Warlock & The Infinity Watch: Taking place after Guardians 3. I’m assuming, for the moment, they won’t be decimated, and will co-anchor this movie with Warlock and Captain Marvel; even if they take casualties, whoever survives can be in this.
We start on Vormir. Red Skull is devastated. We think he’s talking to the embodiment of death. He’s upset that Steve Rogers is gone- he’ll never be able to kill him. That he could have been content to be a specter, so long as the possibility that he could one day torment Rogers existed. But now… he has to just let his hate die. And what is the Red Skull without his hate? The soul stone falls into his hand. He wasn’t speaking to death at all, but a Kang variant, who may need a universe with infinite stones, but doesn’t mind him using one in the interim (really, he’s expecting Red Skull to soften the universe up for him).
Adam Warlock, and I’m making educated guesses, here, but he’s largely a good guy. He shows up on Earth, shortly after the events of WandaVision. We see her studying the Darkhold, but when there’s a knock on the door, she comes to it in a wool shirt with a mug of cocoa. She doesn’t know Warlock, but his golden skin is striking. “Wanda Maximoff. I am known as Adam Warlock.”
“Oh, um… I don’t really train people in the mystic arts. But I probably have the number for Dr. Strange, if you’d like to come in.” (Yes, this scene is set before the events of Dr. Strange 2)
“I’m not here for that. I’m here with this.” He holds out one of the infinity stones, and she reaches for it. “Aren’t you concerned it could harm you?” He’s somewhat taken aback by her haste to seize its power. “Or that its great power might corrupt you?”
“It doesn’t seem to have harmed you, and my powers came from one of the stones. I always assumed I was immune to them.” Adam reads her aura.
“There is a darkness in you, Wanda Maximoff. You cannot aid in my quest, and I would beg you, to abandon your own, for it will rend your soul in half.”
“Could I use it?” She asks. “I see you, now. I know what you are. And I could no more take the stone from you than survive ripping loose the energy of the sun. But if I could hold it, for a moment. I could bring them back. I could give my boys life again, and make Vision… make my family whole again.”
“I’m sorry, Wanda. You are not whole, and while that remains true, you will be unfit to wield an infinite stone- and unfit to reclaim your family.”
“You bastard!” she unleashes a blast, but Warlock is already gone, flying at speed away from the Earth.
He makes it as far as the atmosphere before Captain Marvel collides with him, hitting him so hard he impacts on the surface of the Moon. They fight, briefly, before Warlock puts up his hands, realizing she isn’t a threat. “I mean you no harm, and, I believe, you mean but to protect your homeworld. There is no reason for violence between us.”
He explains that his cosmic senses allowed him to notice the reintroduction of the stones by Kang, and he means to protect them. However, he has a darkness in himself, one that cannot be tamed, and certainly cannot be trusted with the stones. So he needs others to safeguard them in his stead. She seems worthy, if she would stand by him. She accepts, if only so he’s not carrying two stones alone anymore.
She also mentions knowing a crew that might be able to help- people who have stood for the galaxy when others did not. “I would be eager to meet such heroes,” Warlock says.
“I… wouldn’t call them heroes, exactly…”
Needle drop, in a colorful corner of space. Drax and Groot are staring out the window at space. I’m going to assume by this point Groot is back to an adult floral colossus. “I do not understand, tree,” Drax says dryly.
“I am Groot.”
“I have never heard the contradiction of sentient life more poetically expressed.”
“He got that from a fortune cookie,” Rocket says, shoving between them.
“There were cookies?” Drax asks, walking towards the cabin.
“There were,” Nebula says, and pops the last one into her mouth whole.
“You’re eating the fortune,” Peter says.
“Why is there paper in my cookie?” she asks, pulling it out of her mouth.
“Mine wasn’t worth anything; let alone a fortune,” Rocket says. “Just some human gibbering.”
“The fortune’s, it’s a saying, something philosophical, or portentous,” Peter says.
