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Where are all the Infinity Stones before Avengers: Infinity War?

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Apr 18, 2018, 1:00 PM EDT

SYFY WIRE's Infinity War Roundup is your go-to guide for everything you need to know about Marvel's massive superhero crossover, Avengers: Infinity War. In the weeks leading up to Infinity War's April 27th premiere, SYFY WIRE will be rounding up every important character arc and plot detail you need to know from the past 10 years and 18 movies.

We've talked a lot at this point about the various characters who'll be fighting in this war for the fate of the universe, but now it's time to talk about what they're fighting over: The Infinity Stones, six singularities that have existed since before the universe, forged into concentrated artifacts of unimaginable power. Possessing just one of them is enough to make you a conqueror and destroyer of worlds, but if you get them all — as Thanos is attempting to do — you have all the powers of a god.

So, ahead of the struggle for control of the Stones, let's take a look at each of them, where they've been so far, and who Thanos has to go through to take them.

Infinity Stones, Space Stone

The Space Stone

Also known as: The Tesseract

Powers: Capable of generating tremendous energy and, in the right hands, accessing anywhere in the universe.

Last confirmed location: Odin's vault on Asgard (but it's complicated)

The Space Stone is the original MCU Infinity Stone, appearing in teasers dating back to Iron Man 2 before finally making its full debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. It's also the Stone that's caused the most trouble on Earth so far. It was used by HYDRA to manufacture advanced weapons during World War II, before it fell into possession of S.H.I.E.L.D., who would also try to harness its energy. The real fireworks came during The Avengers, when Loki used Dr. Erik Selvig to harness the Space Stone's power and open a portal across space, allowing the Chitauri access to invade New York City and eventually conquer Earth. The Chitauri and Loki were defeated by The Avengers, and the Stone was returned to Asgard, where it sat in Odin's vault until the events of Thor: Ragnarok.

At some point during that film, Loki managed to steal the Tesseract, and Infinity War's trailers confirm that he has it in his possession. The same trailers also confirm a stone with the Tesseract's blue hue is on Thanos' gauntlet, which means Loki either parted with it willingly, or Thanos and his acolytes took it. Either way, at some point during Infinity War, Thanos gains possession of it.

Infinity Stones, The Mind Stone

The Mind Stone

Also known as: The Scepter

Powers: Capable of enslaving the minds of those who come in contact with it, imbuing humans with superpowers, enabling mental communication across long distances, and even creating sentience.

Last confirmed location: Vision's head

The Space Stone may have caused the most trouble in the MCU so far, but the Mind Stone may have had the greatest influence. It first appeared in The Avengers in the form of a scepter gifted to Loki by Thanos to help him in his conquest of Earth. Loki used it to both enslave minds (notably those of Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig) and communicate mentally with Thanos' servant The Other across space. In the midst of the Battle of New York, Black Widow was able to close the portal over the city by touching the Scepter to the Tesseract, essentially merging the power of two Infinity Stones (though she didn't know it at the time).

While the Tesseract fell under the protection of Asgard, the Scepter fell into the hands of HYDRA and Baron Strucker, who used it to give extraordinary abilities to Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.

When The Avengers retrieved the Scepter, Tony Stark opted to use it for further research into his developing artificial intelligence system known as Ultron. When Ultron became a renegade A.I., it absconded with the Scepter and attempted to use it to create a new, perfect body, a "Vision." Ultron broke the Scepter and freed the Stone within it, but the Avengers were able to activate the body (albeit accidentally) before he did, creating the sentient android we now know as Vision.

In its current state, the Mind Stone's full potential is unknown even to its bearer. All signs point to Thanos coming to look for it very soon, at which point we may find out just how well Vision can survive without the object that granted him life.

Infinity Stones, Reality Stones

The Reality Stone

Also known as: The Aether

Powers: The ability to warp reality itself at will

Last confirmed location: The Collector's collection on Knowhere

The Reality Stone is interesting in that we have rarely been shown it outside of its mutable liquid state known as The Aether, though Thor's visions of the Stones reveal that it is indeed capable of reverting or transmuting into Stone form. Because of its ability to plunge all of existence into darkness, the Aether was prized by the evil leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith. At least twice, he attempted to use the Aether to essentially remake or unmake reality. The first time he was defeated by Bor, Odin's father, and the Aether was hidden away.

The second time he was defeated again by Odin's son Thor, and the Aether was passed from the possession of the Asgardians into the hands of The Collector, with the explanation that Asagard already guarded The Tesseract, and it was too dangerous to keep two Infinity Stones together. Though The Collector's home on Knowhere was partially destroyed by another Infinity Stone during the events of Guardians of the Galaxy, as far as we know the Reality Stone is still in his keeping.

