What You Need to Know About the Infinity Stones
Everything You Need to Know About the Infinity Stones
Like, ‘where do they come from, where the heck are they right now, what the heck do they do, and why does the prospect of combining them scare the living daylights out of any and all sentient beings?’
The Infinity Stones are six colorful gems bristling with reality-altering powers granting fortunate (or unfortunate) wielders complete omniscience and omnipotence.
These cloudy, colored stones are part of the overarching narrative permeating the Marvel Cinematic Universe – they’re passed from hero to villain and stored in staffs, cube-shaped “Tesseracts”, or the foreheads of very affectionate androids attempting to cook Chicken Paprikash.
Each stone holds limitless power affecting a particular aspect of reality. Obviously, a singular stone is enough to wreak havoc on the most steadfast laws of physics. However, if an especially ambitious overlord (I’m looking at you, Thanos!) assembles the stones and affixes them to, say, an impervious gauntlet, you’re looking at the ultimate means to influence, harness, and flat out massacre the fundamental laws of universal super-structure.
And why would Thanos, the self-proclaimed and universally acknowledged Mad Titan, seek to assemble the stones ( and perhaps massacre universal super-structure)? Because he’s Thanos – a nearly immortal super-being descended from an ancient god-like race (the Eternals). Oh, and he carries a deep affection for Death, both the concept and the female-shaped avatar. And to properly court Death -- to be worthy of her cold embrace offering an everlasting peace of absolute nothingness -- is to diminish life.
But we’re not here to discuss Thanos. Yes, his involvement is certainly a highlight of their history, but it’s not the only story. You see, the stones predate Thanos, and perhaps the universe itself.
A Little History
Like most elements of Marvel films, the stones, their abilities, and their history are taken directly from the pages of Marvel comics.
In these sweeping Marvel epics, the “Infinity Gems” (not “stones” – gems!) were held by incalculably old beings called the “Elders of the Universe.” Well, they were, until Thanos visited each Elder and relieved them of ownership.
Speaking to one of the recently relieved Elders – the Runner -- Thanos imparted the origin of the gems. Apparently, the gems were the remaining fragments of an ancient, omnipotent, and tragically lonely being. Unable to endure eternity alone, the being committed suicide; however, its primal essences survived and reformed as the six Infinity Gems.
According to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU), the “Infinity Stones” (not “gems” – stones!) were created by the “Cosmic Entities” – primordial, omnipotent beings who existed before the Big Bang. Their membership included fundamental abstract concepts governing existence: Death, Entropy, Infinity, and Eternity.
In the very first Guardians of the Galaxy film, the Collector – a card-carrying Elder of the Universe – explained it thusly:
“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. These stones, it seems, can only be brandished by beings of extraordinary strength. Observe. (Directs the Guardians’ attention to a viewscreen where a massive Celestial -- Eson the Searcher – utilizes a stone to effortlessly smash a planet). These carriers can use the stone to mow down entire civilizations like wheat in a field. Once, for a moment, a group was able to share the energy amongst themselves, but even they were quickly destroyed by it.”
The consensus? Weaponizing items controlling the fabric of existence is a terrible idea.
So, that’s a little helpful history regarding the stones (gems!). But where are they right now, and what – exactly -- do they actually do?
Let’s break it down:
The Space Stone/Gem, (also known as the Tesseract)
Current Location in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Loki’s pocket?
When we first encountered the Space Stone, it was chambered in a black cube granting it a second ominous moniker – the Tesseract. In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull initially utilized the cube to create powerful weapons for HYDRA.
In The Avengers, Loki utilized it to create dimensional portals between galaxies, granting the Chitauri armada access to Earth -- specifically, New York.
After Loki was defeated, Thor took the Tesseract (and a recently ‘smashed’ Loki) back to Asgard and locked it in Odin’s vault. Near the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Loki studied Odin’s vault – a strong implication assuring a completely-in-character pilfering. And Loki’s implied “acquisition” was sensible considering Asgard was destroyed, and its remaining citizenry collected on a massive space arc.
Oh, and the Avengers: Infinity War trailer showed Loki surrendering the stone to Thanos, so…Yeah, he definitely has it.
Powers/Abilities: The Space Stone, like its Marvel Comics counterpart, grants one the ability to change one’s location in space (through warping), or move anywhere throughout reality. If used effectively, it could grant the wielder complete omnipresence, allowing one to exist in multiple places simultaneously.
The Mind Stone/Gem
Current Location in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Vision’s forehead.
We encountered the Mind Stone in The Avengers – it was encapsulated by Loki’s staff. How did Loki happen to have a Mind Stone? Why, it was bequeathed by Thanos in order to help Loki acquire the Space Stone.
