There are few objects as powerful as the Infinity Gauntlet in the Marvel Universe. The gauntlet, and the Infinity gems from which it derives its power, have become iconic parts of popular culture due to it being the driving force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga,” which includes key films in Phases One, Two, and Three of the MCU. While being an important part of the films, the Gauntlet and its Gems have a much more impressive and varied history in the comics.
The Gauntlet and the Gems are important artifacts in the Marvel Universe and are incredibly dangerous when in the wrong hands. The powers it gives its wielder can make them into a God-like being, capable of unimaginable feats, which can sometimes get plain weird. Despite being such a powerful object, the gauntlet is not without its own inherent weaknesses, and can sometimes be rendered useless or even destroyed in the right circumstances. Let’s take a quick look at how powerful the colorful glove really is!
As stated earlier, the gauntlet derives its power from the Infinity Gems. These stones are already immensely powerful individually, and give their wielder complete control over that gem’s aspect of all existence. When the six (Mind, Power, Reality, Soul, Space, and Time) are combined within the Gauntlet, they give their wielder complete omnipotence and the power of a God. The wielder is then able to do whatever they wish, such as travel through time and space, bend reality to their whim, read or control minds, and steal or trap souls.
Though the Gems appeared in various storylines years prior, the gauntlet appeared in the eponymously titled Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim. The infamous “snap” occurred during this storyline and saw Thanos wiping out half of the existence with a snap of his fingers. His reality-bending powers also saw him send a shock-wave powerful enough to obliterate entire solar systems and saw the West Coast of the United States sinking, while Japan was erased from history. The gauntlet was also able to create life, such as when Thanos created Terraxia, as well as resurrecting the dead, as he did with his granddaughter (in the comics), Nebula.
Where things get scary and weird is what Thanos does to other characters. When his brother Starfox tried to use his powers of persuasion, Thanos removes his mouth. When the heroes of Earth try to attack him, Thanos used the gauntlet to turn Wolverine’s adamantium bones into rubber, suffocate Namor and She-Hulk with fungi, encase Cyclops’ head in a clear cube to make him suffocate, and turn Thor into glass, killing them all. Thanos was so powerful with the Gauntlet, he eventually captured Cosmic Beings like Galactus, Epoch and the Celestials. He was even able to defeat Eternity to become master of all reality, meaning the Gems are so powerful they can literally become the universe itself!
Thanos isn’t the only one to have wielded the gauntlet, though. Several villains have obtained the Gauntlet for their own evil ends and used it for twisted purposes. Sersi’s attempt to obtain the other gems when she was possessed by the seventh “Ego” gem, in a Marvel crossover with the Ultraverse, resulted in the creation of a new entity called Nemesis. Though the being was eventually defeated by the Black Knight, the destruction of the Ego gem and scattering of the other six gems ended up causing mass continuity changes in the Ultraverse, once again showing the power and scale of the gems.
In FF# 16 by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting, Doctor Doom once managed to obtain two gauntlets from two separate universes, which helped him create the Parliament of Dooms. What If? Infinity – Dark Reign # 1 by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka imagines if Norman Osborne, aka the Green Goblin, got his hands on the gauntlet during the events of Dark Reign, and showed Osborne using it to force his arch-nemesis Spider-Man to relive the moment Gwen Stacy died, over and over again.
In the original Infinity Gauntlet story, Thanos is only defeated when he merges with Eternity, which left his physical body vulnerable and allows Nebula to steal the Gauntlet from him and undo all the damage he had done. Despite the gauntlet’s omnipotence, there are a few drawbacks and weaknesses. Due to its sheer power, the gauntlet can be seductive and corrupt those wielding it. Examples include when Iron Man became tempted to end all of humanity’s issues and create a technological paradise on earth, or when an alternative reality version of Silver Surfer became a near tyrant under its influence.
As revealed in New Avengers: Illuminati by Brian Michael Bendis, Reed Richards finds that the gems and gauntlet can do everything, except to destroy themselves. This does not mean the gems cannot be destroyed, though, as New Avengers Vol. 3 #3 sees Captain America as the one to wield it during an Incursion event (where there’s a contraction in the Multiverse and two Earths collide). Cap intended to use the gauntlet to push the other Earth away, but the feedback caused all the gems to shatter, with the exception of the time gem.
Infinity Gems and Gauntlets are also only able to work in their native universe, rendering them powerless in other realities. An example of this is shown is in JLA/Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, when Darkseid was shown wielding the gauntlet, sparking fear in both teams. But since Darkseid was native to the DC Universe, the gauntlet and the gems did not work, so the God of Apokolips discarded the gauntlet.
These examples show that there are limitations to the gauntlet’s seemingly limitless power and there have been cases showing that beings like the Living Tribunal and the Beyonders are much more powerful than the gauntlet. During Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić, God Emperor Doom with the power of the Beyonders is able to fight Black Panther, who wielded the Gauntlet, seemingly with ease. The King of Wakanda and Reed Richards had to use a ploy to trick Doom into defeat, as the gauntlet proves not to be powerful enough on its own.
As stated before, the gauntlet’s powers not only give its wielder the power of a god, able to bend time and reality itself to the wielder’s whim, it can also end up ruining the wielder’s soul as they become consumed with their newfound power. Only the purest souls like Captain America seem to be able to resist its power of temptation, and even they flirt with its corruption.
The sheer destruction it can bring explains why the heroes of the Marvel Universe have either attempted to destroy the gems in the past or spread them out between trusted individuals, so no one one person has all six of the gems. As several stories show, with the wrong hand within it, the gauntlet can destroy and wreak havoc on the Marvel Universe as we know it and its power is best kept at bay.
from Ultimate Comic Blog