The overarching plot of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the endless search for the Infinity Stones. Originally known as the Soul Gems in the comics, these six motes of unfathomable power are as old as time itself, and they’ve popped up as MacGuffins throughout many of the MCU films thus far.

Although it appeared as a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it Easter Egg in Iron Man 2 (in Tony Stark’s notebook), the Tesseract, also known as the Cosmic Cube, also known as the Space Stone, made a cameo in Thor before being fleshed out in Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. It currently sits in Odin’s treasure vault as of the end of the latter film. The Aether, or the Reality Stone, was at the core of Thor: The Dark World, and was last seen in the custody of The Collector, though it is unknown if it was lost when his sanctuary was destroyed by — let’s just say a disgruntled employee. The Mind Stone was housed in Loki’s Scepter in The Avengers, but now is remains embedded in the forehead of the hero Vision. The Power Stone drove the action of Guardians of the Galaxy and is presently collecting dust in the Nova Corps’ most secure safe. Most recently, the Time Stone played an important (and visually stunning!) role in Doctor Strange.

That leaves the Soul Stone as the only gem that has yet to make an appearance. All that is presently known about the final gem is that it will be orange (in contrast to the comics, where it is green, a color held by the Time Stone in the MCU). With Avengers: Infinity War rapidly closing in, let’s take a look at some of the places it may be hiding. Here are 15 Ways Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU.

15. Adam Warlock Has It

Adam Warlock Wearing the Infinity Gauntlet in Marvel Comics How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

One of Marvel’s most popular characters yet to make a proper appearance in an MCU film is Adam Warlock, the psychedelic, man-made Space Jesus. In the comics, Warlock leaves Earth and travels through space, meeting the High Evolutionary (another character yet to make an MCU debut), who bestows upon him the Soul Gem.

While Adam Warlock has yet to show up in person, eagle-eyed viewers were able to spot a mysterious cocoon in The Collector’s lair, one large enough to carry a full-sized man. The cocoon appears in the post-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy. In the post-credits scene, however, the cocoon is shown to be open and empty. Adam Warlock fans immediately recognized the cocoon as the source of the character’s unique self-regeneration, though director James Gunn has thus far been coy about the whole thing. Whether the character will make a full-on appearance in Guardians Vol 2 or beyond, or if he may only return in the form of yet another background Easter Egg, remains a mystery. Still, it would be fantastic to bring in such a fascinating character. Between his complex (and totally bonkers) backstory and his power to fight Thanos to a standstill on his own, he might just pop up in the MCU as the bearer of the Soul Stone.

14. The Wakandans Have It

Chadwick Boseman as TChalla Black Panther How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Wakanda has been a Marvel staple for generations, and has been slowly introduced to the MCU as the years have gone by. First, it was visible on a video screen in an Iron Man 2 Easter Egg. Then, it was mentioned as the main location for vibranium mining in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the titular heroes even took a trip to the technologically advanced African nation. It wasn’t until Captain America: Civil War that Wakanda and its people took an important role.

Black Panther doesn’t just have a fancy vibranium suit; he obviously has superhuman strength along the lines of Captain America and his pal Bucky. But where did he get it? In the comics, T’Challa has a mystical connection with the Wakandan Panther-God, and he also eats a magical herb which grants him powers and abilities far beyond those of regular people.

Maybe that will be enough for the MCU, but we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they add an Infinity wrinkle to Black Panther’s backstory. Perhaps the Soul Stone is what charges the mysterious herb. Based on the movies, it’s possible that Wakanda is the only place in the world with vibranium. Maybe the Soul Stone is somehow responsible for this as well?

13. Space Gladiators Have It

Thor Ragnarok promo art How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

While Marvel is keeping plot details for Thor: Ragnarok firmly under wraps, they have let slip a few key plot points. For one thing, the film will co-star Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk and partially adapt elements of the Planet Hulk storyline, which features the not-so-jolly green giant engaged in gladiatorial combat, presumably with dangerous monsters from across the entire universe.

