The Reality Stone made its first appearance in the MCU with Thor: The Dark World, which found the God of Thunder trying to defeat Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves. Unfortunately, this debut really left something to be desired for fans of the comic. Not only was the Reality Stone never referred to by name, but its color, powers, and origin were largely changed -- causing some confusion over which Infinity Stone it was at the time of the film’s release.
Thankfully, we’ve finally gotten our second glimpse at the stone in Avengers: Infinity War, where the gem's powers have been majorly refined. While this is great from a storytelling perspective, it's bad news for anyone who's up against the Mad Titan.
We’ve finally seen what the Reality Stone can do in the hands of the Thanos, and the results have been both terrifying and twistedly comedic. In fact, it's almost as if Thanos could do anything he wanted to with nothing but the Reality Stone in his arsenal.
However, the Reality Stone is not without its drawbacks. It may be powerful, but it's also proved to be wildly unpredictable and just as dangerous for the wielder as it is for the subject.
Here are 15 Crazy Fact About The Reality Stone.
15 It was once given to Thanos for safe-keeping
Since mainstream audiences have just gotten their first real glimpse at Thanos being the primary villain of a Marvel movie, it might surprise many to know that he's also fought alongside many of the Avengers and the Guardians throughout the comics. While Thanos was the villain in The Infinity Gauntlet limited series, he actually did more help than harm in both six-issue sequels, The Infinity War and The Infinity Crusade.
When Adam Warlock obtained the fully-assembled glove for himself at the end of Infinity Gauntlet, the Living Tribunal ordered that Warlock give the stones to various owners so that they may not be used to bring about the destruction of the universe. Warlock kept the Soul Stone for himself, gifted the other four to his friends — who would go onto be collectively known as the Infinity Watch — and secretly gave the Reality Stone to none other than his adversary, Thanos.
Though Thanos and Adam Warlock are often at odds with one another, giving the Reality Stone to the Mad Titan ensured that the stones would never be in the same room together.
Warlock also suspected that Thanos was at least smart enough to not use the Reality Stone without having the others to guide its power.
14 Its powers changed dramatically between Thor: The Dark World and Infinity War
Since Thor: The Dark World is often cited as the most mediocre movie in the MCU, many may have forgotten the powers that the Reality Stone (AKA the Aether) actually demonstrates throughout the film.
The story takes place while the Nine Realms are on the verge of Convergence. This alignment causes otherwise inexplicable changes to our reality — including opened portals, altered laws of physics, and an awful lot of coincidences which help move the story along.
However, none of these changes to reality are actually a result of the Reality Stone. Instead, the Aether functions more like the Power Stone throughout the film by increasing Malekith’s strength and allowing him to grow in size.
While Malekith does intend to use the Stone to lay waste to the Nine Realms, he never succeeds, and we never really get any indication that the Aether is the Reality Stone at all.
Therefore, the stone's capabilities were massively reworked in Infinity War, where Thanos is seen doing everything from swapping out bullets with bubbles to reconstructing a false narrative to trick his adversaries. While these powers may be inconsistent with Thor: The Dark World, they're a lot more consistent with the comics and with what one would expect from the Reality Stone.
13 The Collector once gave it to Thanos in exchange for a baby
The Collector’s fate remains unknown following Infinity War, as the only instance we saw him turned out to be a vision conjured up courtesy of the Mad Titan’s new Reality Stone.
In the lead up to The Infinity Gauntlet limited series, Thanos also obtains the Reality Stone from Taneleer Tivan out of his collection of unusual relics.
Here, Thanos actually contacts The Collector prior to his arrival and proposes a trade. The Collector agrees to part with the Infinity Gem peacefully if the price is right, which leads Thanos to pursue the Runner — one of the oldest living beings in the universe and the holder of the Space Gem.
During their interaction, Thanos uses his already-acquired Time Gem to defeat the Runner, turning him into an old man and eventually an infant before following up with The Collector.
However, unlike the Collector in the MCU -- who is fully aware of the origins and immense power of the Infinity Stones -- the Collector in the comics is ignorant to the Reality Stone's capabilities. Thus, he gladly trades the gem for the unusual infant.
