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"I'm a survivor."
"Who wants to murder trillions."
"With all six Stones, I could simply snap my fingers. They would all cease to exist. I call that mercy."
Thanos and Doctor Strange[src]

The Decimation, also known as "The Snap",[3] was the massive fallout across all civilizations and species in the universe, which wiped out fifty percent of all life in random succession after the Infinity Gauntlet was activated. The mass genocide was initiated by Thanos at the end of the Battle of Wakanda, marking the end of his campaign to retrieve all six Infinity Stones.

Background

Infinity War

Thanos' Killing Spree

"This universe is finite, its resources finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correction."
"You don't know that!"
"I'm the only one who knows that. At least, I'm the only one with the will to act on it."
Thanos and Gamora[src]
In his quest to obtain the Infinity Stones, Thanos invaded Nidavellir and forced the Dwarves to create an Infinity Gauntlet, which was capable of harnessing the Infinity Stones. He later massacred every single one of them, save for Eitri. After, he invaded Xandar, destroyed the Nova Corps, and stole the Power Stone from the Orb, which he effortlessly destroyed. Having gained the Power Stone, he slaughtered half of the Xandarians as part of his desire to balance the universe.
Thanos & Black Order Teleport (Statesman)

Thanos gains the Power and Space Stones

After having retrieved the Power Stone, Thanos and the Black Order intercepted the Statesman, which was carrying the Asgardian survivors of the cataclysm, Ragnarök. While the Black Order slaughtered half of the ship's population, Thanos personally confronted and defeated Thor, the new king of the Asgardians with Asgard having been destroyed. He then stole the Tesseract from Loki, whom he murdered along with Heimdall. Thanos crushed the Tesseract in his hand, revealing the Space Stone as its power source. Having gained the next stone, he destroyed the Statesman with the Power Stone, leaving Thor and Asgardian corpses in space.

IW Total Film Still 01

The Avengers and the Masters of the Mystic Arts are alerted by Black Order's arrival

On Earth, Hulk, who was saved by Heimdall's Bifrost Bridge, crashed into the New York Sanctum and warned the Masters of the Mystic Arts of Thanos' incoming arrival. Doctor Strange, Wong, Iron Man, and Hulk gathered at the Sanctum and discussed the history of the Infinity Stones' history across the Nine Realms. However, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian launched an assault in New York City, prompting the four to fight back. During the ensuing battle, however, Doctor Strange was abducted by Ebony Maw, while Wong sent Cull Obsidian through a portal to the Arctic. Iron Man and Spider-Man managed to sneak onto the Q-Ship. Eventually, Iron Man and Spider-Man rescued Doctor Strange and created a hole in the ship which sucked Maw into deep space, killing him. The three then decided to confront Thanos on his home planet, Titan. In Edinburgh, Vision and Scarlet Witch were ambushed by Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, who attempted to draw the Mind Stone out of Vision's head. The couple then received combined reinforcements from Captain America, Black Widow, and Falcon. Thanos' two children retreated and the five Avengers traveled to the New Avengers Facility to discuss the Mind Stone.[2]

Obtaining the Reality Stone

Meanwhile, Thanos personally traveled to Knowhere to obtain the Reality Stone, which was entrusted to the Collector after the conclusion of the Second Dark Elf Conflict. He infiltrated the Collector's museum and located the Reality Stone, which was in the form of the Aether. He then solidified the Aether into the Reality Stone and added it to his Infinity Gauntlet. As the Guardians of the Galaxy arrived on Knowhere to confront Thanos, he conjured a false illusion of him interrogating and torturing the Collector into revealing the location of the Stone, as he accurately predicted that the Guardians of the Galaxy would pursue him to Knowhere.[2]

Obtaining the Soul Stone

Thanos holding the soul stone

Thanos finally obtaining the Soul Stone

He eventually abducted Gamora and forced her to divulge the location of the Soul Stone with the threat of torturing her sister Nebula with the Power and Space Stones. Thanos's threat forced her to reveal the stone's location, Vormir. Thanos and Gamora then traveled to the mysterious planet, where they were greeted by the Red Skull, who became the stone's guardian as a punishment for abusing the Tesseract's power during World War II. After hearing Red Skull's elucidation that he would have to sacrifice Gamora in order to obtain the Infinity Stone, he tearfully threw her off a cliff and was given the stone.[2]

The Last Confrontations

Battle of Titan

Thanos being restrained by the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange

"We're in the endgame now."
Doctor Strange[src]

