Marvel Studios has built an alternate Universe in the movies, and even though this alternate Universe takes a lot of elements from the two main universes in Marvel, the classic (or 616) and the Ultimate, the truth is that it has been drifting away of such stories and has created its own. And since Captain America: The First Avenger movie we have this elements that became constantly present in the rest of the films, this items are what we now know as the Infinity Stones, but what are they? Here I explain a little about what they are in the comics and where are we heading towards in the films:
Infinity Gems and Infinity Stones
In the comics the Infinity Gems are six gems (obviously) that possess an incredible power, each one controls an aspect of the Universe according to Marvel: Mind, Reality, Power, Space, Time and Soul. Whomever owns any of them can control whatever the gem represent:
- The Mind Gem allows to read minds and control them, among other related things, and increases the psychic powers of the user, if he has it.
- The Reality Gem allows to modify the reality into anything desired, even if it is against the scientific laws, it also allows to access alternative realities.
- The Power Gem allows the use of every existing energy, therefore it leads to omnipotent levels of physical strength and energy projection, also it increases the power of the rest of the Gems.
- The Space Gem gives the user the capacity to exist in any place he/she wishes to, moving objects through the space or rearranging it. Only when the gem is in its maximum power it allows Omnipresence.
- The Time Gem grants the total control over past, present and future time, allows to travel in time and rejuvenate or age items or beings at will, as well as locking people or even whole universes in time loops without end.
- The Soul Gem allows the user to steal, control, manipulate and alter souls, either alive or death. Also, it has the ability to steal powers and abilities from other beings. This Gem is sentient and looks to consume other souls, which represents a risk for the user.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe these Gems have been replaced by the “Infinity Stones” that have a different shape and color than the ones from the comics, and some of them even have different powes or have been interchanged; even though, their powers, as far as they have shown us, remain equivalent, it has been seen and insinuate that they can be used in completely different ways and that their powers, fortunately, have been greatly reduced. Next you can see the Stones that we know in the MCU, afterwards I'll explain what we know about each one:
The Tesseract is the Space Stone and is the first Stone that we saw in the movies, and even though in the beginning it only seemed to be an energy source used by Arnim Zola and Red Skull for their weapons, we realized next that it’s something else, when the Stone send Red Skull in a space travel which destiny still remains unknown. Afterwards, the Tesseract remains in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession, but it’s until Marvel’s The Avengers that we found out that it’s capable of opening worm holes and teleport whomever uses it whether they want it or not, also it gives to Heimdall the power to rebuild the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge that asgardians use to move between the Nine Realms). Apparently the Stone send Red Skull against his will because he was not powerful enough to wield it and made contact with it for too long. Also, in Avengers: Age of Ultron we discovered that the Cube is actually a container for the Infinity Stone.
Currently it remains on Asgard, where Loki have access to it and potentially can deliver it to Thanos.
The second Stone we know of is the one that was kept in Loki Scepter, although it being a Stone was not officially revealed until the announcement of Infinity War, we had already suspected when Loki uses it in The Avengers to mind control those who he touches like Hawkeye and Selvig, except for Stark because his Arc reactor interfered with the energy transmitted by the Stone.
We saw it again in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where it’s used again to control Dr. Cho, but in this movie they let us know some other characteristics, it seems to be that the Stone keeps a sort of intelligence or supercomputer, that has been used by HYDRA in an attempt to create artificial intelligence, and then it’s used by Stark to create Ultron and afterwards contributes in the creation of Vision.
Despite being an Infinity Stone, its mind control is not that powerful, because a strong punch in the head or Scarlet Witch’s powers have been effective in removing the Stone control. Besides it seems that it allows a kind of astral projection or psychic communication, as shown by Loki when he talks to The Other (Thanos’s servant), and its ability to shoot energy, as already performed by Loki and Vision.
Currently it is part of Vision so it will be on Earth.
