Comics on Film: Where Are the MCU's Infinity Stones?

Comics on Film: Where Are the MCU's Infinity Stones?

Nov 11, 2016

The latest chapter in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe has come and gone, and we're inching ever closer to the breakout of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. As any follower of the films knows, the path toward Infinity War began in the post-credits sequence of the MCU's first crossover film, 2012's The Avengers.

It was there that we discovered that Thanos, known in the Marvel Comics Universe as the "Mad Titan" and the "Avatar of Death," was the primary power behind the Chitauri invasion of New York in the climax of that first crossover film, and it was that revelation that opened up the MCU to the possibilities of cosmic enemies for the heroes to fight: a promise followed upon effectively in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, with promise of a lot more to come.
Most of the films that both include and follow The Avengers told stories that focused on objects known as "Infinity Stones," immensely powerful cosmic artifacts that, when combined, turn the wielder of them into something resembling a god: virtual omnipotence and omnipresence await anyone who can unite the stones, which clearly represents a major threat for the world(s) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So...what are they? And where are they in the MCU right now?
In the Comics: The Thanos Quest for the "Infinity Gems"
Known in the comics as "gems" instead of "stones," the cosmic artifacts date back to the 1970's in Marvel continuity when the Soul gem made an appearance in Marvel Premiere #1. From there, the following five gems would make their first appearances over the course of the decade, culminating in their first joint appearance in 1977's Avengers Annual #7.
In 1990's two-issue miniseries The Thanos Quest written by Jim Starlin with art by Ron Lim, the Mad Titan referred to the group of artifacts as the "Infinity Gems" for the very first time. After having been resurrected by the Marvel Universe's embodiment of Death, she tasks him with wiping out half the population of the universe. While gazing into Death's Infinity Well, a magical well of knowledge that resides in Death's realm, Thanos clearly understands the power, importance, and assistance he would gain in his task by uniting the gems together.
Thanos earns Death's permission to go after the cosmic beings that are in possession of each Gem so that he can then carry out his task. Over the course of these two issues, we see Thanos travel through the far reaches of space until he finally acquires all of the Gems. The Gauntlet he used to house them all didn't come until later, and for details on that story, check out John Gholson's piece which profiled it.
What Are the Infinity Gems in the Comics?
The six Gems and their corresponding colors and powers as they appear in the comics are:
The Red Power Gem: This Gem accesses all the energy in the universe: past, present, and future. It also has the inherent ability to boost the power of any other Gem it comes into contact with, making it an essential piece of the Gauntlet in order to maximize the effectiveness of every other Gem.
The Orange Soul Gem: This Gem gives its wielder a significant amount of control over life and the afterlife, allowing for manipulation, alteration, control, and theft of any soul living or dead.
The Yellow Reality Gem: What some fans in jest have referred to as the "Genie Gem," the Reality Gem can allow its holder to grant wishes, even if that wish may violate the natural laws of the universe (such as the laws of physics, or the laws of time). If the holder so chooses, they can also create alternate realities. When united with the other Gems, it has the power to affect all of reality on a universal – and perhaps multiversal – scale.

This Gem is sometimes called the most powerful of the bunch, but that power comes at a cost: if not used in concert with the powers of the other Gems, it can quickly grow out of control and surge past the intentions of its holder.

The Green Time Gem: The holder of the Time Gem is endowed with near-total control of the past, present and future, while also giving its holder a degree of omnipresence and ability to see not just into one future, but possible branching futures as well. Its holder can also alter the speed at which time travels, including moving it backward, as well as alter the age of any being.

The Blue Mind Gem: Enhances the holder's brain power, including the ability to unlock psionic and psychic capabilities. This is one of the Gems most clearly amplified when used in concert with the red Power Gem, since it allows a holder to potentially touch all minds in existence across the universe at the same time.

