(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Since 2011, the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large has centered around the hunt for the Infinity Stones, a collection of six powerful gems that were crafted from singularities predating the creation of the universe. Each of the stones is infused with sublime, elemental properties, and uniting all six of them offers the potential to wield incredible power. Since 2012’s Avengers, the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) has been on a slow-motion hunt for the Stones in a bid to rule the universe.
Or maybe to literally court death – both are options.
In next year’s Avengers: Infinity War, whose first trailer just dropped to widespread social mania, Thanos’ quest to collect all of the Infinity Stones will culminate in an epic battle (or series of battles) against Captain America, Iron Man, and friends. As the MCU unfolded over the past decade, the stones were revealed to be scattered across space, so we thought it would be helpful to revisit their current locations and recap some of the people Thanos may need to fight to create his Infinity Gauntlet.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Concealed As: Loki’s Scepter, The Vision
The Mind Stone is one of the stranger elements of the Infinity War story, as it was in Thanos’ control until he gave it to Loki (Tom Hiddleston) during The Avengers. Hidden within a scepter, Loki used it to control the minds of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), a number of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and a whole crowd of German citizens. After the events of the film, the scepter fell into the hands of HYDRA’s de-facto leader, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann). When HYDRA was seemingly defeated at the beginning of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) studied the stone and incorporated knowledge gleaned from it into his Ultron project. Things went catastrophically wrong after that, but it led to Tony and Thor using the Stone to reactivate the J.A.R.V.I.S. AI and transform him into The Vision (Paul Bettany). As of Captain America: Civil War, the Stone is still a prominent feature of the android’s forehead, but as the Infinity War trailer revealed, it may not remain there for long.
(Photo by Jay Maidment/Paramount Pictures)
Concealed As: The Tesseract
Status: Not terribly secure
The Tesseract was the first confirmed Infinity Stone revealed in the MCU. Placed in a tomb on Earth centuries ago, The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) found it and utilized its power to create high tech weapons for HYDRA in Captain America: The First Avenger. It ended up in the possession of S.H.I.E.L.D for decades until a possessed Dr. Selvig gave it to Loki in Avengers, who in turn used to it to invite the Chitauri to Earth. After their defeat, Thor used the stone to return himself and his wayward brother to Asgard, where the stone remained until this year’s Thor: Ragnarok. Presumably, it’s now aboard the refugee ship with the rest of the remaining Asgardians — Loki can be seen raising the Tesseract in his hand during the Infinity War trailer, so it’s easy to imagine he smuggled it out of Odin’s vault while pretending to be his adoptive father following the events of Thor: The Dark World. It’s also easy to imagine Loki will just hand it to Thanos because he is the God of Mischief, after all. Then again, there are a lot of Asgardian bodies on the ground just as the trailer cuts to Loki holding the Stone, so perhaps he will attempt to do the honorable thing after all.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Concealed As: An Orb
Status: Secure… for the moment
The absolute prize in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Power Stone was meant to be part of Ronan The Accuser’s (Lee Pace) deal with Thanos for aiding him in the destruction of Xandar and the Kree Empire. To obtain the stone, Ronan hired the Ravagers, who in turn were upstaged by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). Frustrated by Ronan’s progress, Thanos dispatched his daughters Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) to retrieve the stone. Things got a little crazy after that, and Thanos ultimately withdrew his support of Ronan’s plan. When Peter and Gamora took the orb to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro) for answers, they learned all about the Infinity Stones – a collection of pre-universe singularities hardened to stone – but they also destroyed the Collector’s shop in the process. After Peter and the Guardians used the stone to defeat Ronan, he handed it over to the Nova Corps on Xandar for safe keeping, and it remains in one of their vaults. This will likely be Thanos’ first target, as the trailer clearly reveals he has the Power Stone before the Space Stone.
(Photo by Jay Maidment/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Concealed As: The Eye of Agamotto
The third of the Infinity Stones to be revealed on Earth, the Time Stone was fashioned into a medallion by Earth’s first Sorcerer, Agamotto. For millennia, it resided within the halls of Kamar-Taj in Nepal, until upstart initiate Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) meddled with its power. While Strange learned to bend time, the disgraced sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) used his knowledge of the mystic arts – and a few pages from the tome Strange was also reading – to invite Dormammu to this plane of existence. Strange eventually used the Eye of Agamotto to trap Dormammu in a time loop, forcing him to retreat back to his Dark Dimension – the cleverest way to defeat a MCU villain thus far. He then returned the Eye to Kamar-Taj, where a member of Thanos’ Black Order will probably just grab it as they make their way to Earth.
(Photo by Marvel entertainment)
Concealed As: The Aether
The most important artifact in Thor: The Dark World, the Reality Stone was the singular obsession of the Dark Elf Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). With it, he could destroy Asgard and essentially reset the universe to a pre-Big Bang state. He might have even found Galactus waiting for him there, had he succeeded. Instead, Thor and Loki teamed up to defeat him while the rest of Asgard repelled an invasion by the Dark Elves. When the crisis was over – and Thor believed Loki to be dead – Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) took the Aether, now revealed as the Reality Stone, to the Collector for safe keeping, as they believed having two Stones in Odin’s vault — remember, the Tesseract was already being held there — would be too dangerous. Its whereabouts are unknown following Peter Quill’s visit with the Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy. It may still be somewhere in the remains of his shop, or he may have spirited it away in one of his fabulous coats, as he has expressed a desire to possess the stones himself. One thing is clear from the Infinity War trailer, though: Thanos will not have it before he collects the Space and Power Stones.
(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Concealed As: To Be Revealed
The Soul Stone is the only Infinity Stone yet unseen in the MCU. Even in the Infinity War trailer, it is absent from the Gauntlet. Many presume it will be the object of desire at the heart of the conflict in Black Panther. Yet others believe it may be in the “Adam” incubation chamber from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. All the scenes in the Infinity War trailer set in Wakanda definitely suggest the former. The only thing we know for sure is that it is orange in the MCU, though it’s green in Marvel Comics’ 616 Universe. In that reality, the Soul Stone, or Soul Gem, allows the user to control the souls of both the living and the dead, so those hoping to see Red Skull or Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) make a return may get their wish. Perhaps Thanos will use the power of the stone to engineer a showdown between Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper or John Slattery) and Tony, or imagine the horror Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) would face if the stone reanimated Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).
(Photo by Marvel Entertainment)
Concealed As: Nothing
Status: In Thanos’ Possession
The Gauntlet itself is a special object. In the comics, it was designed by Thanos to contain the Infinity Gems and was dismantled when the Living Tribunal – a rare being more powerful than the Gauntlet — declared the Gems could not be used in concert. In the MCU, the Gauntlet first appeared as a throwaway gag in Thor, which later became a literal throwaway gag in Thor: Ragnarok, clarifying the glove in Odin’s vault was a mere replica. But the joke also established that the Gauntlet, obtained by Thanos at the conclusion of Avengers: Age of Ultron, has a history in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and may not be a creation of his own. If that’s the case, who made it, and why would they make its potential power accessible to anyone, let alone a Mad Titan?
Avengers: Infinity War opens everywhere on May 4, 2018.