Warning: This post contains spoilers for all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
The Avengers chase after the Tesseract, the Guardians of the Galaxy steal an orb, Thor tries to capture Aether. These magical objects may seem like MacGuffins, plot devices that are meant to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward. But in fact they are Infinity Stones, a group of gems that grant their owner great power.
Thanos, an evil, purple alien, wants that power to destroy half the universe. In the upcoming Marvel movie Avengers: Infinity War, he will hunt the Infinity Stones down—and it’s up to Marvel’s heroes to stop him.
Where are the Infinity Stones now? The complex Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline makes it easy to forget Infinity Stone names, let alone their powers and which movies you might have seen them in before. After all, there are 18 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And most of the Infinity Stones have multiple names.
But we’ve got you covered. Here’s all your questions about the Infinity Stones, and what role they’ll play in the Infinity War, answered.
So what’s an Infinity Stone, again?
Infinity Stones are really powerful gems that, when united, can be used to destroy people, planets, solar systems—you name it.
How many Infinity Stones are there?
There are six Infinity Stones: The Space Stone (blue), the Reality Stone (red), the Power Stone (purple), the Mind Stone (yellow), the Time Stone (green) and the Soul Stone (we don’t know yet).
Where did the Infinity Stones come from?
As Benicio Del Toro’s The Collector explains in Guardians of the Galaxy, six singularities existed before the creation of the Universe. The Big Bang transformed those entities into six separate Infinity Stones.
Where have I seen the Infinity Stones before?
So glad you asked. This can get confusing because many of these stones have two different names. Here’s a rundown of all the Infinity Stone names and what movies they’ve popped up in.
The Space Stone (a.k.a. The Tesseract)
The Space Stone gives the user power over space. Anyone holding the Space Stone can create a portal from one part of the universe to another. In the Marvel films, the Space Stone is hidden inside a blue cube called the Tesseract.
The evil organization HYDRA used the Tesseract to power their weapons in Captain America: The First Avenger, but Captain America crashed a plane containing the Tesseract at the end of that movie. We find out the government agency S.H.I.E.L.D. recovered the Tesseract from the plane during the end credits of Thor.
In the first Avengers movie, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. and uses it to open a portal to space. An alien army streams through the portal to invade Earth. At the end of the movie, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) takes the Tesseract to his home planet of Asgard for safe keeping.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Thor realizes he must destroy Asgard to defeat the Goddess of Death Hela (Cate Blanchett). As he and a cohort of sidekicks fight Hela, a supposedly reformed Loki sneaks down to the treasure room where the Tesseract (and therefore the Space Stone) is kept. We never see him grab the stone, but that dude just cannot resist creating chaos. He probably pocketed it. In the post-credit scenes for Thor: Ragnarok, we find out that someone attacked Thor’s getaway ship. Presumably, Thanos figured out that Loki had the Space Stone and ransacked the ship to get it.
The Mind Stone (Loki’s scepter)
The Mind Stone allows the user to control the minds of others. We first see it as a blue orb in Loki’s scepter in 2012’s The Avengers. Whenever Loki touches someone with the scepter, he can control what they do. Thanos gives the Mind Stone to Loki, which places a lot of faith in Loki, a hilarious but not particularly accomplished villain. Weird decision, Thanos.
The Avengers recover Loki’s scepter at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) use the Mind Stone to create Ultron (James Spader), an artificially intelligent peace-keeping program. Apparently, those two have not read Frankenstein because they’re super surprised when Ultron turns on them.
After some bickering, the Avengers eventually use the Mind Stone to create another android, Vision (Paul Bettany). The stone gives Vision a lot of powers, including super-strength, the ability to fly and the power to phase through walls and people like a ghost. Curiously, it does not give him the ability to control minds.
The Mind Stone currently resides in Vision’s forehead, though the Infinity War trailer suggests Thanos tries to yank it out.
The Reality Stone (Aether)
The Reality Stone grants the user power to manipulate matter. In Thor: The Dark World the villain Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) wants to use this red liquid stuff called Aether to turn matter into dark matter because he’s evil…and do you really need a better reason? It turns out that the Aether is a manifestation of the Reality Stone.
At the end of the movie, two Asgardians give the Reality Stone to The Collector because apparently they can’t keep the Space Stone and Reality Stone in the same room in Asgard. This seems to be a huge mistake: As soon as they leave the Collector says, “One down, five to go” in a super evil voice.
The Power Stone
Marvel Studios/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock—Marvel Studios/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Power Stone bestows upon its holder a lot of energy—the sort of energy that you could use to destroy an entire planet. Star Lord (Chris Pratt) accidentally discovers the stone in Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronan the Accuser steals it from him and threatens to wipe out an entire race.
But here’s the tricky thing about Infinity Stones: You can’t hold them in your hand for long without dying. (More on that later.) Peter steals the stone back from Ronan and almost dies when holding it. (All the Guardians join hands, and together they can manage its power. Hooray for teamwork!)
The Guardians—you may start to notice a theme here—give it to Nova Corps, the space police, for safekeeping. The officers in Nova Corps are pretty bad at their jobs, so Thanos will probably steal it immediately: We see Thanos with the Power Stone in the trailer for Infinity War.
The Time Stone (Eye of Agomoto)
The Time Stone grants its owner the power to re-wind or fast-forward time. Stephen Strange discovers it in the Eye of Agomoto pendant in the library of Kamar-Taj, where he trains in the mystic arts in Doctor Strange. He uses the stone at the end of the film to trap the villain Dormammu in a time loop so that Dormammu can’t destroy the Earth.
