Infinity Stones: Complete History and Essential Guide

After 10 years of building a complex and exciting (as well as successful) cinematic universe full of characters that are already part of film history (to the delight of lifelong comic book fans), Marvel Studios has been presenting us little by little, throughout this journey, some stones/gems of immense power that have acquired their maximum importance in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the culmination and culmination of this entire shared universe that closes its first great stage with Avengers: Endgame (2019)

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The Infinity Stones have served not only as a narrative link for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (from now on UCM) during its first three phases , but also as a source of power and/or motivation for many villains, as well as a germ of the life of an Avenger himself (the Vision).

The Infinity Stones, also known as Stones or Soul Gems in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU from now on) are six self-aware gems that, when used simultaneously through the Infinity Gauntlet, grant their wearer omnipotent power. and absolute control over the universe. In Avengers: Infinity War , this terrible power falls to Thanos , the Mad Titan, who uses it for his purposes of wiping out half the life in the universe.

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We will first review the origins of these gems and their different appearances in the comics, and then do a little follow-up through the MCU movies, detailing their location and their different wearers.

Origins and appearances in comics

As we have already mentioned, the 6 Infinity Stones are among the most powerful artifacts within the Marvel Universe. Each gem allows its wearer total control over a fundamental aspect of the universe: Power, Time, Mind, Space, Reality and Soul.

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The origin of the Gems we have to look for it in the time of the creation of the universe, when an omnipotent but lonely being, unable to endure eternity alone, ended up committing suicide and his remains were divided into six different fragments giving rise to each of the 6 twin stones of immeasurable power.

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The person responsible for their creation was Jim Starlin (it could not be another), who introduced them under the name of Gems-Soul in the 70s, in the miniseries The Power of Warlock , to later bring them all together in the Thanos War saga within the collection of the Avengers , where Thanos already demonstrated his obsession with them, wanting to use them to extinguish all the suns in the universe. Ultimately, as expected, he was stopped by the Avengers with the help of Adam Warlock and Captain Marvel.

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From that moment on, the Gems would become an essential element within the cosmic facet of the Marvel Universe , forever intertwined with Thanos and Adam Warlock and their eternal intergalactic rivalry. But they also passed through the hands of the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the High Evolutionary, and the Elders of the Universe.

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After being resurrected by Death himself (to whom he professes a blind and crazy love since he was young), Thanos sets out to gather the 6 gems with the purpose of annihilating half the population of the cosmos to satisfy his beloved, who does not he put up with the fact that there were more living beings in the universe than dead. The resurrection of Thanos after 20 years dead (10 years in Marvel time) was narrated by Starlin in the pages of Silver Surfer , a collection that he was scripting at the time. But the author had other (and bigger) plans for the Mad Titan…

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The Thanos Quest

In the miniseries The Thanos Quest (1990), by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim, the Mad Titan discovers the true nature of the 6 Gems after looking into the Infinity Well of Death. It is in this story that these powerful stones are first called Infinity Gems.

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Thanos is summoned by Death to end half of life in the Universe and decides to gather the Gems again, taking them from their current owners scattered throughout the cosmos, primeval beings of immeasurable power such as the Champion of the Universe, the Intermediary, the Gardener, the Collector, the Runner and the Grand Master. These possess the stones using them subconsciously but without realizing that they have absolute power in their hands. One by one, they all succumb to Thanos’ tricks and stratagems to get hold of the Gems.

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The Infinity Trilogy

After this miniseries, Jim Starlin would continue to tell Thanos’s obsessive quest for power and his desire for destruction through a trilogy of miniseries that would be a great success in the 90s and that we can consider as the most emblematic stories of Thanos and the Gems, as well as the inspiration for the first three phases of the MCU: The Infinity Gaunlet , Infinity War , and Infinity Crusade.

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In The Infinity Gauntlet , the basic mythology around the Gems is already established, as well as what they are capable of:

  • The Soul Gem , green in color , is sentient and the most powerful and allows the souls of the living and the dead to be manipulated and stolen.
  • The Time Gem , orange in color , allows one to see past and future, as well as control and travel through time.
  • The Space Gem , purple in color , allows you to exist anywhere (or everywhere) in reality, displace any object anywhere in the universe, and jump through space or around it.
  • The Gem of the Mind , blue in color , allows to enhance the mental and psionic abilities, as well as access the dreams of any being.
  • The yellow -colored Reality Stone allows reality to be altered even in contradiction to the laws of physics, which can end up being disastrous. It is the most powerful and difficult to use.
  • The red Power Gem empowers the other five Gems while allowing the wearer to duplicate any superhuman abilities, rendering them invulnerable.

