The Marvel Cinematic Universe is tied together by two things – Robert Downey, Jr. and the Infinity Stones. This article sadly only focuses on one of them. Over the course of fifteen separate films, the Infinity Stones have slowly been introduced, building up their importance.
With the arrival of the first Infinity War trailer, Thanos finally takes center stage. He’s coming for the Infinity Stones and if the trailer is anything to go by, the Avengers and their allies are going to have a hell of time stopping him.
What Are The Infinity Stones?
Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots… Infinity Stones.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Collector describes the creation of the Infinity Stones. They are relics that pre-date the universe itself, and each is immensely powerful and destructive. In the Marvel comics, they are referred to as “Infinity Gems” and while they have much the same powers, they are different colors from their Cinematic Universe counterparts. When used together, the Gems are much more powerful. After acquiring all of the Gems and placing them in the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos used its power to destroy half the universe in an effort to win Death‘s love.
In story terms, the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are the driving force behind uniting the Earth-based heroes like the Avengers, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man with the galaxy-based heroes such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor. In Avengers: Infinity War due for release in 2018, the majority of the heroes from the MCU will unite to face the threat of Thanos.
Where Are They Now?
As we know, there are six Infinity Stones – Space, Reality, Power, Mind, Time, and Soul. So far, five of them have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while we eagerly await the reveal of the final Stone. So which Stones are already in play?
The Space Stone, aka the Tesseract, aka The Blue One
First Appeared in: Captain America: The First Avenger
The Space Stone is currently contained within the Tesseract. During World War II, the Red Skull harnessed its energies to power advanced weapons for HYDRA. Loki later used the power of the Tesseract to open a portal to allow the Chitauri to invade Earth. The invasion was repulsed by the Avengers, and the Tesseract was given to Thor to secure in Asgard’s vaults. During the events of Thor: Ragnarok, Loki is implied to have pocketed the Tesseract while triggering Ragnarök in an effort to defeat Hela, the Goddess of Death. As the Infinity War trailer shows, Loki definitely took the Tesseract from the vault and the Space Stone later shows up in Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet.
The Reality Stone, aka the Aether, aka The Red One
First Appeared in: Thor: The Dark World
The Reality Stone is contained within the Aether. Thousands of years ago, the Dark Elf Malekith tried to destroy the Nine Realms with the Aether. He was stopped by Odin’s father, Bor and the Aether was hidden away as it could not be destroyed. The Aether was accidentally rediscovered by Jane Foster, which brought Malekith out of hibernation and he once more attempted to destroy the Nine Realms until defeated by Thor. Rather than keep the Aether, the Asgardians sent it to the Collector’s museum because they believed it was unwise to have two Infinity Stones in close proximity to each other.
The Power Stone, aka the Orb, aka The Purple One
First Appeared in: Guardians of the Galaxy
The Power Stone resides inside the Orb. Thanos tasks Ronan the Accuser with retrieving the Orb but when the Kree learns of its true nature, he betrays Thanos and takes the power of the stone for himself. He tries to destroy the planet Xandar, but is defeated by the Guardians of the Galaxy. They entrust the Orb to the care of the Nova Corps. In the Infinity War trailer, Thanos is seen with the Power Stone embedded in the Infinity Gauntlet so it obviously does not remain in the Nova Corps possession for much longer.
The Mind Stone, aka Vision’s favorite accessory, aka The Yellow One
First Appeared in: The Avengers
The Mind Stone was originally held within the scepter Loki used when he attempted to conquer Earth with an army of Chitauri. It is responsible for giving both the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver their superhuman powers due to experiments carried out by HYDRA. The Mind Stone was instrumental in the creation of Vision, an artificial lifeform. The stone currently sits in his forehead, and grants him the ability to fire energy blasts. In one of the Infinity War trailer’s most memorable moments, Vision is shown being held down screaming while someone tries to forcibly remove the Mind Stone.
The Time Stone, aka the Eye of Agamotto, aka The Green One
First Appeared in: Doctor Strange
The Time Stone is encased within the Eye of Agamotto, a powerful magical relic guarded by the Masters of the Mystic Arts. Doctor Strange mastered the power of the Time Stone to defeat Kaecilius and the powerful entity known as Dormammu, ruler of the Dark Dimension. Because of its power and the fact that Doctor Strange had still not fully mastered his power, the Eye was returned to the library within Kamar-taj. By the time Thor: Ragnarok rolls around, Doctor Strange is apparently wearing the Eye of Agamotto on a day to day basis, indicating that he has fully mastered his powers. Doctor Strange is still rocking it in the Infinity War trailer.
Which Stone Is Left? (The Orange One)
The last Infinity Stone unaccounted for is the Soul Stone. Where it is or who has it is currently unrevealed. The only thing that we know for certain is that it is orange.
There is only one standalone film – Black Panther – left to be released before Avengers: Infinity War. Given the title of the film, we can be reasonably sure that it will feature all of the Infinity Stones. The trailer shows us that Thanos gets at least two in the Infinity Gauntlet (Space and Power), with one more (Mind) apparently heading his way. When this article was originally published, we were of the opinion that the final, elusive Infinity Stone would have made its appearance in Thor: Ragnarok. However, that turned out to be incorrect.
So Where Is It?
