GOC 101: The Infinity Stones
From the moment we saw Thanos’s ominous smirk in the after-credits scene from the first Avengers film, Marvel fans have known that the Avengers were headed for a direct collision with the Mad Titan himself. During these last six years, Marvel has built heavily upon the impending battle between Earths Mightiest Heroes and the scourge of the universe. Whether it was other after-credits scenes or a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy, where we got our first real introduction to the Mad Titan’s personality, the threat of Thanos has loomed long enough. Marvel has teased Thanos since the very first Thor film, where we saw The Infinity Gauntlet among the artifacts in Odin’s treasure room.
The plot began to thicken when fans realized that Marvel had been introducing the Infinity Stones in some form or another since the Tesseract’s first appearance in Thor. The most ominous threat of Thanos came during the after-credits scene for Avengers: Age of Ultron where Thanos is seen in some unknown location putting on an empty Infinity Gauntlet and whispering the words “Fine, I’ll do it myself”. The entire sixteen film franchise has led up to Infinity War with the groundwork being laid since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Since the introduction of Thanos and the revelation of the Infinity Stones, many fans have remained confused about the Infinity Stones, where they are in the MCU, and what exactly their origin and purpose is. So, I decided to put together a guide to the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet.
Originally called the Soul Gems (and later the Infinity Gems), the MCU Infinity Stones are six powerful artifacts that, when combined, grant the user a wide breadth of different abilities. The gems were created when the original sole being in the universe, Nemesis, shattered itself and formed the Infinity Stones and most of the modern Marvel multiverse. The Infinity Gems made their overall comic book debut in the pages of Marvel Premiere #1, but the gems (aside from the soul gem) were granted their respective titles in different issues.
The first gem that appeared was the one that appeared embedded in the forehead of Adam Warlock, granted to him by the High Evolutionary. The Mad Titan Thanos was the first being to bring the Infinity Stones together and use them in unison as a means to not only destroy the universe but to gain the affection of Death, a cosmic entity who has been around since the beginning of the universe. However, his plan was thwarted by The Avengers, Adam Warlock, and Captain Marvel.
The Infinity gems were kept hidden by Marvel’s most mental elite which comprised of Doctor Strange (soul gem), Professor X (mind gem), Namor (time gem), Black Bolt/Iron Man (space gem), Mister Fantastic (power gem)
The stones have had a long history of causing trouble within the realm of the Marvel universe, so it’s no surprise that their live action counterparts would have the same effect on the MCU. The first hint of the Infinity stones in the MCU came in the first Thor film when the audience was treated to a cameo by the Infinity Gauntlet during a scene in Odin’s Treasure Room. The first actual mention of the stones in the MCU came during an end credits scene in Thor the Dark World where Volstagg and Lady Sif take the Aether to The Collector and tell him “It is not wise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together”. Since then, speculation about the stones and where they fit within the MCU has run rampant with certain stones being confirmed and others left only to the audience’s imagination.
The Infinity Gauntlet
The Infinity Gauntlet is used to house and harness the power of the six Infinity Stones. The Gauntlet, when coupled with the Stones, grants its wearer Godlike powers. The Gauntlet only works within the universe that it belongs, meaning the 616 universe Gauntlet only works within the 616 universe and the Gauntlet cannot be used to destroy itself. The Mad Titan Thanos was the first being to use all 6 of the Infinity Stones in unison. His goal was to destroy the universe by destroying the stars, however as previously stated he was stopped by a whole host of heroes before he could execute his plan of galactic domination. Thanos gathered the Gems from the Elders of the Universe who were unaware of the Gems true power.
The Elders who possessed each Gem:
Soul Gem- In Betweener
Power Gem- The Champion
Time Gem- The Gardener
Reality Gem- The Collector
Space Gem- The Runner
Mind Gem- The Grand Master
Thanos has always had an interesting relationship with Death not just as a concept but as a physical being. He has always been in love with her and during the Infinity Gauntlet Saga, as a means to gain her attention and affection, he used the Gauntlet to remove half of the universes population from existence. However, Thanos was defeated when Adam Warlock assumed control of the Gauntlet. After defeating Thanos, Warlock was brought before the Living Tribunal who decreed that Warlock was too mentally unstable to wield the Gauntlet, ordered that Adam surrender the Gauntlet and that the Stones were too dangerous to ever be used again together.