The third Infinity Stone (as seen in Thor: The Dark World) is the most divergent from the Gems in the comic books. At the beginning it was considered as the Power Stone, but the Stone inside the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy was confirmed to be that one. Now we know that this Stone is the Reality Stone. It seems to be a kind of plasma that acts like a symbiotic being who can join to a living host, to whom it gives strength, resistance and the capacity to transform matter in dark matter, that can be used by the host to attack and defense.
When Malekith uses it, it shows us its capacity to project dark matter fragments for attack, they can also buy used as tendrils, that also can protect the host in a defensive manner. The Stone is not as powerful at all as its counterpart in the comic books, while the Gem can modify reality as soon as a user desires it, Malekith has to wait for the Convergence to increase the Stone's power and it’s insinuated that as it passes through the Reigns its power and range are exponentially increased. Some have speculated that the Stone is actually much more powerful, but that Malekith didn’t knew how to use it or he wasn't powerful enough.
Something worth of mention is that this Stone seems to be sentient, it attacked and used Jane Foster as a medium to escape its prison and get to Malekith, the movie also showed that if the Stone feels it's host (Jane) threatened it defends it, besides showing visions of a possible future to the host as a mean for torture. It seems to have certain liking to the Dark Elves or at least to Malekith, since it not only tried to reach him but helped in his plan to return the Universe to the Darkness.
As far as we know the Aether remains on The Collector's possession on Knowhere.
The last Stone that we know at this point is the Power Stone. It’s known that this Stone has been used before, during The Collector’s explanation (in Guardians of the Galaxy) he let us know that a giant being (Celestial) used it. This Stone is equivalent to its counterpart in the Gems, and the power granted seems to be enough to destroy a whole planet but it is stated that the amount of energy it grants is so great that only a powerful being can wield it and survive.
Ronan is able to control it by putting it inside his hammer and doesn’t suffer the consequences of direct contact with it (that is to say, exploding, like Carina), despite the fact that when he holds it with his bare hand, he starts suffering damage. Nevertheless, the Guardians of the Galaxy manage to destroy Ronan’s hammer and Peter Quill gets the Stone. Even though the power flowing through his body threatens to kill him, the aid of Gamora, Rocket and Drax helps him to contain the energy and project it towards Ronan, who is destroyed. Two of the users of this Stone, the Celestial and Ronan, use artifacts that apparently help them to contain it and control it, probably this wasn’t completely necessary for the Celestial, but Ronan was forced to do it. This makes us wonder what can someone with enough power to hold it bare hand can do with it? And how does this Stone alter the natural powers of the user (if they have)? It was interesting to see that Quill was able to hold the Stone because of his nature as half alien, which begs the question, a pure breed from Quill's father race would be able to hold the Stone longer and without damage?
It was delivered to the Nova Corps on Xandar by the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The origin of the Infinity Stones
The origin of the Infinity Stones is in broad terms explained by The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy: originally the Stones existed as six “singularities”, before the Creation, then the Big Bang happened and the singularities' remains were forged into concentrated ingots. The forgers of the Stones were four beings, the Cosmic Entities, that form up left to right are: Death, Entropy, Infinity and Eternity.
In the comics the Gems are the remains of an Omnipotent being known as Nemesis, that incapable of bearing solitude committed suicide and the Gems were rests of his being. Although in the MCU this is different, it’s worth mentioning that the Stones are called singularities, that if you want to understand them through mathematical or physics issues I wish you luck. What we know for certain is that each Stone, as well as the Gems, controls one aspect of the Universe, and that they grant control over such aspect to whomever uses it, even though not in the same brutal way as the Gems from the comics but in a much smaller scale, personally I think is better this way.
Who is Thanos and why does he want the Stones?