What are the combatants fighting for? Perhaps the Soul Stone is the pot of gold at the end of the tunnel? Based on the studio’s synopsis for Ragnarok, Thor will be stranded on the gladiator planet without his hammer, and forced to fight against The Hulk in order to return to his homeworld to save the day in the face of the Asgardian apocalypse. Recent reports have stated that the Soul Stone could be the key to the entire adventure, though we won’t know for sure until Thor’s third solo adventure hits theaters in November.

12. Hela Has It

Hela concept art for Thor Ragnarok How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Speaking of Thor: Ragnarok, the main villain in that film isn’t actually Tom Hiddleston’s Loki; Cate Blanchett is playing Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death. In the comics, the Soul Stone possesses power over life and death, and is even a gateway to a Heaven-like dimension, which could prove to be a perfect fit for Hela. In the comics, Thanos is obsessed with the Mistress Death herself, the manifestation of mortality. In fact, in the Infinity Gauntlet comics storyline, Thanos aims to destroy the universe just to win her favor.

Perhaps, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hela will be a composite character, containing elements of the Asgardian Goddess and of Death, the object of Thanos’s obsession. If this proves to be the case, then it would be a great excuse to keep Cate Blanchett around. After all, an actor of her skill and prestige would be wasted if only given a single appearance. One would like to think that Marvel has learned its lesson after wasting fantastic actors on mere one-shot villain appearances. The list includes Jeff Bridges, Mickey Rourke, Hugo Weaving, Robert Redford, James Spader, and Mads Mikkelsen. Will Cate Blanchett be added to the slate of underserved stars, or may she battle The Avengers as Thanos’ queen? Time will tell.

11. Death Has It

 How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Of course, if Marvel Studios decides not to make Hela into a sort of composite character, it’s possible that Death is in possession of the final Infinity Stone. In the first post-credits scene of The Avengers, Thanos’s assistant asserts that, regarding humans, “to challenge them is to court death.” Thanos smiles, and the movie ends. Does he smile because he’s happy to accept the challenge, or does he smile wistfully, his Other’s comment reminding him of his one true love, Death?

In the comics, as previously mentioned, Thanos’ goal in destroying the universe is to be together with his love, Death. Perhaps she has the Soul Stone. Maybe, once Thanos collects the other five gems, she will bequeath the Soul Stone to him. Or maybe she’s playing him for a chump; what if she takes the Stones from Thanos once he collects them, killing him and become the main villain of Avengers 4 herself? That would be an unexpected twist, but maybe a bridge too far for Marvel fans who have been waiting to see Captain America righteously beat the snot out of the Mad Titan with his bare hands.

10. It Will Give Captain Marvel Superpowers

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel wallpaper How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Of all the main heroic players yet known for Infinity War and its sequel, the one who remains a mystery is Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel (no relation to the DC Comics superhero now known as Shazam). The character will be played by Brie Larson (Room, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) and make her debut in 2018’s Infinity War before having her own solo film in 2019.

In the comics, Captain Marvel (formerly known as Ms. Marvel) got her superpowers from an accident involving a machine called the Psyche-Magnetron, which effectively turned her into a human/Kree hybrid, much like her original namesake, the male Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell; yeah, it’s weird.) If they’d like, Marvel Studios can stick to this origin, though it’s unlikely that the original male version of Captain Marvel will be able to find a role in the MCU, so it would be a smart guess to assume that Danvers’ superhero origin will be updated. Maybe the Soul Stone will be the catalyst which gives her superpowers. Perhaps she will appear as a normal human in Infinity War, and after exposure to the Soul Stone, she will be changed, leading directly into her own solo film!

9. Janet Van Dyne Has It

The Wasp Prime in Ant Man How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

When it was first announced that Sharon Stone was joining the Marvel Universe, some were hoping that she’d be cast as Captain Marvel, a tough-as-nails, older, beautiful, ass-kicking female authority figure and role model. Heaven knows that there aren’t enough middle-aged female action stars in Hollywood, feminine counterparts to the likes of Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis. While they ultimately skewed younger with the casting of Brie Larson as Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, the word on the street is that Stone will be playing Janet van Dyne, the long-lost wife of Hank Pym, in Ant-Man and the Wasp follow-up reports(though have muddied the water a bit).

