Avengers: Infinity War – Infinity Stones Symbolism

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[Beautiful.] The Marvel Cinematic Universe is tied together through its characters, stories and themes
— but underlying all that, there are six mysterious objects driving all this crossover — the infinity stones. [Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots. Infinity Stones.] In the Marvel comics, they’re called Infinity Gems, and the first appeared in 1972 in Marvel Premiere #1. The plot of Avengers: Infinity War revolves around the stones to an unprecedented degree, the movie is about the threat of supervillain Thanos capturing all the stones and putting them in the Infinity Gauntlet to achieve limitless power. So apart from their centrality in the plot, what’s the larger significance of the infinity stones, and why are they so central to so many movies in the MCU? [Do you know, I don’t know what this is? Not really. I know it’s not of this world, that it powered Loki’s staff, gave you your abilities. But its true nature is a mystery.] Before we go on, if you’re new here be sure to subscribe and click the bell to get notified about all of our new videos. Infinity Stones essentially represent different kinds of power and control — over time, over space, and more. All of the stones have powers that seem very attractive, but they’re usually associated with the potential to do enormous harm. [This is the Tesseract. It has the potential energy to wipe out the planet.] The characters who care most about the stones and actively seek them out tend to be villains. So there’s an implication that the quest for power itself is innately destructive. The mere existence of the Infinity Stones causes problems in the MCU — that’s why Captain America seems to think that no one should have the Tesseract. [Is there anything you can tell us about the Tesseract that we ought to know
now?] [You should have left it in the ocean.] And it’s the same reason Thor wants to destroy the Aether. [When Malekith pulls the Aether from Jane, it will be exposed and vulnerable, and I will destroy it and him.] The stones raise questions about whether a huge amount of concentrated cosmic power is ever a good thing, no matter whose hands it’s in. [The Tesseract is where it belongs: out of our reach.] This is symbolized in the way that a normal person can’t take touching the Infinity Stones — as if they’re not meant to be held at all, certainly not by us mortals. [These stones, it seems, can only be brandished by beings of extraordinary strength.] Still, the stones aren’t intrinsically evil. [The Tesseract could be the key to unlimited sustainable energy. That’s something the world sorely needs.] In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill uses the Power Stone or Orb to destroy Ronan
— obviously it’s a destructive action, but it’s a very positive one because he’s saving innocent people from
Ronan. [If Ronan gets this stone, he’ll kill us all.] So what really matters is the true nature of the person wielding the stone, and how they choose to use its raw power Now let’s look at the deeper meaning of each Infinity Stone’s name, history, and function. The Space Stone is better known as the Tesseract. [The Tesseract was the jewel of Odin’s treasure room.] In Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull and Dr. Zola use the Tesseract to create weapons. [The energy we have just collected could power my design, all my designs. This will change the war.] Then in The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D wants to use it to build weapons of their own, and despite their good intentions, they do harm. [Your work with the Tesseract is what drew Loki to it, and his allies. It is the signal to all the realms that the earth is ready for a higher form of war.] This recurring association with weapons links the Space Stone to war, which is inherently about negotiating the spatial boundaries between different nations or realms. Nick Fury’s impulse to use the Tesseract comes from seeing too many superheroes and supervillains clashing, taking over the space of the world, and making regular people their casualties
— so this suggests that the Space Stone could be thematically related to the way that big players monopolize space to the detriment of everyone else. [The world’s filling up with people who can’t be matched, they can’t be controlled.] The name of “the Space Stone” becomes
literal when Loki uses it to open a portal to space. The event makes us think about just how much dangerous power the Tesseract bestows by giving control over infinite space. So the message of the Space Stone may be that there’s a reason we have boundaries and limitations in space. Certain boundaries shouldn’t be crossed. The Reality Stone is also called the Aether. [While the other relics often appeared as
stones, the Aether is fluid and ever changing.] The Aether’s fluid form plays on its similarity to a virus that feeds on life. [It changes matter into dark matter and seeks out host bodies, drawing strength from their life force. Malekith sought to use the Aether’s power to return the universe to one of darkness.] This virus quality is made explicit when the Aether infects Jane. The Aether’s power over Jane reveals that these magical things from the superhero
universe have physical effects in our regular world. The situation reminds us of something Thor says to Jane in the first Thor. [Your ancestors called it magic, and you call it science. Well, I come from a place where they’re one and the same thing.] Jane is an astrophysicist and an academic, a very realistic person, so it’s significant that she has to make sense of this supernatural force overtaking