Of course, Loki utilized it to control minds and mess about with The Avengers. And of course, that strategy imploded since Loki – and the Chitauri -- were defeated by The Avengers.
Held by The Avengers, the Mind Stone was cleverly utilized in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Having recently intercepted the Vibranium body Ultron was creating for itself, the Avengers interrupted Ultron’s programing by fusing said body with the Mind Stone. And yes, this resulted in the Vision. YAY!
Powers/Abilities: Like its comic book counterpart, the Mind Stone grants one enhanced mental and psionic abilities. It also allows one to enter the thoughts and dreams of other beings.
The Reality Stone/Gem (the Aether)
Current Location in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Held by the Collector, an Elder of the Universe.
The Reality Stone is a bit more unique considering it takes the form of a liquid (hence its second moniker, “the Aether”). We encountered the Aether in Thor: The Dark World -- it infected Jane Foster and aided Malekith during his invasion of Earth.
Thankfully, Thor saved Jane, repelled the invasion, and handed the Aether over to an ancient connoisseur of all things cosmic, improbably powerful, and virtually unknowable – the Collector. He was looking for the other five stones, so he seemed like the logical choice.
Powers/Abilities: The Reality Stone, like its Marvel Comics counterpart, grants one the ability to fulfill their wishes regardless of being scientifically implausible. It also allows one to create any reality he or she desires and control every aspect of said reality.
The Power Stone/Gem (the Orb)
Current Location in the MCU: Held by Glenn Close…er, the Nova Corps!
We encountered the Power Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy – Star-Lord stole the stone which was encased in a metallic ball (hence its second moniker, “the Orb”).
Thanos sent the militant Kree “Ronan the Accuser” to secure the stone, which resulted in a battle (i.e. dance-off) between Ronan and Peter Quill.
After mitigating Ronan’s threat with the power of interpretive dance, Star-Lord begrudging handed the Orb to the Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force who never really appreciated the Guardians’ initially selfish but ultimately selfless contributions.
Powers/Abilities: Like the Marvel Comics counterpart, the Power Stone allows one to access and control all forms of energy. It also augments one’s physical strength and durability, granting one complete invulnerability. Oh, and the Power Stone also acts as a strength modifier when used in conjunction with the other five stones. So...it grants additional infinite power to infinitely powerful artifacts. Yup.
The Time Stone/Gem (the Eye of Agamotto)
Current Location in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:The sacred city of Kamar-Taj!( Or, it’s dangling from the neck of Doctor Stephen Strange if Wong is distracted by the likes of Beyoncé.)
We encountered the Time Stone in Marvel’s Doctor Strange – it resides in an ancient amulet known as the Eye of Agamotto, a powerful, mostly feared artifact that manipulates time.
Against the advice of his magically inclined peers, Doctor Strange harnessed the power of the Eye to undo the destruction caused by Dormammu and trap the evil, other-dimensional demi-god in an infinite time loop.
After Strange defeated Dormammu, he returned the Eye to Kamar-Taj. It resides in a secure magical chamber that is utterly impregnable to anyone other than Dr. Strange.
Powers/Abilities: Like the Marvel Comics counterpart, the Time Stone allows one to see the past or future, move freely throughout time, alter the speed at which time flows, change the past or the future, age or de-age people/places/things, and trap entire universes in infinite time loops. If you’re an expert Time Stone wielder, one might eventually gain total control of the past, present, and future.
The Soul Stone/Gem
Current Location in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Uh…
This physics-pummeling nugget has yet to make an appearance in the MCU. However, the post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 offers a narrative sliver implying its debut.
Ayesha, queen of the perfection-obsessed and especially golden Sovereign, revealed a cocoon chambering the percolating superhuman, Adam.
Especially indoctrinated Marvel comic fans immediately embraced the reference. You see, Adam Warlock is/was a Marvel superhero who was also “manufactured” and born from a mechanical womb. And yes, Adam had a very long and tumultuous history with the Soul Gem.
Do the Sovereign currently hold the Soul Stone? Will they successfully fuse the Stone with Adam Warlock? Will Thanos, who currently seeks the stone, arrive shortly after Warlock’s birth and violently excise the stone from his forehead?
Or, will the Soul Stone’s location escape the Mad Titan, allowing a fully aware, fully empowered Adam Warlock to descend on Thanos moments before several Avengers are violently expelled from the newly scorched canvas of reality??
Only time will tell, my friends.
Powers/Abilities: Like the Marvel Comics counterpart, the Soul Stone allows one to steal, control, and manipulate the souls of living – AND DEAD! – beings. If one masters the Soul Stone, one may gain complete mastery over life itself.
Oh, and the stone also offers a throughway to an idyllic pocket dimension. It’s the perfect place to hide a regiment of recently defeated Avengers while Thanos renders existence asunder.