There's only two more Marvel Cinematic Universe movies left to go until the epic crossover events of Avengers: Infinity War: Thor Ragnarok this fall and Black Panther early next year.
At the same time, there is still a major puzzle piece that has yet to fall into place before Thanos can assemble the all-powerful weapon known as The Infinity Gauntlet: The Soul Stone. Five Infinity Stones have already been revealed (Space, Reality, Power, Mind, Time), but the Soul Stone has a unique power over forces like life, death - and even what comes after death.
It's that particular power that has led to a lot of fan speculation about where and how the Soul Stone will appear in the MCU. With only two films left to go before Infinity War, there are two competing theories about the subject.
The question is: Will it be Thor: Ragnarok or Black Panther that reveals the MCU Soul Stone?
There are two main theories about how the Soul Stone could factor into the plotline of Thor: Ragnarok:
Hela - Cate Blanchette's Hela is a self-described "Goddess of Death" in the MCU. As the ruler of the realm of Hel, and the souls that reside there, some fans think that Hela's power source is the Soul Stone. After Ragnarok, it's speculated that Hela could ally with Thanos, donating the Soul Stone to The Mad Titan's cause as a show of good faith.
Heimdall - A competing theory for Thor: Ragnarok is that Idris Elba's Heimdall is the secret protector of the Soul Stone. It's explained that Heimdall's power to look upon every living being in the nine realms comes from the Soul Stone. Ragnarok trailers have shown Heimdall seemingly holding up in the Asgardian wilderness, avoiding Hela's forces; could he be keeping the Soul Stone out of her hands? Is the stone the film's major MacGuffin? It's definitely possible.
Likelihood - It's highly possible that the Soul Stone is a major subplot of Thor: Ragnarok. There's a lot of room for the Soul Stone to fit in the events of Thor 3 sensibly and organically, but it's not full necessary. For one thing, there's already one Infinity Stone that will be dealt with to connect Ragnarok to Infinity War, since the Tesseract is still being held on Asgard. Furthermore, as Asgardians, both Hela and Heimdall don't need an Infinity Stone as the source of their powers. So while including the Soul Stone could make sense, it could also be overkill.
The popular theory here is that while Black Panther will be an larger introduction to both T'Challa and his homeland Wakanda than we got in Captain America: Civil War, it will also reveal a bigger connection to the larger MCU, in the form of the Soul Stone.
As the theory goes, the Vibranium meteor that crashed to Earth in Wakanda could have been housing the Soul Stone. It would explain Black Panther's ability to commune with the animal dieties (like the panther) or dead ancestors; it could also explain the Wakandans' spiritual connection to deities, dead ancestors, the land, and the Vibranium ore that's the center of their culture.
So far, most of the Infinity Stones have been mistaken by earthlings to be other kinds of objects, power sources, or weapons - so it's easy to believe that similar mix up happened in Wakanda.
Of the two theories, the Black Panther one seems the more likely, by our estimate. The film needs some kind of connection to the larger MCU - and as Avengers: Infinity War set photos have revealed, Wakanda will be the site of a major battle - one that brings out Black Panther's personal guard and army to defend the homeland. The events leading to that incursion have been unknown - but if Thanos and his Black Order henchman are looking to take Wakanda's prize possession for themselves, then that suddenly makes all the sense in the world.
Do you agree with these theories about the Soul Stone? Let us know @ComicbookNow! And be sure to rate your excitement for each new Marvel movie, below!
Thor: Ragnarok will be in theaters on November 3, 2017; Black Panther hits theaters on Feburary 16, 2018. Avengers: Infinity War will be in theaters on May 4, 2018.
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