SPOILER ALERT: This article includes multiple spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Infinity Stones are powerful alien artifacts in the MCU. Six are known to exist. All contain or channel vast quantities of energy. They are inherently dangerous, and they will destroy most people who attempt to handle them directly. Technology can be used to harness their energy with much lower risk.
According to the Collector, the Infinity Stones are remnants of "singularities" that existed before the Big Bang. An ancient race of advanced aliens made them into artifacts of immense power. At least one of their uses was to cleanse planets of all life. These aliens appear to be the Celestials from the comics.
Known Infinity Stones
- The Tesseract is a glowing blue cube that was hidden on Earth by the Asgardians sometime in Earths' past. It was discovered by Hydra leader Johann Schmidt and used to power an assortment of high-tech weapons during World War II. It was eventually dropped into the Atlantic Ocean and later recovered by SHIELD. Loki attempted to recover it for an alien benefactor in return for being made ruler of Earth, but his plan failed, and the Tesseract was taken back to Asgard.
- The Aether is a reddish blob of fluid that Dark Elf leader Malekith sought to use to destroy the Nine Realms and return the universe to a state of complete darkness. He was defeated by Thor, and the Aether was taken to the Collector for safe-keeping.
- Ronan the Accuser, a Kree renegade, attempted to use an Infinity Stone (a glowing purple ellipsoid with no specific name given, called the "Orb" after its container) to destroy the planet Xandar. So far, it is the most dangerous to handle directly; one of the Collector's servants tried to use it, causing an immediate explosion that wrecked his museum. Ronan was able to hold it long enough to install it in his hammer, which allowed him to access some of its power safely. The Guardians were able to combine their wills to control it long enough to use its power to destroy Ronan. Following Ronan's defeat, it was put back in a container and stored in a vault in the Nova Corps headquarters on Xandar.
- The stone in the sceptre given to Loki by Thanos incorporated the Mind Stone (no other name specified). It is known to contain an advanced artificial intelligence and to be able to create persistent AIs apart from itself. The stone has since been incorporated into an android body created by Ultron. As Thanos presumably would not relinquish control of the Mind Stone lightly, it must have been necessary to the process Loki used to transported himself to Earth, which involved remotely forcing the Space Stone to open a worm hole that he could use to get there.
- The Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange appears to be a device for containing and controlling the Time Stone.
As noted, it is dangerous for a living being to directly handle an Infinity Stone. However, their power can be safely channeled through technological instruments. Arnim Zola was able to use machinery to siphon energy from the Tesseract and store it in "batteries" for use in weapons and vehicles. Ronan was able to attach the "Orb" to his hammer and manipulate its power indirectly without being harmed. Thanos has constructed a gauntlet into which he plans to install the stones; this gauntlet resembles one stored in the Asgardian weapons vault.
- There is some correspondence between the "Infinity Stones" and the "Infinity Gems" of Marvel comics. The full list of "Infinity Gems" includes Space, Time, Reality, Mind, Soul, and Power. The stones' color-coding in the MCU does not match that of the comics.
- According to Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, the "Orb" is the "Power Gem" from Marvel comics, and the Tesseract is the "Space Gem".
- Avengers: Age of Ultron confirmed that the stone stored in Loki's sceptre was the "Mind Stone".
- The "Infinity Gem" that corresponds to the Aether has not yet been identified, but based on what Malekith meant to do with it, it is probably the "Reality Gem".
- Based on the feats that Doctor Strange was able to perform using the Eye of Agamotto, the stone it contains is probably the Time Stone.
- The location of "Soul Stone" is currently unknown.