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The Infinity Stones are significant in the first three phases (also called the "Infinity Saga") of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), playing important roles in several films and the MacGuffin of the films Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. They also played a major role in the Blip. The Infinity Stones are based on the Infinity Gems from Marvel Comics.
The existence of the Infinity Stones has been described as the "one driving force that unifies all the robot-alien-hero fighting". In Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), the Collector explains that the Infinity Stones are the remnants of six singularities that existed before the Big Bang, which were compressed into Stones by cosmic entities after the universe began and were dispersed throughout the cosmos.
Throughout the series, the Mad Titan Thanos seeks to collect them all and use them to erase half of all life in the universe from existence, believing that his plan will save it from extinction. He enlists the help of Loki in 2012 and Ronan the Accuser in 2014 to help him, but after they both failed, Thanos decides to collect them himself. Having completed this goal in Infinity War, Thanos then uses the Stones' power to destroy them so that his actions cannot be undone (those who obtained powers from the Stones, such as Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers, still maintained their abilities even after the Stones' destruction); Thor kills Thanos in retaliation.
Despite this, in Endgame, the surviving Avengers use the Quantum Realm to travel back in time to 1970, 2012, 2013, and 2014 to retrieve alternate versions of the Stones from the past (their actions in the past do not affect the current timeline but instead create alternate timelines), allowing them to undo Thanos' actions. However, an alternate version of Thanos from 2014 (having been alerted by their actions thanks to 2023 Nebula's cybernetic implants linking with her past self) is able to follow them to the present and, believing that his plan only failed because the survivors were unable to "move on" from the losses, he attempts to use the past Infinity Stones to destroy the entire universe and create a completely new, "perfect" universe out of revenge for the Avengers undoing the Blip. During the resulting full-scale battle between the Avengers and the alternate version of Thanos, Tony Stark claims the past Infinity Stones and uses them to defeat the 2014 Thanos and his forces at the cost of his life. Steve Rogers subsequently returns the past Infinity Stones (without the objects that contained them) and the past Mjolnir that Thor had acquired from the alternate 2013 to the points in time the Avengers had taken them from to prevent any alternate timelines from forming. After returning the time-displaced items, Rogers ultimately chooses to stay in the past with Peggy Carter before returning to the present time as an old man.
Since the events of Endgame, the stones continue to play downplayed roles. In the penultimate episode of WandaVision, the moment of Hydra's experimentation with the Mind Stone on Wanda is shown; her exposure to it having tapped into her innate magic and made those abilities even more powerful. In the first episode of Loki, as Loki tries to retrieve the Tesseract, he discovers the Time Variance Authority owns some variants of the Infinity Stones from deleted timelines, which are ineffective in the TVA's dimension as the entire facility essentially exists outside of the multiverse; due to the frequency at which they are confiscated, they are simply used as paperweights by some of the TVA's workers.
List of Infinity Stones
|Space||Grants the user the ability to travel between places instantaneously||Blue||Tesseract|
|Mind||Grants the user the ability to control minds||Yellow||Loki's scepter, Vision's head|
|Reality||Grants the user the ability to change reality||Red||Aether|
|Power||Grants the user unnaturally powerful strength||Purple||Orb|
|Time||Grants the user the ability to control time||Green||Eye of Agamotto|
|Soul||Grants the user the ability to control a person's soul||Orange||N/A|
Originally housed in the Tesseract, the Space Stone (blue) first appears in the post-credits scene of Thor, with Nick Fury showing the object to Erik Selvig, not knowing that Loki was there also. In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Red Skull steals the Tesseract from a church and uses it to power Hydra's weaponry during World War II. Amidst Steve Rogers's final fight with the Red Skull, the Tesseract transported the latter to another location (later revealed to be the planet Vormir in Avengers: Infinity War) before falling into the Arctic Ocean where it was later recovered by Howard Stark and taken to a secret base.
In Captain Marvel, it was revealed that Dr. Wendy Lawson tried to use the Tesseract in 1989 to unlock light-speed travel in order to help the Skrulls find a new home, but was unsuccessful, although her experiments resulted in Carol Danvers being granted superhuman strength, flight, and the ability to generate energy blasts. Danvers eventually recovers the Tesseract and hands the object over to S.H.I.E.L.D., although it was temporarily swallowed by Goose (a Flerken disguised as a cat), who later vomits it out on Fury's desk.