On Earth, the Avengers traveled to Wakanda as Shuri had knowledge of Vision's stone. However, Wakanda soon was attacked by the Black Order and Thanos' army of Outriders, who demanded the Mind Stone. Acting on Captain America's orders, the Avengers, Bucky Barnes, Black Panther, the Dora Milaje, Jabari Tribe, Border Tribe, and the Wakandan Royal Guard fought back. Thor arrived on Wakanda with his newly forged weapon Stormbreaker, along with Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The Outriders and the remaining members of the Black Order were eventually defeated and killed. Meanwhile, on Titan, Thanos was confronted by the combined efforts of Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Mantis, and Nebula. Although the seven managed to briefly overwhelm Thanos, he used the power of the four stones to gain the upper hand. A beaten Doctor Strange then relinquished the Time Stone to Thanos so that he wouldn't kill Stark. Having obtained the fifth stone, Thanos teleported himself to Wakanda.

ThanosStranglingVision

Thanos takes the Mind Stone from the Vision

In the forests of Wakanda, he appeared out of the Space Stone and used the stones to subdue the Avengers before making his way to Scarlet Witch, who was using her powers to destroy the Mind Stone in Vision's forehead. Although she managed to destroy the last stone, Thanos used the Time Stone to reverse Wanda's act and restore Vision to his former state so he could proceed to pull the Mind Stone from Vision's head. However, Thanos was suddenly attacked by Thor, who impaled him with Stormbreaker.

As Thor denigrated Thanos because of his actions during the Attack on the Statesman and warned him that he would die for murdering Loki, Heimdall, and half of the Asgardians, Thanos simply replied and taunted him that he should have aimed for his head. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers, sending out a blinding light and causing Thanos to pass out.

He awakened in the Soulworld where he approached a younger Gamora, who asked him if he completed his mission, to which he solemnly replied yes. Gamora then asked what it cost him, to which he replied "Everything". Thanos then returned to his conscious and used the Space Stone to transport himself to Titan II where he intended to peacefully spend his retirement after he fulfilled his goal.[2]

Decimation

"World governments are in pieces. The parts that are still working are trying to take a census. And it looks like he did... he did exactly what he said he was gonna do. Thanos wiped out fifty percent of all living creatures."
Natasha Romanoff[src]
The destructive toll of the Decimation quickly became apparent, as half of all life in the universe disintegrated into ashes. Outside Earth and Titan were several Asgardian casualties, such as Sif and an Asgardian actor who portrayed Loki in The Tragedy of Loki of Asgard.[4]

Earth

On Earth, there were at least 3,200,000,000 humans confirmed deceased or missing worldwide, according to a statistic in the New Avengers Facility.[5]

Avengersdefeatedwakanda

The shellshocked Avengers in the aftermath of the Decimation

In Wakanda, Bucky Barnes was one of the first to die, crumbling into dust in front of Steve Rogers and Thor. The raging battle quickly winded into a ceasefire as many Wakandan soldiers and Dora Milaje operatives corroded into dust, while M'Baku watched in horror. Casualties of the Golden Tribe included Shuri[6] & T'Challa, who collapsed into dust in front of OkoyeRocket Raccoon tearfully watched Groot vanishing into dust, as he could do nothing to save his life. Kneeling over Vision's lifeless body, Maximoff peacefully vanished into dust. Hidden in long grass, Falcon disintegrated as James Rhodes called out to him, not realizing his companion was already gone.[2] 

FuryInfinityWar2

Nick Fury disintegrating in Atlanta

The United States of America had broadcasted a state of emergency in the wake of the erasing of many of the country's citizens.[7] In Atlanta, Nick Fury and Maria Hill while driving witnessed the Decimation claiming the lives of the civilians around them, plunging the city into chaos. As Hill disintegrated before Fury's eyes, the former Director hurried to retrieve his last resort Transmitter Pager. Realizing he was disintegrating as well, Fury managed to use to transmit a last-ditch distress call to distant Captain Marvel before crumbling to dust.[2]

Janet, Hope & Hank Death

Hank Pym, Wasp and Janet van Dyne all die

In San Francisco, Hank Pym, Janet van Dyne, and Hope van Dyne planned to send Ant-Man in the Quantum Realm to extract quantum energy for Ava Starr. Using the portable Quantum Tunnel in Luis' Van, Lang made his way to the Quantum Realm and harvested needed energy. However, Pym, Hope, and Janet were all erased from existence, leaving Lang stranded in the Quantum Realm.[7] The van was later impounded and put into a unit for storage.[6]

