The Battle of Wakanda

Black Panther was glorious to behold and it’s a testament to the movie’s power that one of the biggest goosebump-inducing moments in Infinity War comes when it cuts to Wakanda for the first time and we see that huge panther statue and hear Ludwig Goransson’s musical theme for Black Panther again. In New Avengers #9 and Infinity #2, we do get three pages and one panel showing part of the invasion of Wakanda by Thanos’ forces. Most of the conflict happens off-page, however, as the comic cuts to other locations like The Jean Grey School, home of the X-Men, and Atlantis, the underwater kingdom of Namor the Sub-Mariner.

In the movie, Black Panther does momentarily spar with Thanos’ oversized lieutenant Cull Obsidian (known as Black Dwarf on the comics page), just as he does in New Avengers #9. Yet as a whole, the Battle of Wakanda is a much more massive set piece in the movie than it ever was in the comics. Having hordes of Outriders (another detail brought to life from the Infinity mini-series) clash with the tribes of Wakanda is what mainly justifies the movie’s title of Infinity War. That title was actually taken from another comics event, which involved the heroes of the Marvel universe clashing with swarms of evil doppelgangers based on themselves. Like Age of Ultron (which some have argued is the best Avengers film), this is one of those Marvel movies where the title bears little resemblance to the actual comics event where it originated.

Eitiri The Dwarf Forges Stormbreaker

One of the more perplexing moments for non-comics readers in Avengers: Infinity War might come when Peter Dinklage (Games of Thrones) shows up as an oversized space-dwarf whose deep, goofy voice almost sounds at times like that of another character impersonating Thor, the way Star-Lord does earlier in the movie. Dinklage is playing Eitri, the dwarf leader who, in the comics, forged a new hammer for Beta Ray Bill after Bill defeated Thor in single combat in Thor #339.

This issue preceded the classic “Surtur Saga,” another one of the inspirations for last year’s Thor: Ragnarok. Toward the end of that issue, there’s a glorious splash page where Bill is shown in his own Thor costume for the first time. The movie gives us something similar when Thor makes his thunderous rearrival on Earth, looking spiffy again in a clean costume. Others have pointed out that Thor’s new ax-hammer, Stormbreaker, looks more “like the Mjolnir from a parallel dimension” (Earth-1610, the Ultimate Universe). The movie combines the two versions and throws in a neat added twist whereby one of Groot’s snaking tree limbs serves as the hammer handle.

Web In The Face/Celestial Objects as Weapons

Mainstream moviegoers have now had their minds blown the way the minds of comics readers were blown when they first read The Infinity Gauntlet #4 back in 1991. That is the issue in which Thanos kills most of the assembled heroes, including a cosmic task force led by Captain America on the edge of space. One by one in that issue, major characters like Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Thor meet a grisly fate at the hands of the Mad Titan and Terraxia, the purple-skinned She-Thanos consort he has conjured for himself out of thin air. It’s the kind of crazy comic book battle royale where you see Iron Man struggling on the ground with Terraxia in one panel, and then, all of a sudden, in the corner of the next panel, you see Iron Man’s decapitated helmet-head bouncing across the ground like a basketball.

The movie does take us to Titan, the homeworld of Thanos, where we get to see him square off against an assortment of heroes led by Tony Stark (though Star-Lord would probably insist he was the leader, not Tony). There’s a direct callback to the fight that took place in issue #4 when Spider-Man swings in and webs Thanos in the face. In issue #5, after killing most of Earth’s heroes, Thanos also fights the cosmic beings of the Marvel universe, and there’s one panel where the Celestials are shown drafting “helpless planets into the conflict, using them as weapons of war.”

The movie opts to scale it down to a single moon, which Thanos breaks up into falling asteroid rocks. It looks like those rocks become a swarm of bats, which then proceed to terrorize Iron Man…a rather meta moment, if you view it as an Easter-egg reference to the DC/Marvel rivalry that has long existed in the comics and would also spring up among movie fans after the first Iron Man movie and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight both hit theaters during the same fateful summer of 2008.

Bonus: The trippy moment when Doctor Strange sprouts extra arms and manifests multiple mirages of himself shows him casting an old magic spell from the comics known as the Images of Ikonn, which first appeared in Doctor Strange #19 back in 1976.

Vision’s Wires/Cap’s “Last Man Standing” Moment

A couple other callbacks to issue #4 happen after Thanos steps through the wormhole to Wakanda. The way Vision dies, with Thanos ripping circuits and cords out of his chest, exposing his inner wiring, is mirrored a bit in the movie with what happens to Paul Bettany’s red-and-green android’s forehead.

The last man standing in the comics battle is Captain America. Always the picture of great dignity, Cap strides over to where Thanos is standing and faces off with him even though he is clearly outmatched and it is suicide to do so.

In the movie, Thanos charges toward Vision, swatting aside heroes like flies, only to meet a final roadblock in the form of Steve Rogers. The way their face-off is framed, with Thanos rising tall over Rogers, exerting force downward on him, is similar to the way it was done in the comics (though Rogers lacks his signature shield in the movie encounter, having cast it aside along with the Captain America identity at the end of Captain America: Civil War).

Continue Reading 12 Iconic Marvel Comics Moments That Avengers: Infinity War Brings to Life >>

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