her. The Reality Stone symbolically gets at how our reality is shaped by bigger, cosmic unknowable forces — even if we can only parse that reality through scientific or practical means. Reality isn’t just the things we understand — there’s a lot more out there than we can ever really grasp. We can also read into the Reality Stone’s fluidity as implying that reality is ever-changing, not as solid or fixed as we tend to think. The Power Stone is also called the Orb, because of the Orb-like container that holds it. The Orb is essentially raw power that can exploding all organic matter. [The stone reacts to anything organic. The bigger the target, the bigger the power surge.] Villains lust after this stone because they want power over others, power to obliterate others — Ronan is determined to annihilate Xandar because he hates Xandarians. [You Xandarians and your culture are a disease.] But the symbolism at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy speaks to what true power is — Peter can hold the stone while holding hands with his friends. [You’re mortal! How?] So the scene suggests the real “power” in the MCU is a collective of friends working together for the good of the people. Of course, in the sequel it’s revealed that Peter is only half human, so that may be the more literal reason why he can touch the stone without dying. The Mind Stone is associated with, of course, the mind and intelligence. We see it used both for good and evil, so it embodies the duality of these Infinity Stones — how they can be used either for destructive or constructive purposes. The Mind Stone specifically represents the
way that we can use our intelligence to do bad, self-serving things, or to create something positive and beautiful. So intelligence itself is amoral. The stone actually appeared in The Avengers without viewers knowing it — it was in Loki’s sceptre all along. Loki uses the sceptre to control people’s
minds and get what he wants. Once Tony Stark gets a hold of it, he tries to use the stone to create the A.I. Ultron which backfires spectacularly. But later on the stone is used to create the new Avenger Vision, and the stone is even implanted in Vision’s forehead. [It’s one of the six Infinity Stones, the greatest power in the universe, unparalleled in its destructive capabilities.] So throughout the MCU we see the power of applied intellect fighting for both the good and evil sides. Intelligence doesn’t about the motives or intentions of the players who wield it. The Time Stone is inside the Eye of Agamotto, and its function is to control time. Thematically, the stone ties into Dr. Strange’s feeling that he’s running out of time. In the larger MCU context, the Time Stone also represents the race against time. It’s a trope of most superhero movies, but Marvel heroes especially grapple with
this in their personal lives. [Where in the world am I not a threat?] [You’re not a threat to me.] [You sure? Even if I didn’t just… there’s no future with me.] Strange uses the Time Stone to trap the villain Dormammu in a time loop, even though he has to sacrifice himself. [Then you will spend eternity dying.] [Yes, but everyone on earth will live.] And this selfless action shows how far he’s evolved from the arrogant, legacy-obsessed character he was at the beginning of the film. In the end, Dr. Strange has to stop trying
to fight or go back in time to become his previous
self — the lesson is we must look forward and learn how to use our time well. Infinity War debuts the final infinity stone: the Soul Stone. Leading up to the release of Infinity War, many theories circulated around the Soul Stone
— like the idea that to get it you’d have to kill someone you love, that the stone has been in Wakanda, or that it was in Thanos’ homewolrd of Titan. These theories speak to the mystery surrounding the Soul Stone and how fans have created a mythology around it. The first decade of the MCU culminates with finally revealing the Soul Stone, implying that it’s the most important stone
of all. The Soul Stone being the most significant symbolizes that, in this world of superheroes, humanity, or the human soul, is still the most powerful magic. In the comics, the Soul Stone is sentient and has the power to possess a person’s
soul, living or dead; and it hungers for more souls. So the Soul Stone is also incredibly dangerous because it can take away the most important thing we have, which is our souls, our very selves — again demonstrating that these stones represent a cosmic power no individual should really have. The infinity stones are classic MacGuffins
— Guardians of the Galaxy actually jokingly acknowledges this. [So, this orb has a real shiny blue suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon sort of vibe. What is it?] MacGuffin is a term coined by Alfred Hitchcock that refers to an object or objective that drives the plot, but could ultimately be replaced by anything else and it wouldn’t make much difference to the audience. So the Infinity Stones are MacGuffins in the sense that, in most of the plots, the stone could be replaced by some other object everyone is trying to get, and the story wouldn’t really change significantly. What’s really interesting and innovative about the Infinity Stones as MacGuffins is the fact that they aren’t just plot devices within one story — they’re objects that tie together many stories. They bring multiple stories into one interconnected universe, through these objects that embody a shared purpose and conflict for the characters of different movies. So the infinity stones are actually a kind of mega-Macguffin. They structure the overarching story of the
MCU in a way that has never been done before, at least not with such scale. In Hitchcock’s view, the audience shouldn’t care at all about the MacGuffin. [It’s always called the thing that the characters on the screen worry about but the audience doesn’t care.] But in our MacGuffin video we talked about how George Lucas reimagined the MacGuffin as something viewers actually do care about and invest in — like the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark. So the Infinity Stones are more of a Lucas MacGuffin in that — as we’ve seen — they do have deeper symbolic meaning, and fans clearly care about what the stones intrinsically are. Even though there’s a lot we don’t know about the Infinity Stones, they matter to us because they get at the overarching themes and challenges of this universe and they tie the characters together through a common purpose. And they’ve successfully driven the Marvel story forward for years, culminating in Infinity War’s marking the close of the first decade of the
MCU. [You have never seen this, have you?] [It’s not for the eyes of ordinary men.] [Exactly.] It’s Debra. And Susannah. You’re watching ScreenPrism. Thank you guys so much for watching. If you like this video, please subscribe for more insights about all of your favorite movies and shows. Down here.

 

100 Responses

  1. The Take

    April 24, 2018 10:00 pm

    Support ScreenPrism on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=7792695
    Subscribe to keep up with our latest videos, and let us know what you want to see next!

    Reply
  2. PD Zombie

    April 25, 2018 3:45 am

    This was a great video to prepare to Infinity War, not only explaining how the stones are a McGuffin, but also explainning what that is and their meaning in the MCU!!! Thanx, Girls.

    Reply
  3. Trey

    April 25, 2018 4:24 am

    This was an original and refreshingly engaging analysis on the MCU. Thanks for all the great content!

    Reply
  4. Palindrome

    April 25, 2018 4:55 am

    Man am I glad I watched this before Infinity War. You guys are great, thank you so much for this!

    Reply
  5. swanpride

    April 25, 2018 12:13 pm

    Great video!

    Interestingly, the Infinity stones aren't really the McGuffin in half of the movies, because in order to be the McGuffin, both the villain and the hero has to be interested in it, but this is most of the time not the case, they are just a tool to be used, ie in Doctor Strange of The First Avenger. They are basically a McGuffin for Infinity war set up far in advance.

    Reply
  6. Ahmad Kinan

    April 25, 2018 2:59 pm

    SPOILER ALERT
    Red skull was thrown to a planet after touch the tesseract, at the planet he found the another infinity stone, that is soul stone, he can't get it bcs, soul stone needs Sacrifices, and thanos can get the soul stone bcs he killed gamora, ppl who he loves, BTW vision, wanda, spidey, tchalla, quill, drax, manthis, groot, dr.strange, and a half of universe is died, and thanos unbeatable yet, maybe in avengers 4 he gonna beatable, who knows

    Reply
  7. anthony howard stark is alive after endgame

    April 25, 2018 10:35 pm

    Everyone: posting Infinity War spoilers left and right despite the Russos' warning
    Me: aaaaaAAAAAAAaaHhhhhHHhhh

    Reply
  8. Andrew Farmkid

    April 26, 2018 10:24 am

    T – Teserract
    H – i really don't know why they didn't
    A – Aether
    N – Neclace
    O – Orb
    S – Scepter

    Reply
  9. Xyvier Lau

    April 27, 2018 8:44 am

    Soothing voice, awesome scripts filled with information in and out of topic, like the macguffin theory that u will never find in any other mcu analysis videos on youtube, which explains the fundamental idea behind the one-decade series.

    Reply
  10. Coola Pulense

    April 27, 2018 9:25 am

    T – Tesseract
    H – ??
    A – Aether
    N – Necklace
    O – Orb
    S – Scepter

    Please someone tell me what is for H

    Reply
  11. Jeremy JMIAH Williamson

    April 27, 2018 8:11 pm

    Thanos was the protagonist who went through the #HerosJourney whereas The Avengers were more like the antagonists.

    Reply
  12. joe cool

    April 29, 2018 6:11 am

    Can you do a side by side comparison between Loki and Jamie Lanister? Antagonists that we don't hate

    Reply
  13. Daniel Dan

    April 30, 2018 12:02 am

    My only problem with the mcu is that they don't show how the common man tries to comprehend all the world ending events and the existence of powerful beings.People in the mcu must be going insane on a daily basis.

    Reply
  14. Kazually Keziah

    April 30, 2018 9:14 pm

    Gotta say, I really enjoy watching this channel. I love seeing a channel about movies and tv and general nerd culture all headed by two women. As someone who makes these videos too, it makes me very happy and inspired.

    Reply
  15. originaluddite

    May 3, 2018 1:30 pm

    I'm wondering about the interaction of the Infinity Stones and the danger of ever having them together. Way back in Thor 2 we see (in an end-credits scene) the Asgardians giving the Reality Stone to the Collector, arguing that they already have the Space Stone and wish them to be apart. Now, in Avengers Infinity War, one of the Guardians mentions that giving a stone to the Collector was a stupid move because his facility is far from secure. However, Thor replies that it might have been the act of a genius. The order to give it to the Collector was presumably given by Odin or, hold on, maybe Loki masquerading as Odin, and I'm wondering if there's some tricky scheme behind that. Anyone got any insights into this?

    Reply
  16. Philip J.

    May 4, 2018 4:33 am

    I feel that these types of videos elevate myself from being a regular fan, to an educated fan that can look deeper than the flashy cinematography and action scenes. Always enjoyable to watch – keep it up!

    Reply
  17. Gio Mag

    May 4, 2018 3:16 pm

    I just watched the Infinity Wars and it certainly does NOT look as if the Soul Stone is the most important one.
    Yes, difficult sacrifices are made, but the stone seems just another "checkmark". Every stone had a pretty much defined purposed and function, whereas the soul stone was just another "got it!" inconsequential achievement on the way to power. At least that's how I've perceived the movie.

    Reply
  18. Alberto Lapizco

    May 5, 2018 9:41 pm

    Espero que entiendas el español, pero siempre veo tus vídeos de Got y de Marvel, Son perfectos!

    Reply
  19. Adam Niswender

    May 6, 2018 4:35 pm

    Debra and Susannah are both seriously beautiful. I cant help myself I had to say something. I think I have a crush.

    Reply
  20. Aaron Warren

    May 6, 2018 9:49 pm

    Best damn analysis of the Infinity Stones in the MCU on Youtube! I've sent this video to friends before they saw INFINITY WAR to catch them up on things. It's also nice to see your comments on the Stones as a "Mega-MacGuffin", and how the MacGuffin idea has evolved over time. It reminds me of the Russos commenting on Bucky in THE WINTER SOLDIER, that the "Winter Soldier" was like a "living MacGuffin" that viewers can actually care about and invest in, and that viewers can fear and/or love.

    Love the channel, y'all do great work, and keep on doing great work!

    Reply
  21. Earl Huffington

    May 7, 2018 2:32 am

    With all the stones thanos probably could have split the main mcu universe into two and put half the population in each. Less of a dick move.

    Reply
  22. Grace Dowez

    May 7, 2018 7:36 am

    I think that their deaths through disintegration is not coincidental. In the beginning of the Christian Bible, God "breathed" life (a.k.a. gave a soul/spirit) into dust, thus creating the first human. God then placed that human into a Garden of Eden.
    Ironic how it becomes the reverse, where Thanos (his name literally meaning God of Death) takes life, and people disintegrate into dust. Then we see Thanos in a sort of paradise (Garden of Eden) with no people seen yet.