This casting is perfect for anyone who remembers Basic Instinct, the legendary 1992 erotic thriller in which Stone starred as the dangerously sexy succubus opposite Michael Douglas’s troubled detective. If Stone is, in fact, playing Janet, the original Wasp, then maybe she encountered the Soul Stone during her adventures in the Quantum Realm, perhaps even using it to return home. Either way, if Avengers 4 features Stone and Douglas fighting side-by-side with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne, two generations of Ant-Men and Wasps all together, that would make a great many Marvel fans very happy, to say the least.

8. The Collector… Collected It

The Collector Infinity Stones In Guardians Of the Galaxy How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

The Collector, played by Benicio Del Toro, made his debut appearance in the first post-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World. Upon adding the Reality Stone to his collection, he muses to himself, “one down, five to go.” The man obviously has a problem with his hoarding habit, and his collection doesn’t just include priceless inanimate objects, but living creatures and sentient beings.

Perhaps The Collector will turn up in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 or beyond with the Soul Stone in his possession. Maybe he had it all along and just didn’t know it; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened in the MCU. Nobody knows what form the Soul Stone will take. Despite the “rock candy” look of the actual gem itself, the stones are all housed in unique cases of varying size. The Mind Stone was hidden in plain sight in Loki’s staff, after all. The Soul Stone could be absolutely anywhere, but, true to his name, The Collector will not stop searching, no matter the cost.

7. Dormammu Has It

Doctor Strange vs Dormammu How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Dormammu is more than just a silly name. He’s one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a front-runner for the final villain of the next suite of Marvel films (which may conclude in Phase 6? Who can say?). But what if they bring him in before then, as an ally of Thanos and owner of the stone? Actually, since Dormammu’s realm isn’t beholden to the laws of time and space, perhaps he is the creator of the stones? Hold on – what if Dormammu IS the Soul Stone? What if his entire dimension is simply a residual byproduct of the Stone’s very existence?

In the comics, Dormammu is an ancient being of darkness, speculated to be older than time itself, just like the Infinity Stones. Whatever the case may be, it’s possible, if not probable, that Dormammu and his minions of the Dark Dimension may play a pivotal role, not in Doctor Strange 2, but in Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel.

6. Ghost Rider Has It

Ghost Rider Car Banner How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Marvel’s television division doesn’t interact much with the film side of the equation, but that’s going to have to change eventually, right? The last time we saw Ghost Rider in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he had fallen through a portal to another dimension, a sudden end to a fan-favorite character. Of course, it’s extremely likely that the Spirit of Vengeance will return before the season ends, but in what capacity?

The Rider’s alter ego, Robbie Reyes, had promised the Ghost that, in return for helping to stop his own uncle, he would willfully submit to the Rider persona and work together to settle its own grudges, whatever they may be. Perhaps, in the MCU, the Soul Stone is responsible for the creation of Ghost Rider, and he is off to fight some epic battle to take possession of the sacred artifact. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could dedicate episodes dedicated to the quest, or even a Netflix original movie about Ghost Rider’s time in hell, or whichever dimension he wound up inhabiting.

5. Sigourney Weaver Has It In The Defenders

Sigourney Weaver Marvel Netflix Defenders How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Speaking of Marvel’s suite of Netflix programming, it was recently announced that Sigourney Weaver would be playing the central villain of the upcoming miniseries event, The Defenders. While we know her character’s name (Alexandra), the true identity of her villainous presence is still being kept tightly under wraps. That said, he has to be such a palpable threat that it will take the combined might of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist to take her down.

In The Avengers, it took Loki’s theft of the Space Stone to bring together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It’s very possible that the same thing could happen on Marvel’s Netflix branch. Sigourney’s character could be manipulating The Hand — or any of the known forces in New York City, really — from behind the scenes. Season 2 of Daredevil suggested that those wacky ninjas are up to some sinister antics; maybe they are searching for, or operating under the influence of, the Soul Stone. Plus, if The Defenders concludes with the New York City heroes in possession of the final Infinity Stone, it would be the perfect segue to bring them into Infinity War!

4. Black Bolt and the Inhumans have it

Blackbolt and the Inhumans in Marvel Comics How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

The newest chapter of Marvel’s TV universe will be its eight-episode miniseries, The Inhumans. The titular heroes have already appeared in the MCU, as major supporting characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., starting in season 2 of that series. The mutant-esque powered people have yet to make any appearances outside of AoS, but that’s about to change.