The Elders of the Universe were the second entities to harness and use the power of the stones at the same time. They coupled the Gems with a machine and used their power to drain the life force of Galactus and transferreed the energy to a barren and lifeless planet. The transfer proved successful as it granted the planet life once more. However, through intervention from the Silver Surfer, the Elders were defeated and their plan foiled. As punishment for their actions, Galactus devoured some of the Elders. However, unbeknownst to him, the Elders couldn’t die and began to poison Galactus from within which prompted a mission involving the Silver Surfer to go on a mission with the Fantastic Four to retrieve the soul stone to save Galactus from death.
The Infinity Gauntlet made its MCU debut in Thor when it had a simple cameo in Odin’s treasure room. Since that moment, the Gauntlet has only made appearances in after credits scenes, but it will make its proper debut in Avengers: Infinity War when Thanos finally assembles the Infinity Stones and wages war not just against the Avengers but against the Marvel Universe as a whole.
The Space Stone// The Tesseract (Cosmic Cube)
The Space Gem made its named comic book debut in the pages of Avengers Annual #7.
The Space Gem grants the user limitless manipulation of space, allowing for teleportation, dimensional manipulation, creation of wormholes, etc. In the comics, The Space Stone and the Cosmic Cube exist as two separate entities, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe mashed the two cosmic items up into one singular source of cosmic power. In the comics, Cosmic Cubes is a cosmic relic of incredible power that has at many times gained the attention of Thanos and other beings of immense, galaxy-dominating power. The Cubes are very difficult to use and require a certain degree of practice, but for those who learn to truly use and manipulate a cube, it can grant the user the ability to reshape and remold the space-time continuum.
Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ve been introduced to the Tesseract/ Cosmic Cube as an incredibly powerful artifact that can open up portals through time and space allowing those trained to use it to travel through different dimensions. The first time we saw the Tesseract was in the post credits scene of the 2011 film Thor when Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury reveals the cube to Stellan Skarsgard’s Doctor Eric Selvig and, unbeknownst to the both of them, Loki. We were further introduced to the Space Stone/Tesseract during Captain America: The First Avenger where the object played a central role to the overall plot as the Tesseract was something that the Red Skull sought vigorously for its ancient power. In the final act of the film, the Red Skull was sucked into an interdimensional portal created by the Tesseract and hasn’t been seen since. The Tesseract would later fall into the hands of Howard Stark and by extension S.H.I.E.L.D. and would later be revealed as an Infinity Stone in the Post Credits scene for Thor: The Dark World. The last time the audience witnessed the Space Stone/Tesseract was at the very beginning of Thor: The Dark World when Thor returns to Asgard delivering the cube to Odin and his Treasure Room.
The Mind Stone// Loki’s Staff & Vision’s Forehead Stone
The Mind Gem made its comic book debut in the pages of Captain Marvel #41
The Mind Gem grants the user unlimited manipulation of psionic powers including telepathy, telekinesis and can strengthen the previous psychic abilities of the user, if they had any. When linked with the other Infinity Stones, the Mind Gem can link its users mind to the mind of every being in the universe at once. The Stone also grants the user the opportunity to manipulate dreams, create and falsify memories, control others actions, as well as create and tear down mental blocks.
In the MCU, unbeknownst to fans, the Mind Stone was first seen in the first Avengers film hidden away within Loki’s staff. Due to the manipulative and mentally controlling powers of Loki’s staff many fans speculated that it could potentially house an Infinity stone, specifically the Mind stone. For a time the staff was lost to Hydra but was soon recovered by the Avengers during Age of Ultron when they attacked a Hydra base in Sokovia under the control of Baron Von Strucker. In the MCU the Mind stone would grant Wanda and Pietro Maximoff their abilities, give birth to Ultron, and, last but not least, give life to The Vision. In Age of Ultron it was decided that The Vision would be the protector of the Mind Stone and that it would reside within his forehead, which means during Infinity War we should expect Thanos to have an “off with his head” moment.
The Reality Stone// The Aether
The Reality Gem made its named comic book debut in the pages of Avengers Annual #7
The Reality Gem grants the user the ability to alter the laws of the universe to whatever the user wishes, which means that it allows the user to shape and manipulate reality to their desires, grants the user the ability to bring back the dead and to distort reality, and grants the ability to create alternate realities. The Reality Gem is considered extremely dangerous to the user without the influence and balancing power of the space and time Stones. The Reality Stone is considered the most powerful of the Infinity Stones and its power is known for overwhelming those who don’t have a strong grasp or understanding of its limitless power. The Stone makes all of reality a playground for the user because it essentially voids and dismisses all natural and cosmic laws reducing the universe to the users blank slate.
