[Disclaimer: This article will have big spoilers from Avengers: Age of Ultron and may have spoilers from future Marvel movies, but that’s not nearly as guaranteed.]
I walked into Avengers: Age of Ultron, last weekend, expecting a certain level of disappointment. I’ve never been a huge fan of Ultron as a primary villain and the storyline entitled ‘Age of Ultron’ pretty much just revolved around Wolverine and Susan Storm screwing up the timeline. In addition, it seemed as though this film was simply a filler rather than moving forward the larger narrative of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
AoU, however, blew my expectations out of the water. Besides being an amazing piece of action cinema, Ultron helped to define new corners of the universe, offered more than one compelling twist, and moved the overall narrative forward in ways for which I found myself completely unprepared… almost.
It was some time ago, not long after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, that I wrote an article stating that I had the belief that Loki’s staff was one of the Infinity Stones (I made the statement that it could be the Mind Stone or the Soul Stone, although I had another theory on the Soul Stone). Seeing it appear at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier cemented this. Having my theory proven was kind of a fun bit of vindication and, riding the ego-high of this, I have every intention of speculating wildly, once again.
First, let’s get a little rundown of the Infinity Stones (officially called the ‘Infinity Gems’, here), as presented in the MCU:
All the Gems have some specific, similar abilities. They all act as conduits to some massive source of cosmic energy, as evidenced by the fact that both the Space Gem (the Tesseract) and the Mind Gem enabled the focusing of destructive force (through Arnim Zola’s process to create weapons for WWII and the Vision’s blast from the Gem, respectively). Each has a level of energy that is hard for normal people to control or contain (direct contact with the Tesseract caused Red Skull to be removed from the Earth, the Mind Gem was contained by Loki’s Staff, and, obviously, the Power Gem within the Orb was pretty devastating outside that containment. There may be further abilities shared by each of the Gems, but that remains to be revealed.
The Space Gem was the first to appear as ‘The Tesseract’. Held within a cube, the Space Gem proved to be incredibly formidable on multiple occasions; enabling the initial arming of Hydra and the Chitauri attack on New York. It has been shown to enable transportation to distant places and I have theorized, since Captain America: The First Avenger, that the Hydra weapons didn’t actually destroy their targets but teleported them across the universe. This could be the reason that people on Xandar seem to have common knowledge of humans of Earth (‘Terrans’) and, perhaps some target practice by dastardly Nazis was responsible for helpless woodland creatures having been dropped off in that same neighborhood and being transformed; one of which (Subject: 89P13) gained the nickname ‘Rocket’. At the end of the first Avengers, the Tesseract is being held by the Asgardians.
The Mind Gem was the second to appear, in The Avengers, as part of Loki’s Staff, as mentioned prior. Clearly having been provided by Thanos to Loki in order to procure the Tessaract (and, perhaps, other Gems on Earth), the Mind Gem’s loss is likely to be weighing on the head of the Mad Titan (hence the mid-credits scene after Age of Ultron). It enabled Loki to control the minds of those around him, to the point where they were unquestioning in their loyalty. Being removed from this state took a toll on the victims. It was also able to allow advanced technology to be upgraded to fully cognizant lifeforms, as was the case with Ultron and Vision. At the end of AoU, it’s stapled to the brow of the Vision.
The role of the Ether is still, officially, unclear, but it’s easy enough to speculate that it could be the Reality Gem. It allowed a wielder to merge worlds when they aligned, which seems pretty close to manipulating reality. The Ether showed that it could possess someone and would keep them safe from others. It also proved able to be manipulated by those with the right knowledge or will or both, such as Malekith. At the end of Thor: Dark World, the Ether was left with the Tanaleer Tivan, the Collector, but that status may have changed due to the events that occurred within Guardians of the Galaxy.
In GotG, the stone that appears is held within the Orb and appears to be the Power Gem due to the fact that, well, you know… all the power and stuff. The two actions we see committed with the gem both consist of massive levels of destructive force being emitted and being incredibly hard to control. It can be wielded within a powerful object, such as Ronan’s Universal Weapon or directly by the right number and/or combination of individuals, such as the Guardians, themselves. At the end of GotG, the gem is in the care of the Nova Corps.
And that’s the four that have appeared in the films. In the comics, there are six and that was confirmed in both GotG and AoU to be true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well. So where are the last two?
Well, here is the wild speculation and MAJOR POTENTIAL SPOILERS. So, you have been warned.
We have not seen the Time Gem, as of yet, but I believe that we have seen the results of it in the MCU, although not in the films. Control of time can enable a number of results that may seem familiar if you’ve been paying attention to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, to a lesser extent, Agent Carter and Daredevil (seriously). One could surmise that having power over time could include reducing the effects of aging, even to the point of a being seeming to have immortality. It could also be possible that an effect of control over time could allow the power to age living things and objects to the point of transforming the materials that make them up into ash.
It could also be used to evolve a species and, given the proper influence, each member of a species might actually evolve in different ways.
There is actually something that has appeared that does all these things. It’s called the Terrigan and it may be the thing that is solely responsible for the vast majority of superhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What I am saying, right here, is that the Terrigan Crystals; which create the Terrigan Mists, which transformed Daisy ‘Skye’ Johnson and Raina, which enabled Skye’s mother and the Nazi, Whitehall to be immortal, which caused the deaths of Agent Antione Triplett and someone else, more recently; are derived from the Time Gem.
We won’t see the Time Gem until the Inhumans movie in 2019, but the hints are definitely there and seem to align with the creative philosophy which has been applied to the Infinity Gems, thus far.
And then there was one.
‘So,’ you ask, ‘When will we see the last of the Infinity Gems?’
The first gem to appear in the comics will be the last to appear in the films (sort of, given the idea that the Time Gem’s effects have been seen but the Time Gem will not arrive until a little later), but in the possession of the same person that was gifted it, in the comics. However, there will be some key differences with the film version of the character; namely that he will be the father of a character that has already appeared.
And, if Kevin Feige has any sense, it will be cast as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
I am, of course, talking about Adam Warlock, wielder of the Soul Gem and number one contender for the role of Peter Quill’s alien poppa.
In Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which is scheduled for release in 2017, we will see the Soul Gem on the brow when Quill’s father is introduced. He may be a jackass, but like the Vision, he is worthy enough and powerful enough to protect the gem from all but the most dangerous of menaces.
A menace like Thanos.
As you may have noted, I have mentioned the last known location of each of the Infinity Gems. When the time comes to gather them together and super-glue them onto his glove, this could be the map to the path of destruction as he shatters empires, breaks gods, and murders thousands in an effort to gather the ultimate power over all reality. Chapter one of Avengers: Infinity may actually be that story. If this is the case, than it bodes poorly for Vision and Adam Warlock, especially if they stand after a shattered Asgard and Nova Corps lie in the Mad Titan’s wake.
My expectations may have been low for Age of Ultron, but they have been amped up for future movies. I will walk in with heightened anticipation no matter the casting choices. Each generation of these movies continues to improve and develop the Universe in ways that are engaging and invite speculation.
Which makes conjecture fun!
Who knows if I’m right; or even close?
Kevin Feige knows.