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Also in this same story, the Gauntlet is presented for the first time , an artifact that makes it possible to attach the 6 Gems to the wearer’s hand at the same time and that was designed by Thanos himself to impress his love. Life: Death itself.

gauntlet

The Infinity Gaunlet

Thanos, already turned into an omnipotent being after managing to collect the 6 Infinity Stones, finally fulfills the task that Death had entrusted to him when he was resurrected: restore the cosmic balance by destroying half the population of the Universe.

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For the Mad Titan, however, this whole matter of balance matters little to him and he only seeks to impress Death, blinded as he is by his obsessive love for her.

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This epic story with hints of Greek tragedy unfolded over six issues in a miniseries written by Starlin and drawn by George Pérez and Ron Lim . The screenwriter gives free rein to his favorite themes (good and evil as part of the same whole), plaguing the work with metaphysical and philosophical proposals, in the style of his mythical (and lysergic) stories from the 70s.

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After facing the top level of superheroes in the Marvel Universe and achieving their crazy goals, Thanos ends up becoming his own downfall; despite possessing the power of a god, his own insecurities and pettiness end up thwarting his mission due to his subconscious desire to fail. Deep down, the poor Crazy Titan only wants to be loved by someone who deep down cannot reciprocate…

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The major antagonist in this story ends up being a resurrected Adam Warlock , who would become something of a Thanos karmic sidekick from here on out and Marvel’s main cosmic character in the ’90s.

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Warlock manages to fool Thanos and seizes the Gauntlet and the Gems, thus deciding that they would not be in the wrong hands and that he would never use them for the same mad quest for power as Thanos.

After this story, Thanos returned to the forefront within the Marvel Universe and both he and the Infinity Stones would be used ad nauseam in the following years, mainly by its creator Jim Starlin, which would also lead to this story becoming in direct inspiration for the movie Avengers: Infinity War .

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The Infinity War

No, it has nothing to do with the movie, except for the title and the appearance of Thanos…

In this second miniseries published in 1992, we are told how an Adam Warlock turned into a god, before distributing the Gems among the Infinity Watch, expels all Good and Evil from himself, hoping that this would make him a just deity. clouded by moral abstractions. However, the evil part of him takes the form of the Magus , a dark version of Warlock who had also debuted in the ’70s.

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Warlock is forced to team up with Thanos to defeat Magus, hell-bent on seizing the Gems for absolute power and control of the universe. Again the themes of good and evil appear as indissoluble unity and spiritual self-knowledge to be one with the universe. However, Starlin is less surprising and repeats formulas in a much less brilliant way than in the previous saga.

The Infinity Crusade

The villain of this third and final miniseries of the cosmic saga is (surprise!) the good part of Warlock, personified in a female figure called Goddess , whose goal in getting the Gems is to remake the universe without the existence of Evil, it is that is, to eliminate all kinds of conflicts on a universal scale.

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Diosa’s plan, which intends to shape the universe as she wishes and brainwash all its inhabitants, immediately encounters the opposition of the heroes, producing a division between two sides that leads them to give each other cakes, this being the part more interesting (because it is fun and unapologetic) of a story that already sounds repeated.

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Late aftermath

After the success (descending, it must be said) of the three previous miniseries, already in the new millennium Starlin wanted to keep the flame of his cosmic creations alive in several projects.

Infinity: Abyss was kind of a late sequel to the Infinity Trilogy where Thanos faced off against the Thanosi, five failed clones of himself with even less sanity.

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In Marvel Universe: The End , Thanos once again attains omnipotence, causing the destruction of the entire Universe… only to later repent and give it up in order to allow its survival.

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Although it seems more of the same (and deep down, it was), these Starlin approaches continued to enjoy the favor of the public, which led to a 12-issue series starring the Mad Titan himself, in which we will witness a spectacular confrontation between a Thanos who has gone over to the “side of the good guys” and a Galactus who remains faithful to his insatiable appetite.

galactus

However, after the first 6 issues, Starlin left the series (and Marvel), leaving it in the hands of Keith Giffen , who would have here his first contact with Marvel’s cosmic plot, which led to a new golden age in for years to come, led by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, beginning with the Annihilation event and the new genesis of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

After Starling…

The Gems would continue to appear sporadically, together or separately, at different times over the next several years, but would not return to prominence until Brian Michael Bendis reappeared in the New Avengers: Illuminati miniseries .

The Illuminati are a secret and clandestine group formed as a result of the crisis caused by the Kree-Skrull War and made up of some of the most intelligent minds in the Marvel Universe: Iron Man, Black Bolt, Namor, Black Panther, Mr. Fantastic, Charles Xavier, Doctor Strange, and later Captain America. Throughout different key moments in the history of the Marvel Universe, this top secret group had a decisive role, keeping their actions hidden from the rest of the world.