Infinity Stones, Power Stone

The Power Stone

Also known as: The Orb

Powers: The ability to manipulate energy and unleash enough raw power to destroy an entire planet

Last confirmed location: The Nova Corps vault on Xandar

The Power Stone's introduction to the MCU marked the first time the universe's characters actually spent much of a film referring to an Infinity Stone as an Infinity Stone, rather than simply a very powerful object with a different name. The Collector explains the origin of it, and the five other "singularities," midway through Guardians of the Galaxy, and from there all of the characters are very clearly racing for custody of the Stone rather than "The Orb." The revelation even leads to Ronan the Accuser's eventual betrayal of Thanos, who was trying to use Ronan to get the Stone without actually telling him what it was.

As part of its introduction, we get to see The Power Stone — being used by a massive Celestial being in flashback — essentially destroying the entire surface of a planet, mowing down everything living thing "like wheat in a field." Its raw power is made even clearer by the knowledge that even when joined together, a group of sentient beings can either be disintegrated or very nearly disintegrated by direct contact with it. By the end of that film, when Ronan attempts his invasion of Xandar, the stakes are clear: If Ronan can simply touch the Power Stone to the planet's surface, it's all over.

So, it's a good thing that, after Ronan's defeat, the Guardians turn the Stone over to Nova Prime, who locks it away in a vault on Xandar. Sadly, though, it's clearly one of two Stones on Thanos' gauntlet in the Infinity War trailers, so it seems Xandar — which lost a good portion of its Nova Corps military during Ronan's invasion — may be due for yet another attack.

Infinity Stones, Time Stone

The Time Stone

Also known as: The Eye of Agamotto

Powers: Capable of manipulating time on both a small and large scale

Last confirmed location Around Doctor Strange's neck in the New York Sanctum

The Time Stone, held inside the Eye of Agamotto, is the most powerful of the magical artifacts kept in the care of the Ancient One at the beginning of Doctor Strange. A fast learner who's keen to gain whatever skills he can to heal his wounded hands, Strange begins to study and eventually use the Eye, and proves himself to be a natural sorcerer. After the death of The Ancient One, Strange wields the eye in battle against Kaecilius and eventually the dread Dormammu himself.

The Time Stone is used to manipulate time, as Strange learns when he's able to use the Eye to take an apple from whole and fresh to rotting core and back again with a wave of his hand. By the end of the film, he's able to wield it to such a degree that he can reverse time, restoring the Hong Kong Sanctum and reviving his friend and colleague Wong. Then, in the ultimate display (so far) of The Time Stone's power, Strange traps Dormammu in a time loop that repeats every time Strange is killed, forcing the entity to eventually agree to leave Earth or face the same moment over and over for the rest of existence.

By the end of Doctor Strange, Strange agrees that he must continue his studies if he is to ever be the Eye's permanent keeper, and leaves the amulet in the Ancient One's former home of Kamar-Taj while he returns to live and work in the New York Sanctum. By the time of Thor: Ragnarok, though, Strange is wearing the Eye around his neck while at home in the Sanctum, so perhaps he's grown more confident with it in the intervening time. Or, perhaps he just happened to be using it that day. Whatever the case, the way to the Time Stone is through Strange, and Infinity War's trailers clearly demonstrate that the good Doctor is in grave danger.

Infinity Stones, The Collector, The Soul Stone

The Soul Stone

Also known as: No known alias

Powers: Exact abilities in the MCU unknown

Last confirmed location: Unknown

And now we come to one of the biggest questions looming over Infinity War: Where, and what, is the Soul Stone? It has yet to be introduced even as a powerful object with an alias, or if it has it's somehow been hiding in plain sight and fans have yet to spot it, which at this point seems unlikely. There are, of course, a number of fan theories, including the very popular notion that it's hidden within Wakanda, but at this point it's also possible that we won't even see this particular Stone until Avengers 4.

So, why all the mystery? Well, as Wong points out in the Infinity War Prelude comic, it's probably because the Soul Stone has the potential to be the most powerful of the six. Its exact properties and powers on the big screen are still unknown, but in the comics it's capable of doing things like trapping the souls of various beings within it, accessing the abilities of any soul it's trapped, and even gaining sentience and craving souls to the point that it compels its bearer to take them. It's possible that, in the hands of a skilled wielder, the Soul Stone could trap every member of the Avengers inside an idyllic world that they'd never be able to escape from, so it's bad news. Of course, in order to do something like that, Thanos has to find it first...