Among the billions of other victims of the Decimation on Earth were Laura Barton and her three children, Cooper, Lila, and Nathaniel, who were killed on their homesteadBetty Ross, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent[4], Erik Selvig, Sharon Carter, Ned Leeds, Michelle Jones, Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, Abe Brown, May Parker and Roberto da Costa.[6]

Titan

The Death of Spider-Man

Peter Parker dying while in Tony Stark's arms

On Titan, in the aftermath of their defeat by Thanos, the effects of the gauntlet began to claim some more lives, Mantis was alerted to what was happening and soon became the first to vanish followed by Drax and then Star-Lord, Doctor Strange claimed there was no other way to win and soon vanished. Lastly Spider-Man also being alerted by his Spider-Sense succumbed to the effects of the Decimation desperately begging to live before giving in and dying in Iron Man's arms leaving him and Nebula as the only survivors on Titan.

As the effects of Thanos' mass genocide took hold across the Universe, the remaining survivors could do nothing but accept the reality of Thanos' overpowering ascendancy and the consequences it had for them and the rest of the Universe.[2]

Aftermath

Post-Battle of Wakanda

Avengers Benatar

The Avengers travel to Planet 0269-S to confront Thanos

"The universe required correction. After that, the stones served no purpose beyond temptation."
"You murdered trillions!"
Thanos and Bruce Banner[src]

In the aftermath of the Battle of Wakanda in 2018, Captain Marvel arrived at Earth upon being hailed by Nick Fury with the Transmitter Pager. Finding herself with the remaining Avengers at the New Avengers Facility and inquired about Fury's death[5], she later traversed to find Tony Stark, who was adrift in space on the Benatar, previously stranded on Titan. Upon Stark's return to Earth, Danvers and the Avengers traveled to Planet 0269-S, where they recognized a power signature emitting from the planet's surface, similar to the power signature the activated Infinity Gauntlet emitted.

Arriving on Planet 0269-S, they learned from Thanos that he used the Infinity Stones to destroy each other. With all hope lost, Thor killed Thanos.[6]

Universal Repercussions

Endgame 04

A poster for a grief counseling support group of the survivors

On Earth, the majority of world governments were in a state of total anarchy due to not being able to take a census of the situation. Over the course of five years, the victims of the Decimation would come to be known as the Vanished, with memorial sites, including one in San Francisco, being planted in their honor in the years that followed.[6]

Reversal of the Decimation

Time Heist

In 2023, after spending hours trapped inside the Quantum Realm, Scott Lang managed to escape and see the aftermath of the Decimation. Upon emerging five years, Lang was initially panicked and confused as he feared that his family may have been dusted. After finding his name on a memorial dedicated to the Decimation victims, he ran to his house to be reunited with his family, including an older Cassie Lang. Later, as he arrived at New Avengers Facility, Lang proposed the idea to reverse Thanos' actions by means of retrieving alternate versions of the Infinity Stones throughout different periods of history using time travel.

Using the Quantum theory, the Avengers then started building the Quantum time machine so they could use it to travel through time. Once they finished the time machine and completed some tests with it, they used it to go to various alternate versions of the past to fetch the Infinity Stones. Scott Lang, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Steve Rogers went to the Battle of New York to retrieve the Space, Mind, and Time Stones, although the Space Stone later had to be obtained from the 1970s after a series of events led to 2012 Loki escaping with the Tesseract. Meanwhile, Thor and Rocket Raccoon went to 2013 Asgard to extract the Reality Stone from Jane Foster, as Nebula, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and James Rhodes time-traveled to 2014 Morag and Vormir for the Power and Soul Stones.

Hulk holds the Iron Gauntlet

When the Avengers finally got all the Infinity Stones, they returned to the present day, unaware that a version of Nebula from the alternate 2014 had snuck with them to bring Thanos to their time period. As they set the Stones in the Iron Gauntlet that would be used to undo the Decimation, it was decided that Banner would be the one to wield it. Banner had managed to succeed in un-doing the Decimation, as there were not only some birds that suddenly appeared on a tree at the Avengers Facility, but also an incoming phone call to Barton from his wife.[6]

Known Casualties

Trivia

  • The term "decimation" is formally defined as the "killing of one in every ten of a group of people as a punishment for the whole group", deriving from the Romans, and is therefore not necessarily suitable for an event in which fifty percent, rather than ten percent of a group of people were killed. However, as a language has developed, the word has fallen into more colloquial use to often mean merely the "killing or destruction of any large portion of a population", explaining its usage in The Cosmic Quest Volume Two: Aftermath to describe this event.
  • Kevin Feige has said that half of "all life" in the universe was erased from existence, including all sentient and insentient beings.[8]

References

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