A guide to the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Movies
Whether you love the Marvel movies or you’re dead inside, you have to respect what Marvel Studios is doing when it comes to its long-term planning. To really get a sense of how intricate the plotting out has been over the last eight years, look no further than the introduction of the Infinity Stones in the Marvel movies (aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
If you aren’t familiar with the Infinity Gauntlet storyline from the comics, it began as a six-issue miniseries (with a handful of tie-ins from other, ongoing series, as well as a prequel mini-series titled Thanos Quest) that was released in 1991. It was a huge hit with readers and eventually spawned sequels, spinoffs, and plenty of other connections, but it was originally a single story centering on the Mad Titan, Thanos.
In the comics, Thanos managed to collect all six Infinity Gems, each of which provided him with control over a different aspect of creation. In essence, when combined on a gauntlet they made him an omnipotent god. In order to win over the love of the incarnation of Death, Thanos began by wiping out half of all life in the universe. After killing most of the Marvel heroes and villains, he then ascends to become a cosmic entity. To do so he is forced to leave his body (and the gauntlet) behind, allowing his granddaughter Nebula to steal the Infinity Gauntlet and restore the universe to how it was.
It’s tough to know exactly when Marvel decided to build toward the Infinity Gauntlet, but the first full appearance of an Infinity Stone (aka an Infinity Gem) was in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger as the “Tesseract.” Given how long it takes to actually make a movie, you can safely assume that introducing the stones has been part of the plan for the last six or seven years, at least. You have to respect that.
With Phase Three underway, the MCU is speeding toward its own version of the Infinity Gauntlet saga. It will likely come to a head in Avengers: Infinity War, but first, there is one more Infinity Stone to be unveiled, and a few more still to re-discover.
With that in mind, we have a look at where the Infinity Stones currently are in the MCU, what they do, how they compare to their comics counterparts, and in what film the last stone may appear.
Updated: May 15, 2017
In the comics: The Marvel comics’ equivalent of the Tesseract is the purple Mind Stone, which allows the user to appear anywhere in space instantly. At full power, the user can be anywhere and everywhere at the same time.
In the movies: The first Infinity Stone to appear in the MCU made its full debut in Captain America: The First Avenger as the Tesseract (technically it first appeared in Thor’s post-credits scene, but it was little more than a glimpse and a tease meant to lead in to Captain America). It goes on to power Hydra’s weapons; it then appears in The Avengers, where it opens a portal to bring Loki through.
The Tesseract was also responsible for the end of the Red Skull. But while the film made it look like it destroyed Cap’s enemy, given its abilities, it may have simply transported him instead. The Tesseract appears again in the MCU, and there are several references about it throughout the films and TV shows.
Where it is now: The Tesseract was last seen in The Avengers being taken to Asgard for safe keeping. It was also briefly mentioned in Thor: The Dark World as still being there.
Mind Stone/Loki’s Scepter/Vision
In the comics: The blue Mind Stone increases the psionic abilities of the user, granting them access to the thoughts and dreams of people. It was also revealed to be the manifestation of the universal subconscious.
In the movies: The second Infinity Stone to appear in the MCU (and the first actual “stone”) is the Mind Stone, which debuted in The Avengers. It is also the most impactful to the MCU as a whole.
The yellow (in a blue casing) Mind Stone appeared in the form of a gift from Thanos to Loki, powering a scepter that granted Thor’s brother the ability to control the minds of others. Following Loki’s defeat in the Avengers, it was recovered by Hydra and eventually landed in the hands of Baron Von Strucker. That, in turn, led to the creation of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. It was then captured by Ultron and used to create the body that would eventually become the Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Where it is now: The stone remains part of Vision. In Captain America: Civil War, he explained that he doesn’t know what the stone is, but he is trying to understand and master it.
In the comics: The yellow Reality Stone grants users wishes, and can travel through – and even create – alternate realities.
In the movies: Like the Tesseract, the third Infinity Stone didn’t appear as a stone, but rather as a red plasma known as the Aether. It appeared in Thor: The Dark World, where the Dark Elf Malekith sought to use it to destroy the Nine Realms. Before he could get to it, however, Jane Foster accidentally travels to another world where it infects her.
The films don’t really delve into its powers, instead showing it more as a general source of power capable of altering worlds when the right circumstances presented themselves (in this case, the alignment of the Nine Realms).
