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"The Aether. First, it's not a stone; someone called it a stone before. It's more of a... an angry sludge sort of thing, so someone's gonna need to amend that."
Thor[src]

The Reality Stone was one of the six Infinity Stones, the remnant of a singularity that predated the universe, representing the element of reality. Liquefied into a dark red fluid called the Aether, the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith intended to use it to revert the universe to its state of primordial darkness. In 2013, the Aether was absorbed into Jane Foster, triggering the Second Dark Elf Conflict. Following their defeat, the Aether was taken by the Asgardians and entrusted to the Collector.

During the Infinity War, the Aether was retrieved from the Collector's Museum in Knowhere and solidified by the Mad Titan Thanos, who put the Stone inside his Infinity Gauntlet and used it in conjunction with the other five stones to eliminate half of all life in the universe. Following the Snap, Thanos destroyed all six stones to prevent it from being undone.

In 2023, the Avengers conducted a Time Heist in order to resurrect the lives Thanos had claimed, with Thor and Rocket Raccoon sent back in time to 2013 to retrieve the Aether from Foster. Following the Battle of Earth, where Iron Man used all six stones to kill Thanos and his army at the cost of his own life, Captain America time-traveled to the alternate 2013 and returned the Reality Stone, albeit in its solidified state.

History

Origin

"From the dawn of the universe, there was nothing. Then... boom. The Big Bang sent six elemental crystals hurtling across the virgin universe. These Infinity Stones each control an essential aspect of existence."
Wong[src]

The origins of the Aether

The Reality Stone is a remnant of one of the six singularities which existed before the universe. After the universe came to be, the Big Bang forged the six singularities into elemental crystals, dubbed the Infinity Stones, hurtling across the universe. The red Reality Stone had the power to alter and warp the fabric of reality.[3]

Owned by the Dark Elves

The First Attempt

Malekith attempts to use the Aether's power

"Malekith sought to transform our universe back into one of eternal night. Such evil was possible through the power of the Aether, an ancient force of infinite destruction."
Odin[src]

Many thousands of years ago ago, Malekith, the king of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, discovered the Reality Stone. Through means unknown, he was able to liquify it, augmenting its properties so that it could convert matter into dark matter and absorb life force from host bodies. He intended to use the modified stone, now known as the "Aether", to revert the universe to its state of primordial darkness, a state of being in which the Dark Elves would resume their prior role as the most powerful beings in existence. Malekith planned his campaign to coincide with Convergence, a cosmic event in which the Nine Realms of Yggdrasil are perfectly aligned through wormholes, in 2988 B.C.. The Dark Elves were opposed by the Asgardians under the command of their king Bor, leading to a protracted war that gradually turned against the Dark Elves' favor. With the Asgardians forcing the Dark Elves back to Svartalfheim for a final battle, Malekith sought to use the power of the Aether, now encased in a large Chamber, while the battle waned around him.

The Aether is hidden by Bor

The Asgardians were able to take the Aether before its destructive power could be unleashed, however, using the Bifrost Bridge to snatch it from Malekith's possession, ultimately deciding the battle, and the war. Believing the Dark Elf threat neutralized forever, Bor saw that the Aether was buried on a distant world, intending that no other tyrant attempt to harness the weapon's fearsome power again. His gambit worked, with the Aether fading from history for 5,000 years.[1]

The Second Attempt

Jane Foster discovers the Aether

"She stuck her hand inside a rock this one time, and then the Aether stuck itself inside her."
Thor[src]

In 2013, near the beginning of the Convergence, a portal opened up to where the Aether was located; Jane Foster happened to walk through this portal and, through curiosity, made contact with it, causing it to become active and infest Foster's body, using her as a host. After having been knocked out due to the ancient force having infested itself into her body, the Dark Elves awoke from their suspended animation aboard the Ark ship and started to search for the Aether.

Jane Foster is possessed by the Aether

After arriving back on Earth, Foster exhibited an immensely powerful energy projection when being touched on the arm, and was taken to Asgard by Thor where the Aether was discovered by Odin. During her time on Asgard, Foster and Thor learned about the Aether's origin and discovered it was an Infinity Stone used as the Dark Elves' chief weapon for thousands of years prior to its theft by the Asgardians.

Malekith absorbs the Aether

Sensing the Aether's presence on Asgard, Malekith's lieutenant, Algrim, became the last of the Kursed warriors, allowing himself to be captured by the Einherjar. While Malekith and the Dark Elves invaded the city, Algrim initiated a chaotic uprising in the Asgardian Dungeons, having released dozens of prisoners after his transformation into the Kurse. Frigga defended Jane Foster from the Dark Elves, going as far as to challenge the Dark Elf leader and almost killing him, despite her being intercepted and murdered by Algrim. Through Frigga's sacrifice, Malekith and his army left before he could obtain the Aether.

