The biggest battle in Marvel history, after 10 years of buildup, is finally upon us. How did we get here? What state of mind are our favorite heroes in? These are just two of the many questions that we as fans have asked ourselves and need to have answered, especially after the events of Civil War, only two years ago.
Perhaps to better understand what Avengers: Infinity War is about and how we reached this point, we need to go backward – beyond Civil War, back all the way to the beginning of the Marvel Universe. That is exactly what we are going to do over these next few articles. As we look back through the history of the universe, we will not only look at the key events, but we will also dive into the psychological aspects of key character’s origins and storylines.
THE BEGINNING: INFINITY STONES – What Are They & Where Did They Come From?
“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.”
~ The Collector, Guardians of the Galaxy
The big bang created more than just the universe, it also created six 6 infinity gems (stones). Each with its own set of powers, these stones controlled the six singularities of the universe. The power of all six together gave s/he who possessed them complete control over the entire universe. Currently, in the MCU we have encountered five of the six infinity stones.
The first infinity stone we encountered was the space stone, also known as The Tesseract. If you watch the movies in chronological order for the timeline, it’s the first appearance in the MCU was in Captain America: The First Avenger, however in the MCU its first cameo appearance was in Iron Man 2. Tony Stark is flipping through one of his father’s old notebooks and there is a drawing of the cube – Stark will later create an energy source similar to that of the Tesseract to power his new arc reactor, to stop the deathly side effect from his first reactor, palladium radiation. However, it is in Captain America: The First Avenger where we actually see the Tesseract and witness the power it has.
The year is 1934 and Johann Schmidt, head of the Nazi Science Division known as HYDRA, has located and acquired the Tesseract. With some convincing Schmidt is given permission from Nazi High Command to begin researching and developing weaponry for the Third Reich. The tesseract contains immense energy, used for the traveling through space via teleportation. Schmidt, who becomes known as Red Skull after testing an early version of the serum that will turn Steve Rogers into Captain America, uses the energy in the Tesseract to power the weapons that have been created and designed by Dr. Arnim Zola for the Nazis.
"The energy we have just collected could power my designs. All my designs. This will change the war."
"Doctor Zola, this will change the world."
~ Arnim Zola and Johann Schmidt, Captain America: The First Avenger
The Tesseract is not only the first infinity stone that crosses our path, it is also the stone that is most prevalent throughout the MCU. Since its inaugural appearance in Captain America: The First Avengers it has been at least mentioned if not played a large part in storylines. Tony Stark uses some of the energy from the Tesseract to power the arc reactor in his chest to prevent Thanos and the Chitauri actually tap into the Tesseract in The Avengers (2012) to transport Loki across space into S.H.I.E.L.D HQ, where he brings the Sceptor that carries a different infinity stone (more on that in a bit). After Loki is defeated, Thor uses the Tesseract to return he and Loki back to Asgard. Previously, in the first Thor movie, Thor famously destroys the Bifrost to stop the first of many of Loki’s plans for control and power. After he returns to Asgard with Loki, Thor gives the tesseract to Heimdall to repair the Bifrost bride, that they may continue to protect the nine realms. He also charges Heimdall with keeping and protecting it. Unfortunately, when Loki tricks all of Asgard to thinking he is Odin and dismisses Heimdall, the Tesseract is placed in Odin’s vault, where we last see it at the end of Thor: Ragnarok, when Loki stops at it in the vault.
The Mind Stone is the next infinity stone we are introduced to. Its first appearance is in The Avengers (2012), in the scepter that Loki carries. We see the mind stone's powers at work when Loki uses the scepter to control the minds of Dr. Erik Selvig & Clint Barton aka Hawkeye to help him built the portal for the Chitauri Army to transport to Earth for the Battle of New York. When Loki and the Chitauri are defeated the scepter is put under protection by S.H.I.E.L.D.
The mind stone appears again in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, when sleeper HYDRA agents hidden in S.H.I.E.L.D smuggle the scepter into Slovakia where the scientist, Wolfgang von Strucker, begins using to experiment with human enhancement. Only two of his subjects survive, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, who will later be known as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
The Mind Stones next appearance was its biggest appearance since its debut in The Avengers (2012). After a raid by the Avengers that retrieves the scepter from Strucker, Tony Stark convinces Thor to let him analyze it. Based on his analysis, Tony realizes that the scepter contains artificial intelligence, which he tells Bruce Banner could be used to aid his vision of the global peacekeeping program known as Ultron. This sets off the events where Ultron uses the Mind Stone to create a new perfect organic metal body for himself. When the Avengers capture the body back they reacquire the Mind Stone, and bring the being known as Vision to life. With the Avengers weary of Vision's allegiance, he aids the Avengers in their battle to defeat Ultron. After the battle Thor opts to leave the Mind Stone in Vision's care. His reasoning for this was not only because the stone seemed safe in Vision's car, but Vision had also proven himself worthy and of good character by lifting Mjolnir.
