At the D23 Expo 2017, some fortunate fans were thrilled to get their first glimpse of footage from Avengers: Infinity War. Although no clips have gone online, descriptions have been circulating the internet, and we're excitedly trying to work out what it all means. The movie promises to be a cosmic battle like nothing Marvel's ever made before, with one scene even showing Thanos summon flaming comets from the heavens!
But even as we eagerly await Infinity War, one question is on everybody's lips: Where is the final Infinity Stone? The last remaining stone, the Soul Stone, has yet to be glimpsed. Chris Hemsworth recently teased that we'd see it soon, but frankly this is just common sense. We only have two movies to go before Infinity War — Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther — and it's got to show up in one of those films.
But did the Infinity War footage hint that the Soul Stone is in Wakanda, and will appear in Black Panther?
Here's The Evidence
Thanos is coming to Earth, and his focus is on gathering the Infinity Stones in order to form the Infinity Gauntlet. So far, set photos have suggested his agents are going to attack Earth in a focused attack, lashing out at those who possess the Infinity Stones. We've seen tantalizing hints that Doctor Strange, bearer of the Time Stone, will be defeated in New York. Meanwhile, earlier set photos in Edinburgh suggested that the Vision will be stalked by other members of the Black Order.
There's been increasing evidence that Wakanda would play a major role in Infinity War. A number of secondary characters from Black Panther have been confirmed to appear in Infinity War — including T'Challa's brother and sister — while there have been casting calls for what seemed to be Wakandan scientists and soldiers. Now, at last, we've had confirmation that Wakanda will stand against the forces of Thanos with the D23 footage showing Wakanda preparing to defend itself against the Mad Titan and his agents. One of those agents is an Outrider, a four-armed creature Thanos sends to seek out objects or people he wishes to acquire. There's only one reason the Black Order would single out Wakanda for both a reconnaissance mission and an attack; the Wakandans have something Thanos wants.
Fans had initially expected Infinity War to be inspired by Jim Starlin's classic Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, but that's actually looking increasingly unlikely. Instead, it seems as though Infinity War is more inspired by Jonathan Hickman's 2013 event miniseries, Infinity. In the build-up to this event, some of Earth's heroes had gathered as an 'Illuminati,' each member possessing an Infinity Stone. One was owned by the Black Panther, although it was lost in the run-up to Infinity.
In Infinity, an Outrider stalked the Illuminati in pursuit of Thanos's missing son, Thane. This was followed up by a massive attack by Thanos's forces, led by the Black Order. Believing the son to be in Wakanda, Black Dwarf led a precision strike against the African nation and the battle between Wakanda and the Black Order was one of the most exciting scenes in the miniseries. It transformed Wakanda's role in the comics. Although the Black Panther was able to repel the invaders, his nation was crushed and decimated, weakening his rule. Evidence is building that we'll actually see a version of this scene in Infinity War, and it would make sense for them to be invading because the Black Panther has the Soul Stone.
Why The Soul Stone Could Be In Black Panther
It's not too much of a stretch for the Soul Stone to be in Wakanda. Firstly, you have to remember that the fictional nation is tied to something profoundly alien. The nation flourishes precisely because it was the site of an ancient meteorite impact, leaving vast reserves of vibranium scattered across the country. Is it possible that, somewhere at the heart of the vibranium mine, the Wakandans found something else? Something alien? Something ancient? Is it possible that the meteorite itself contained an Infinity Stone?
Although the first trailer for Black Panther suggested we'd have a strong technological side to Wakanda in the Mcu, the country also has a mystical side. We know the film will show Black Panther undergo a mystical ceremony to take the kingship, one that seems to blend comic book lore with the legend of El Dorado. As part of this, we can presume T'Challa will enter the spirit world, and we may well get a nod to his communing with the Panther God. It would make sense for the Soul Stone to be the power behind this ritual. Meanwhile, we know T'Challa's priests and shamans will play a role in Black Panther, including his spiritual mentor, Zuri. Is it possible that Zuri, High Priest of the Panther Cult, is the bearer of the Soul Stone?
The comics have frequently shown the Wakandans to have a very different attitude to death. In fact, at the heart of Wakanda you have the Necropolis, the 'City of the Dead,' where the Black Panther can commune with the spirits (or soul) of those who previously bore the title. As a result, he's sometimes been referred to as the 'King of the Dead,' monarch of the City of Necropolis. There have even been hints that the MCU version of Wakanda has a non-Western attitude to death, too, with T'Challa noting in Captain America: Civil War:
In my culture, death is not the end. It's more of a stepping off point.
Up until now, most fans have been looking for the third Infinity Stone to appear in Thor: Ragnarok. It's mostly because of a popular fan theory that Marvel has hidden the Stones in objects associated with the acronym THANOS; as a result, fans have variously expected the Soul Stone to be associated with Heimdall, Hela, or even Thor's hammer. Personally, I've never found that fan theory to be particularly persuasive. It only works if you assume a literal reading for words like 'Tesseract' and 'Aether,' but assume the Eye of Agamotto is described as a 'necklace.' I wouldn't be too surprised if this fan theory is an example of our seeing a pattern that isn't there, and with strong evidence that Wakanda plays a major role in Infinity War, I strongly suspect we're looking to the wrong film for this final Infinity Stone.
If you still wish to believe in the THANOS theory, as several have commented on social media, the Soul Stone could easily be owned by the High Priest of Wakanda, or found in the City of Necropolis — which contains the Hall of the Dead.
We know this much for sure: the final Infinity Stone is either going to appear in Thor Ragnarok, or in Black Panther. Right now, the evidence is building that the Soul Stone may actually be on Earth, hidden by the people of Wakanda. If that's the case, then the Black Panther will find his nation becoming a target of the Black Order — and we may just get a remarkably faithful rendition of a beloved scene.