Ever since the ending of The Avengers (2012) revealed Thanos to be the MCU's big bad, everyone's been talking about the Infinity Gems. Since then, the movies (which call them "stones") have slowly been revealing the location of each one, and almost all of them are accounted for. Of course, there's still a lot of mystery surrounding them. How exactly do they work? What happens when they're brought together? Who created them? Why were they almost all hidden on Earth, as opposed to somewhere safer? For the last six years, these questions have been plaguing fans.
The Infinity Gems first began appearing in the comics since the early '70s. Initially known as the soul gems, they were eventually revealed to be some of the most powerful, and dangerous, items in the universe. Simply being in possession of one gem grants the wielder unimaginable power. Putting all of the gems together turns the wielder into a god, capable of doing almost anything. Their powers barely have any limits. Writers don't often explore the details of these gems, and just focus on the chaos that their powers can cause. That being said, their history has been slightly revealed over the decades. Here are 15 Dark Secrets About The Infinity Gems.
15 THEY ARE THE RESULT OF A SUICIDE
The infinity gems are, not surprisingly, some of the oldest items in the universe. Their origins were shrouded in mystery until Thanos uncovered the truth. He revealed the story in Thanos Quest #2 (1990) by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim. Coming from before recorded time, the six stones were originally one entity. At the time, it was the only living thing in the entire multiverse. According to Thanos, this being may have been God.
It felt extreme loneliness, and decided to end its existence. The infinity gems were formed from this death. Each one encompassed an aspect of the being's immense power: soul, time, space, power, reality and mind. For eons, not even the elders of the universe knew the truth about these powerful, and destructive, items.
14 THEIR CREATION UNLEASHED THE DEMON HORDE
Before killing itself, the original being attempted to bring more life into existence. It separated parts of itself and gave them independent life. Unfortunately, the being had no knowledge of "good" and "evil," and didn't know to create life with a balance of the two. The resulting beings were pure evil, and had to be destroyed. When the being took its own life, these beings were brought back into existence.
The most well known of these beings is Mephisto, the Marvel Universe's version of the devil. The character first appeared in The Silver Surfer #3 (1968) by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Over the years, Mephisto has come into conflict with almost every Marvel hero. Most famously, he was responsible for the destruction of Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane.
13 THE LARGEST MASS MURDER EVER WAS CAUSED BY THEM
Once he discovered their true nature, Thanos went about collecting the gems. Once he obtained all six, he became one of the most powerful entities in all of reality. Not only was he granted the powers of all six gems, but by combining them, he had also become omnipotent. He briefly tested out his new powers and then committed one of the largest mass murders in all of comic book history.
In Infinity Gauntlet #1 (1991) by Jim Starlin and George Perez, Thanos killed half of the entire universe's population. With just a snap of his fingers, countless lives simply blinked out of existence. Luckily, a team of heroes from Earth, along with Adam Warlock, were able to confront Thanos and, after an incredibly deadly battle, undo the damage.
12 THE GAUNTLET WAS FORMED TO IMPRESS DEATH
Thanos first tried to use the infinity gems (then known as the soul gems) to extinguish every star in the universe in Avengers Annual #7 (1977) by Jim Starlin. This plan obviously didn't work, but it didn't deter Thanos (although he did temporarily die during the story's finale). He kept trying to woo her, doing anything he could to impress her.
Years later, when Death noticed an imbalance in the universe, she called upon Thanos. Her task was no simple one: she wanted him to kill half of the universe's population, bringing the balance of life and death back to its proper place. This is what led Thanos to gather the infinity gems, and form the infinity gauntlet for the first time. Even after all that, Death still wasn't impressed with Thanos.
11 THEY MUST EXIST
Obviously, the infinity gems are a huge threat. Just by existing, they place the entire universe in jeopardy. Reed Richards decided that they were too dangerous and called on his fellow Illuminati members to collect the gems in New Avengers: Illuminati #2 (2007) by Brian Bendis, Brian Reed and Jim Cheung. Mr Fantastic was joined by Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Black Bolt and Dr Strange on their own Infinity Quest.