As we have seen so far, using the Stones implies a high risk, the Stone Power destroyed being not powerful enough, the Tesseract transported Red Skull against his will to only Heimdall knows where and the Aether was slowly killing Jane Foster. All this events occurred when someone holds directly any of the Stones (well,the Aether is absorbed into the body of the host), and that’s why every time we have seen someone controlling them it’s when they are contained, except for the Aether with Malekith, but as the Stone seems to be sentient and share the Dark Elf ambition, it might be that the Stone regulated its power to prevent any harm; regarding the Mind Stone, the only one with direct contact to it so far has been Vision, but him being an android might represent that rules can be different for him, as with Mjölnir.
The Collector explains as well that at some point six beings managed to control the power of the Six Stones by connecting themselves and the Stones all together, but the energy released was overwhelming and all were destroyed. In the comics, whomever able to use the Gems together becomes an Omnipotent being, in the MCU we still don't know what will happen due to their reduced power but it could still be something not so far from the comic books' version. There’s also worth mentioning that the Gems have to be contained by the Infinite Gauntlet to be used at the same time, in the MCU there will be two Gauntlets, one in the treasure vault of Odin that appears in Thor and the second that is worn by Thanos at the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And it’s here when Thanos comes into the picture. In the classic comic books, the Celestials are a race that exists practically since the Universe’s origin, and are responsible for the creation of life and death through the Universe, in the MCU we already know two of them, the one showed by The Collector bearing the Power Stone to destroy a planet and the head known as Knowhere, yes, the head where The Collector lives and works. Back to the comic books, at certain point the Celestials arrive to the Earth and begin to experiment with humans, creating two breeds, the Eternals and the Deviant, the first ones are “beautiful” beings, with superpowers and longevity; whilst the seconds are “horrible and faulty” descendants of the Eternals.
Thanos was born an Ethernal, but unfortunately born with the looks of a Deviant and that's why her mother tried to murder him at birth. Despite everything, Thanos grew healthy and safe, becoming a very powerful being, eventually started to have an obsession with the death, falling in love with its personification: Mistress Death. Thanos also has an insatiable thirst for power and many times has tried to conquer, in loving terms, the Death, this only increases his seek for power. Thanos tried many times to impress and court Death, but they all turned unsuccessful, and eventually, he starts to seek for the Infinity Stones, when he finally controls them all, with the help of the Infinite Gauntlet (the Gem’s container), he provokes the death of half of the living beings in the Universe, although this doesn’t get him the heart of Death either. In this comic, known as "The Infinity Gauntlet", Thanos gets, at some point, to become an Omnipotent being and the master of the friendzone, oh yes, power and gifts (consisting of billions of dead beings) cannot buy true love.
In the MCU we know that Thanos seeks for the Stones although we don't know why he does it, what we know is that Thanos had the Mind Stone, which was lend to Loki with the intention to obtain the Space Stone, but with Loki's failure, he lost both. Afterwards, he sends Ronan, Gamora and Nebula to get the Power Stone, but the plan couldn't go worst and ends up betrayed by all and now it is heavily guarded. The reasons of Thanos for getting the Stones remains unknown, but that sassy smile when The Other tells him that challenging humans is to court Death let us think that he may hold a similar goal to that of the comics, to conquer Death’s heart, even if there’s not a personification of her yet. Also, we don't know why Thanos keeps sending people to do this job, and why he remains on his chairs, that is the real mystery.
Despite our ignorance of his intention, in The Avengers: Infinity War we will see the consequences of Thanos hunt for the Stones that has already started as a threat in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and that probably we'll see being addressed in movies that contain cosmic issues like Guardians of Galaxy Vol.2, maybe Dr. Strange (whom is rumored to be the owner of the Soul Stone) and some believe in Captain Marvel too, even though is possible that it could be addressed in Thor: Ragnarok too. Besides having to get the two new Stones, Thanos will have to face The Collector the get the Aether, go to Asgard for the Tesseract, and face the Nova Corps to get the Orb, and finally to pull out the Mind Stone from Vision's forehead.
While we wait for more answers I hope you have enjoyed this post that I'll keep updating as more information about Thanos and the Infinity Stones is officially released.