Upon completion of the trade, Thano's turns the Runner back into his adult form, which earns the Collector a beating after all.
12 It requires imagination to work
In the comics, the Collector happily trades the Reality Gem with Thanos, believing that it is nothing more than a piece of polished glass. He attests that he has studied the Stone through every scientific means available to him, but was unable to find anything special about the artifact.
The problem with this means of study is that the gem doesn’t adhere to the laws of nature. Once Thanos gets his hands on the gem, he demonstrates a glimpse of its power to the Collector — warping his reality to the point of utter incoherence. After that, the Collector literally begs for Thanos to take the gem far away from him.
During his time with the gem, Thanos continuously proves that he has the imagination to utilize its powers. He turns the God of Thunder into glass, transforms Wolverine's metal skeleton into rubber, and makes Nebula into a zombie.
This not only proves that Thano's takes pleasure in his destruction (no matter how much he wants us to believe otherwise), but that he also has the imagination to change the building blocks of reality.
Thankfully, Infinity War wasn't afraid to let things get a little weird when it came to Thanos's twisted, comedic use of the Reality Gem.
11 Malekith created it…
Much like the capabilities of each Infinity Stone, the origins of these artifacts have also been significantly altered during their jump from the page to the screen.
In the comics, these gems are actually the remnants of the ancient being Nemesis, who -- after living a long life of solitude -- decided to will herself out of existence, inadvertently creating the Infinity Gems in her wake. In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Collector tells us that the six singularities existed before creation itself and that after the Big Bang they were formed into concentrated matters.
While this origin story is a lot simpler (and a lot less whimsical) than the one we get in the comic, in Thor: The Dark World, we learn that there was another crucial step in the making of the Reality Stone.
Odin explicitly tells us that Malekith forged the Aether out of its concentrated matter to use as a weapon.
Ironically, Malekith intended to use this weapon to destroy the Nine Realms and return them to a time of darkness when the six singularities were the only things in existence.
Additionally, the Collector revealed that all the Infinity Stones had to be forged from their singularities -- meaning that the true origins of the other five stones have yet to be fully explored.
10 …But seemed to have no idea how to use it
Malekith was one of the oldest beings in the Marvel Universe, born out of the very same darkness that housed the Reality Stone singularity. Therefore, after the universe exploded into existence, Malekith forged the Aether in an attempt to return the Nine Realms to darkness.
He was defeated once by Thor’s grandfather, King Bor, and again by Thor himself some 5,000 years later. In both of these instances, it was less the power of the Asgardians and more the incompetence of Malekith that led to the Accursed’s defeat.
For someone who is thousands of years old and the creator of the Aether, you would think that Malekith would at least have mastery over the very weapon that he forged. Malekith doesn’t tap into any of the reality-warping powers that this gem possesses.
Instead of using the Stone to alter the laws of nature in his favor, he simply uses it to buff his strength and shoot energy blasts at Thor — which is hardly the best way to defeat a god.
This is what makes Malektih one of the least interesting villains in the MCU, and also happens to waste actor Christopher Eccleston's performance in the process.
9 It can duplicate the powers of other stones
In the comics, Thanos and the fully-assembled Infinity Gauntlet are utterly unstoppable — even more so than the version we got in Infinity War. In fact, the only reason that Thanos is defeated in the comics is that his subconscious knows he is unworthy of such power, and he ends up self-sabotaging his own plan to forever reign supreme.
Thankfully, a lot of limitations seem to have been placed on the Gauntlet’s powers, and as a whole, the MCU has done a better job at handling the Infinity Stones’ capabilities thus far. For instance, each Stone glows when its powers are in use, and each of their powersets is distinctly different from one another.
These lines are more than a little blurry in the comics, where the Infinity Gauntlet can ostensibly complete any task that Thanos desires -- meaning that the individual powers of each gem become somewhat undistinguishable as soon as the Gauntlet is fully assembled.
Not to mention that "reality" is kind of an all-encompassing word.
After all, don't the concepts of power, space, time, mind, and possibly even soul all fall under the umbrella of reality?
This is why in the comics the Reality Stone can duplicate the powers of many of the other Stones, leading some to believe that it is easily the most powerful gem.