The heroes are all nearly destroyed by the power of the gems, but are eventually able to successfully bring them together. Mr. Fantastic assembled the gauntlet and tried to will the gems out of existence. He's unable to do so, and The Watcher arrives and reveals that the gems must exist. They're then split up among the members of the Illuminati for safe keeping.
10 THERE WAS A HIDDEN 7TH GEM
Typically, holding all six infinity gems is considered a complete set. Thanos, who learned the secrets of the gems, only crafted six slots into the Infinity Gauntlet. There's a seventh gem, however, and it might be the most important. Known as the ego gem, it contains the essence of the original entity that the gems were born from. It had gone missing eons ago, but was eventually discovered in an alternate universe.
The seven gems were brought together in Avengers/Ultraforce #1 (1995) by Glenn Herdling, Angel Medina and M.C. Wyman (an inter-company crossover between Marvel and Malibu comics). Together again, the original entity reformed and became known as Nemesis. Fortunately, it was weakened due to the gems having expelled much of their energy whenever they were used, and the two teams of heroes were able to destroy the seventh gem.
9 THE GAUNTLET ISN'T PART OF THE GEMS
While the terms "infinity gems" and "infinity gauntlet" are often used to mean the same thing, they are actually very different. The gauntlet first appeared in Silver Surfer #44 (1990) by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim. Thanos had recently acquired all six of the stones, granted him immeasurable power. The gauntlet was created when Thanos placed the stones into his glove, allowing him to show off the source of his power.
Before the gauntlet, wielders of the stones tended to keep them implanted on their foreheads. While the gauntlet has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's been hinted that it might have an additional use. In the film universe, only a being of immense power can wield a stone without being destroyed, so it's possible that the gauntlet allows Thanos to properly channel the energy flowing through him.
8 THEY BRING OUT THE WORST IN PEOPLE
During an encounter with the Psycho Man, Sue Storm's dark side was given a life of its own. Calling herself Malice, she first appeared in Fantastic Four #280 (1985) by John Byrne. Sue eventually regained control of her body with the help of her teammates, and Malice was buried in her subconscious. It remained there until years later, resurfacing when Sue came into contact with the soul gem.
The incident occurred in Silver Surfer #15 (1988) by Steve Englehart and Ron Lim. Sue was helping the Silver Surfer retrieve the gems from a black hole in order to save Galactus. The world devourer was sick after consuming the Elders of the Universe, and only the gems could save him. Luckily, everyone was saved, including Galactus, although the events made the ones that took place in The Infinity Gauntlet (1991) possible, so it's a good news/bad news situation.
7 GALACTUS GETTING SICK SAVED THE GEMS
Speaking of the Galactus incident, it directly led to the creation of the Infinity Gauntlet. Previously, the Elders of the Universe had attempted to use the gems to kill Galactus in Silver Surfer #9 (1988) by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. Their plan didn't work, however, and it ended with Galactus consuming the Elders and the gems getting sucked into a black hole.
Unfortunately, the Elders couldn't die. Instead, they remained within Galactus, making him sick. As previously stated, the Silver Surfer took Reed and Sue Richards along with him into the black hole to retrieve the gems. This brought them back into the universe, allowing Thanos to gather them and bring about the events of The Infinity Gauntlet (1991), which is possibly the worst outcome ever.
6 THEY MADE EARTH A TARGET
During the Infinity (2013) storyline by Jonathan Hickman, an ancient race known as the Builders began tearing a path through the universe, destroying planet after planet. Earth seemed to be their ultimate target, so the Avengers took to space to wage a war. This left the Earth without most of its heroes. Once Thanos learned of this, he launched an invasion. He had been watching Earth because that was the last known location of the infinity gems.