Wisely, Doctor Strange doesn’t hand over the stone to a sketchy junk collector or a hapless policeman and decides to watch over it himself. He returns the Stone to Kamar-Taj, where he currently resides, at the end of the movie.
The Soul Stone
We haven’t seen this stone yet, and the Soul Stone’s powers in the comics are somewhat vague and ever-changing. Basically the Soul Stone allows the user to control others “souls,” both living and dead. Soul Stone users have previously trapped souls in another plane and brought dead people back to life.
So where is this Soul Stone? Wakanda?
Excellent question. We have no idea. But yes, Wakanda is a popular theory.
Many fans think the glowing astroid that landed in Wakanda many years ago actually contained the Soul Stone (in addition to Vibranium). They also theorize that the heart-shaped herb that Black Panther and Killmonger drink in order to travel to an alternate plane and speak with their ancestors is some manifestation of the Soul Stone. After all, the Soul Stone allows the user to control souls, living or dead, and travel to an in-between-world between life and death.
The Infinity War trailer bolstered this theory: Much of the action takes place in Wakanda. Why would Thanos’ army invade Wakanda in particular if they weren’t after an Infinity Stone hidden there?
Still, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler has said he didn’t include any Infinity Stones in his movie. And scenes from the trailer show Vision with the Mind Stone in his head in Wakanda, so Thanos may just be after him.
Here are a few other popular Soul Stone theories:
- Thanos already has the Soul Stone.
- Titan, Thanos’ decimated home world that appears at the beginning of the Infinity War trailer, contains the stone.
- Thanos will have to time travel using the Time Stone to find the Soul Stone. (One of the trailers shows Thanos with what looks to be young Gamora in either a flashback or an instance of time travel.)
- The Soul Stone won’t be in Infinity War at all but will show up in Captain Marvel in 2019.
How many Infinity Stones does Thanos have?
In the trailers, we see Thanos with two Infinity stones, the Space Stone and the Power Stone. Presumably, he got the Space Stone from Loki and took the Power Stone from the Nova Corps.
Why are all these stones in some sort of container?
You can’t hold an Infinity Stone for very long without dying. That’s why the Time Stone is in a necklace, the Mind Stone in a scepter, the Space Stone in the Tesseract, etc. Thanos would need to wear a special golden glove to hold all the stones.
Yeah, what is the weird glove Thanos has on in the trailer?
The Infinity Gauntlet. Basically, it’s a fancy golden glove that can hold all the Infinity Stones. When all the stones are united in the Gauntlet, the wearer wields unlimited power.
We first see the Infinity Gauntlet in the treasure room of Asgard in the first Thor. But then we see the glove again in a post-credits scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron. After Ultron fails to destroy the Avengers (and humanity), Thanos enters a place that is decidedly not the Asgardian treasure room, puts on the Infinity Gauntlet and says, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
Marvel cleared up this confusion about the two Infinity Gauntlets in Thor: Ragnarok when the villain Hela walks through the Asgardian treasury, looks at the Infinity Gauntlet, tosses it aside and declares it “fake.”
Why does Thanos want to destroy half the Universe?
In the comics, Thanos falls in love with Death (or her physical embodiment) and collects the Infinity Stones to destroy universes and impress her. Marvel Studios hinted at this plotline way back in 2012 when a henchman told Thanos to fight the Avengers is to “court death.” Thanos smiles.
But Infinity War’s writers may have since changed their mind about the villain’s motivations. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has said that Thanos is concerned with overpopulation in the universe, and his solution is to “restore balance” by killing off half of all the living things. “He’s evil” is another acceptable answer.
Why didn’t Thanos just get the Infinity Stones himself before?
Thanos sent Ronan the Accuser and Loki to fetch him Infinity Stones and wound up empty handed both times. He seems to be making much quicker progress by just tracking down the darn things himself. So laziness, I guess?
Now also happens to be an opportune time to attack earth, what with the Avengers team broken up.
Wait, the Avengers broke up?!?
Oh, yeah. If you didn’t catch Captain America: Civil War, you may want to go back and watch it before Infinity War. You can stream it on Netflix right now.
Here’s a quick summary: Iron Man and Captain America feud over whether the government should regulate superheroes (with Iron Man for and Cap against). The rest of the Avengers take sides, minus Hulk and Thor who are too busy testing their gladiatorial skills in space. Things end badly, and Iron Man and Cap still aren’t speaking. Their breakup makes Thanos’ job all the easier.
Is Thanos going to kill one of the Avengers?
Several actors’ contracts are up after this film and the yet-unnamed Avengers 4 movie, including Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow). Evans has been very open about the fact that he’s eager to leave the franchise. Hemsworth and Downey have also hinted they are done, too.
But good news: Johansson will probably survive, since Marvel just hired a writer to draft a Black Widow solo flick. Actors newer to the franchise like Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Tom Holland (Spider-Man) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) are also probably safe.
To its credit, Marvel has just decided to lean into the whole “Cap or Thor is probably going to bite it” narrative. Feige has openly said some characters will get to ride off into the sunset, and some will meet a bloody end. It’s just a matter of whether it happens in this movie or Avengers 4 in 2019.
I’m confused: Does the Infinity War take place over two movies or one?
Originally, Marvel announced that they would release Avengers: Infinity War—Part I in 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War—Part II in 2019. But they’ve recently walked back this plan. Currently, the 2019 movie has no title. It’s definitely an Avengers sequel, but the so-called Infinity War may end in the first film.
Marvel will likely announce the title for the 2019 movie either at San Diego Comic-Con or D23, the Disney convention, this summer.