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Mr. Fantastic, fearful that the Infinity Stones will fall into the wrong hands again, proposes that the rest of the group go in search of them to prevent the universe from being in danger again, like when Thanos achieved supreme power and used the Gauntlet. Once they are all reunited again, Uatu (The Watcher) warns them that no human has the ability to understand the true power of the Gauntlet and, finally, Reed Richards decides to give a Gem to each member of the group so that they can hide it and no one can ever see it again. use it.

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Subsequently, Jonathan Hickman embarks on an ambitious saga in the collections of The Avengers and The New Avengers that would end up leading to the great event that we know as Secret Wars.

When Black Panther, who initially refused to be a member of the Illuminati, witnesses the destruction caused by a “raid”, he decides to call a new meeting of the clandestine group. Incursions respond to a principle by which different lands from parallel universes approach each other, trying to occupy the same space and activating a process in which the two universes are in danger of destroying each other.

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The Marvel Multiverse begins to collapse and Earth 616 (the main continuity of the Marvel Multiverse) is in danger, leading the Illuminati to face a serious moral dilemma, having to decide whether to destroy the other Earth in the process of colliding with the yours (Earth 1610) or let the two destroy each other.

Determined to use the Infinity Gauntlet to ward off the imminent approach of the other Earth, the Illuminati attempt to retrieve the Infinity Stones. After deciding it by vote, Steve Rogers uses the Gauntlet keeping the other Earth from collapsing but destroying the Gems in the process.

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Ultimately, the two realities are destroyed, and the explosion destroys most of the multiverse. The result of all this is the creation of Battleworld (World of Battles), which is the fusion of several universes destroyed and mixed.

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In the event Secret Wars (2015), written by Hickman himself and masterfully illustrated by Esad Ribić, we are introduced to Battleworld, ruled by a single god-sovereign: Doom . Doctor Doom has reached his goal, becoming the great deity of Marvel, ruling a kingdom made up of survivors from different lands. However, many of those survivors are not satisfied with his reign and soon begin to plan how to overthrow the “tyrant”. “.

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At the climax of the story, Black Panther wields the Infinity Gauntlet to try to stop Doom, who ends up being defeated at the hands of Reed Richards, finally acknowledging the superiority of his archenemy for life. As his last act, T’Challa uses the Reality Stone to rebuild Wakanda, which had been destroyed by Namor during the Avengers vs. X-Men .

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Once a new reality (Earth Prime) is constituted, the Gems are again unaccounted for…until the next Marvel event. Did anyone doubt otherwise?

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In the Infinity: Countdown miniseries , we are told where the Infinity Stones are currently located and the way is prepared for the next event, Infinity Wars (2018), where a new and mysterious character named Requiem will be in charge of snatching the Gems to their current carriers. How could it be otherwise with the adjective “infinity” in dance, it seems that our beloved Thanos will be a key player in this story, along with Adam Warlock, Doctor Strange, Gamora, Captain Marvel, Starlord and Loki.

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Don’t leave yet, there’s more: the Gems in the MCU

The UCM reinvents the history of the Infinity Stones, taking a little here and there, discarding elements that do not fit with the elements presented during the first three phases of this shared universe and adapting others in order to make their history accessible to the great public, mostly unaware of all his rich but complex comic history. The most notable absence in this entire cosmic saga is that of Adam Warlock, although it is more than likely that the cosmic entity will make an appearance in the not too distant future.

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Although some appear under other names during Phase 1, it is in Guardians of the Galaxy that they are first called by their true names. It is in this film where The Collector tells us about its origin: 6 singularities that existed before the Big Bang that, after the explosion that gave rise to the Universe, take the form of these 6 stones of immense power.

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We are going to do a review now of the bearers of the Gems, from their first appearance in the MCU and up to Infinity War , so watch out for movie spoilers

Space Gem

  • Color blue
  • First containment unit: The Tesseract
  • Previous Holders: Cosmic Entities, Odin, Red Skull and HYDRA, Howard Stark, SHIELD, Heimdall, Loki
  • Previous location: The Asgardian refugee ship, hidden by Loki
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the second Gem he gets)

cosmic-cube

The Space Gem or Tesseract first appears in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), where the Red Skull intends to use it to power HYDRA’s weaponry during World War II. Rescued by Stark Sr. from the ice where Steve Rogers also lay buried, she was coveted by Loki in Avengers (2012) and opened the dimensional portal for the arrival of the Chitauri. After these events, she was sent to Asgard to be safe, but fell back into Loki’s hands until Thanos claimed her in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), with dire consequences for Thor’s brother.