In The Avengers, the Tesseract is shown to be capable of generating wormholes after Loki steals it from S.H.I.E.L.D. and uses it to transport the Chitauri army to New York City in an attempt to conquer Earth. After the Avengers repel the invasion, Thor returns it to Asgard for safekeeping in Odin's Vault and it is used to repair the Bifrost.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Loki gives Thanos the Tesseract in order to save Thor's life. Thanos then crushes the Tesseract to acquire the Space Stone. After Thanos wipes out half of all life in the universe, the Space Stone is destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark, Rogers, Scott Lang, and Bruce Banner time travel to the Battle of New York in an alternate 2012 timeline, where Stark and Lang attempt to steal the alternate 2012 Tesseract, but the alternate 2012 Hulk accidentally knocks Stark down and the 2012 Tesseract is taken by the alternate 2012 Loki, who uses it to open a wormhole and escape. Stark and Rogers then travel to an alternate 1970 timeline and take the alternate 1970 version of the Tesseract from a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in New Jersey. The 1970 Space Stone (having been removed from the Tesseract) is brought back to the main timeline of 2023 and used to undo the Blip and defeat an alternate Thanos. Rogers later returns the 1970 Space Stone to the alternate 1970 New Jersey.
In Loki, the alternate 2012 Tesseract is confiscated by the Time Variance Authority following alternate 2012 Loki's escape. Loki later tries to retrieve the Tesseract only to find that it is powerless in the TVA's dimension.
A 2018 article in Extreme Mechanics Letters proposed that Thanos would have needed "a minimum grip strength of over 40,000 tons, which is approximately 750,000 times that of a typical man", to break the Tesseract depicted in the film, presuming that the object was an "all-carbon nano-tesseract or hypercube projected into 3D space".
Originally housed in Loki's scepter, the Mind Stone (yellow) was first seen in The Avengers when Loki is given a scepter by Thanos to help locate the Tesseract and conquer Earth with its ability to control people's minds and project energy blasts. After Loki's defeat, the scepter fell into the hands of Hydra leader Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who is shown in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to have been using it to experiment on humans.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it is revealed that the only surviving subjects of Strucker's experiments are the siblings Pietro Maximoff and Wanda Maximoff, in whom superhuman abilities were unlocked (in the latter's case, amplifying her innate magic) before Strucker's base was attacked by the Avengers, who took back the scepter. The scepter is later revealed to contain the Mind Stone, which itself contains an artificial intelligence that grants sentience to the computer program Ultron, who steals the scepter and removes the Mind Stone to create a newly upgraded body. The Avengers steal the Mind Stone-infused body from Ultron and upload the A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. into it, giving birth to the android Vision. The Mind Stone can also enhance the user's intelligence, grant them immense knowledge, and create new life.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Vision is injured by the Children of Thanos in their attempts to get the Mind Stone and is taken to Wakanda to have it removed by Shuri; in the hope that he would be able to live without it. When the removal operation is interrupted, Wanda is forced to destroy Vision and the Mind Stone, only for Thanos to use the Time Stone to repair them both and collect the latter. After Thanos wipes out half of all life in the universe, the Mind Stone is destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, Rogers, having time-traveled to an alternate 2012 timeline, retrieves an alternate version of the scepter. Rogers then uses the 2012 scepter to render his alternate 2012 self unconscious after he mistook him for a disguised Loki. The 2012 Mind Stone (having been removed from the scepter) is brought back to the main timeline of 2023 and used to undo the Blip and defeat an alternate Thanos. Rogers later returns the 2012 Mind Stone to the alternate 2012 New York.
In WandaVision, Wanda uses her connection with the Mind Stone to reanimate a fake Vision in Westview, New Jersey.
Transformed into a fluid-like weapon called the Aether, the Reality Stone (red) first appears in Thor: The Dark World when Malekith the Accursed attempts to use the Aether to destroy the Nine Realms and return the universe to its pre-Big Bang state; only to be thwarted by Bor, who had it hidden. Jane Foster becomes infected by the Aether after coming across its resting place, though Malekith later draws it out of her. After Malekith is defeated by Thor, Sif and Volstagg seal the Aether in a lantern-like container and entrust it to the Collector to keep it separate from the Tesseract; as they consider it unwise to have multiple Infinity Stones close to each other. The Aether, once bonded to a host, can turn anything into dark matter as well as suck the life force out of humans and other mortals. The Aether can also disrupt the laws of physics and repel threats if it senses any.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos acquires the Aether from the Collector and turns it back into the Reality Stone off-screen; allowing him to repel the Guardians of the Galaxy's attacks by turning Drax the Destroyer to stone, Mantis into ribbon strips, and causing Star-Lord's gun to shoot bubbles. After Thanos wipes out half of all life in the universe, the Reality Stone is destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, Thor and Rocket time travel to Asgard in an alternate 2013 timeline to extract the alternate 2013 version of the Aether from the alternate 2013 Jane Foster. The 2013 Reality Stone (having been converted back into its solid form) is then brought back to 2023 in the main timeline and used to undo the Blip and to disintegrate an alternate Thanos. Rogers later returns the 2013 Reality Stone to the alternate 2013 Asgard.
