NOTE: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok
For those keeping track of the confirmed Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, only the Soul Stone remains a mystery - and the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok may have revealed it. Thanos is already setting out to collect the ancient and all-powerful gems from throughout the MCU, and with his Infinity War fast approaching, fans have known for some time that once Ragnarok arrived each and every Infinity Stone could be in the open... just in time for the cosmic supervillain to snatch them all up (or be gifted them by an overly ambitious, hopeful partner).
Rumors have already offered some gossip about the potential location of the Soul Stone, but by examining its powers, its potential use for a villain with a grudge against Asgard, and what we would expect that Stone's powers to actually look like, rumors may no longer be needed. When you name your film "Ragnarok" - the apocalypse of Norse mythology in which the gods meet in one massive battle that destroys creation - you're cluing audiences in to the fact that the film may actually include the death of the gods. The Asgardian gods, to be specific - including their home.
It's the kind of destruction that's easier to swallow if it's achieved with an Infinity Stone, particularly when it's used to amplify a god's existing powers. That god, we're speculating, may be Hela. And after the Ragnarok trailer... audiences may have already seen the death of Asgard for themselves.
The Leading Soul Stone Theory
Forgive us for revisiting the theory that most Marvel fans are, by this point, completely tired of hearing. But in the interest of streamlining the previous Ragnarok rumors, and making sure more casual moviegoers are still in on the fun, we'll offer a brief summary. In short, the Soul Stone has been entrusted to Heimdall (Idris Elba), hidden in plain sight, embedded in the chest of his Asgardian armor. Through use of the Soul Stone, the theory claims, Heimdall is able to see the many lives of creation across Nine Realms - in his own words, "I can see nine realms and ten trillion souls."
Since the only remaining Infinity Stone is also orange in color, supporters of the theory point to Heimdall's orange eyes as further evidence. It's fairly compelling, as far as fan theories tend to go, and the aforementioned batch of plot rumors and spoilers that surfaced in late 2016 seemed to support it. In that rumored version of Ragnarok's story, Loki and Hela actually work together to acquire the stone (from Heimdall, or wherever else it may be hidden), before the Goddess of Death betrays Loki, claims the power for herself, and forces him to seek aid from his brother, Thor.
We've given an extensive breakdown of Thor: Ragnarok's first trailer that helps to set up a rough timeline for the film's story, and this reported plot raises some issues. Still, it's worth keeping these swirling story theories in mind as we look at the trailer scenes most related to this Infinity Stone hunt.
Hela's Use of The Soul Stone On Full Display?
The handful of appearances of Cate Blanchett's 'Hela' are easy to blend together, particularly when there's no explicit order or hint of chronological sequence to them. But as is usually the case, an incredibly close reading can offer up unseen details. For starters, the scene pictured above isn't actually the first appearance of Hela, despite it seeming to possess the grandeur and spectacle you would think her "arrival" would elicit. The first look at Hela comes in a back alley in New York City, extending her arm to stop the previously-thought-unstoppable Mjolnir dead in its tracks. Stop, then shatter with her bare hand.
In that shot, Hela has obviously seen better days. Not only is her hair intentionally disheveled (a bit harder to spot given that it fits their surroundings perfectly), but her bodysuit shows a wealth of holes, tears, and the kind of damage you would expect if she's been held prisoner by Asgardians for countless millennia. In that scene, she's facing off against a long-haired Thor and Loki, confirming it is set before Thor's journey to the gladiator games of Sakaar. So if that's an earlier appearance of Hela looking visibly damaged... something has to explain the differences evident when she makes her far grander arrival in Asgard - standing with her eyes set straight forward on Asgard's royal palace.
In that scene - visible thanks to a reverse angle, close-up shot of Hela - her costume has been fully restored, and her hair is more fitting an Asgardian warrior of her history and talents. Here's where things get tricky: if Hela has the same abilities as Asgardians, there would never actually be any reason for her clothing or appearance to be anything but flawless. Loki and Thor have both has demonstrated the ability to either call their armor to them, or simply manifest it at will... so why is Hela taking her time returning to her former glory? We're speaking of the former glory also shown in the trailer's Valkyrie flashback scenes, with Hela supremely composed, and donning a massive, flawless headpiece of metallic spikes.
