(Note: A bunch of spoilers for the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” and beyond. Read on at your own risk.)
The end of “Avengers: Infinity War” left a lot open for fans to speculate. Thanos snapping his fingers and eliminating half the universe was a devastating moment, but this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans were left wondering how the remaining heroes might be able to undo Thanos’ wish and save beloved characters like Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man.
We have confirmation on a key piece of information that could reveal how the characters who turned to dust after Thanos (Josh Brolin) emerged victorious might survive. It has to do with one of the all-powerful Infinity Stones itself: the Soul Stone.
In the Marvel Comics version of the story called “Infinity Gauntlet” that was very loosely adapted into “Infinity War,” the Soul Stone contains an entire pocket dimension — a self-contained place known as the Soul World. And the people who are killed by the Soul Stone aren’t totally dead; their spirits wind up in the Soul World, inside the stone, and they’re stuck there. “Infinity War,” like “Infinity Gauntlet,” sees Thanos questing after the six Infinity Stones to use them to quickly and efficiently wipe out half of everything alive in the universe. And when he uses them all at the end of the movie, people randomly turn to dust, completely ceasing to exist.
There was speculation that “Infinity War” actually includes a trip to the Soul World, right after Thanos gets the sixth Infinity Stone and snaps his fingers. When he does, he’s briefly transported to an orange-hued place with a small gazebo-like structure. There, he sees a young version of his adopted daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who he sacrificed to get the Soul Stone. Fans figured that was the Soul World, but since it wasn’t explicitly stated in the movie, nobody could be 100 percent sure.
Thanks to the director commentary in the home video release of “Infinity War,” we know definitively that that orange place is the Soul World, and that has huge implications for what’s next in the battle with Thanos. During the commentary, directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely discuss the scene after the snap. When McFeely asks, “Are we confirming that that’s the Soul World,” Joe Russo answers, “Of course that’s the Soul World.”
In the comics, even though Thanos causes half the universe to die, their souls still exist in the Soul World. They might be stuck in there, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything or interact with each other and, potentially, other people.
One character in the comics who’s not in “Infinity War” (or “Avengers 4,” according to Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige), Adam Warlock, has a deep connection to the Soul Stone, and is able to travel into the Soul World and interact with the people there. He even is able to use that connection with the Soul Stone to create discord with the other stones, which causes the person wearing the Infinity Gauntlet physical pain. In the comics, that’s how he’s able to get Nebula, who steals the gauntlet from Thanos, to remove it, thus saving the universe.
If the Soul World functions the way it does in the comics, it should mean that all the people wiped out by Thanos’ snap still exist there, and that could provide the remaining Avengers a way of saving them in “Avengers 4.” And since Thanos saw Gamora in the Soul World, it seems like a pretty safe bet that her soul also survives there, meaning she also could be resurrected. How that will work, though, remains to be seen, since we have no information about the MCU version of the Soul World yet.
Adam Warlock might not be around for “Infinity War,” but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of someone back in the real world interacting with, or even traveling to, the Soul World. It’s possible that the “Quantum Realm,” the strange dimension reached by shrinking to the subatomic level in the “Ant-Man” movies, could provide a passageway to the Soul World.
That could potentially give the heroes back in the real world a way to meet up with the people who were lost and maybe get some key information from them (like the location of Captain Marvel, the last character to get a standalone movie before “Avengers 4”), or even a means of rescuing people from the Soul World — a huge boon in whatever further battles are sure to occur in “Avengers 4.”
It might be that the souls who are trapped in the Soul Stone can’t play a part in “Avengers 4,” but their existence there could give hope that’s sorely lacking to the heroes. In any event, the fact that the Soul World is confirmed to exist in the MCU is another step to a confirmation that the people wiped out by Thanos’ wish aren’t really gone, and can probably be restored. How that can happen is an entirely different question, though — and the answer will likely involve “Captain Marvel.”
The home video release of “Avengers: Infinity War” has introduced a lot of new information about the state of the MCU.
We also learned why Spider-Man lingered a bit after Thanos’ snap; that you don’t have to be “worthy” to wield Thor’s new “Stormbreaker” axe; why Thanos didn’t go after the stones years ago; and why Thanos didn’t just double the universe’s resources.
We’ve spent a lot of time digging through the details to try to figure out what’s coming, not just in “Avengers 4” but also “Captain Marvel.” We have come up with a pretty solid guess about what is involved in the one future Doctor Strange saw in which the Avengers defeat Thanos. Click here for our deeper look into how “Captain Marvel” might impact that distressing plot twist at the end of “Infinity War.”
There’s also another obscure Marvel Comics hero who could be essential to “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers 4.” Click here for our discussion of the whole Vision situation and whether he’s really dead. Here’s a rundown of how “Infinity War” could actually be a giant, elaborate test. If that’s not weird enough for you, here are some other wild fan theories. And, finally, here’s our run-down on how the comic book version of these events played out.