The latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War, is a dream come true for comic book fans. But while the film doesn’t recreate Jim Starlin’s 1991 series The Infinity Gauntlet panel for panel, it did homage the book by recreating one crucial scene in the beginning, where Doctor Strange and Wong are having a pretty normal day until an unexpected visitor drops by. Due to a variety of reasons, including copyright issues, one major character had to be swapped.
Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War ahead.
At the beginning of Infinity War, after Thanos beats up the Hulk and collects the Space Stone, Heimdall sends Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) back to Earth where he crashes through the roof of the Sanctum Sanctorum. That’s how Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) get acquainted with the rest of the MCU: A paranoid Banner warns them that “Thanos is coming.”
Despite being a scary rage monster himself, seeing a paranoid Bruce Banner all shook is a pretty unnerving scene. Later, when Thanos’s forces begin attacking New York, the quiet rumble of the outside builds up like a horror movie. It’s not A Quiet Place, to be sure, but it is effective directing by Joe and Anthony Russo.
Devoted readers may be familiar with the scene, because it also kicked off the beginning of The Infinity Gauntlet decades ago. But there was one massive change the film made from the comics: Originally, it wasn’t the Hulk who dropped in on Strange and Wong. It was the SIlver Surfer.
For millennials of a certain age, they may remember the Silver Surfer due to his awesome but short-lived animated series on Fox Kids that aired alongside retro classics like X-Men, Batman: The Animated Series, and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. In 2007, Doug Jones from Hellboy and The Shape of Water starred as the Silver Surfer’s motion capture performer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The character was voiced by Laurence Fishburne, a known Marvel fan who will appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp this July.
Like the Hulk, when Silver Surfer crashes through the Sanctum Sanctorum, he hysterically warns Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme about Thanos. Finally, in the third issue, Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock, and even Doctor Doom (long story) call upon Earth’s heroes who hadn’t been wiped out by Thanos’s genocide. (Oh yeah, Thanos succeeded in his mission very early in the comics, whereas the chaos happened at the very end of the film.)
Unlike the movie, though, the heroes who join the cause in the comics either didn’t survive the heartbreaking ending, or can’t even appear in the film due to copyright issues. They include Spider-Man, Wolverine, Drax, Firelord, Nova, Scarlet Witch, Cyclops, Namor the Sub-mariner, and Cloak, who will appear in the YA Marvel series Cloak & Dagger on Freeform this summer.
Besides Adam Warlock, one of the most important characters to The Infinity Gauntlet was the Silver Surfer, who is sorely missing from Avengers: Infinity War. In 1990, Jim Starlin returned to Marvel and began writing its Silver Surfer series, staring with issue #34. It was in Starlin’s run that he began setting up the pieces for a big story where the Surfer goes up against Thanos, but Marvel mandated Starlin to go bigger. After the two-issue Thanos Quest where Thanos collects the Infinity Gems (not “Stones”), Starlin continued his story in Silver Surfer until issue #50. From there, Starlin dropped Silver Surfer onto an unsuspecting Doctor Strange and Wong, in The Infinity Gauntlet #1.
As of now, the cinematic rights to Silver Surfer remain at Fox. However, there was a tiny $52.4 billion merger that occurred late last year that might finally have the Silver Surfer return to Marvel. It just won’t be in time to stop Thanos.
Avengers: Infinity War is in theaters now.