The Purple Space Gem: The Gem that most clearly allows its holder to exhibit existential omnipotence, allowing them to exist in any or all places all at once. It increases the perceptive power of its wearer far beyond the physical limits of any being's brain, allowing them to perceive any and all events that happen anywhere at any time (That's a lot of "any's").


How Have They Changed for the Movies? Where Are They Now?
In addition to being labeled as "Infinity Stones" rather than Gems, the exact nature of the artifacts themselves have largely been changed in how they've manifested in the different MCU films released thus far. This includes tying them to other Marvel artifacts that weren't previously associated with the Gems in the comics. Curiously, the films have also decided to change around some of the Stones' colors from their counterparts in the source material.

Here are the Stones we've seen so far, their corresponding colors, and where we know them to be as of the release of Doctor Strange:
The Red Reality Stone made its presence felt primarily in 2013's Thor: The Dark World. Malekith the Accursed, the Dark Elf who faced off against the forces of Asgard in the film, was able to form it into a seemingly liquid-based weapon which was called "the Aether," which was shown to have the ability to destroy all the Nine Realms and return the universe to its dark state from prior to the Big Bang. After Malekith's defeat, the Stone was recovered and placed with the Collector (played by Benicio del Toro) on Knowhere, since Asgard was already housing at least one Stone (see below for more details).

The Orange Soul Stone, as far as we know, retains its powers and color from the comics. It was first hinted at and glimpsed in Guardians of the Galaxy, but we have yet to actually see it appear in any of the films. Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige has hinted of its debut sometime in Phase Three of the MCU, with a likely candidate being in May 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

The Yellow Mind Stone was revealed to be the artifact which powered the scepter carried by Loki in The Avengers, which was apparently given to him by Thanos and ultimately recovered by Hydra's Wolfgang von Strucker prior to Avengers: Age of Ultron. He used it to experiment on people, which consequentially resulted in the powers gained by both of the Maximoff twins: Wanda (aka the Scarlet Witch), and Pietro (aka Quicksilver). We last saw it in Captain America: Civil War, where it remained on the head of the Avenger Vision. How it'll go from his head into the Infinity Gauntlet, though, likely won't be pretty for the forces of good.

The Green Time Stone retains its color from the comics, but is now tied to the magical artifact known as the Eye of Agamatto. We last saw it in Doctor Strange, when the titular sorcerer used it as his primary weapon against Dormammu's invasion of Earth. The Eye now resides with the Masters of the Mystic Arts at their stronghold in Kathmandu.

The Blue Space Stone has the longest lineage in the MCU, first appearing in the post-credits scene of the first Thor film as the cube-shaped Tesseract. The Tesseract, of course, was recovered on Earth by the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, who used it to outfit his devotees in Hydra with powerful weapons against Allied and Strategic Scientific Reserve forces during World War II.

Recovered in the ocean after the apparent deaths of Red Skull and Captain America, it was stolen by Loki during the events of The Avengers leading up to the Battle of New York. It was the artifact that allowed Loki to open the wormhole that brought about the invasion of the Chitauri, and was ultimately returned to Asgard after the first assemblage of the Avengers and Loki's defeat, where it's still apparently kept (as far as we know).

The Purple Power Stone was the artifact at the center of the plot of Guardians of the Galaxy, which saw Ronan the Accuser secure the stone in an attempt to thwart Thanos' orders and take ultimate power for himself. He was, of course, repelled by the first alliance of the Guardians, who entrusted the stone with the Nova Corps for safe-keeping.

So, that's where we stand on the Infinity Stones right now. We'll likely be seeing more from them in the Phase Three films that lead up to the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and of course we'll have to wait and see just how Thanos himself acquires them and places them into the Gauntlet we know that he has.

The next MCU film will be May 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which will be followed in July by Spider-Man: HomecomingDoctor Strange is in theaters now
Chris Clow is a gamer, a comic book expert and former retailer, as well as a freelance contributor to The Huffington Post and, as well as host of the Comics on Consoles podcast. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film right here at Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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