Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are you've probably seen at least one Marvel movie in the last few years. And chances are, in at least one of these movies you've probably heard mention of the mysterious Infinity Stones. From that little purple stone Star Lord had a dance-off over to the one smack-bang in the middle of Vision's head, the Infinity Stones have been showing up more and more, causing all types of trouble for our heroes. This is of course by no means a coincidence, as Marvel gears up towards its first cosmic event-- Avengers: Infinity War in 2018.
We've known since the first mention of these little gems that Thanos would eventually make his way to Earth to collect the whole set and begin world domination. Now that 5 out of the 6 stones have been discovered, he is ready to descend.
But before all hell breaks loose, let's have a look at these sought after jewels. For the sake of clarity we’ll be referring to them as Infinity Stones, not Infinity Gems as they are referred to in the comics. Here is 15 Things You Need To Know About The Infinity Stones.
In the comics the Infinity Stones were created by the death of one powerful and ancient cosmic being (more on her later) but the MCU took a different approach, changing up the origin to better fit their story.
During the scenes with the Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy, he explains that before the universe began there were six singularities and when the Big Bang happened they were forged into each individual stone, instilling it with the power of a different aspect of the universe-- Power, Space, Time, Soul, Reality and Mind.
The Cosmic Entities-- Entropy, Infinity, Death and Eternity-- were the ones responsible for distilling the energies into the stones and a portrait of this can be seen carved into the stonework in the Temple Vault on Morag, where Star Lord first steals the orb. As of now we don't know why they created them, or what purpose they had, but as the movies move toward the showdown with Thanos, we'll no doubt find out a little more about their origins.
In both the comics and the movies there are usually 6 Infinity stones floating around, but for a brief period in the 1995 Avengers/Ultraverse crossover comics, there was actually a 7th stone found. This gem was called the Ego Stone and was hidden in the Ultraverse (a comic universe owned by publisher Malibu that was bought out by Marvel).
The Infinity Stones made their way into the Ultraverse, where the trickster Loki eventually tracked them down. While there, Loki also discovered the existence of another stone, the golden-colored Ego Stone. He enters into a contest with the Grandmaster to obtain it, pitting the Avengers and the Ultraforce against each other-- with whoever picks the winning team gaining ownership of the stone. Loki eventually wins the bet and reunites the Ego Stone (which was currently possessing the Avenger Sersi) with the six other stones. Through this the ancient being of Nemesis was born-- more on her later.
The Ego Stone hasn't been heard of or mentioned since that first appearance, and is largely ignored by canon nowadays.
As the name suggests the Power Stone is one of the most powerful of the whole set. As first seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Power Stone (that was contained within the orb) has incredible capabilities, and when harnessed in the right way, can literally destroy entire planets.
At its most basic level, the stone can increase users' stamina and strength to unstoppable proportions and can grant them any physical superhuman ability. Drawing upon its power it also grants the ability to manipulate all power and energy in the entire universe. And if that wasn't scary enough, the Power Stone can also be used to amplify the powers of all the other stones when used correctly.
Considering its destructive nature (which we got just a glimpse of in GotG) it's certainly the most dangerous stone and, more likely than not, will be the one Thanos goes after first. After all, there must be a reason the Guardians decide to come to Earth.
In the comics, it is red or yellow instead of the bright purple stone seen on the big screen.
The Space Stone was the first stone we saw on screen, appearing in Captain America: The First Avenger-- although we didn't know it at the time. Before the name Infinity Stone was being tossed around we just knew it as the Tesseract, the scary blue square being used by Hydra.
Since then it has appeared in the first Avengers movie too, where we finally got a glimpse of its true power-- it has the ability to manipulate space by teleporting people and things, allowing someone to appear in two places at once, increasing the speed of the user, and just generally messing with the laws of physics.
Loki uses the Space Stone to teleport to Earth at the beginning of The Avengers, so if Thanos gets his hands on it, it's more than likely he'll just be able to pop down for a visit whenever he likes. Which is a frightening prospect.
In the comics, the Space Stone is usually purple or green, but it's now blue in the MCU.
We saw the true nature of the Mind Stone when it was encased inside Loki's sceptre in Avengers. The stone gives the wielder the power over all aspects of the mind and, as we saw with Hawkeye and Erik Selvig, can actually control people when used to its full potential.
The stone also strengthens and enhances mental and psychic powers, including telepathy and telekinesis, and can access other people's thoughts. When used in conjunction with the Power Stone to enhance its own properties, the Mind Stone can connect the user to all other minds in the universe simultaneously.
And of course we also know the Mind Stone has been used in experiments to create superpowers in humans, with only the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver surviving the process. But currently it is powering Vision, and presumably giving him his various powers as demonstrated fully in Captain America: Civil War.
