|Art by George Perez (yes he's my favorite comic book artist).|
The Infinity Gauntlet has already appeared very briefly in the
movie, Thor (the original).
So if you (like much of the rest of the movie going world) went and saw Thor: The Dark World in all its fabulousness, then you probably stayed for the scenes Marvel always embeds at the end of the credits. One of these had Thor's Asgardian friends Sif and Volstagg step cautiously through a room filled with all kinds of interesting artifacts from around the galaxy. They are delivering a box emitting a faint red glow to a being known as "The Collector," who was first introduced in the comics in "Avengers #28" back in 1966.
"The Collector" is one of the Elders of the Universe. These are aptly named because to be an "Elder" you must be one of the oldest living creatures in existence. "The Collector" is also aptly named as he spends his time hoarding archives of various treasures. He has filled up ten entire planets that have been converted into museums just to house all of his belongings.
So what's in the box? Well it's the aether (which you see in full force in Thor: The Dark World). Since Asgard is already watching over "The Tesseract" (the blue cosmic cube in The Avengers movie) they Asgardians have chosen to separate these two things because its dangerous keeping them so close together.
The aether is one of six infinity stones. Sometimes these "stones" are referred to as "gems," so I'm letting you know that to avoid confusion. Anyway, in the Marvel universe there are six of these stones, and they are pictured mounted on the gauntlet above, which is being warn by Thanos (a super bad-ass villain that wants to destroy half the life in the universe because he wants to gain the affections of Death). Each of the Infinity stones are able to control a different element of the universe: mind, soul, time, power, space, and reality. If you have all of them, you could rule over or destroy all life in existence. Oh the power rush!
In the above series, Thanos defeats many of the universe's most powerful entities. They include Galactus, the Stranger, Kronus, and Eternity. Thanos only really gets defeated because he starts being stupid.
Here is what each of the stones can do in the comics:
1) Soul. Green in color, this one allows the user to steal, control, manipulate and alter souls. It is sentient and has a hunger for souls. It is the gateway to an idyllic pocket universe. This one is owned by Dr. Strange so we can expect it to appear in a Dr. Strange movie!
2) Time. Orange in color, this one allows the user total control over the past, present and future. The one wielding it can time travel, can age and youthen beings, and it can trap enemies or entire universes in a permanent loop of time (think Groundhog Day for everyone). It also grants omniscience.
3) Space. Purple in color, this stone allows the user to exist in any or all locations, move any object anywhere throughout reality and warp or rearrange space. It grants omnipresence.
4) Mind. Blue in color, this stone allows the user to greatly strengthen and enhance mental and psionic power and access the thoughts and dreams of other beings. Backed by the "power gem," the mind stone can access all minds in existence simultaneously.
5) Reality. Yellow in color, this stone allows the user to fulfill wishes, even if the wish is in direct contradiction to scientific laws.
6) Power. Red in color, the power jewel accesses all power and energy that ever has or ever will exist. It can boost the other gems' effects, and allows the user to duplicate almost any physical superhuman ability and grants omnipotence.
So there you have it: the dreaded Infinity Gauntlet Easter Egg planted in Thor: the Dark World explained. I know I just made your day now, didn't I?