WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for A Wrinkle In Time, in theaters now.
Ava DuVernay’s whimsical adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle children's classic A Wrinkle in Time introduces a number of scientific and philosophical concepts that the protagonists of the story — Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin — must grasp in order to combat a growing darkness in the universe known as the IT. The title of the film refers to the most important of these ideas, the fifth-dimensional phenomenon known as a Tesseract. In this story, the characters use a Tesseract to travel to other planets and dimensions. This act is referred to as “tessering,” which is similar to folding space and time, or traveling through a wormhole.
Near the beginning of the film, Dr. Alexander Murry (played by Chris Pine) is giving a talk on his Tesseract theory to a large auditorium of his colleagues. He explains that quantum entanglement allows for the possibility of instantaneous interstellar travel without the need of a transport. He postulates that to utilize a Tesseract, you only have to tap into the right frequency. A little later the immortal being known as Mrs. Whatsit reaffirms to our protagonists that to “tesser” one only need find the correct frequency and have faith in who they are. We find out toward the end of the film that the vibrational wave needed to “tesser” is love.
Now, any Marvel fans worth their weight in Vibranium know the Tesseract plays a big part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is known as a Cosmic Cube in the comics. The extremely dangerous artifact made its feature debut in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, where it was utilized by the Red Skull to power his engines of war. It was later revealed this energy matrix encased one of the Infinity Stones (the Space Stone). In the comics, the Space Stones' equivalent, the Space Gem, allows users to teleport throughout space freely. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube and Space Gem are not one and the same; the Cube contains concentrated energies from a different dimension that can be employed to alter reality.
It's theorized the Red Skull was transported to a different dimension by the Tesseract at the end of The First Avenger, and the object was able to open a portal for the invading forces of the alien Chitauri to in The Avengers.
Following the events of Marvel's The Avengers, where the Tesseract played a central role in Loki's scheme, Thor returned with it and his brother to Asgard, where the powerful artifact was to remain for safekeeping. Before the destruction of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, Loki retrieved the Tesseract from Odin's vault, and can be seen holding it in the trailer for Avengers: Infinity War.
But while there are Tesseracts in both A Wrinkle In Time and Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are defined quite differently. However, as a MacGuffin, they serve a similar purpose: connecting dimensions.
Directed by Ava DuVernay from a script by Jennifer Lee, A Wrinkle in Time stars Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael Peña. It's in theaters now.