A Marvel Comics creation, the Infinity Stones were previously called the Infinity Gems, but were originally referred to as the Soul Gems. Got that?
The stones are immensely powerful individually, but whoever holds all six gems and uses them collectively, such as in the Infinity Gauntlet, gains virtually unlimited power and is contractually obligated to cackle like a villain. Usually, the villain is Thanos, which is why he has appeared in approximately 143 Marvel movie post-credits scenes.
The Infinity Stones, Nerdsplained
Each indestructible gem is a small, smooth oval, and is known by the distinct power it possesses. I’ll sum up:
- Power Gem (Red) Accesses raw power and energy, allowing the user to duplicate almost any physical superhuman ability or manipulate all forms of energy for virtually any effect.
- Soul Gem (Green) Considered the most corrupt, it is sentient and has a hunger for souls. It allows the user to steal, control, manipulate and alter souls, living or dead, plus has the ability to steal the powers and abilities of others.
- Time Gem (Orange) Allows the user total control over the past, present and future. Grants time travel, gives its user visions of possible futures, in addition to the ability to see into the past as well as to stop, slow down or speed up the flow of time.
- Space Gem (Purple) Allows the user to exist in any or all locations, move any object anywhere throughout reality and warp or rearrange space, granting omnipresence.
- Mind Gem (Blue) Allows the user to greatly strengthen and enhance mental and psionic power and access the thoughts and dreams of other beings, potentially all minds in existence simultaneously.
- Reality Gem (Yellow) Wish fulfillment. The Reality Gem’s reality-altering potential is such that it apparently can not only control reality, but travel to and through different realities as well.
It’s a fool’s errand to try and fully nerdsplain the history of the Infinity Stones throughout Marvel comics history. But let’s do look at 3 big moments in comics history before we cut to where the Infinity Stones are showing up in Marvel’s movies.
BIG MOMENT 1: Although all six gems had appeared during a Thanos storyline in an Avengers Annual, it was the limited series Thanos Quest where Thanos refers to the entire set as Infinity Gems for the first time as well as revealing their origin.
As the story goes, Nemesis, a lonely omnipotent being is unable to endure eternity alone. As a result, Nemesis commits suicide, fractioning her being into what becomes the Infinity Gems. They go into the possession of the Elders of the Universe, but Thanos systematically subdued the Elders one by one, gathering all six gems.
Aren’t comics fun?
BIG MOMENT 2: In the Infinity Gauntlet limited series, Thanos assembles all six gems into a gauntlet, then uses it to erase half the population of the universe. Why did the Mad Titan destroy half of the universe’s population? Well, like Bryan Adams, Thanos does it all for love.
This makes sense when you realize that Thanos’ love is Lady Death, and she felt it was a cosmic imbalance that there were currently more sentient beings alive than had ever died in all of history. Thanos goes on to own Earth’s heroes in combat when they attack him in retaliation. But Thanos knew deep down that he wasn’t worthy all that power, so he subconsciously allows himself to be subdued in an ethereal form, which allows him to be stripped of the gauntlet. (You can find Infinity Gauntlet on Amazon.)
BIG MOMENT 3: In the New Avengers: Illuminati limited series all six stones become the possessions of the superhuman group the Illuminati – Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, and Professor Xavier. One Gem is placed in the care of an Illuminati member, who vows never to use it or reveal its location. Eventually, this goes sideways, of course. (On Amazon.)
The Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
This brings us to the moment we have been waiting for: how the Infinity Stones have been rebranded as the Infinite Six for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with 2011’s Thor.
- Space Stone aka the Tesseract (Blue): It first appears in the Thor post-credits scene, then in Captain America: The First Avenger and Agents of SHIELD, where it is used to power Hydra weaponry. It is currently in Asgard for safekeeping.
- Reality Stone aka the Aether (Red): Formed by the Dark Elf Malekith into a fluid-like weapon called the Aether, it is entrusted to the Collector at the end of Thor: The Dark World.
- Mind Stone aka Loki’s Scepter (Yellow): In The Avengers, Thanos gives Loki a scepter that allows him to control people’s minds. It is ultimately used by Hydra in experiments to create superhumans, the result of which was Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the scepter is revealed to contain the Mind Stone, which Ultron removes to feed life into the synthetic android, Vision.
- Power Stone aka the Orb (Purple): In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Power Stone is contained within an orb. Directed by Thanos, Ronan the Accuser seeks the orb to use it to destroy Xandar. It is entrusted to the Nova Corps for safekeeping.
That leaves only two Infinity Stones to be featured: the Soul Stone and the Time Stone. It is likely that 2016’s Doctor Strange movie may feature a Stone since Strange’s magic will likely have a connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s cosmic storylines.
Also highly likely is that Thor: Ragnarok will feature one as well, given that Thor flew back to Asgard at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron to learn more about the Infinity Stones.
Then we can expect the six Infinity Stones to come together when Thanos obtains them just in time for Avengers: Infinity War parts 1 and 2.
Aren’t comic movies fun?