8 It’s the only stone that takes a liquid form
Though it was a nice touch to see the power of the Reality Stone before we even knew that Thanos had attained it in Infinity War, the one downside to this sequence of events is that we didn’t get a chance to watch the Aether actually solidify into the Reality Stone.
Ever since its introduction into the MCU, the Aether has always been shown in its liquid form (save for the vision that Thor has in Age of Ultron).
It flows freely through space, almost as if it has a mind of its own. Malekith also uses the Aether as a weapon unto itself -- firing it at Thor, and the volume of the liquid seems to expand at will. Whenever it is not in use, the liquid Aether is stored between two stone blocks which seem to render it inactive.
This is strikingly different than anything we’ve seen from the other five Stones, though its liquid form meshes perfectly with the properties that the Reality Stone contains.
Much like liquid itself, the Stone can bend and reshape the laws of nature to its wielder's desires. Though this was at first a bit confusing upon seeing Thor: The Dark World (where the words "Reality Stone" aren't used at all), its liquid properties now make perfect sense after seeing what the Stone can actually accomplish.
7 Humans can wield it
While studying the Convergence in Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster is pulled into a portal which takes her directly to the Aether’s secure hiding place — which is almost certainly deep below the surface on Svartalheim, the home of the Dark Elves. The Aether fuses with Jane, granting her increased power and subsequently awakening Malekith from his 5,000-year slumber.
This is contrary to what we come to learn in Guardians of the Galaxy, where the Collector attests that the Infinity Stones can only be used by beings of incredible strength.
We're even shown Eson the Searcher, a Celestial who brandishes the Power Stone upon his staff and uses it to decimate an entire planet.
Later in Guardians, we learn the only reason Peter Quill was able to hold the Power Stone is because he is half Celestial.
The Reality Stone's ability to be obtained by humans without immediately killing them is another facet that sets this Stone apart from many of the others. While the Aether certainly has more control over Jane than she does over it in The Dark World, one can’t help but wonder what this Stone could do in the hands of someone like Doctor Strange.
6 It needs the other stones to stabilize its power
We’ve already mentioned that the Dark Elf Malekith seemed to have little control over the Aether, despite being the one who was responsible for creating it. Outside of enhancing the villain's powers, his only other planned use of the Aether is to use it to transform matter into dark matter.
This is likely a result of poor writing, especially considering that Malekith is one of the flattest MCU villains to date. He was really only there to spring Thor into action. It’s also possible that these were the only powers that could be summoned out of the Aether without Malekith having the other Infinity Stones on hand.
In the comics, Adam Warlock entrusts Thanos to guard the Reality Stone — knowing full-well that the Mad Titan still isn’t mad enough to try and use the Reality Stone without the gauntlet and the other gems.
This was also echoed in Infinity War, where Thanos decides to obtain the Power and Space Stone before pursuing the Reality Stone. These stones could no doubt help stabilize and direct the power of the Reality Stone, giving Thanos total control over the otherwise unpredictable Aether.
5 It has a mind of its own
Another reason that the Reality Stone needs the other Stones to function — outside of its unwieldy powers — is because the Stone seems to have a mind of its own. Especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When Jane stumbles onto the Aether, it actively attaches itself to her. When her body is threatened by outside forces, the Aether lashes out — not unlike the Symbiotes that also appear in other Marvel comics. The Aether is even powerful enough to throw around Asgardians without every being instructed to do so.
This gives the Reality Stone a strikingly sinister quality. It doesn’t just contain destructive powers, it actually wants to be used.
It even freely exits Jane when a far more powerful being, Malekith, comes onto the scene.
While we have yet to see any of the other Stones be quite as sentient, in the comics, the Stones and the fully assembled gauntlet have been known to protect themselves. Iron Man and a number of other heroes have tried to will the Stones out of existence, and they have all failed miserably.
In this instance, the stones are remnants of the ancient being Nemesis, which helps explain why they all seem to have a mind of their own throughout their time in the comics.
