A guide to the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Movies
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made no secret that it is building up to a massive confrontation involving the Infinity Stones.
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 eight or nine 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 begin in earnest with Avengers: Infinity War then probably conclude in the as-yet-unnamed Avengers 4 in May 3, 2019.
With that in mind, we have a look at where the Infinity Stones currently are in the MCU, what they do, and how they compare to their comics counterparts.
Updated: March 6, 2018
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 safekeeping. It was also featured in the first Avengers: Infinity War trailer, with Loki apparently offering it to someone.
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 entrusted 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, increasing 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 orb locked inside a sphere 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). The smart money is on it appearing in Avengers: Infinity War, but it could be held back until the sequel in May 2019.
When we might see the last of the Infinity Stones
There were a lot of rumors that the final Infinity Stone would appear in Black Panther, but unless we saw it in another form and didn’t realize it, the Soul Stone remains hidden. That creates a few possibilities of where it is.
Thanos Has It
One possibility is that Thanos already has the Soul Stone. Since it has been made very clear that he has been searching for the Infinity Stones, and given that he is currently being established as the MCU’s ultimate Big Bad, it would make sense that he was at least one-sixth successful in his quest prior to his attack on Earth. That would also help to further elevate him as a threat if he arrives as master of an Infinity Stone. Maybe he even used it to help empower his minions, the Black Order.
It is Hidden on Earth
Another option is that the Soul Stone is hidden on Earth and we just haven’t seen it yet (or saw it and didn’t realize it). That is a very real possibility, but it would also be a bit of a stretch in terms of story. The MCU went out of its way to establish that the Infinity Stones are galactic objects. They do not have any specific ties to Earth in terms of their creation, and yet two of them still made it to Earth (the Tesseract and Eye of Agamotto), while the rest were spread out around the galaxy (the Mind Stone was brought to Earth later).
Having three stones on Earth would be convenient, but also push the credibility of a story that has been crafted over ten years and 18 films. Of course, the Soul Stone could be drawn to Earth because of the others, but it might feel a little anticlimactic if there isn’t some struggle around it like all the others.
Adam Warlock Finds It
The character of Adam Warlock has been associated with the Soul Gem in the comics for decades, and we saw the genesis of the character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – although he didn’t seem to have a direct connection to the Soul Stone (unless the Sovereign people are using it). Sooner or later we will see Adam Warlock, and he will probably have some connection to the Soul Stone. Whether that means he already has it or is searching for it, we’ll have to wait and see.
We Won’t See it in This Film
The discovery of the sixth and final stone may be the catalyst that brings the MCU together and kicks off Infinity War, but it might also be a connecting thread that connects that film and the next. There are already five stones in play, and adding the introduction of a sixth on top of the arrival of Thanos on Earth is a lot for one film.
Infinity War will likely spend most of its time tying things together. Introducing all the characters and returning to old locations where the Infinity Stones are will take a lot of time if done properly, and adding the quest for an as-yet undiscovered Infinity Stone might be too much. It could fill an entire movie on its own – possibly the next Avengers film.
We also don’t know what the Soul Stone does in the MCU. In the comics, it can manipulate the living and the dead. In other words, Infinity War could kill off several MCU characters, let audiences sit with the loss of those characters for a year, then bring them all (or some) back in the next film. It would be a bit of a cheat, but it would fit with the comics and give audiences a “holy crap” moment to close the film and leave people hanging even as the MCU chronologically continues into Ant-Man and the Wasp. If that is the case and characters die awaiting their resurrection, don’t expect to see the Soul Stone until the next movie.
If Marvel Studios wants to hold off on seeing the MCU characters battle Thanos over the Souls Stone, introducing it in Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, would solve several problems all at once.
In the comics, the character of Captain Marvel’s powers have a cosmic origin. It’s not clear exactly how much of her comics origin the film will keep, but there will be a heavy alien influence. That would make for the perfect opportunity to introduce the Soul Stone and have it appear away from Earth, plus it could also help to explain the film’s setting.
Captain Marvel is set in the 90s, which raises the obvious question of where she has been in the years since. Given that Captain Marvel will be in Avengers 4, and given that she will be played by Brie Larson (and not an older actor), there will probably be some sort of sci-fi or mystical explanation for her time displacement (unless she has been in space and doesn’t age, which is a possibility in a comic-based movie). It also explains the film’s place between Infinity War and the follow-up, as it could act as a lead into the new film without altering anything about the established timeline.
We should have a better idea on April 27, when Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters.