And clues from the comics and what it all means.
At long last, Avengers: Infinity War revealed the location of the final Infinity Stone, the orange Soul Stone. We’re going to break down how it was uncovered in the film and also explain what it can do based on what we know from the comics. For more on Infinity War, here’s why Banner and Hulk had that relationship in this movie.
Warning: full spoilers ahead!
It turns out that Gamora was sent on a mission to find the Soul Stone for Thanos years ago. After finding out where it was hidden, she lied to Thanos, saying she never found it in order to prevent him from completing the Infinity Gauntlet and carrying out his plan to kill off half the life in the universe. But Gamora let slip to Nebula that she knew its location. Thanos was able to hack a captured Nebula’s electronic components to learn of Gamora’s treachery, and then he tortured Nebula in front of Gamora until she agreed to take him to the Soul Stone.
It turns out that the Soul Stone was on a previously-unheard-of planet called Vormir. After journeying there, Thanos and Gamora are greeted by a cloaked figure who turns out to be the long-missing Red Skull. You’ll remember him as the villain in Captain America: The First Avenger who was teleported off into space by the Tesseract, which held the Space Stone. Somehow he wound up on Vormir and learned about how to access the Soul Stone, only he was unable to obtain it for himself. Red Skull explains how the Soul Stone has a certain “wisdom” about it that sets it apart from the rest. To get it, one has to sacrifice that which they love the most.
Thanos realizes he has to sacrifice Gamora, his favorite adopted daughter, in order to retrieve the Soul Stone. Gamora says that what Thanos feels for her has never been love, but he kills her anyway by dropping her off the nearby cliff. Apparently he did hold true love for Gamora, because after blacking out he awoke with the Soul Stone in-hand.
Curiously, after adding the Soul Stone to his Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos never uses its power like he does the others, so we never get to see what it does. The other stones are pretty self-explanatory, but it’s not quite clear what it means to use the power of the “soul.” That’s where we turn to the comics.
Red Skull alluded to how the Soul Stone was special, and indeed it is the most important and powerful of the bunch in the comics. It’s seen as the one stone that is a step above the others; the crown jewel of the Infinity Gauntlet, if you will. That’s because it can affect the souls of beings living and dead. Steal them, control them, change them – you name it. It essentially has the ability to control all beings in the universe by tapping into the very essence of life itself.
And if that wasn’t enough power, the Soul Stone is the gateway to a pocket universe within the stone called the Soul World. That’s right, there’s a whole world inside the Soul Stone with an idyllic landscape where trapped souls reside.
(Note that the Infinity Stones were called Infinity “Gems” in the comics, but we’re going to just call them “stones” for clarity’s sake.)
In the Infinity Gauntlet comic that heavily inspired the story of Infinity War, cosmic hero Adam Warlock has a special bond with the Soul Stone. He even existed inside its Soul World for years before he left to battle Thanos and stop him from wreaking havoc on the universe with the completed Infinity Gauntlet. (You won’t be seeing Adam Warlock in the Avengers movies because director James Gunn revealed he’s being saved for a different kind of role in the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie.) A twist in the story saw Nebula take the gauntlet from Thanos and use its power with reckless abandon. Adam wound up being the one who saved the universe when he went back inside the Soul Stone and used his connection with it to influence the other stones and separate Nebula from the gauntlet, which allowed him to put it on and restore peace to the universe.
So as you can see, the Soul Stone has dominion over the other stones and can do all sorts of things they can’t. That leads us to our theory that we’ll learn a whole lot more about the Soul Stone in the next Avengers movie that hits in 2019, which is where we’ll see the end of the story that began in Infinity War. What if all of the people who were turned to dust by Thanos weren’t killed… but had their souls transported to the Soul World inside the Soul Stone? That way, they aren’t actually “dead” dead and can be rescued by the Avengers, thus bringing them back to the land of the living. As for how they’re going to do that, well, it’s hard to say, but at least the Soul Stone provides one possible way for them to undo Thanos’ master plan.
What do you think of our theory? Let us know in the comments. Also be sure to check out our review of Avengers: Infinity War:
For more on Avengers: Infinity War, check out our ending explained feature, explainer on the film’s post-credits scene, theories on whether the movie’s deaths are permanent, and all the easter eggs and references we spotted. Plus find out how its Rotten Tomatoes score compares to other MCU movies, learn what Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige had to say about how the next Spider-Man movie will be a return to “normal life” following Avengers 4, and find out why Bruce Banner can’t change into The Hulk in Infinity War.
And if you need cheering up, watch Spider-Man’s Tom Holland and Doctor Strange’s Benedict Cumberbatch interview each other, learn about all the MCU rumors that turned out to be false, and discover whether future Marvel movies will movie away from adapting existing comics’ stories.