Just how did Thanos acquire the Mind Stone to give to Loki in The Avengers? That's one of the great unanswered questions of the MCU to date; the Mind Stone was originally contained within a scepter that was wielded by Loki in The Avengers, revealed in the mid-credits scene to have been provided by Thanos. That suggests the Mind Stone had begun the process of obtaining the Infinity Stones well before the events of Avengers: Infinity War.
This question may have finally been answered by Barry Lyga's novel Thanos: Titan Consumed. The canonicity of this book is highly disputable; although it was initially announced as the first ever canon MCU tie-in novel, the publisher swiftly backtracked on this statement, claiming they had themselves been misinformed. Certainly, Lyga appears to have worked closely with Marvel Studios, though; although he finished writing the novel well before the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the book matches up perfectly with it.
Thanos: Titan Consumed is essentially Thanos's origin story. It runs all the way from his childhood on the doomed world of Titan to the moment he realized the Infinity Stones could be a way to erase half the life in the universe with just a snap of his fingers. The book reveals that the Infinity Stones were considered a legend by the galaxy as a whole. In fact, most people believed there was only one Infinity Stone, secured on Asgard. A curious Thanos launched an ill-advised attack on Asgard in order to obtain this Infinity Stone, but was easily repelled; this was before he'd even allied with the Chitauri, so Thanos's "invasion" consisted of just himself and a couple of allies. The Mad Titan forgot about the Infinity Stone for many years, content with launching a wave of devastating attacks on planets like Gamora's homeworld of Zen-Whoberi. He gradually realized that this was too slow a method of bringing balance to the galaxy, though, and began to question the legends of the Infinity Stone.
This quest took Thanos to a doomed system that had been obliterated millennia ago, where he sought the advice of the Lorespeaker. It's analogous to a similar scene in the comics, where Thanos gained cosmic knowledge as he gazed into the Infinity Well. And it's here the Mind Stone's origin is revealed.
The Lorespeaker was a unique individual, a being who collected the myths and legends of the universe. According to Lyga's novel, it was the Lorespeaker who revealed the true history of the Infinity Stones to Thanos. He even knew where most of the Infinity Stones were; the Lorespeaker namedrops Morag and Kamar-Taj. Thanos was skeptical, refusing to believe the Infinity Stones even existed; that was when the Lorespeaker revealed that he was master of an Infinity Stone himself, and had obtained the Mind Stone long ago. The Lorespeaker had been so feared because of the Mind Stone's power that he was abandoned in a deserted system, left to die in peace. A horrified Thanos found himself subject to the Mind Stone's influence, with the Lorespeaker intending to use it to transfer his own consciousness into Thanos's body. Fortunately for Thanos, he was rescued by his "daughters" Nebula and Gamora, and the Lorespeaker was killed. The Mad Titan took the scepter as the spoils of victory, later gifting it to Loki in The Avengers.
Lyga's explanation is a fascinating one. It neatly explains not only how Thanos came to believe in the power of the Infinity Stones, but his realization that collecting all six was the only way to achieve his goal. Alone, each Infinity Stone had only limited power within its sphere of influence; the Lorespeaker was able to influence minds over a (comparatively) small region of space, and Thanos himself was able to deceive his foe by not thinking about Gamora and Nebula when he saw them preparing to attack. That was the reason why Thanos hit upon the idea of combining the power of all six Infinity Stones, something that had never been tried before in the history of the Marvel universe.
Although this Thanos backstory may not be canon, at present it's the closest we've come to an answer to this tantalizing question about the Mind Stone. It does raise leave one other question unresolved, though; if Thanos had learned first-hand how dangerous the Mind Stone was, why would he give the scepter to Loki anyway?
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