Thor: The Dark World has been seen by preview audiences on Tuesday and has been open to the general public since last night. Many other news outlets have already spoiled film’s the mid-credits scene already, but we decided to give you a fair chance to see the film first before we delved into deconstructing that scene. However, there might be many of you out there that have yet to see the film. So be forewarned, anything past the “spoiler alert” sign will contain, well, spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film, I’d recommend stopping here, bookmarking this page, and coming back after you’ve seen the film.
Okay, here we go.
The MacGuffin of Thor: The Dark World is a superpowered force called the Aether. The evil bad guy Malekith wishes to use the Aether to destroy the universe and turn it into a dark energy universe where he will be all-powerful. Naturally, he fails, and the Aether ends up in the hands of the Asgardians.
The mid-credits scene consists of Sif and Volstagg meeting with the Collector to give him the Aether. When he asks why he was given such a gift, the Asgardians say that they already have the Tesseract in their armory and keeping two “Infinity Stones” in the same place is a bad idea. After Sif and Volstagg leave, the Collector whispers to himself “One down, five to go.”
The “Infinity Stones” and “One down, five to go” calls to mind in many comic book fans the Infinity Gems, six immensely powerful oval gems, each of a different color and each with a different power. They are:
- The Time Gem: An orange gem that allows its user control over time, including time travel, aging and de-aging people and objects, and knowledge of events that happen in the past, present and future.
- The Space Gem: A purple gem that allows it wearer to travel into any space, anywhere, including alternate realities, from universe to universe, or to be in two places at the same time.
- The Soul Gem: A green gem that allows its owner the power to collect souls, which will reside inside the gem itself.
- The Reality Gem: A yellow gem that gives its user the power to warp reality to his wishes.
- The Power Gem: A red gem that provides unearthly amounts of power to any object, and can duplicate any form of power or energy in the universe.
- The Mind Gem: A blue gem that gives the user great mental powers.
The gems have been part of Marvel comic book continuity for over forty years and have been owned by a wide variety of characters. However, their most famous wielder might be Thanos, who collected all six and mounted them all in a golden glove called the Infinity Gauntlet. It was the culmination of Thanos’ quest for power and his courtship of Marvel’s personification of Death. As a gift to Death, an Infinity Gauntlet-wearing Thanos killed half the living organisms in the universe just by thinking it. That’s how powerful the six gems are together.
How does this apply to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Does it apply to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all? Well, let’s take a look.
I think there has to be a connection, or, at the very least, Marvel wants you to think there is. Why call them the Infinity Stones and say that there are six of them if not? But it’s not easy to draw a straight line comparison between the film world’s Infinity Stones and the comic world’s Infinity Gems.
The Tesseract, which many comic fans thought was an analogue with another powerful talisman from the comics, the Cosmic Cube, appears to have the same power as the Power Gem. It is portrayed as an inexhaustible source of energy in the films. The Aether has elements of time control to it (Malekith wanted to use it to return the universe to the dark era before the big bang), so maybe that could be the Time Gem? But both “Stones” also have elements of the Space Gem to them (The Tesseract opened a wormhole for the Chituari forces and the Aether accidentally caused Jane Foster to travel through the Nine Realms).
More should be come clear in August when Guardians of the Galaxy debuts. That film’s plot revolves around another superpowered MacGuffin, which now appears to be the third Infinity Stone. Once we see what powers that particular MacGuffin has, we’ll be able to see if the Infinity Stones correspond with the Infinity Gems at all, or are just six really powerful items.
Also further explained then will be the true motives of the Collector. Will he be like his comic book incarnation and be gathering these items to use against a powerful foe (say, Thanos), or is he gathering them for a powerful being (say, Thanos) so they can be used by him?
Another question is when will we see the remaining three Infinity Stones. Conventional wisdom says that Thanos will be the villain in Avengers 3, and that all Infinity Stones should make their appearance before then. Assuming that Disney keeps to the “two Marvel films a year” schedule and Guardians of the Galaxy introduces a third stone and Marvel keeps with an Avengers film every three years, this means the remaining three will have to be introduced before May of 2018.
Judging on the announced films, we can assume that GotG will introduce a stone, but it seems unlikely that Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Ant-Man will introduce another stone. Both films seem to take on a more down-to-Earth approach to super heroics (although, it must be said, that the Tesseract made its first appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, so we can’t completely rule out that a stone will be revealed in these films). It seems likely that a big weapon will be needed to fight Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, so we might see another Infinity Stone there.
After that, the remaining stones will have to show up in the four as yet unnamed Marvel films of 2016 and 2017. Since more “cosmic” or “sci-fi” elements lend themselves to the Infinity Stones, could this mean that the oft-talked about, never confirmed Doctor Strange and the never-talked about, yet still in development Inhumans be a lock for Phase III? An Infinity Stone could be part of Strange’s collection of mystical artifacts and a Stone could be the thing that gives the Inhuman’s Terrigen Mists their superpower giving abilities? Or maybe the planned Black Panther film will have a mystic/sci-fi bent, as many of the character’s comic book stories had. The Infinity Stone as King Solomon’s Frogs, anyone?