A Pre–Doctor Strange Primer on Marvel’s Infinity Stones

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Sweet rocks, bro Photo: Marvel

Light Doctor Strange spoilers below.

How does it feel to be without a home, like a complete unknown ... like an Infinity Stone? Well, okay, to be fair, the Infinity Stones do have a home: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But although they’re not complete unknowns, even dedicated Marvel zombies may have trouble keeping track of these filmic MacGuffins. That’s a bit of a problem, as they’re quite important to the MCU’s overall arc — the franchise’s Big Bad, Thanos, is on the hunt for them. When he inevitably obtains 'em, technicolor hell will break loose in 2018’s aptly titled Avengers: Infinity War. One of them pops up in this weekend’s Doctor Strange, so it’s high time we take a gander at what we already know about these fateful minerals. 

Here’s their overall deal: They’re six glowing rocks infused with immense mystical powers. They were forged eons ago by some elder gods known as the Cosmic Entities, and were then scattered across the cosmos. Anyone who can gather them all up and put them in a big ol’ glove called the Infinity Gauntlet will become near omnipotent. Thanos is an intergalactic jerk who wants to impress an anthropomorphic manifestation of the concept of death, so he wants to power up the Gauntlet and use it to eff us all up. However, he’s gotta catch 'em all. Here’s a rundown of all six and what we know about them, so far.

Photo: Marvel

The Space Stone
What it is/was contained in: The Tesseract, that glowing blue cube from The Avengers.
What it does: Lets you travel anywhere in the universe.
Where we’ve seen it already: This was the first of the MCU plot devices, so we’ve seen it a fair amount. In Thor, we learned that Asgardian alpha papa Odin had his paws on the Tesseract for a very long time, but it ended up on Earth — Norway, specifically — for about a millennium. It was dug up by the world’s ugliest Nazi, the Red Skull, during World War II, but Captain America snatched it from him during the climax of Captain America: The First Avenger and crashed into the ocean with it in the back of his plane. Tony Stark’s dad found it and gave it to the prototype version of S.H.I.E.L.D. for analysis. Loki showed up to steal it and subsequently used it to launch his invasion of Earth in The Avengers. After he was defeated, his half-bro Thor took it back to Asgard, where it currently sits.

Photo: Marvel

The Reality Stone
What it is/was contained in: The Aether, the red goo from Thor: The Dark World.
What it does: Gives you super-strength and other miscellaneous superpowers.
Where we’ve seen it already: Like the Tesseract, the Aether was a Thor-related treasure. As we saw in Thor: The Dark World, a group of naughty fellows known as the Dark Elves used it as a weapon in an ancient war against the Asgardians. The latter clan, victorious, claimed it and hid it away. The Dark Elves came back and snagged it once again, but Thor and his plucky gang stole it back again, again. His Asgardian chums gave it to an outer-space eccentric known as the Collector for safe keeping, but the Collector also expressed his desire to track down the rest of the stones for his own purposes. It’s unclear what happened to the Reality Stone after the Collector’s lair got blown up near the end of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Photo: Marvel

The Power Stone
What it is/was contained in: The Orb, the metal sphere from Guardians of the Galaxy.
What it does: Fires off enough energy to destroy planets, if you use it right (er, maybe “right” isn’t a good word choice).
Where we’ve seen it already: This was the thing everyone was after in Guardians. The Orb was hidden in a vault in a galaxy far, far away, but Star-Lord stole it. Right afterward, Ronan the Accuser stole it from him on orders from Thanos, but decided to use it as a weapon to blow up Planet Xandar. The Guardians foiled his plot, got the stone-containing sphere, and gave it over to the interplanetary police force known as the Nova Corps.

Photo: Marvel

The Mind Stone
What it is/was contained in: Loki’s Scepter from The Avengers.
What it does: Processes information like a very advanced computer; allows you to control people’s minds.
Where we’ve seen it already: Thanos had this one, initially. He gave it to Loki when he bade the latter to invade Earth on his behalf in The Avengers. Screwup that he is, Loki managed to lose his stone-containing Scepter to the Avengers, who then gave it to S.H.I.E.L.D. Unlucky for them, a frustrated employee sold it out to the sinister HYDRA network, but the Avengers grabbed it from them in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Tony Stark tried experimenting on the Scepter, but his evil robot baby Ultron stole it and used it to hypnotize a scientist named Helen Cho into helping him build a humanoid robot. The stone brought the robot to life, but he turned out to be a good guy, earning the moniker of Vision. Vision, with the stone on his forehead, is now an Avenger.

Photo: Marvel

The Time Stone
What it is/was contained in: The Eye of Agamotto from Doctor Strange.
What it does: Manipulate time, duh.
Where we’ve seen it already: If you haven’t seen Doctor Strange yet, you haven’t seen the Eye of Agamotto. But suffice it to say that the magicians who train the title character have it.

The Soul Stone
What it is/was contained in: Unknown.
What it does: Who knows! This baby hasn't shown up yet, as far as we know. In comics lore, the Soul Stone (well, the Soul Gem — the stones are all called gems there) has hard-to-describe properties, like the ability to steal your soul or return you to your natural state if you’ve been warped in some way.
Where we’ve seen it already: Probably nowhere. That said, there's a microscopic chance that it was inside a giant cocoon that we saw in the Collector's, uh, collection. In the comics, there's a hero named Adam Warlock who has possessed the Soul Gem, and he spends time in cocoons like that one. But it's much more likely that it'll appear in some dramatic new way, mayhap in Thor: Ragnarok. Until then, let us presume that, wherever it is, it’s pumping out some sweet Sam & Dave songs.