Warning: This post contains spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok.
Thanos is getting closer to destroying the universe. The big, purple villain played by Josh Brolin has been on a mission to collect powerful gems called Infinity Stones throughout the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The power-hungry alien hopes to rule (or destroy) the entire universe. Ultimately, this quest will play out in next spring’s Avengers: Infinity War when he faces off against earth’s greatest heroes.
And while he doesn’t get his hands on one in the third Thor film, Thor: Ragnarok, he does come one step closer to securing ultimate power. For those who have had a hard time keeping track of what the Infinity Stones are or why they matter, here’s everything you need to know about them.
How many Infinity Stones are there?
There are six Infinity Stones. Together, the gems fill the Infinity Gauntlet, a golden glove. Whoever wears the Infinity Gauntlet and possesses the Infinity Stones is capable of immense, destructive power. We already know from the end-credits of Avengers: Age of Ultron that Thanos is in possession of Infinity Gauntlet and has set out to find the stones. After the events of that film he goes into a vault, puts on the glove and says, “Fine. I’ll do it myself.”
So does that mean that the Infinity Gauntlet in Asgard was fake?
That seems to be the case. We knew from the Thor movies that Thor’s father, Odin, seemed to be in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet. For awhile, fans theorized that there were two gauntlets, not just one. But it seems to be that there is one true gauntlet, and one forgery. In a scene where Hela is taking stock of Asgard’s treasures, she dismisses what looks to be the Infinity Gauntlet as “fake” and throws it off its mantle.
How many Infinity Stones have appeared in Marvel movies so far?
Five of six. Here’s a breakdown:
1. The tesseract (a.k.a. the space stone) was discovered by the evil organization Hydra during the Second World War in Captain America: The First Avenger. Decades later, it was used by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki to invade earth in The Avengers. Thor takes it back to Asgard at the end of The Avengers, and we see it again on that planet in Thor: Ragnarok. More on that later.
2. The aether (a.k.a. the reality stone) first appeared in Thor: The Dark World. In that movie, the Asgardians are in possession of the aether but believe that having it too close to the tesseract on Asgard is a bad idea. They decide to hand it over to The Collector (Benicio del Toro), a shady guy who collects odd and powerful objects.
3. The orb (a.k.a. the power stone) made its debut in Guardians of the Galaxy. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) found it in an ancient temple. Thanos enlists Ronan the Accuser to relive Star-Lord of the orb, but the Guardians eventually wind up harnessing its power to defeat Ronan. They then hand the stone over the the galactic police force, Nova Corps.
4. The mind stone originally appeared in The Avengers. It resided in Loki’s powerful scepter (gifted to him by Thanos) that could control people’s minds. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the AI villain Ultron takes the mindstone and uses it to fuel a robotic body that he plans to use himself. But Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) upload Stark’s AI, J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany), into the synthetic body instead and create Vision. Vision then becomes an Avenger. He still has the mind stone in his head.
5. The eye of Agamoto (a.k.a. the time stone) appeared in Doctor Strange. Kept hidden by the Masters of the Mystic Arts, Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) eventually stumbles on it. He wears it around his neck and uses it to control the space-time continuum.
What stone is still missing?
The soul stone, which in the comics has the power to transport its user to the afterlife and back.
Did Loki grab an Infinity Stone on his way out of Asgard?
Definitely. As Loki set off Ragnarok thus destroying the planet but saving all its people, he lingered in front of the Tesseract for a second too long. Given Loki’s history with that particular Infinity Stone, there’s no way he would leave it behind. Marvel confirmed as much in the Infinity War trailer that premiered at San Diego Comic-Con (not yet available to the public), which included shots of Loki with the Tesseract.
What movies are next for Marvel and will they have more Infinity Stones?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline kicked off in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. Subsequent films included The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Ant-Man (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Doctor Stranger (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and now Thor: Ragnarok (2017).
Here are the future movies on the schedule for Marvel Studios:
Black Panther (Feb. 16, 2018)
Black Panther made his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Now he’s getting his own spinoff set in his homeland of Wakanda. Though the trailer seems to suggest that Black Panther is too busy with an insurrection at home to do much universe-saving in this movie, it’s possible that the final Infinity Stone could show up in this movie. Wakanda is a technologically advanced, secretive nation. The soul stone may reside somewhere behind its walls.
Avengers: Infinity War (April 25, 2018)
This movie is the culmination of every plot line from the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie promises to bring together all the heroes — from Captain America to Spider-Man to the Guardians of the Galaxy — to battle one great foe, Thanos. Presumably Thanos will either be gathering or have already gathered all six Infinity Stones in this movie. That means that the soul stone will likely appear in this film.
The aforementioned trailer for this movie included a lot of hints of what’s to come. It began with Thor landing on the Guardians’ ship unconscious. (He also has both his eyes in this scene, but that was presumably edited in to prevent spoilers for Ragnarok.) This is pure conjecture, but my guess is Loki betrays Thor in some way and throws him off their ship. Then Loki makes his way to earth with the Tesseract and runs into trouble with Thanos there.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018)
The Ant-Man sequel probably will not involve any Infinity Stones. The movie will be Marvel’s opportunity to lighten the mood with a bit of comedy after what’s sure to be a dark battle for the soul of the universe in Infinity War.
Captain Marvel (March 6, 2019)
Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is rumored to appear in Avengers: Infinity War before starring in her own film. The fighter pilot-turned-superhero does travel the galaxy and thus her story may spin out from whatever fight takes place in Infinity War.
What do the Infinity Stones have to do with Avengers: Infinity War?
Basically, Thanos is in a “got to catch ’em all” situation. He must collect all the Infinity Stones to control the fate of the universe. Meanwhile, the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and various other heroes must try to stop him.