Read on only if you don't mind reading spoilers for the film.
The Infinity Stones are six mystic artifacts of great power that hold predominance over the universe.
The Red Skull claims that the Tesseract was one of Odin's crown jewels, and that it is an example of mythology and science being combined.
Nick Fury believed that the Tesseract was a source of unlimited power.
The Tesseract was used to create a portal that brought Loki to Earth, allowed Chitauri invaders to reach Earth, and later it was used to transport Loki and Thor back to Asgard. The Chitauri Scepter that was gifted to him by Thanos controls the minds of people affected by it's power. It was used by Loki on Clint Barton, a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and Erik Selvig during the events of the film.
In the prologue, Odin explains how the Aether was made by Malekith out of darkness. Sif and Volstagg bring the Aether to the intergalactic museum of The Collector, stating that it's unwise to keep two Infinity Stones in one place. The Collector utters the phrase "One down, five to go", speaking of the Infinity Stones.
The Chitauri Scepter is seen in the mid-credits sequence inside a HYDRA base headed by Wolfgang Von Strucker. They were doing a number of experiments with it, including experimentation on Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, which led to them having powers.
The Orb was found on the abandoned colony planet of Morag, found and kept by Peter Quill, until it was stolen by Nebula for Ronan the Accuser, who absorbed its energy, preparing to use it as a weapon in his genocidal destruction of Xandar. The Guardians managed to harness the energy of the Orb, channeling its energy through one another and ultimately using the power to kill Ronan. Afterwards, Nova Prime oversaw the locking of the orb within a secure vault.
The Mind Stone was revealed to be contained within the Chitauri Scepter and was used by Wolfgang von Strucker to experiment on the Twins. Later, it was placed within Vision's forehead. After the Avengers defeated Ultron, Thor decided to leave Earth to research the Infinity Stones. Meanwhile, Thanos had grown tired with the lack of progress in the destruction of Earth and decided to take matters into his own hands. He retrieved his Infinity Gauntlet and began to hunt for the Infinity Stones.
The time stone was stored in Wong's library inside of a capsule designed like an eye put on a necklace and would be used when it was opened by the wearer behind the forbidden rituals. It was used by Doctor Strange to replace a page in a book of rituals to investigate Kaecilius' plans and revealed that the Ancient One was drawing power from Dormmamu’s dimension. It was also used by Strange to reverse the destruction of Dormmamu and Kaecilius and to resurrect Wong. It was finally used to defeat Dormmamu by trapping him in a time loop created by Strange.
Thor had searched for Infinity Stones and was unable to locate them.
Then as Hela was walking in Odin's Vault, she pointed out the Tesseract was "not bad", making the only object in the vault that impressed her. Later, as Loki was about to summon up Surtur to cause Ragnarök, he passed by the Tesseract and took it from the vault.
The Mad Titan, Thanos, brandished a gauntlet created to harness the power of the Infinity Stones. Along with his children, the Black Order, he traveled to Xandar, decimating it to acquire the Power Stone. A week later he attacked the Asgardian ship, Statesman, killing half the population aboard. To stop the assault Loki gave him the Tesseract, which Thanos shattered to reveal the Space Stone inside. Thanos then killed Loki and left aboard the Sanctuary II to continue his mission.
Upon arriving at Knowhere, Thanos confronted the Collector for the Reality Stone, and used it to trick and capture his daughter, Gamora. Upon seeing her sister, Nebula being tortured by their father Gamora revealed the hiding space of the Soul Stone. Together Thanos and Gamora traveled to Vormir and confronted a wraith form of Red Skull who had been teleported to the planet over 70 years before after his brief contact with the Tesseract. Red Skull revealed the Soul Stone could only appear after one sacrificed the thing they loved most, claiming it was a trading of souls. A heartbroken Thanos threw his daughter over a cliff and she fell to her death. After a blinding light, Thanos awoke with the stone in his hand which he added to the gauntlet.
