'Avengers: Infinity War': Will the Soul Stone Not Appear Until Avengers 4?

The latest Avengers: Infinity War trailer has Marvel fans speculating like crazy. The cast and crew of the film have promised big character deaths, game-changing twists, and so much more. And yet, there's one major puzzle piece that has not yet surfaced: The Marvel Cinematic Universe Soul Stone!

Many MCU fans were sure that Black Panther would reveal the Soul Stone, but that theory was shot down. A lot of fans expect that Avengers: Infinity War will therefore make the Soul Stone its all-important MacGuffin; however, the more we see of the sequence of events in Infinity War, the more we're convinced that the Soul Stone may not end up being a major part of the story at all. What if the Soul Stone is actually the all-important focus of Avengers 4?

Starting from the Bottom

It's important to note that when Avengers: Infinity War begins, Thanos is still at a very early point in his Infinity Stone collection. We now The Mad Titan will already have the Power Stone in his possession when Infinity War begins (R.I.P. Nova Core...), and it seems Thanos' will quickly acquire the Space Stone as well, when he ambushes the ship of the last Asgardians, and promptly slaughters them (including Loki).

Most of Avengers: Infinity War's story will be focused on Thanos coming to Earth, and his attempts to attack both Vision and Doctor Strange to acquire the Mind and Time stones (respectively). The Reality and Soul Stones are the ones we haven't seen in Infinity War trailers - but we know that the Reality Stone will be in play, as the latest trailers show the Guardians of the Galaxy returning to the "Knowhere" mining and trading colony - presumably to revisit The Collector, and secure the Reality Stone.

With Thanos presumably chasing down three stones in Infinity War, it's easy to think that there may not be enough screen time to give the Soul Stone a proper introduction, explanation, and give it its proper due as the major puzzle piece it is. It would make sense for the final stone to be the major MacGuffin focus, as the Marvel Heroes try one last-ditch effort to defeat Thanos before he gains omnipotence.

Soul Survivors

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One other popular theory about the Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 connection has been growing the release of the latest Avengers 3 trailer: that the film will end with Thanos snapping his fingers, and erasing half the universe. It's a moment that occurs in the original "Infinity Gauntlet" comic book storyline, and that Gamora teases in her monologue explaining her "dad" Thanos, his mission, and what he could do if he actually forms the complete Gauntlet.

In the comics, the "Soul World" of the Soul Stone is used as a refuge and beachhead to defeat Thanos and the Gauntlet. Adam Warlock is the figure who hides in the Stone and uses his connection to it to disrupt the connection with the other five stones; the Soul Stone has also been faked before, in order to fool a user into thinking he/she had the complete Gauntlet, when in fact a small vulnerability remained. Thanks to what we already know of Avengers 4, a similar scenario is entirely possible.

Unlikely MVPs

One fan theory is that Hawkeye is on a quest for the Soul Stone in Avengers: Infinity War, and if that's true, then his discovery of it could be the saving grace the MCU. However, if Hawkeye spends most of Avengers 3 offscreen or on his own quest, then we could point to the Russo Bros.' promise that character we don't see in Avengers 3 take major roles in Avengers 4 as a major clue.

The same could also be said for Ant-Man and Wasp: only Ant-Man appears in Avengers 3, as Wasp won't join the fight until Avengers 4. Their solo film Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before Infinity War, and will probe the micro-dimension known as the Quantum Realm. It's still a possibility that this Ant-Man and the Wasp storyline could also reveal the Soul Stone, hidden in that realm. If Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne were to find it, then they could conceivably be who Hawkeye is seeking out.

Hawkeye finding the Soul Stone would put a major target on his back -- which could be one reason that he takes on an entirely new persona as "Ronin." But ironically, Hawkeye would be the best wielder of the Soul Stone, as out of all the very damaged MCU heroes, he actually has the most heart and soul substance, thanks to his secret personal life as a dad and husband.

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Do you think we'll see the Soul Stone in Avengers 3? Or will we have to wait until Avengers 4? Let us know in the comments?

Marvel Studios' Black Panther is now playing in theaters. Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27, 2018. It is followed by Ant-Man and The Wasp on July 6, 2018, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.