It may be a meaningless question, answered by the simple clarification that Hela is not Asgardian, or that she's committing to her tattered appearance as a ruse, a misdirection, or simply a reflection of her mood swings (millennia locked up in a prison will do that to you). But returning to those previous rumors, it must be assumed that Hela comes into possession of the Soul Gem at some point along this story. So is there more revealed in these shots than may first appear? To answer that question, a crash course in the Soul Stone will be a big help.
The Soul Stone (or Soul Gem in the comics) grants its wielder power over, you guessed it, souls. The most important aspect of its power is that unlike some of the other Infinity Stones, the Soul Stone hungers for souls. Since that's not all that much of a departure from Hela's own longing for souls to claim, guide, or consume in the pages of Marvel Comics, they actually seem like a strong fit. And if you're looking to bring about Ragnarok itself, a weapon specifically made to swallow souls en masse seems a lot more believable than enormous serpents, wolves, and giant gods doing battle until the end of time.
Assuming that the use of the Soul Stone - if it does, indeed, fall into Hela's hands - will be following Marvel's established formula, she will use it to gain power, come achingly close to total victory, only to be separated from it by our heroes and defeated. It's a proud tradition set in place by Loki, Red Skull, Malekith, Ultron, and Ronan the Accuser (so far). And if we're looking for proof that Hela is somehow using the power of the Soul Stone without it being completely obvious in the trailer, those lifeless soldiers may be a hint.
Scattered Asgardian bodies may suggest nothing but Hela's viciousness in combat - but take a more detailed scan of this courtyard battlefield. Maybe Asgardians don't bleed like humans, but the number of soldiers who appear to have simply fallen flat onto the ground or collapsed is odd - even odder is that some lay ahead of Hela, suggesting she isn't simply working her way through their ranks. Is combat unnecessary when you have the Soul Stone in your possession? If so, is the fact that she hasn't simply wiped out every soldier in conflict with that theory, or evidence that Hela likes to play with her food?
It may also be our fondness for The Mummy, but Hela's continued march towards her more regal, ancient, and glorious form may seem to coincide with the enemies falling before her. That's purely speculation, however, and her headpiece may simply appear and disappear as often as Loki's has in prior films. The clothing repairing itself seems a more interesting wrinkle, but Hela's hand-to-hand assault on Asgard gets one serious upgrade in subsequent shots. A upgrade resulting in damage on the scale you would expect from an Infinity Stone when wielded by the embodiment of death...
The Soul Stone Brings Death To Asgard?
Hollywood blockbuster may be to blame for the fact that audiences and devoted fans could watch as a wave of fire consumes Asgardian buildings and take it as villainous destruction - par for the course. But that "fire" must be coming from somewhere (if it is fire at all). It's possible to spin some more all-encompassing theories involving Thor's visit to Muspelheim which opens the trailer, and what weapon he may be in search of. Perhaps the weapon Hela has already claimed, or stolen in a distant past so that she can let it loose upon her captors like the fires of Hel itself.
The comic book mythology of Hela, Thor, and Surtur (lord of Muspelheim) may help shed some light on Thor's mission, this devastation, and how Marvel Studios has folded old stories into their cinematic universe. In the comics, Surtur possessed a weapon known as the Twilight Sword, created from the death of an entire galaxy and to be used to consume the entire universe in flame. In other words, Surtur created an ancient weapon in hopes of bringing Ragnarok. A weapon that Hela eventually stole for herself. A threat Thor eventually had to defeat Hela to stop.
Simply swap out the word "Twilight Sword" with "Infinity Stone" and you've got a surprisingly decipherable adherence to the source material. Well, an adherence to the spirit or overall appearance of the source material, which is actually Marvel's trademark in comic to movie adaptation.
The bad news? Whether it's a flaming sword of galactic destruction or an Infinity Stone consuming souls in a blast of orange fire, Asgard is taking a hit at full power. The name of the movie should really have tipped audiences off to peril on a creation-level scale, but how much of Asgard must be killed to qualify as making good on the "Ragnarok" title? Or will Thor save the day before Hela can actually harm all of Asgard, with the movie's title only a warning of what is truly at stake, should she get her wish?
That's something we can't possibly know until the movie hits theaters, but judging by the existing Infinity Stone lore and Ragnarok's trailer, fans may be kicking themselves for missing the real meaning of this orange-hued destruction. Either that, or this is simply a fiery attack from an unknown source, and the Soul Stone is safely hidden away... well, the same place it's been hiding this whole time. As long as Thanos doesn't wind up with it, the details matter little. But somehow, we've got a bad feeling he'll still manage to acquire it...
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017