SPOILER WARNING: Unless you want to know the ending of Avengers: Infinity War before seeing it, I suggest you bookmark this for later!
After years of waiting, Avengers: Infinity War is finally in theaters and as a lot of people expected, its pretty much dominating pop culture right now. From box office dollars to some really funny memes, everyone is talking about the movie right now and maybe nothing is getting more attention than that devastating ending. While people's eyes were likely obscured by globs of tears as fan-favorite characters evaporated into nothing, one quick detail may have gone unnoticed in the ending.
After Thanos unleashes The Snap that wipes out half of all life in the universe, the camera briefly shows that the Avengers were not the only ones left wounded. Not only does Thanos' left arm appear to be severely burnt, but the Infinity Gauntlet was left charred after its apocalyptic usage. Its golden form has seen better days, and it's left people to wonder exactly what's going on and what it means for Avengers 4.
Going simply by context clues, it would appear that the manmade -- er, dwarf-made Gauntlet couldn't take the godly power of all six Infinity Stones at once. Or it simply couldn't take the size of Thanos' request. The power may have overwhelmed the Gauntlet and now it might not even be able to work ever again.
But that's not entirely true. Thanos was able to use the Space Stone to teleport away after the Gauntlet was fried (and so Thor wouldn't chop his head off), meaning that the stones themselves still work. It might just be that the stones only work separately now, or that Thanos can't combine all six for the full power god-like power of the Infinity Gauntlet.
This is actually pretty smart on the part of the writers and directors. It makes Thanos just powerful enough to be a huge threat (he was almost untouchable with just four stones), but not powerful enough that there's absolutely no chance the Avengers can beat him. It's a clever way of balancing the playfield a bit while still having the Avengers be the unquestionable underdogs in this scenario.
There's no guarantee that this is actually what happened to the Gauntlet, but if it was, then you can bet that it will still be the centerpiece of the Avengers 4. The heroes need some way to undo all the death caused by the Mad Titan, and I find it highly unlikely that Thanos himself will just leave the Gauntlet de-powered. For all his talk of retiring to watch the sunset, this is a man who craves power. Rather than creating unlimited food or making the planets bigger or something, he chose to use his abilities to kill on a massive scale; that's not a guy who gives up power easily.
So, if the Gauntlet is toast, but the stones still work, what's a Thanos left to do? Infinity War made sure to draw plenty of attention to the fact that there's a mold of the Infinity Gauntlet collecting dust in Eitri's forge. The dwarf king of Nidavellir made the Gauntlet for Thanos originally, so it's possible that Thanos or the Avengers seek him out to make another one. That's about the only way that the stones would be able to be used together again, but the Avengers could always have other tricks up their sleeves to undo the damage Thanos has wrought.
Despite the title, Infinity War is still pretty much just part one of a two-part story. The Infinity Stones have been built up for 10 years so there's no way that they won't factor into the plot of the still untitled Avengers 4 at all. The stones seem to still work but it all depends on where exactly Thanos and the Avengers go from here. It's going to be a long year of waiting, people.