The Mind Stone has been represented as both blue and red in various comics, but is shown as yellow on screen.
The Reality Stone, which is currently not so much a stone as a liquid-like red floating mass, first appeared in Thor: The Dark World as the aether that possesses Thor's lady love Jane Foster. This stone is the one with the most fuzzily defined powers as it can quite literally bend reality itself into anything you want.
It can create endless alternate realities, it can grant any wish you make, and can even break the laws of science and logic. It can resurrect the dead or bend reality around a particular person to make them crazy; it pretty much does anything that would normally be impossible otherwise. Because of this, it is considered one of the most powerful stones in the collection. When used with the Power Stone, the reality-bending can be pushed out to a universal scale.
In The Dark World, we only got to see a small sample of its full power, as the Dark Elves try to use it to convert the universe into dark matter before they are eventually stopped by the God of Thunder.
The Reality Stone has been either yellow or orange, depending on the comic, but is now red in the MCU.
The Time Stone has, after months of speculation, now been revealed to be in the Eye of Agamotto with Stephen Strange.
The Time Stone has total control over the past, present, and future. It can give the wielder visions of the future, the ability to time travel, the ability to control the ageing of other beings, and can create endless time loops in which to trap people.
We got to see some of these powers in the newest Marvel movie Doctor Strange, where he used it to turn back time and create a time loop to defeat the villain, but there's still some powers we've yet to see. The most terrifying power perhaps, is that it gives the user the ability to be at all points in time at once and know everything there is to know through time and space.
The Time Stone was either orange or blue, depending on the comic you were reading, but is now represented as green in the movies.
We haven't seen the Soul Stone appear on screen yet (more on that further along) but we can presume its powers will be just as scary and lethal as its counterparts have been so far. In the comics, though, this stone is a little bit different from the others-- it is sentient.
This sentient being hungers for souls to collect and uses its possessor to do so. The stone has the ability to not only steal your soul right out of you body, but can also manipulate, alter, and control it. It also gives its owner a glimpse into other's souls and feelings, and acts as a gateway to a pocket universe in which it traps souls. Through its soul stealing it has been known to take powers and abilities too.
When used in the right way, in conjunction with the Power Stone to amplify it, the Soul Stone can grant dominion over all living creatures in the universe. So there's that...
In the comics, the Soul Stone was green or purple, but now will presumably be orange.
When most people want to woo someone, they might send flowers or chocolates, or invite the person for a long walk on the beach. Thanos the Mad Titan, unfortunately, is not most people. His version of a romantic gesture? The mass murder of half the living beings in the universe.
At some time in our lives we've all been at this point: the object of your affection is way out of your league and you just need some help to go up and talk to them. Well, in the comics Thanos plans to use the Infinity Stones to make himself powerful enough to talk to the girl he likes... who just happens to be cosmic entity Death, the god-like embodiment of mortality itself. When that doesn't work out like he plans, he instead opts for a grand gesture to sweep her off her feet-- wiping out half the universe with the click of his fingers. And it's all made possible by the Infinity Stones in his possession.
He then goes even further to impress her, killing most of the world's heroes during their last stand and defeating quite a few cosmic entities, including Galactus and Death's opposite, Eternity. All in the name of love.
Before there was cinematic universe money to be made and lines to be drawn in the sand, the comic book rivalry was marginally friendlier (very marginally). Occasionally comic juggernauts Marvel and DC even worked together for crossover events. One such event happened for the last time (as of 2016) in 2003 when the Justice League/Avengers crossover was published.
During this event, the Justice League and the Avengers go up against each other to save their own universes, and somehow in this multiverse mishap, the Infinity Gauntlet and all the gems end up on the DC end. They are discovered by DC supervillain Darkseid (who many have drawn comparisons with Thanos over the years), who then tried to wield their power by putting on the glove. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the Infinity Stones have no power in the separate reality and cannot function outside of the Marvel universe. Disappointed, he tossed the gauntlet to the side, where Quicksilver and the Flash raced to grab it.
Of course, the gauntlet and all the stones end up back in the Marvel universe again, instead of safely on a planet where they are completely powerless, because the comic book world lives to torment us.
Marvel and DC villains aren't the only ones who have had a go on the gauntlet, two of Marvel's biggest heroes have also wielded the power of the stones at one point or another.