    Reply
  23. WeedyistFlame420

    May 7, 2018 2:20 pm

    No offense, corporeal beings, I assumed you were just lovely voices until I saw the end:p

    Reply
  24. KF Jacky

    May 8, 2018 5:06 am

    @screenprism

    Very informative and insightful video. I would also like to add two more things.

    The red skull was trying to conquer the world in the name of hydra. Essentially have all nations or "space" under one rule. And he was "cursed/punished" for seeking that by the very same space stone he was using to fulfill his goal of world domination.

    Intelligence is amoral and tony stark is the most intelligent person in the MCU. He's a genius and was also known to be amoral before his "heart condition". Amoral or a lack of "heart" to influence decisions, and later with an "artificial heart" or the arc reactor that was a turning point in his life. So when loki tried to influence him with the mind stone that represents unbiased intelligence, it couldn't influence tony because of his arc reactor / "artificial heart" . But that's also a nice passive way to imply that the stone that influences intelligence couldn't influence tony's mind as he is one of the most intelligent human on planet earth.

    What do you think?

    @screenprism.

    Reply
  25. Sara Bestea

    May 9, 2018 10:39 pm

    I just came home from the cinema a few hours ago and had the chance to see your video. Loved it, as usual! I haven't watched all movies so your video was really helpful and insightful 🙂

    Reply
  26. Shawn Smith

    May 10, 2018 10:22 am

    A key component to the MacGuffin is that there is little or no narrative explanation of the object in question. The infinity stones are not only explained at length but quite often perform a specific function that drives the plot more than merely by the desire of its acquisition. The time stone in particular is an excellent example of how the infinity stones simply don't fit the MacGuffin definition. In Doctor Strange, the time stone is never pursued by any of the parties. It is used by Doctor Strange in the resolution of the climax of the film, but never fills the classic MacGuffin role.

    Reply
  27. Simple1DEA

    May 13, 2018 9:15 am

    Time is connected to mortality in Doctor Strange. To master time is to master your own mortality

    Reply
  28. darkmatter 1

    May 14, 2018 9:19 pm

    They should introduce a 7th stone, the gravity stone, as it would give the remaining avengers a fighting chance and would allow whoever uses it to manipulate time as gravity distorts space – time.

    Reply
  29. star_shopping

    May 15, 2018 8:52 pm

    I don’t know why but these videos almost bring me to tears, not just this one but most of the videos on this channel. I love the voice and the way you express yourself. Definitely my fave movie/series channel, keep it up 🙂

    Reply
  30. Nasilele Lisselo

    May 18, 2018 10:08 am

    McGuffin: "the McGuffin in this intriguing comedy is an unpublished novel by a young soldier killed in the war"
    When Marvel decided that Captain America is a the first avenger instead of Thor, it turned the whole story into a military fantasy drama thus every superhero was a deity soldier. To tell this story a McGuffin was needed to drive the plot. A McGuffin an object or device in a film or a book which serves merely as a trigger for the plot. So that's what triggered the tale thus the story ends with the best soldier THANOS in infinity war. As quoted above, the for instance, from that example a pattern was forge that governs the story theme which later became the MCU. In Nordic or Scandinavian society there is a way of life a law called Janteloven or as the Danish would say Law of Jante, just like the McGuffin it too originated from a Novel or a credo of literature and it set social codes that made that society so idyll. It's not the stones that truly tie the MCU together but how they chose soldiers instead of scientists to tell the Marvel broader story. As Drax might ask 'Why Gamora?' (a space soldier) not scientists (Professor Charles Xavier, Doctor Doom, Reed Richards, T' Challa, Henry Pym) weren't a standpoint to tell the story but Steve Rogers super soldier serum took the core? The answer is Stan Lee, Super Soldier Serum reads like John Jonah Jameson A.K.A. J. Jonah Jameson or JJJ another example Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, Bucky Barnes, Steven Strange and so on. It is from this naming tradition that the chose the super soldier serum wielder instead of the concoctor. In essence the MCU is a user story. If D.C. can learn from my thesis and that of ScreenPrism video essay they can tell a story of the concoctor or scientist which is essentially is a D.C. story, their McGuffin can be the cities the superheroes live in e.g. Jump City, Central City, Gotham City, Metropolis, etc. No wonder Smallville was a hit, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman too are their respectful blockbusters because they explored a new world and the stories focused on world building.