Aside from the invasion, the biggest problem was that the gems had recently been destroyed (even though, as we previously stated, this should have been impossible). When the Illuminati learned of the incursions (alternate Earths appearing in the sky and crashing into their Earth), they tried to use the gauntlet to end the threat. While they were temporarily successful, the gauntlet and each of the gems was destroyed (except the time gem).
5 THE SOUL GEM HAS AN ENTIRE WORLD INSIDE OF IT
The soul gem was the first to appear in Marvel Premier #1 (1972) by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. It was used by the High Evolutionary while creating Adam Warlock. Wearing the gem on his forehead, Warlock noticed that it would often steal the souls of living things he encountered. The soul gem eventually absorbed Warlock as well.
Inside, he discovered a peaceful world. He also discovered other inhabitants like Gamora and Pip, the troll. Warlock remained within the gem until the events of the Infinity Gauntlet, when the Silver Surfer and Drax were absorbed into the gem. They all then escaped and helped defeat Thanos. Afterwards, Warlock ended up in possession of the gems, including the one that had temporarily held him as its prisoner.
4 THEY'RE SENTIENT
The gems aren't just the most powerful items in the universe, they're also sentient. Many who have wielded the gauntlet have felt the pull of the gems, which can sometimes counteract the wearer's own desires. While it's unclear what level of sentience the gems have, what is clear is that they have some sort of driving force.
Adam Warlock noticed during his early adventures that the soul gem would often collect souls all on its own. He was even able to communicate with the gem, which was aware of the existence of the other gems. Also, it seems that the gems have a desire to be together. In New Avengers: Illuminati #2 (2007) by Brian Bendis, Brian Reed and Jim Cheung, the time gem appeared on its own once the other five had been assembled. This most likely has something to do with the fact that we previously mentioned, which is that they used to be part of a separate being.
3 NEBULA SUFFERED MORE THAN ANY BECAUSE OF THEM
Since she appeared in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy (2015), Nebula's popularity has grown exponentially. The character's origins in the comics, however, is much different than her film origin. First appearing in Avengers #257 (1985) by Roger Stern and John Buscema, Nebula was a space pirate who came into possession of Thanos' ship during a period when the titan was dead. Nebula falsely claimed to be his granddaughter, which put her on Thanos' bad side when he returned.
To punish her, he used the infinity gems to turn her into a walking zombie. Nebula became a living corpse, with just enough life left within her so that she could suffer. She eventually restored her body when she was ablt to gain control of the Infinity Gauntlet for herself.
2 THEY ONLY WORK IN ONE UNIVERSE
If not for their power, the Infinity Gems would just be some shiny rocks. It turns out, that's exactly what they are in any universe outside of their home universe. It seems that most alternate realities have their own version of the gems, but they also seem to be tied to their home reality. It's a good thing that this is how things work, too.
During the JLA/Avengers (2003) by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, Darkseid came into possession of the Gauntlet. Luckily, this was on his homeworld in Apokolips, within the DC Universe. The gems had no power there, and Darkseid had no use for them. Considering that Thanos is kind of a "Darkseid"-lite, something worse than the death of half the universe would've happened.
1 NOT EVEN THE ELDERS OF THE UNIVERSE KNEW OF THEIR POWER
For eons, the Infinity Gems remained a mystery, even to some of the most powerful beings in the universe. It wasn't until their origins were revealed to Thanos while he stared into the Infinity Well that they were revealed. Even then, only the mad titan knew the truth. He then went about gathering the gems, which were all in possession of some of the most powerful beings in the universe.
Thanos had to take on characters like In-Betweener, the Champion, the Gardener, the Collector, the Runner and the Grandmaster to get them. It was only through Thanos' cunning that he was able to defeat each of these beings. Part of the reason why he was able to succeed was because even these powerful beings had no idea about the truth of the gems. Had they, they might have banded together to keep Thanos from assembling the Gauntlet.