Housed in the Orb hidden on the planet Morag, the Power Stone (purple) can increase the user's strength and destroy entire civilizations with a single blast. However, the stone is too much for most mortal beings to physically handle as its power will destroy them on contact. In Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan the Accuser seeks the orb for Thanos, but Star-Lord finds and steals the orb from Morag's resting spot before Korath could. An all-out war occurs between Ronan's forces and the Guardians of the Galaxy for the orb, with Ronan successfully acquiring it in the end. After learning about the Power Stone; however, Ronan betrays Thanos and tries to use its destructive power to destroy the planet Xandar, only to be stopped and defeated by the Ravagers, the Nova Corps, and the Guardians of the Galaxy; who seal the Power Stone in a new orb and entrust it to the Nova Corps for safekeeping. During the battle, by sharing the burden of the Power Stone's energy, the Guardians are able to use it to kill Ronan. It's suggested that Peter Quill's half-Celestial physiology was what allowed him to withstand the Stone's power on his own for a brief time before the other Guardians joined with him.
In Avengers: Infinity War, it is revealed that the Power Stone was the first to be obtained by Thanos, who "decimates" Xandar in the process. After Thanos wipes out half of all life in the universe, the Power Stone is destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, James Rhodes and Nebula time travel to Morag in an alternate 2014 timeline, subduing alternate 2014 Quill before taking the alternate 2014 Power Stone in its Orb. The 2014 Power Stone (having been removed from the Orb) is then brought back to 2023 in the main timeline and used to undo the Blip. During the battle, an alternate 2014 Thanos briefly removes the 2014 Power Stone from the Nano Gauntlet in order to use it to overpower Carol Danvers. The Stone is then used along with the other Stones to erase Thanos and his forces. Rogers later returns the 2014 Power Stone to the alternate 2014 Morag.
Housed in the Eye of Agamotto by Earth's first sorcerer Agamotto, a Master of the Mystic Arts can use the Time Stone (green) to alter and manipulate time. In Doctor Strange, Dr. Stephen Strange finds the Eye of Agamotto and learns how to use it to save the Earth from Dormammu by trapping him in a time loop until the demon abandons his plans for Earth. Strange returns the Eye of Agamotto to the Masters of the Mystic Arts' secret compound Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, Nepal, though he is seen wearing it again in the mid-credits scene, which takes place during Thor: Ragnarok.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Ebony Maw attempts to steal the Eye of Agamotto from Strange, but is foiled by Tony Stark, Peter Parker, and Wong. While on the planet Titan (Thanos' homeworld), Strange uses the Time Stone to look into future timelines; viewing millions of possible outcomes of their conflict with the Mad Titan and learning of only one future in which they win. To ensure that future comes to pass, Strange later surrenders the Time Stone to Thanos to save Stark. During the confrontation in Wakanda, Thanos uses the Time Stone to undo Wanda's destruction of the Mind Stone so he can obtain that stone for himself. After Thanos wipes out half of all life in the universe, the Time Stone is destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, Bruce Banner travels back in time to an alternate 2012 timeline and visits the alternate 2012 New York Sanctum to convince the Ancient One to relinquish the 2012 version of the Time Stone, promising to return it after they are done using it so that the alternate timelines will survive. The 2012 Time Stone is then brought back to 2023 in the main timeline and used to undo the Blip and to erase an alternate Thanos and his forces from existence. Rogers later returns the 2012 Time Stone to the alternate 2012 New York.
