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What We Still Don’t Know About the Missing Infinity Stone

Let's hear from Black Panther's director, Ryan Coogler.

Black Panther and Thanos

[Black Panther spoilers!]

The mysterious orange Soul Stone remains missing in the Marvel universe.

Marvel watchers first thought we’d uncover the whereabouts of the Soul Stone in Thor: Ragnarok, and when it didn’t show up there, everyone was sure that meant it was in Wakanda and would make an appearance in Black Panther. Well, Black Panther is here, and there’s no visible Soul Stone in the movie. It turns out director Ryan Coogler very much wanted this to be the state of affairs.

Coogler told IGN:

“I love the Infinity Stones as much as any comic book fan, it’s just Wakanda already has its thing, which is Vibranium. For us, that was special enough, so to throw in something like another special thing didn’t feel right. It felt like we should stick with our one MacGuffin for the country and explore that, let that be the important thing because, frankly we didn’t need to have another piece like that,” Coogler explained, adding, “[Marvel Studios] never really was interested in putting a stone in there, either.”

This makes a lot of sense. Vibranium looms so large in Wakanda, infusing every aspect of its society, and playing a big role in the events of the movie (think how important the heart-shaped herb is, or T’Challa’s Shuri-designed vibranium suit) that to introduce another mysterious element might’ve distracted from vibranium’s importance. Black Panther was a largely self-contained movie, dealing with its own internal politics rather than the MCU’s, which is part of what made it so special. There’ll certainly be time for more world involvement from Wakanda considering how Black Panther ends, but I’m glad the movie wasn’t full of awkwardly shoehorned in Infinity War set-up references.

It’s also intriguing that Marvel didn’t push back on Coogler’s choices and “never really was interested” in the Soul Stone playing a part in Black Panther.  This means that for all our fan-generated guessing, the stone could remain a question mark until Infinity War, with its discovery playing a big part in the plot.

The Soul Stone, thought to be orange, has unknown and undefined powers in the MCU, since as far as we know, we haven’t seen it in play yet. This contrasts with the other Infinity Stones, some of which have been around for years in the movies (here’s a handy cheatsheet).

Of course, it’s certainly possible that the Soul Stone could be revealed to be in Wakanda in Infinity War. We know from the trailers that at least one epic battle takes place in Wakanda’s environs, with Thanos sending his outriders in against most of Team Cap, the Hulk, Black Panther, and Okoye (and possibly a lot more of our new Black Panther friends). On the other hand, Thanos could be after vibranium or Wakanda’s tech—or one of the Avengers who has a stone of their own (I see you, Vision)—or he could just be being a big purple menace for no greater reason than that.

There are also some theories regarding the Soul Stone that have been floating around both pre and post-Black Panther, like the assertion that the stone is in Wakanda, contributing the heart-shaped herb’s growth (since both T’Challa and Killmonger went on rather spiritual journeys after consuming it). But my favorite theory is that the stone somehow resides with Thor’s old pal Heimdall, giving him the power to see across the realms (and those orange-tinted eyes). However, if the Russos lay so much as a finger on Heimdall, they’ll be hearing directly from me.

(via IGN, image: Marvel)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.