For Avengers 4 to truly be the endgame of the first decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it needs to conclude with the Infinity Stones going away. The six ancient power sources embodying the concepts of Space, Time, the Soul, the Mind, Power, and Reality have been omnipresent since the early years of the MCU, serving as plot devices, MacGuffans, and deus ex machinas depending on what each particular movie required. But by the time Avengers 4 ends and Phase 4 kicks off, the Infinity Stones need to be purged from the MCU going forward.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos assembled the six stones into the Infinity Gauntlet so he could achieve his master plan of wiping out half of all life in the universe. The fallout from the Mad Titan's ultimate victory will have to be dealt with by the surviving Avengers - who will also have to somehow resurrect the lives Thanos took, including the dead heroes like Doctor Strange and Spider-Man - but exactly how they can win the day is a closely-guarded secret. However, it's hard to see how the Avengers would allow the Infinity Stones to continue to exist, leaving them for Thanos or the next insane cosmic being to come along may attempt to collect them again. That would be tempting fate for yet another universal catastrophe.
Most of the superheroes didn't even know the Infinity Stones existed prior to being pulled into the war to stop Thanos, so it made sense they made no effort to secure or destroy them. But now, the Avengers know exactly how dangerous they are, both individually and especially together. It's unclear whether the stones can be destroyed, but nevertheless, it wouldn't make sense for the heroes to let the stones remain accessible in their universe. Furthermore, here's why it also doesn't make sense for the MCU to retain the Infinity Stones as a narrative device moving forward into the future:
- This Page: The Infinity Stones Are An Old Idea
- Page 2: The Infinity Stones Have Outlived Their Usefulness
The Infinity Stones Are Products Of MCU Phases 1-3
The Infinity Stones were a fantastic idea to tie together the MCU and create a goal for the ultimate villain, Thanos, to work towards. By weaving the existence of the Stones throughout the various Marvel movies, they helped bond the universe, their many characters both in space and on Earth, and deepened the MCU's history. Loki wielding the Mind and Space Stones as he led the Chitauri invasion of Earth was also a brilliant reason to bring together the original six Avengers and conclude Phase 1. MCU Phases 2 and 3 were about uncovering the other four Infinity Stones in Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and finally Avengers: Infinity War.
But now that Thanos has all six Infinity Stones and achieved godhood, there's nowhere else narratively to go with the almighty power sources (besides telling the story of how the Titan loses his newfound omnipotence). There's no benefit in rehashing the chase for the Infinity Stones in future films, especially when Phase 4 and beyond are an open book to tell new kinds of stories with new superheroes.
Most Of The Phase 3 Films Worked Without The Infinity Stones
Captain America: Civil War traded on fans' loyalties to and affection for the Avengers as they split them apart - not over the Infinity Stones but over political and ideological differences. After the Time Stone was introduced in Doctor Strange, the next four MCU films - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther - were each wildly successful and most of them didn't even utilize the Infinity Stones. The Space Stone in Thor: Ragnarok was merely a throwaway to help set up Infinity War. It's actually quite telling that despite Loki taking it from Odin's Vault, the Revengers never even tried to use the Space Stone's power against Hela. (Hela herself dismissed the Space Stone entirely when she saw it, preferring to rely on her own formidable powers).
Despite rampant fan speculation that the missing Soul Stone was in Wakanda, Black Panther disproved that theory. What's more, thanks to its superbly realized world-building of the Vibranium-rich, hidden African nation and its cast of fascinating, instantly iconic characters, the film never needed the narrative crutch of an Infinity Stone to become a record-breaking and crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Marvel has explored different genres and expanded what a superhero film can be without repeating their original 'formula' of a superhero origin tied to an Infinity Stone.
It makes sense that the Infinity Stones were de-emphasized by Marvel to avoid overexposure and give the almighty objects more credence in Infinity War, but what the MCU also established in the process is that they have the ability to tell fantastic stories and create compelling new worlds within the MCU without relying on the Stones. This is a plan they would best continue in the future.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019