Where it is now: Following Malekith’s defeat, the Asgardians took possession of the Aether. With one Infinity Stone already stored at Asgard (the Tesseract), Sif and Volstagg entrust the Aether to the Collector. Presumably he still has it, but given that his collection (or part of it) was destroyed in Guardians of the Galaxy, that isn’t definite.
In the comics: The red Power Stone grants the user the ability to manipulate energy and makes them physically imposing, increases the existing power of the user. It is also used to augment the other stones and make them exponentially more powerful.
In the movies: The Power Stone appears as a purple stone locked inside and orb in Guardians of the Galaxy. In the film, Thanos is seeking it for himself, but Ronan takes it instead and plans to use it to wipe out all life on the planet Xandar.
To stop the threat, the Guardians manage to combine their essences and wield it to destroy Ronan. The pursuit of the Power Stone also leads to the first true history of the stones in the MCU as the Collector explains to the Guardians their origins. The sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, indirectly expands on this with more details on the Celestials.
Where it is now: The Power Stone was given to the Nova Corps, where it remains under their protection.
Time Stone/Eye of Agamotto
In the comics: The green Time Stone grants the user control over the past, as well as the ability to see potential futures. It can also manipulate the flow of time for the user and/or others, and makes time travel possible.
In the movies: The Time Stone appears in Doctor Strange as the Eye of Agamotto, an ancient relic that allows the user to manipulate the flow of time. Of all the stones, the Time Stone is possibly the most closely related to its comic counterpart.
Where it is now: The Eye remains in the care of Earth’s Mystics, including Doctor Strange.
In the comics: The orange Soul Stone can manipulate the souls of the living and the dead. It can also steal the powers of others and creates a gateway to an idyllic realm. The Soul Stone is considered the most dangerous of all the stones, as it is sentient and hungers for souls, which means it can corrupt others. It is also considered the most powerful stone, as the user can potentially control all life.
In the movies: The Soul Stone has yet to be revealed in the MCU (at least not that we know), but it will be in the next few films. There are at least five main possibilities on when we will first see it.
The obvious movie to debut it in would have been Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which hit theaters on May 5, 2017 and featured a fair amount of talk about the Celestials. It would have been a logical fit, but even before the movie was out director James Gunn confirmed the film Infinity Stone free.
That leaves a few other possibilities.
When we might see the last of the Infinity Stones
The next film up after Guardians Vol. 2 is Spider-Man: Homecoming, but that seems like an unlikely place to introduce the final Infinity Stone. Homecoming is the third Spider-Man reboot in 15 years. Throwing in an Infinity Stone would be unnecessary and possibly distracting (unless it is as a pure cameo). Then again, introducing the first stone via a Captain America film wasn’t necessarily an obvious fit, but it worked.
The next possibility would be Thor: Ragnarok, which debuts on November 3, 2017. Given the Asgardians’ connections to the stones, this would seem a likely place to at least hint at the Soul Stone, but anything more runs the risk of the movie feeling like a recycled plot. The whole point of the Infinity Stones storyline is to connect the MCU, so making them too Thor-centric and having all three films connect directly to them (including the post-credit scene in Thor) could hurt that.
The next option would be Black Panther on February 16, 2018. Given that the character of Black Panther is human without special powers an Infinity Stone here might seem like a stretch, but there is good reason to think it might be connected. The Black Panther’s home of Wakanda may be the most advanced nation on Earth in the MCU. It has been hinted that Wakanda’s fortunes are due to its access to vibranium, but it could also be due to an unusual power source – say an Infinity Stone? It would also make sense to introduce the stone in the final movie before the next Avengers films, plus, Black Panther is the only non-sequel on the way at the moment. An Infinity Stone might give the fledgling franchise-within-a-franchise a little boost in the eyes of MCU fans.
While the Soul Stone could debut in any of the upcoming movies (maybe even multiple films), there’s also a very good chance that it may not appear until May 4, 2018, when Avengers: Infinity War is released and presumably kicks off the Infinity Gauntlet storyline in earnest. The discovery of the sixth and final stone may be the catalyst that brings the MCU together, both on the cosmic level and on Earth.
There is, however, one final possibility. Originally the fourth Avengers film – set for May 3, 2019 – was tentatively titled “Avengers: Infinity War – Part II.” Marvel has since clarified that the name was nothing more than a placeholder, and the third and fourth Avengers films won’t necessarily be direct sequels but rather standalone movies. That could mean the Infinity Gauntlet story begins in the third Avengers movie, but doesn’t really hit its stride until the fourth movie (or maybe in Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019). If that’s the case, we may not see the Soul Stone debut until the very end of Phase Three.