While the mind stone did not hold a significant role in Captain America: Civil War, it was present since it still resides in Vision's head.
When Thor's story continued in Thor: The Dark World (2013), we were introduced to the third Infinity Stone, the Reality Stone, also known as the Aether. As we learn, the Aether is a mysterious force that has been around since before the birth of the Nine realms. Known to have the power to convert matter into dark matter, the Aether maintains a lifelike existence that cause it to bond with a living host, much like a parasite. Once the Aether has bonded its energies will consume any mortal/living host and has a volatile and deadly effect on anyone who comes into contact with the host that it believes is a threat. If the bond is with a stronger host that understands its power, like Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the Aether can be used as a deadly weapon with concussive force or reach out and convert matter. As seen with the reaction that Malekith had with bonding to the Aether, it can also cause drastic physical changes.
“Their leader, Malekith, made a weapon out of that darkness and it was called the Aether. While the other relics often appear as stones, the Aether is fluid and ever changing. It changes matter into dark matter. It seeks out host bodies, drawing strength from their life-force.”
~ Odin to Thor and Jane Foster,
Thor: The Dark World
The events of Thor: The Dark coincided with what was called "The Convergence". The convergence is a cosmic event where all Nine Realms become perfectly aligned, which is how Jane foster fell into the vault of the Aether where it bonded with her. The Aether becomes the main focus when Malekith returns from a five thousand year sleep to regain its power, but is stopped thanks to the efforts of Thor & Jane Foster. After Malekith’s defeat, the Aether is stored with the Collector, as Heimdall suggests it is not wise to store two infinity stones in the same vault.
The fourth infinity stone that crosses our path, appears in Guardians of the Galaxy and is the Power Stone, which is contained in the Orb. The Power Stone is capable of granting a person great, cosmic power, but is highly likely to kill any organic beings that touch it.
Its history is full of many owners of the Power Stone - from being used by Eson the Searcher until it was lost on the planet Morag inside the Orb. The Orb was coveted by Thanos, who then employed the Kree warrior Ronan the Accuser to bring it to him. Before Ronan obtained the Orb, however, it is stolen by Star-Lord aka Peter Quill on Morag. This theft leads to a galaxy-wide search for the Orb.
“The stone reacts to anything organic, the bigger the target, the bigger the power surge.”
“All Ronan has to do is touch the stone to the planet’s surface and zap, all plants, animals, Nova Corps...”
“Everything will die.”
~ Gamora and Star-Lord
As Ronan hunts after the Guardians in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we learn that he has made a deal with Thanos to bring him the Orb in return for Thanos destroying Xander for him. When Ronan learns that the Orb contains the Power Stone, after stealing it from the Guardians, he begins to question why he needs to bring Thanos the stone, when he can use it himself to exact the revenge he seeks.
Betraying Thanos, Ronan heads to Xander, where the Navo Corps headquarters is located, to destroy the planet. As the battle rages in the skies, Ronan is confronted by the Guardians and before he can touch the stone to the ground he is distracted when Star-Lord challenges him to a dance off. This distraction allows Rocket to fix the Hadron Enforcer, and give to Drax to fire at Ronan, which destroys his Cosmo-Rod and sends the Power Stone flying into the air. Ronan & Quill both reach for the stone, but Quill is faster and catches the stone. The moment Star-Lord catches the stone, a massive amount of energy is emitted and Roanna is thrown back. As the power of the stone starts to tear apart Star-Lord, the other guardians, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot help to contain the energy and control the stone. Before telling Ronan that they survive because they are a team, Star-Lord directs the energy of the stone at Ronan, destroying his body and killing him. After the defeat of Ronan, the power stone was put back in the Orb and is currently in a vault under the protection of the Nava Corp.
So, where does that leave the last infinity stone?
The Soul Stone is the only stone that has not made an appearance yet in the MCU. However, while we have not seen the stone, there are a few theories as to where it is.
The first theory is that the Soul Stone is hidden somewhere in Wakanda, now this would fit since we have only very recently visited Wakanda. This does make sense, but I was thinking that if the Soul Stone was in Wakanda, did we see it in Black Panther & where is it hidden?
The other theory that has surfaced, would mean that the Soul Stone has been in almost every MCU movie or post credit scene. This second theory is that the other names of the infinity stones spell out “THANOS” - so we have T - Tesseract, A - Aether, N - Necklace (Eye of Agamotto), O - Orb, and S - Scepter. So that would mean that the Soul Stone would be representative of the letter H in Thanos’ name. The first thing that pops into my head that fits this theory is - Heimdall.
“From here I can see nine realms and ten trillion souls.”
~ Heimdall, Thor: The Dark World
But that is not the only clue that Heimdall could have the soul stone. Have you noticed his armor? Have you noticed the amber color of his eyes? In the middle of the Armour there is an amber colored stone on his gold armor, could that be the stone?
I guess these theories will be answered when Avengers: Infinity War opens.