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Power Gem

  • Colour: Purple
  • First containment unit: The Orb
  • Previous Holders: Starlord, The Collector, Ronan, Nova Corps
  • Previous Location: Xandar
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the first Gem he gets)

The Orb appears in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, it has the power to destroy entire planets and is the axis on which its plot is structured. Starlord gets hold of it early in the film and the fact that it cannot be carried by a mere mortal serves to reveal Peter Quill’s half-celestial nature. After passing through the hands of the Collector, she falls to Ronan the Accuser, eventually ending up being guarded on Xandar by the intergalactic body of the Nova Corps.

guarding the world

In Infinity War , Thanos already appears with this first Gem embedded within the Gauntlet, which makes us think that he has rampaged through Xandar to get it.

reality stone

  • Colour: Red
  • First containment unit: The Ether
  • Previous Holders: Cosmic Entities, Malekith, Bor, Jane Foster, Malekith, Asgard, The Collector
  • Previous location: Sapiential, protected by Taneleer Tivan (The Collector)
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the third Gem he gets)

The Aether acts as a symbiotic force, a gaseous substance capable of being absorbed into the body of a living host, granting that person immense strength, power, and seemingly limitless capabilities. Malekith intended to use the Aether to plunge the Nine Worlds into darkness. After the Dark Elf’s defeat, Volstagg and Sif go to Taneleer Tivan’s lair to give him the Stone, since with the Tesseract in Asgard, it is better not to have two Infinity Stones in the same place. There, Thanos goes to the Wisdom space station to steal the gem, one more for his Gauntlet.

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Mind Gem

  • Colour: Yellow
  • First Containment Unit: Loki’s Scepter
  • Previous Holders: Cosmic Entities, Thanos, Loki, SHIELD, Wolfgang Von Strucker and HYDRA, Avengers, Ultron, Vision
  • Previous location: Earth, protected by the Vision
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the sixth and last Gem he gets)

This Gem was the power source for the scepter that Thanos gives Loki to conquer Earth in the first Avengers movie. Later, it passes into the hands of Baron Strucker, who uses it in some way in the creation of the siblings Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, being recovered by the Avengers. It is then that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner use it to bring Ultron to life.

When the robot turns against its creators, acquiring consciousness with homicidal desires, together with Dr. Helen Cho, he creates the synthezoid Vision, which will later be reprogrammed by Stark and Banner, combining the Mind Stone with the power of Mjolnir.

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Those of you who have seen Avengers: Infinity War know how Thanos manages to do with the Mind Stone, so don’t make me relive that trauma… Nuff said!

Time Gem

  • Green color
  • First containment unit: Eye of Agamotto
  • Previous Holders: Cosmic Entities, Agamotto, Cagliostro, Stephen Strange
  • Previous location: Earth, protected by Doctor Strange and Womg
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the fifth Gem he gets)

The Time Stone is contained within the Eye of Agamotto , a mystical artifact with the power to manipulate time. After using it to defeat Caecilius and Dormammu, he remains in the custody of the Sorcerer Supreme until he is forced to hand it over to Thanos in exchange for him sparing Tony Stark’s life.

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soul gem

  • Orange
  • First containment unit: Planet Vormir
  • Previous holders: Cosmic Entities, Stonekeeper
  • Previous Location: Planet Vormir
  • Current owner: Thanos (it is the fourth Gem he gets)

This gem (the fourth obtained by Thanos) appears for the first time in the film and is located on the planet Vormir. Gamora, the only one aware of her location, is forced to reveal this information to her Thanos in order to save her stepsister Nebula.

This is the Gem that Thanos has the hardest time getting, since to get it he has to sacrifice what he loves most in the world, which is none other than his own daughter Gamora. Deep down, the Mad Titan has a little heart in there… although not enough to stop him from wanting to destroy himself.

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SPOILER : The so-called Stonekeeper , custodian of the Soul Gem, is none other than a German man with old Nazi tendencies and a cadaverous appearance (and very red). Indeed, Johann Schmidt was teleported by the Tesseract to Vormir to live in a kind of purgatory, being the guardian of the Soul Stone and guiding those who seek it.

So far a review of the history of the Infinity Stones and their appearances and journey both in the comics and in the Marvel Studios movies. After Thanos’ snap of the fingers, nothing will ever be the same. But that is another story…

SNAP!

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Bonus Track

The Marvel 101 YouTube series gives us a crash course on all of the Infinity Stones:

Space Gem

Space Stone – Marvel 101

soul gem

Soul Stone – Marvel 101

Power Gem

Power Stone – Marvel 101

Time Gem

Time Stone – Marvel 101

reality stone

Reality Stone – Marvel 101

Mind Gem

Mind Stone – Marvel 101