4 It sucks the life out of its host
When Jane Foster is transported to the secret hiding place of the Aether, Heimdall alerts Thor that he is unable to see the astrophysicist. After Jane is infused with the Aether and returned to Earth, Thor swoops in to whisk her off to Asgard for the first time with the hopes that she can be cured. Unfortunately, even the Asgardian physicians could do nothing to remove the Aether from her body.
Unlike the other Stones, which simply exude their powers, the Reality Stone acts like a parasitic life form; it attaches itself to a host and draws energy from them.
In fact, Malekith is awoken from his 5,000-year sleep immediately after the Aether joins with Jane — possibly implying that the Aether is mostly powerless without a life form to attach itself to.
Additionally, the Reality Stone drains Jane of her power, and she is told that if it is not removed from her body soon she will eventually be destroyed. This negative side-effect most likely only applies to mortal carriers, as Malekith's powers only increase once he draws the Aether out of Jane's body.
We definitely don't see the Reality Stone taking this toll on Thano's either, especially while he holds the other five stones.
3 Thanos made a duplicate
Adam Warlock is the most important individual related to the Infinity Stones who has yet to make an appearance in the MCU. After Thanos’s time with the Gauntlet in the comics, Warlock becomes the wielder of the golden glove for a time. Warlock here also includes The Magus — who is the living embodiment of his evil side.
Unlike Thanos, who actually has his fair share of redeeming qualities, the Magus is a being of pure evil who would not give a moment’s hesitation to destroying the universe. Thus, the Mad Titan teams up with Warlock and the other heavy hitters to thwart the Magus’s plan.
Things seem to grow exponentially worse when the Magus attains the fully assembled Gauntlet and Eternity allows the gems to work in unison once again. The Magus seems to have attained omnipotence, defeating Doctor Doom and Quasar with ease.
However, the Reality Stone is revealed to be a fake constructed by Thanos.
Although the Magus may have been a being of pure evil, he did not have the intelligence to fully comprehend the gauntlet's powers, especially those granted by the Reality Stone. Therefore, Thanos knew he would have a chance to intervene when the Magus was drunk off his first taste of true power.
2 It's made of darkness
In Thor: The Dark World, Odin spells out the origins of the Reality Stone, telling us that “long before the birth of light, there was darkness; and from that darkness, came the Dark Elves.” He goes onto say that “their leader, Malekith, made a weapon out of that darkness, and it was called the Aether.”
While this may sound like nothing more than a convenient fairy tale, these ideas do have some groundings in scientific theory.
Many scientists have speculated that before the universe came into existence, the laws of physics as we understand them wouldn't have been in place. In other words, the nature of that reality would have been undoubtedly chaotic -- which explains why the power of the Aether is so unpredictable.
Much like the universe beginning with the Big Bang, there is also the idea that it could end with the Big Crunch — which would hypothetically involve the universe bouncing back from its expansion and collapsing in on itself.
In a way, this is exactly what Malekith is trying to achieve; he wants the Nine Realms in perfect alignment. Then, the Aether can more easily transform matter back into dark matter and return the universe to the darkness from once it came.
1 It’s far more powerful in the comics
From what we’ve seen in Infinity War, the Reality Stone is easily one of the most powerful of all the gems Thanos has in his possession. He conjures up a fake reality to fool Gamora and the other Guardians, and he dices up Drax and unspools Mantis like a spindle of ribbon with nothing more than a thought.
Depending upon how powerful the Gauntlet actually is, Thanos wouldn’t have had to do battle with the Avengers at all while trying to obtain the final Stone from the Vision. But what fun would that be? Not to mention that these powers need to have some sort of limitations on them if there’s any hope of defeating the Mad Titan in Avengers 4.
In many respects, this is what makes the Reality Gem and the Infinity Gauntlet more interesting in the MCU than what we're used to getting out of the comic.
While we're happy to see that Thanos's twisted sense of humor is on full display through his usage of the Reality Stone, on the page, things often turn into a full-blown trip when the gems powers are being used.
However, the MCU has gotten psychedelic before with Doctor Strange, so things could certainly get a lot weirder when it comes to the Reality Stone's powers in the forthcoming films.
Do you know anything we missed about Avengers: Infinity War's Reality Stone? Let us know!