Ever since Marvel began incorporating the Infinity Stones into their Cinematic Universe, theories about the locations of the stones were bandied around. Some fans correctly guessed that Loki’s Scepter held the Mind Stone, and that the Eye of Agamotto would also be the receptacle for one of them, although opinion was split about whether it was the Time Stone or Soul Stone.
Is the Soul Stone the Source of Wakanda’s Wealth and Power?
While Black Panther will be a standalone film, it will also most likely serve as a partial lead-in to Infinity War. An obligatory post-credit sequence will probably be dedicated to some type of Infinity War set-up – but what if there is more to it? So far, everything we’ve seen about Black Panther suggests it will be a self-contained film (although do we seriously believe that there will be no cameo from Cap or Bucky?). But with the reveal that Thor: Ragnarok had no Soul Stone in sight, could Marvel have been planning to debut the Soul Stone in Black Panther all along?
The country of Wakanda is a technological marvel, hidden from the world. At the same time, the culture of Wakanda appears to be deeply spiritual. The country is also the only known source of the rare metal vibranium – the same metal that Captain America’s shield is made of. Something in the country’s history spurred its technological and economic growth. Captain America: The First Avenger showed what could be achieved by harnessing the power of the Space Stone. Could the Soul Stone have been harnessed in a similar manner to provide the foundation for all of Wakanda’s achievements?
The climax of the Infinity War trailer shows a large battle between Thanos’ forces and Wakandan warriors supported by various Avengers. Of course, Thanos attacking Wakanda could be for purely tactical reasons, or as a result of a number of Avengers being present in the country. But above all else, Thanos is after the Infinity Stones so where better to strike than a place where the Soul Stone is being kept?
Heimdall Might Have It (Could Still Be True)
One of the most popular theories is that the Asgardian Heimdall has the Soul Stone. Heimdall has the power to see almost anything in the known universe, and states in Thor: The Dark World that he “can see Nine Realms and ten trillion souls.” Of course, he could just be being poetic in his choice of words, but look at his eyes. They are the same color as the Soul Stone. Want more fuel for the theory? In The Dark World, Heimdall’s armor features a stylised image of Ygddrasil, the World Tree. Atop the design is a single orange gem set into the armor. Does the Soul Stone give Heimdall his unique powers?
Another piece of evidence lies in Thor’s vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Under the influence of the Scarlet Witch, and later the Water of Sights, Thor sees Heimdall without his signature orange eyes. His fellow Asgardian tells him that they are all dead, and that Thor led them to Hel. Given that in Norse mythology Ragnarok is the end of the world and the trailer for the upcoming film shows destruction coming to Asgard, could Heimdall be killed for the Soul Stone in his possession?
There is evidence that discounts this theory, however. In the post-credits sequence of The Dark World, Volstagg and Sif take the Aether to the Collector for safe keeping. They do this because they already have the Tesseract in Asgard’s vault, and believe it is unwise to have two Infinity Stones together. This statement would seem to discredit the theory that Heimdall possessed the Soul Stone. Of course, it could be a closely guarded secret and by the end of the film, Odin has been secretly replaced by Loki as king of Asgard.
Update: Heimdall played a minor but crucial role during the events of Thor: Ragnarok, but did not reveal that he was in possession of the Soul Stone. Of course, he did not reveal that he wasn’t, either. With Heimdall at Thor’s side, the theory that he holds the last Infinity Stone is still possible.
Or Maybe Hela? (Probably Not)
Thor: Ragnarok will introduce the character of Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death and ruler of Hel and Nifelheim. Her entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe already has severe ramifications judging by the trailer: she destroys Mjolnir, and brings ruin to Asgard. But could Hela hold the Soul Stone? As the goddess of death, she oversees the souls of the dead, making it fitting if she is its guardian.
There is also another angle to consider – Hela could be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s incarnation of Death. The MCU has never been shy about combining and changing elements from their comic universe to fit a better film narrative. Just look at the Tesseract/Space Stone itself which combines the Space Gem with the Cosmic Cube.
Why is this important? Because Death is one of the objects of Thanos’ desire. He fell in love with her, and part of his approach to winning her affection was presenting her with souls she could rule. In true Thanos style, this meant killing a lot of people. If the character of Hela is merged with Death, she could form an alliance with Thanos. If she already has the Stone, then Thanos is one step closer to his goal. If Heimdall has the Stone, then Hela invading Asgard and killing him for possession of the Stone is a likely outcome.
Update: Given that Hela seemingly died (comic characters never truly die, so there is always a chance) at the climax of Thor: Ragnarok, it is unlikely that she was in possession of the Soul Stone. Of course, being the Goddess of Death might give her a second chance but it appears this theory is as dead as she (probably) is.
Third Contender, The Grandmaster
Set to debut in Thor: Ragnarok, the Grandmaster will be involved in events that eventually lead to Thor and the Hulk battling each other in gladiatorial combat on the planet Sakaar. While we do not know much about his role in the film yet, we can speculate that he is another candidate for possession of the Soul Stone. In the comics, the Grandmaster is one of the Elders of the Universe, and for a time possessed the Mind Gem. It would be a simple matter of adjusting his storyline and giving him control of the Soul Stone.
Update: The Grandmaster holding the Soul Stone was always a long shot, but it is still not outside the realms of possibility. Let’s face it – his Melt Stick had an orange orb at the top …
NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect new information about Avengers: Infinity War.