“I saved you one,” Gamorra says, tossing it to Drax. He catches it, and crushes the cookie in his hand. He removes the paper, then crudely mashes the dust into his face.
“Thank you, assassin.” His fortune, which he drops but which we linger on, says, “Your daughter is alive.”
Drax takes one of the containers of food, and begins to shovel into his mouth with chop sticks. Suddenly the ship lurches.
“We hit something?” Gamorra asks.
“Hit, no,” Rocket says. “But if you want I can gun the engines.” Rocket points where Captain Marvel and Warlock are floating just on the other side of the ship’s windshield.
They walk through the forcefield in the rear of the ship. Warlock is less impressed, since he’s met the Guardians before, and expected… more. They get to talking, and it turns out they’re all headed to Knowhere. The Guardians are uneasy about assembling the stones. Isn’t that just making the job easier for the next Thanos? On the other hand, if the Infinity Watch train in the use of the stones, and coordinate, it’s likely the next Thanos wouldn’t be able to take them at all.
They fly to Knowhere, or what’s left of it after Thanos’ fight with the Collector. Oddly, the stone is back with his collection.
Next they travel on their ship to the wreckage of the realm of Asgard. I honestly kind of like the idea that the battle between Hela and Surtur continues in the background- a permanent Ragnarok on an increasingly small chunk of rock (alternately, as in my unrelated Thor 5 pitch, Hela could go to Hel and take over).
They find Beta Ray Bill, who found one of the remaining weapons from Odin’s vault (essentially the prototype for Mjolnir), which granted him Thor-like power, along with an infinite stone (unless of course either Hemsworth or Portman Thor want to guest- contacted by the Guardians- and then we’ll bring in Bill for the sequel/credits).
They go to Xandar. One of the stones is there. Red Skull finds the second stone, and begins to wreak havoc, using the two stones he possesses to transform the locals into his minions. As set up in the credits scene from Nova 2, The Nova Corps, led by Richard Rider and his brother Sam, are looking for the stone, too, leading a Nova contingent. They hold Skull off long enough for Warlock and the Guardians to arrive. He can hold back any one of them, even using the stones, hitting Peter Quill so hard he drops the stone he was holding, which is picked up by Richard Rider. The heroes without stones hold back the possessed Xandarians, while the four watchpersons, Warlock, Captain Marvel, Beta Ray Bill, and Nova, attack him as a team, essentially hitting him one after another in a round. Finally, they join hands, channeling the stones together, to stop Skull; during this, subtly, Magus tries to assert control of Warlock. Skull uses his teleporting stone to open a portal, and gets knocked into it, losing his stones.
We do an epilogue aboard the Milano, the heroes deciding to form the Infinity Watch, to take the stones to the opposite ends of the Universe.
Mid Credits Scene: Gamora and Peter are in an elevator. “I’m just saying, the last time we gave up an infinity stone, I lost you,” he says. “I don’t think I could survive that again.”
“It took a Thanos to kill me the first time- and he’s gone. And she died because the two of you trusted the Xandarians. I’m not just giving this stone to the most advanced power in the universe, but to its greatest warrior.” The elevator opens. We pan across the majestic Shiar throne room, before settling on Gladiator. Back to credits.
End Credits Scene: “I’ve already given up one infinity stone.” Strange says. We’re in his Sanctum Sanctorum.
“That’s why I trust you.” It’s Warlock, handing him one of the stones. “Because I don’t want you to keep it. If my other self…”
“Your other self?”
“The Magus. He knows what I do. He tried to assert control when we were fighting Red Skull. If he knows where the stone is, he’ll take it, first thing. And the Magus with two stones… he’d be harder to stop than Red Skull. Perhaps unstoppable.”
Strange takes the stone. “Have you thought about stepping down? Giving away both stones?”
“It’s my burden. At least for now. Unless you’re offering to take it on?”
Strange touches his third eye. “I’m not sure I’m the right man for the job. I’ve seen who Stephen Strange becomes with too much power. But I can make some inquiries.”