    Reply
  31. Yello Duzzit

    May 22, 2018 12:09 pm

    Macguffin is evolving…
    Its MegaMacguffin!!!
    MegaMacguffins info will be added to the pokedex
    Do you wanna give a nickname to MegaMacguffin?
    MegaMacguffin was sent to Bills PC

    Did I go to far? Hahha

    Reply
  32. Raul Gonzalez

    June 17, 2018 6:41 pm

    In Sonic case in the comics and cartoon those chaos corks are same they have different properties they have and that will be true evensong dragonballs Baptist Dragon Ball Z macguffins as the Dragon Balls these Dragon Awards have a consequence of the Super Dragon the classic one there orbs are size of planets well big McGuffin to see that one is a good crossover.

    Reply
  33. diego soltero

    July 17, 2018 7:43 am

    I always thought of the orb as a symbol of destruction being a fundamental law of nature and that when mortals try to control and contain forces of nature…bad things happen

    Reply
  34. IAtIA LoVE

    August 21, 2018 11:04 pm

    the stones are the sacred geometrical shapes. the math that brought about all material. the ether is just that. the melanin of the universe that births all things seen thru the unseen.

    Reply
  35. Stephanie Rusli

    August 31, 2018 4:06 am

    …And why in this vast universe most of the stones are on earth? 🤔 ie: tesseract, mind, and aether

    Reply
  36. TIGER 2354

    September 9, 2018 7:46 am

    That theory of the Soul Stone being obtained after sacrificing someone you love has been confirmed in Infinity War and you should receive a pat on the back for being proven right

    Reply
  37. Trustin Dean

    September 25, 2018 11:42 pm

    the infinity stones are also the good kind of macguffin because whoever is in possession of them currently can bend the narrative of the story to their will. Beloved characters can die from it, significant plot details can be rewritten, and they have a constantly evolving location relevant to the characters searching for them, exchanging hands frequently but by that reasoning also changing who is in control.

    In a way they tie into the greater power struggle in the MCU. Each time a villain gets an Infinity Stone the villains advance and the same goes for the heroes and until one side possesses all of them the fate of all of the characters we've grown attached to is up in the air.

    Reply
  38. JazzyJake

    November 17, 2018 2:27 pm

    I'm on board with most of your videos, but I feel like this one is over analyzing. Stan Lee probably just wanted to create something that sounded cool

    Reply
  39. Cesar Moreno

    December 12, 2018 8:50 am

    You guys are so much better than comparable channels. Feels more personal somehow. Like you're actually Youtubers and not some giant content thieving channel like looper etc

    Reply
  40. The Ranger

    January 28, 2019 2:31 am

    3:39 space stone. Tesseract. blue. Control space, location. (Odin's treasure/ hydra's+shield's tool/ Loki had it/Thanos)
    5:14 reality stone. Aether, red. Controls reality, matter. (Malekith's tool/ Collector on knowhere's treasure/Thanos)
    6:43 power stone. Orb. violet. Controls physical force. (Ronan's tool/protected by Nova corp/Thanos)
    7:40 mind stone. yellow. Controls intelligence. (Loki's staff/ultron/vision/Thanos)
    8:46 time stone. Eye green. Controls time. (Agamotto, Dr. Strange's treasure/Thanos)
    9:50 Soul stone. orange. Controls souls, life. (Red skull guards it/Thanos)

    Reply
  41. SmasherBoy

    April 4, 2019 1:23 pm

    The MCU hasn't really fleshed out what each stone does.

    Like in Infinity War, when Thanos used the Reality Stone to kill Drax and Mantis. Then when he leaves the space they return to normal. Its a bit weird aha

    Reply
  42. coreyoz

    August 6, 2019 8:12 am

    I LOVE that women are at the forefront (and undoubtedly the background as well) of film and cultural analyses. Offers a fresh take on objectivity. Please keep up the fine work.

    Reply
  43. Michelle Marquez

    August 22, 2019 4:23 am

    OMg you guys are so smart like wth you guys just have so many ways to see through stuff and find theyre true meaning

    Reply

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