During the 2011 Avengers run, supervillain Hood begins going after the stones, only to be stopped by a full roster of Avengers heroes. During the fight, Iron Man gets hold of the gauntlet and puts it on. The stones that are currently residing in the glove then steal back the remaining gems, giving Tony Stark ultimate power. For a brief moment he is pulled in by the possibilities that the power grants him, like being able to see his father again or eliminating wars on earth, but ultimately overcomes the pull. He uses the glove to put Hood in jail and then wills the Stones out of existence, or so everyone thinks. In reality he and a handful of heroes (including Cap, Professor X, and Doctor Strange) take one stone each and hide them.
In the 2013 run of the New Avengers, Captain America used the gauntlet to push back another universe that was collapsing onto Earth. This time, though, the stones' power proves to be to great and results in a explosion that destroys all but one of the gems. Five of the stones and the gauntlet shatter, while the Time Stone disappears.
Does this mean we could see Steve or Tony wield the gauntlet in the battle against Thanos, perhaps?
During the aforementioned Ego Stone storyline, the heroes discovered that the stone housed the consciousness of an ancient being who might be older than the universe itself, Nemesis. She was the god-like being that actually created the Infinity Stones long ago. The story goes that, as the only being in existence at the time, she was so lonely that she committed suicide. However her powers and consciousness were then distilled and transformed into the various stones.
When Loki (who had all the other stones in his possession) came into contact with the Ego Stone, all 7 stones then fused together and reincarnated the ancient creature. Nemesis was practically unstoppable, possessing all of her original power that resided in the stones. But unluckily for her, the stones themselves had gained sentience during the millions of years that they were individual entities and weakened her severely, allowing our heroes to defeat her. Nether she, nor the Ego Stone, have been bought back to canon since, so we doubt they'll make an onscreen appearance anytime soon.
Marvel fans were left delighted when they caught a glimpse of the Infinity Gauntlet as an Easter egg in Odin's vault in 2011's Thor. And those same fans were left slightly confused when only a couple of years later they saw Thanos don an Infinity Gauntlet. Is he in Odin's vault? Did he steal it? Did they forget they put it in Thor? Was this a continuity error? Is Odin's a fake? Are there two versions? What is going on?!
Thankfully Kevin Feige cleared things up in an interview, stating that the universe has two Infinity gloves, a right-handed one in Odin's vault and a left-handed one with Thanos. Although this might just open up a whole new can of worms, like: Why are there two? Can they both use the stones? What is the point of two if one can fit all six stones? Is it a backup in case you lose one? Too many new questions and too many months to wait.
This isn't the first time there have been two gauntlets in play-- in the alternate reality Earth-1610, there are 8 stones in total with 4 spread over each fist of the gauntlets. As unlikely as it is, we just hope this doesn't mean there are another 6 stones out there to fill the other glove. These 6 are enough to deal with already.
With so many different plot points, cameos, Easter eggs, and MacGuffins running around the MCU, it can be hard to keep track of it all. Currently, as of the release of Doctor Strange, there are 5 of the 6 stones that have already made their way on to screen. Of those five, only two are currently on Earth, the planet they are all going to, presumably, end up on for the big fight to come.
The Mind Stone and the Time Stone are the two that are here at the moment, with the Mind Stone currently taking residence on Visions forehead and the Time Stone currently inside the Eye of Agamotto in Tibet. The Power Stone was given to the Nova Corps for safe keeping on Xandar in Star Lord's neck of the woods, while the Space Stone is being kept by Thor's buddies on Asgard inside Odin's vault.
Most worryingly, the Reality Stone is in the hands of the incredibly shady Collector, who always seems like he's not quite on the up-and-up. Couple this with the fact that he loses one of the stones to Thanos in the comics, and we're not sure we like this scenario.
And of course there's still the sixth stone on the horizon...
Speaking of the location of the Infinity Stones, there's still one stone unaccounted for-- the Soul Stone. We haven't heard anything about the mysterious sentient stone yet, but we might very soon. Since we know there are no Infinity Stones in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it seems likely enough that it would be introduced in the more space-centric Thor: Ragnarok. Especially since Thor left Earth at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron for this very reason.
Considering that the movie will feature Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, a staple in Infinity-theme storylines (he once owned a stone but lost it to Thanos and was the architect behind the aforementioned DC crossover), and will probably delve into the Elders of the Universe-- it's safe to assume the movie will have some sort of connection to the Infinity mythos.
There is already a prevalent fan theory that the Soul Stone is embedded in the armour of Heimdall, which is the reason he can see every soul in the universe and why his eyes glow orange (the same colour as the stone). And even Cate Blanchett's character Hela has a connection to the soul-- having the power to steal and transport souls. So while there's been no confirmation of the stone appearing, all signs seem to be pointing that way. Only 11 months to wait to find out...
Doctor Strange is in theaters now; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens May 5, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 9, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War – May 4, 2018.