Meanwhile, Doctor Strange had continued to defend the Time Stone in the Eye of Agamotto and placed a spell protecting it. After a conflict with Cull Obsidian and Ebony Maw, Doctor Strange was captured and taken aboard their ship where he was tortured by Maw until he was rescued by Tony Stark and Peter Parker. The trio then traveled to Thanos' homeworld, Titan, and met with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
After a lengthy battle with Thanos, the group was defeated and Strange was forced to relinquish the Time Stone to Thanos in order to save Tony Stark's life. Thanos then used the gauntlet to teleport to Wakanda where, after he was severely injured by Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight, Vision and the Mind Stone were located.
At the Battle of Wakanda, Wanda Maximoff was forced to destroy the Mind Stone and the Vision as she held back Thanos. After briefly comforting a grieving Scarlet Witch, Thanos used the Time Stone to restore Vision. After ripping the Stone from his head, Vision died once again. Thor with his new weapon, Stormbreaker, attacked Thanos, injuring the titan. Not to be deterred, however, Thanos mocked Thor before completing his goal and snapping his fingers. Soon after, Thanos teleported away with his damaged gauntlet, having succeeded in his mission.
A few moments later, half the population of the universe began to disintegrate. Bucky Barnes, T'Challa, Sam Wilson, Wanda Maximoff, Groot, Mantis, Drax, Peter Quill, Stephen Strange and Peter Parker all suffered this fate along with Maria Hill and Nick Fury. Thanos reappeared on a quiet forested planet and watched the sunrise with a smile on his face.
Before the universe was created, the Infinity Stones existed as a singular force. Four Cosmic Entities created the stones: Death. Eternity, Entropy, and Infinity. Each of the stones possesses unique capabilities that have been enhanced and altered by various alien civilizations through the millennia.
Only beings of immense power can wield the stones, such as when the Celestials used the Orb to pass judgement on entire planets. Lesser beings are usually unable to grasp the full power of the stones and are destroyed by them when direct contact is made, such as the illness of Jane Foster when exposed to the Aether, the disintegration into Yggdrasil of Johann Schmidt by the Tesseract and the incineration of Carina by the Orb. Only once in recorded history has the power of all six stones been harnessed. This was achieved by six cosmic beings, each with one stone, linking themselves together. The effects were short-lived as the energy of the stones disintegrated all six beings after a few short moments.
Despite being referred to as "stones", the Infinity Stones appear in different shapes and states of matter. For example, the Tessaract appears to be almost glass like and the Aether has a liquid form. The Power Stone within the Orb is still in it's original stone form. It is possible that they were changed from that state of matter by those who used it such as Malekith with the Aether.
Each Infinity Stone has a different power. The Stones are as follows;
- Space Stone - Contained within the Tesseract.
- Power Stone - Contained within The Orb.
- Reality Stone - Aether.
- Mind Stone - Contained within the Chitauri Scepter and later Vision's forehead.
- Time Stone - Contained within the Eye of Agamotto.
- Soul Stone - Located on Vormir.
- Space Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (6 films)
- Mind Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (5 films)
- Reality Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (4 films)
- Power Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (3 films)
- Time Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (3 films)
- Soul Stone
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (2 films)
Behind the scenes
- In an in-depth interview with CraveOnline, Feige clarified that the Tesseract is the Space stone.
- In the comics, the Infinity "Stones" are referred to as the Infinity Gems.
- The post-credits scene in Thor: The Dark World reveals that the film's central weapon, the "Aether", is one of six "Infinity Stones", and that the Tesseract from the previous films Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers is another. It is also noted that it would be unwise to keep two of the stones in the same location.
- Kevin Feige has stated that one of the Infinity Stones will be featured in Guardians of the Galaxy stating: "You may see another infinity stone in Guardians and certainly fans of the comics know what one can do with all of those stones if, god forbid, they get them and with Thanos showing up at the end of The Avengers, he plays a part in Guardians and leads us towards at least one potential future."
- It is possible, if unlikely, that the Soul Stone could connect to Marvel hero Adam Warlock. Warlock's cocoon was briefly shown in Thor: The Dark World, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy, before being retconned and shown officially in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.