An object that has the ability to manipulate the soul and essence of a person, control life and death, and contains a pocket dimension called the Soulworld. The Soul Stone (orange) is first seen in Avengers: Infinity War. It is revealed that sometime in the past, Thanos tasked Gamora to find the Soul Stone, as there is little record of its existence compared to the other Infinity Stones. Gamora found a map leading to where it was hidden: in a shrine on the planet Vormir, but chose to destroy the map and not to tell Thanos; only telling Nebula of it and swearing her to secrecy (little realizing that Thanos wasn't fooled by their lies). After Thanos captures and tortures Nebula, Gamora agrees to take him to Vormir, where they encounter the Red Skull (having been transported to the planet by the Tesseract and cursed to serve as the Stonekeeper). Thanos willingly yet reluctantly sacrificed Gamora in order to fulfill the requirements to obtain the Soul Stone once the Red Skull explains to them that the Stone requires the sacrifice of a loved one to earn it. After completing the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is briefly transported into the Soul World and encounters a vision of a young Gamora. The Soul Stone is later destroyed to prevent further use.
In Avengers: Endgame, Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton time-travel to Vormir in an alternate 2014 timeline, where each attempts to sacrifice themselves to allow the other to return with the Stone. Ultimately, Romanoff wins the struggle and jumps to her death so that Barton can return to be with his family. The 2014 Soul Stone is then brought back to 2023 in the main timeline and used to undo the Blip and to defeat an alternate Thanos. According to the film's directors, after completing the Nano Gauntlet to defeat 2014 Thanos and his army, Stark is briefly transported to the Soul World where he meets an older version of his daughter, Morgan. Rogers later returns the 2014 Soul Stone to the alternate 2014 Vormir.
The Infinity Gauntlet also appears in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A right-handed gauntlet appears in Thor, where it's stored in Odin's vault; though this one was later revealed to be a fake by Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. The mid-credits scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron revealed Thanos had acquired a left-handed Infinity Gauntlet (the real one). Avengers: Infinity War elaborates heavily on this, revealing Thanos had come to Nidavellir where he forced Eitri to create the Infinity Gauntlet by threatening to kill his people, though he did so anyway once it was completed, as well as crippled Eitri's hands to prevent him from making anything else. In Avengers: Endgame, after Thanos erases half of all life in the universe from existence with the Infinity Stones – in the event that is now known as "The Blip" – and destroys them to prevent his work from being undone (the gauntlet's fate is left unknown after this point), the Avengers are able to travel through the Quantum Realm to retrieve versions of the Stones from alternate pasts, from a point before their destruction, and bring them into the present. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Rocket Raccoon subsequently use nanotechnology to create a third, right-handed Nano Gauntlet in order to use the time-displaced Infinity Stones. Banner in his "Smart Hulk" form, due to being the most immune to the gamma radiation the Infinity Stones' combined powers emit, uses the gauntlet to reverse the Blip, although the strain of channeling the combined powers causes him considerable pain and leaves him with a crippled right arm. An alternate Thanos later tries to use the Nano Gauntlet to recreate the universe, but although he succeeds in acquiring it, Stark removes the time-displaced Infinity Stones from it and, having formed a makeshift gauntlet in his armor, uses them to erase the alternate Thanos and his forces, taking the Nano Gauntlet (but not the Infinity Stones) with them.
Differences from comics
In the comics, Thanos is motivated to retrieve and use the Infinity Stones to impress Lady Death. In the films, there is no mention of Lady Death, and Thanos wishes to reduce the population to avoid a repeat of his experience on Titan.
The colors of the stone were originally different in the comics. They were purple for Space, yellow for Reality, red for Power, blue for Mind, orange for Time, and green for Soul. The stone colors were updated in the Marvel Legacy series to match the film versions.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Time Stone is housed in the Eye of Agamotto and the Space Stone is housed in the Tesseract (Cosmic Cube). However, the Marvel Comics versions of these two stones have no connections to these relics.
The use of the Infinity Stones as a plot device led to fan speculation as to the location of as-yet undiscovered stones, and the possible appearance of additional stones. One theory popular with fans was that words describing the nature or location of the stones spelled out the name "THANOS", and that the as-yet undiscovered Soul Stone was somehow associated with the character Heimdall. Another theory proposed prior to the release of Avengers: Endgame was that it would involve a seventh Infinity Stone corresponding to an additional Infinity Gem from the comics, the Ego Stone.
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Longtime comic book readers might recall that the blue Stone wasn't previously associated with controlling, over Space, but another facet of creation: Time. This is more than likely a bid to align the colors of the Infinity Stones with that of the movies, and would be easily explained by the multiversal re-shaping that occurred in Secret Wars.
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