There have been all sorts of magical weaponry, cool powers and memorable superheroes in the last decade of Marvel movies. But it’s six mythical gems and one obsessive cosmic villain that will tie everything together in the upcoming movie Avengers: Infinity War. Infinity War boasts more good guys than have ever been in a Marvel Cinematic Universe project before, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Guardians of the Galaxy, led by Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Book review: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe They’re all going to have to be at their best to beat Thanos (Josh Brolin), a dude wielding a legendary metal glove called the Infinity Gauntlet that holds the all-powerful Infinity Stones: Space, Power, Reality, Time, Mind and Soul. We get it – that’s a lot to take in, especially if the only cool glove you’ve ever known is Michael Jackson’s silver number and all you’ve seen of this massive narrative is Black Panther . Here’s what you need to know about the Avengers’ biggest foe to date and those six twinkly baubles he’s hunting. Look out for Thanos, aka the Mad Titan The supervillain first showed his face in the end credits of the first Avengers film: He had tasked trickster god (and Thor’s brother) Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to take an alien army to Earth to obtain the Tesseract, a mystical cube containing the Space stone. Loki, however, failed – thanks to the titular Avengers. Then, in Guardians of the Galaxy , he assigned Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) to snag a mysterious Orb – which ended up being the container for the Power stone – but Thanos was thwarted again, this time by the Guardians, a group of criminals and bounty hunters who find a common purpose by beating up even badder guys. DC Comics and Marvel superheroes ready to fight for box-office dollars Now he’s irked enough to get the job done himself: with his Black Order henchmen in tow, Thanos comes to our world to collect the stones and place them in his golden gauntlet, which will give him the power to rule the universe – and wipe out one half of its population, to boot. But wait, what are the origins of the stones? As spacefaring curio fanatic The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) explained to the Guardians of the Galaxy in their first movie, the stones date back to creation itself, are concentrated remnants of pure cosmic power and can only be wielded by people with extraordinary strength. Or big, bad dudes with really fancy gauntlets. What kind of stuff can you do with them? The Space stone can open portals in space, fuel dangerous weapons and also show visions of a possible future. The Time stone gives its wielder complete control over time, from stopping it to creating endless loops. The Power stone can wipe out a planet’s entire civilisation. The Reality stone brings the dead back to life and controls darkness. The Mind stone is used to control others. And no one really knows quite yet the capabilities of the Soul stone, the only gem that hasn’t been introduced in the Marvel movies. But in the comics, its user has mastery over every living or dead soul in the universe. So where the heck are they? As Infinity War opens, Loki – now a “good guy”, or as close as he’ll ever be – is in possession of the Tesseract (aka the Space stone). He, Thor and the Incredible Hulk are cruising through the galaxy in a spaceship along with a rag-tag band of allies and the survivors of their home, Valhalla, which was destroyed after a nasty incident involving their now-deceased villainous sister. The Collector, who survived the destruction of his palace of knick-knacks in the first Guardians movie, is assumed to have the Aether (Reality stone) somewhere out there in space, while the Power stone is being guarded by members of the Nova Corps, who are something like space police operating in the same area of the galaxy. X-Men, Iron Man and the Hulk in one film? Anything is possible since Disney’s huge Fox buyout The magician Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has the Time stone housed in amulet. He’s based in New York, so is likely to encounter Spider-Man (Tom Holland), a Queens-based superhero, if Thanos comes looking for it there. Meanwhile the Mind stone is embedded in the forehead of Vision (Paul Bettany), a robot Avenger created by Iron Man and Thor. The stone has given him life and intelligence (and cool walking-through-walls powers) so you can expect him to go face-to-face with Thanos at some point, whether he likes it or not. As for the Soul stone, maybe Thanos has a bead on where it is because we sure don’t. Black Panther showed that the hi-tech African country of Wakanda has a giant chunk of vibranium – a super-strong metal that’s at the heart of their technological advancements and was used to make Captain America’s shield – underneath it. Perhaps the Soul stone is embedded in there, too – which could explain how Black Panther has the ability to visit his ancestors in an ethereal afterlife realm. Why is it so hard to track these things down? Because of pesky superheroes, of course! Thanos has sent minions after them in the past, but he’s been foiled by both the Avengers and the Guardians, which is why he’s getting his hands dirty and hunting them himself. He’s got his Black Order, the Avengers have a Hulk. Let’s get ready to rumble.