The audiences were first introduced to the Aether/Reality Stone comes during Thor: The Dark World where the stone is central to the plot as the dark elf Malekith wanted to use the Aether during the convergence to plunge the Nine Realms into eternal darkness but was eventually thwarted by Thor. The Aether, unlike the Reality Stone, was liquid and had an ever-changing form and was last seen when Volstagg and Lady Sif took the stone to the Collector for safe keeping and was confirmed to be the reality stone during an interview with Kevin Feige.
The Power Stone// The Orb
The Power Gem made its named comic book debut in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #55
The Power Gem grants the user access to all of the power in the universe that ever has been or will be by granting the ability to heighten and enhance the abilities of the other gems, granting increased stamina and strength comparable to superhuman levels, replication of any superhuman ability, and invincibility.
James Gunn revealed that the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 is the MCU equivalent of the Power Stone. We are first introduced to the stone in the MCU during the events of Guardians of the Galaxy when Star-Lord steals the stone from the dead planet Morag. This event essentially sets off and triggers the rest of the events of the film as the primary antagonist, Ronan the Accuser, is also after the stone. Ronan was initially after the stone in service of his master Thanos, however that quickly changed and Ronan sought the stone for his own gains. The stone, along with the Guardians, would eventually meet with the Collector in his vault, which was also the location of the Aether. Most of you have already seen Guardians of the Galaxy so no need for a rehash of that, I’m sure you’re all familiar with the final battle dance scene. The Orb was last seen in the care of the Nova Corps as it was being placed in their vault.
The Time Stone// The Eye of Agamotto
The Time Gem made its comic book debut in the pages of Marvel Team-Up #55.
The Time Gem grants the user complete and utter control over every aspect of time and allows the user to slow down and speed up time, age and deage things, time travel, visions of the past, present, and potential futures, as well as the ability to trap entire worlds in never-ending time loops. When used at its highest power the Time Gem allows its owner to exist at all points of time simultaneously. The Time Gem is my personal favorite of the Infinity Gems and is definitely the stone I’d wish to command if I had the option.
The Time Stone made its MCU debut in Doctor Strange as the Eye of Agamotto. By the time the film was released fans were already on the look out for potential sightings of another Infinity Stone and they were sure that it would come in the form of the Eye of Agamotto. About midway through the film we are shown the powerful relic The Eye of Agamotto and the audience was introduced to its powers over time as well as the threat that this particular relic posed to the space-time continuum. At the end of the film it is confirmed by Wong that the Eye of Agamotto is indeed an Infinity Stone. The last time that the Time Stone is seen it is being placed back on its pedestal within the library at Kamar-Taj where Wong tells Stephen he still has much to learn.
The Soul Gem// ?
The Soul Gem made its named comic book debut in the pages of Marvel Premiere #1.
The Soul Gem grants the user limitless manipulation of souls both alive and dead also has shown to be able to evolve or devolve a beings physical self as well as their mental capacities, is sentient entity that has a desire to seek collect souls, has the ability to track down individuals soul in various ways, grants the user the ability to access the memories and skills of those trapped within the world of the stone. If for some reason an individual has been transformed, the Soul Gem has the ability to revert them back to their natural state of being. The High Evolutionary possessed the Soul Gem during the Rebirth of Adam Warlock. The High Evolutionary gifted Warlock with the stone which he would go on to use as a means to restore the New Men of Counter Earth to their animal forms.
Currently, the Soul Stone is the only Infinity Stone to not make its appearance yet in the MCU. Speculation as to where the stone will make its appearance has run rampant through the MCU fan community. I personally believe that the Soul Stone will appear in Thor: Ragnarok and it will be in the possession of none other than Hela the Goddess of Death and Queen of Hel. Hela possessing the stone would fit right into her MO as well as the stones sentient desire to seek out and collect souls.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see the Infinity Gems truly in action until May 4, 2018 when Avengers Infinity War explodes into theaters. Avengers Infinity War will mark the first time that the entire film-side of the MCU will meet each other as well as the first time the MCU truly gets to meet its worst nightmare the Mad Titan Thanos himself. The film is set to draw in characters from just about every corner of the live action universe in some form or another. As many of you know critically acclaimed actor Josh Brolin was cast to portray Thanos and it was recently revealed at Disney’s D23 Expo 2017 that the Black Order would be joining Thanos in his crusade for galactic domination.
Hopefully this guide answered many of the questions that you have about the Infinity Stones and their place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.