When the original Iron Man hit theaters back in 2008, the powers that be at Marvel Studios had put into motion the first key cog in establishing perhaps the most ambitious film franchise in history. Nearly ten years on that ambition has paid dividends as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) is now the most successful movie franchise of all-time. With the 13th film in the franchise Captain America: Civil War set to be released at the end of this month, setting up Phase Three of the MCU, some casual fans might not be aware of one of the key threads linking all of these films together.
The Infinity Stones first popped up in Captain America: The First Avenger. To many at the time, the Tesseract was more than just a simple one-time antagonistic weapon. Rather it would be the audience's introduction to the destructive potential of one of the most popular plot-devices in Marvel Comics history. After their initial introduction, the Infinity Stones' prominence has risen with each film to the point where they are recognized as six immensely powerful individual stones that, if combined under the wrong hands, could have devastating effects for the MCU's heroes and the universe as a whole.
So here are 15 must-see facts that will help the casual movie-goer's understanding of the Infinity Stone's integral part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
15 The Stones Have Appeared in Marvel Comics For Over 40 Years
The Infinity Stones have a long history in Marvel Comics dating back to their very first appearance in Marvel Premiere Vol 1 - The Power of Warlock in 1972. Although all six stones only appeared for the first time all together in the Marvel Tw0-In-One Annual Vol 1 in 1977. During their early publication history they were referred to as the 'Soul Gems' and weren't referred to as the 'The Infinity Gems' until the Thanos Quest publication in 1990. In the MCU, they are now known as the 'Infinity Stones.'
14 The Space Stone (Blue)
In the MCU, the Space Stone is contained within a cuboid known as The Tesseract. It first appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger where, after being hidden for centuries in a church in Norway, it was stolen by the Red Skull and Hydra to be used as a weaponised energy source. In The Avengers it is shown to be capable of creating wormholes and doors into space as demonstrated by Loki using it to both land on Earth himself and create the wormhole for the Chitauri invasion of Earth. As of Phase Three of the MCU, it is locked away in Odin's vault on Asgard. At its full potential it grants its master omnipresence or the ability to be everywhere and anywhere in the universe at once.
13 The Mind Stone (Yellow)
The Mind Stone basically heightens the user's mental capabilities as well as allow them the ability to bend others to their will and create, manipulate or change any mind it desires. In its first introduction into the MCU it was contained within and was the power behind Loki's mind altering scepter in The Avengers (which he used to hypnotise Hawkeye among others). It was also the stone that Baron Von Strucker used to somehow alter Wanda and Pietro Maximoff to turn them into Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Extraordinarily, it was also utilized by Tony Stark to create the artificial intelligence Ultron who then in turn used its power to create Vision. Thor ended up entrusting Vision with the safety of the stone.
12 The Reality Stone (Red)
Introduced as taking the form of the liquid-like 'Aether,' a weapon sought after by the Dark Elf Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, The Reality Stone remains perhaps the most unexplored of the Infinity Stones introduced into the MCU thus far. What is known is that it can create portals in space and if wielded under certain circumstances it can basically switch off the universe like a light switch. In essence this Infinity Stone may be the most unexplored so far but it could also be the most dangerous.
11 The Power Stone (Purple)
Contained within the protective casing of the Orb, the Power Stone was introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy as an Infinity Stone with the power to obliterate an entire planet. Acquired by Star-Lord on the deserted planet Morag, he was pursued by Ronan The Accuser, who acquired it with the intention of wiping out Xandar, until the Guardians of the Galaxy were able to wield it and harness its power to defeat him. It is now in the safe-keeping of the peaceful Nova Corps on Xandar. In the Marvel Comics it is typically able to give those who wield it unlimited power as well as being able to considerably amplify the powers of the other Infinity Stones.
10 The Time Stone (Orange)
As of Phase Three, the Time Stone is one of two stones yet to be introduced into the MCU, although it is only a matter of time until its inevitable introduction. In the comics the Time Stone allows its "user total control over the past, present and future, grants visions of possible futures, and the ability to see into the past as well as to stop, slow down or speed up the flow of time," according to Wikipedia. It also allows time travel, can age and de-age beings and also be used as a weapon by trapping enemies or entire universes in infinite loops of time.
9 The Soul Stone (Green)
Last but certainly not least is the Soul Stone. In the comics it is described as pretty much being the most powerful of all the Infinity Stones and upon finding out what it can do, it's easy to see why. Those that are able to wield the stone gain the ability to" steal, control, manipulate and alter souls, living or dead," according to Wikipedia. It also gives the user the ability to steal the powers and abilities of others. So basically mastery of this stone would allow the user total control of the universe. Yeah, it's a big deal.
