fairly bad crossover with another comic company – the Ultraverse – that introduced a seventh gem, the Ego Gem. What’s interesting about the Infinity Gauntlet showing up in the Asgard set is that the only time any Asgardians had real designs on the glove was during that crossover, when Loki went into the other comic book universe in order to gather the seventh gem. So what the hell is the Infinity Gauntlet doing in Thor, if it has no lasting comic book connection to that mythos?

I suspect that the Gauntlet is an Easter Egg, that it has very little – if anything – to do with the story. But when paired with the reveal that the Cosmic Cube – another Marvel Comics artifact of ultimate power (they have a couple of these. See also: Ultimate Nullifier), it gives us a hint that Marvel is thinking big with The Avengers. My belief thus far was that the Skrulls – or a variation on them, possibly called the Chitauri – would play into the first Avengers film (a riff on the first series of The Ultimates), but could it be that an alien invasion is too small scale for the Marvel Movieverse? Could Loki, who has been rumored to be in The Avengers, be getting his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet and making big trouble?

If so… wow. This is tough territory. And frankly, it’s mostly untested. The modern superhero film has been largely grounded – mostly earthbound stories that just feel like action films on steroids. A movie where the villain wields the Infinity Gauntlet would, I hope, have unbelievable scope and scale. I’m talking about the deaths of worlds, if not universes. I’m actually worried that something that big would come across as silly or cheesy, but looking at what Marvel is doing with Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, they’re not afraid of getting right up against silly. That said, a movie where the Infinity Gems are scattered early allows for the film to break up the Avengers team into missions, giving everybody something to do. That’s helpful when you have a team where humans like Hawkeye fight alongside gods like Thor.

Thanks to ifanboy, who found and snapped the shot of the Infinity Gauntlet.

PS: look how happy this guy is