Marvel’s The Inhumans, set to debut in September 2017, will follow Black Bolt and the so-called “Royal Family.” Beyond that, the show is a mystery. Will it be set in outer space or on Earth? Might it take place in the distant past, in the abandoned Kree city on Earth (the place where Skye and Raina had their Inhuman abilities awakened)?

Whatever surprises The Inhumans may hold, it is entirely possible that the location of the Soul Stone may be one of them. If the series brings in the Stone and then crosses over with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., then it would be primed to send both casts into the looming Infinity War for the epic final battle of good vs evil… Well, the final battle until Phase 4, at least.

3. Norman Osborn Has It

Norman Osborn Spider Man Movie Reboot MCU Avengers How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Despite the critical praise and fan approval towards Spider-Man’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War, New York’s favorite web-slinger still has a lot to prove before he can truly fit in as a core pillar of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spidey’s solo films, beginning with Spider-Man: Homecoming, are produced by Sony, who made both the legendary Sam Raimi trilogy and the decidedly less-liked, so-called “AmazingSpider-Man films, which sputtered out after only two underwhelming entries.

One way Spider-Man‘s latest incarnation can win over MCU fans is to not just spin its wheels; it needs to incorporate elements which can reverberate across the entire Marvel film canon. Norman Osborn is one of the most important villains in the history of Marvel Comics, and, if he makes an appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, he should announce his prominence — and relevance to the over-arching Infinity Gauntlet storyline — by being in possession of the Soul Stone. How did he get it? What will he do with it? That’s for Marvel to decide, but it would be a game-changer to have a new Norman Osborn asserting his place as the dominant villain in Phase 3, 4, and beyond in the MCU. Like Lex Luthor, but with fewer Jolly Ranchers.

2. Odin Has It… Under His Eyepatch

thor odin loki chris hemsworth anthony hopkins tom hiddleston image How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Odin has the Space Stone locked away in his treasure vault, though his present whereabouts are unknown. Loki, the devilish schemer that he is, quietly deposed his own adopted father and used his powerful magic to assume the identity and responsibilities of Asgard’s true king. Obviously, Loki wants to seize power at any cost, but what if he has a greater ambition than this? Maybe he is searching for Infinity Stones. It’s unknown if Loki was aware that his staff had housed the Mind Stone, but if he did know this, then he surely would want another Stone to replace the gem he had lost. As King of Asgard, he would have access to his kingdom’s vast resources in this endeavor.

But what if the Soul Stone was right under his nose this whole time? What if Odin has it, not locked away in a vault or a safe, but literally hidden under his eyepatch? It would be a bit on the gnarly side, to be sure, but it would also be smart, and enable a clever callback to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In that film, Nick Fury uses the retinal scan from his disfigured eye to access S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets. If Thor: Ragnarok features Anthony Hopkins’s Odin revealing the Soul Stone under his own eyepatch, it would allow the MCU’s most grounded and most fantastical movies to share common imagery.

1. Thanos Already Has It

Thanos with Gauntlet in Infinity War promo How Marvel Can Introduce The Soul Stone To The MCU

Regardless of the myriad theories and conjecture to explain the possible locations of the Soul Stone, the quickest and most efficient way to get it out of the way would be for Thanos to already be in possession of the final gem. Perhaps he had it all along, and it is the catalyst for his MCU-long quest to bring all of the gems together and conquer the universe with their unstoppable power.

One thing which is interesting to note is that there are two Infinity Gauntlets; the first one, a right-handed gauntlet, is shown briefly in Odin’s treasure room in the first Thor film. The second one, a left-handed counterpart, is in Thanos’ possession in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Where did Thanos get it? If there are two gauntlets, does that mean there are actually twelve Stones? Does this mean that Infinity War may end with Thor and Thanos engaging in old-fashioned fisticuffs, each of them wielding a fully-accessorized Infinity Gauntlet?! Yes, please.

What do you think? Will Thanos prove to be a true force to be reckoned with? Should he continue sitting on his throne for a few more movies? Where do you think the Soul Stone is hiding? Share all of your Phase 3 ideas in the comments section!

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