8 Additional Stones Have Appeared in the Comics
Appearing in a handful of tie-in comics, there have been two additional Infinity Stones: the Ego and the Rhythm Stones. The Ego Stone held the essence of 'Nemesis,' an entity that grew tired of living and shattered herself across the universe, thus creating the six well- known Infinity Stones. The Rhythm Stone was a stone created under the guise of being an Infinity Stone but the whole thing was actually just an elaborate ploy by Loki.
7 They Were Created By The Cosmic Entities
In the comics the Infinity Stones were created by a group of beings known as the Cosmic Entities. These characters are Entropy, Infinity, Death and Eternity. Although the MCU is yet to properly delve into the Infinity Stones' creation with The Collector merely saying that "there were six singularities, then the universe exploded into existence and the remnants of this system were forged into concentrated ingots... Infinity Stones." There is an extremely high possibility that at least one of these beings could appear in the MCU as all four appeared on the walls of the temple vault on Morag where Star-Lord acquires The Orb. Death in particular plays a key role in the comics and it has been confirmed by Josh Brolin the actor playing Thanos that Death will be portrayed as a woman in the MCU.
6 They Can't Be Destroyed
Unfortunately for The Avengers who would probably like to end the Infinity War before it begins, the Infinity Stones are indestructible; no weapon can destroy them. That should explain why the stones already revealed in the MCU were separated across the universe rather than just taken care of once and for all.
5 Only Certain Powerful Beings Can Wield Them
In the MCU to date only a handful of characters have come into direct contact with the stones. For the most part they have been housed within a containment unit of some kind: Space Stone is in the Tesseract; Mind Stone was in Loki's Scepter and is now on Vision's forehead; the Power Stone is the Orb. The reason behind this is that the Infinity Stones can only be wielded by immensely powerful beings, "lesser beings are usually unable to grasp the full power of the stones and are destroyed by them when direct contact is made," according to marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com. Remember what happened to Jane Foster when exposed to the Aether or what happened to the Red Skull when these characters came into contact the stones? They either fell ill or just disappeared.
4 The Infinity Gauntlets Are Needed to Channel The Stones' Power
Although the Infinity Stones can be wielded individually, the Infinity Gauntlet is needed to combine the stones power as one. The Gauntlet is fashioned like a glove and when used in conjunction with the Infinity Stones it gives its user infinite powers. In the comics there is typically only one gauntlet, but in the MCU two gauntlets are currently known - one is in Odin's Vault, which is right-handed, and the other, which is left-handed, is in Thanos' possession, according to marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com.
3 Whoever Channels Their Power Becomes God
If you can be everywhere at once, can create or take a hold of any mind and soul you desire, have unlimited power, have complete control of time that would basically make you God right? Well that's what happens for those who harness the power of the stones in conjunction with the Infinity Gauntlet.
2 The Last Two Stones Will Be Introduced Very Soon
It is a pretty safe bet to say that all the Infinity Stones will be introduced by Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1. With six films scheduled to be released between now and then it begs the question in which of those films will the Time and Soul stones make their first appearance. The Captain America, Spider-Man and Black Panther solo films really don't seem as if they'll offer the appropriate narrative to introduce the remaining stones. Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the MCU, has hinted that one of the remaining will appear in Doctor Strange. With the mystical properties surrounding the character and film, one could assert that the Time Stone could perhaps appear as "The Eye of Agamotto," a relic with the ability to manipulate properties including time. That would open up a possible introduction of the Soul Stone in either Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Thor: Ragnarok.
In the Marvel Comics, Thanos was born on Titan, a moon of Saturn colonised by an ancient race known as the Eternals. He was born carrying the gene of a related race (known as the Deviants) that led to him being disfigured and monstrous in comparison to his Eternal brethren and ultimately ostracized by his race. This exclusion from his own society turned Thanos into a cold, nihilistic individual who became ever more fascinated and even obsessed with the notion of Death. What is known of Thanos in the MCU so far is that, although having not yet demonstrated his powers and abilities, it is conceivable that he is extremely powerful, being able to strike fear into immensely powerful beings like Loki and Ronan The Accuser as well as commanding the Chitauri army unchallenged.
He has also been described as the most powerful being in the universe. He is dubbed the Dark Lord by his most loyal underlings and the Mad Titan by the galactic communities; he is power hungry and his quest for the Infinity Stones acts as a means to control all of existence as to satisfy his hunger for power. As of Avengers: Age of Ultron he has forsaken his role of a behind the scenes master manipulator of the MCU and decided to take matters into his own hands. He is looking to retrieve his Infinity Gauntlet and decided to make the hunt for the Infinity Stones himself. So you can expect to see much more of Thanos in Phase Three.