Malekith unleashes the Aether upon the Nine Realms

Later though, when access to the Bifrost Bridge had been restricted, Thor, with a dying Foster, got Loki to take them through a hidden passageway to Svartalfheim. After getting there, they confronted Malekith and through various circumstances, the Dark Elf drew the Aether from Foster and into himself and left the planet. Both parties then arrived on Earth, where Malekith used the Aether to battle Thor across worlds during the Convergence, which resulted in Malekith's destruction.[1]

Owned by the Collector

The Aether is given to the Collector

"For years, the Reality Stone's been safely stored there with a man called the Collector."
Thor[src]

Afterward, the Asgardians were able to contain the Aether. Sif and Volstagg brought the Aether to the Collector in his museum on Knowhere for safekeeping.[4] In 2014, the Aether was being exhibited in the museum during the Guardians of the Galaxy's visit.[5] In 2015, Thor had a vision of the Infinity Stones, seeing the Aether solidifying into the Reality Stone.[6]

Infinity War

Acquired by Thanos

The Reality Stone is added into the Infinity Gauntlet

"I know you have the Reality Stone, Tivan. Giving it to me will spare you a great deal of suffering."
Thanos to Collector[src]

In 2018, Thanos traveled to Knowhere and took the Aether from the Collector, solidifying it into the Reality Stone and adding it into the Infinity Gauntlet. He used it to create an illusion of himself and the Collector in order to trap the Guardians of the Galaxy and then briefly rendered himself invisible while talking to Gamora. He then revealed himself and used the Stone to turn Drax and Mantis into pieces of matter and Peter Quill's blast from his blasters into bubbles.

Thanos revealing the past beauty of Titan

Later on Vormir, Thanos used the Reality Stone to turn Gamora's dagger into bubbles so he could thwart her attempt to kill herself. After arriving on Titan, he used the Reality Stone to show Doctor Strange how Titan once was before the population died, revealing Titan's prosperous population and beauty. In his duel against Iron Man, he used the Stone to transform a large chunk of debris that he destroyed into swarms of black crystals and in his duel with Strange, used the Stone to negate his dimensional gate before finally ending the fight by combining the Stone with the Space Stone to pull Strange to him.

Thanos obtains all the Infinity Stones

Upon arriving in Wakanda, Thanos used the Reality Stone to imprison Natasha Romanoff in a rock chamber and to initiate the Snap, wiping out half of all life in the universe.[3]

Destruction

Thanos then retreated to Planet 0259-S and three weeks later, used the Stones to destroy themselves, resulting in the Reality Stone's destruction.[2]

Alternate Universe Versions

Theft of the Reality Stone

Rocket Raccoon with the extracted Aether

"Here's the deal, tubby. You're gonna charm her and I'm gonna poke her with this thing and extract the Reality Stone and get gone lickety-split."
Rocket Raccoon to Thor[src]

In 2023, the Avengers initiated a Time Heist, where they used the Quantum Realm to time travel to acquire all six Infinity Stones from alternate timelines to restore the victims of the Snap. Arriving in an alternate 2013 timeline, Thor and Rocket Raccoon travelled to Asgard where they were tasked with extracting the Aether from an alternate Jane Foster during her brief stay at the Royal Palace of Valaskjalf. After Rocket successfully extracted the Aether, he and Thor used the Quantum Realm to return to their timeline.

The Reality Stone is put in the Nano Gauntlet

After successfully transporting the alternate versions of the Stones to the main timeline, the Aether was solidified into the Reality Stone and placed in the Nano Gauntlet. Using the Gauntlet, Bruce Banner harnessed the power of the Stones, enacting the Blip, albeit losing the ability to use his right arm.

The Reality Stone is returned to 2013

Tony Stark used the combined power of the Stones to kill an alternate Thanos and his army. Afterwards, Steve Rogers travelled the Quantum Realm to the alternate 2013 timeline to return the Reality Stone, in its solidified state, to Asgard.[2]

Seized by the TVA

Multiple Reality Stones under the possession of the TVA

While capturing Variants and pruning timelines, the Time Variance Authority seized Infinity Stones from alternate timelines, including numerous Reality Stones.[7]

Age of Ultron

In an alternate 2015, Thanos became in possession of the Reality Stone, placing it in the Infinity Gauntlet. When he arrived on Earth, he was killed by Ultron. Ultron took the Reality Stone, as well as the other Infinity Stones from the Gauntlet and placed them into his armor. He then used the Reality Stone to recreate an increased amount of Ultron Sentries, a spaceship, and a cape for himself. Later, Ultron used the Stone in his fight against Uatu.[8]

Dimension 838

To be added[9]

Capabilities

"Reality is often disappointing. That is, it was. Now, reality can be whatever I want."
Thanos[src]

The Reality Stone granted its user absolute control over the fabric of reality itself. However, like all Infinity Stones, it can only be wielded by beings of sufficient power. When allowed to influence an average human it will inevitably kill them, as evidenced by Jane Foster. The Reality Stone's power is such that it can affect reality on a universal scale. Had Malekith succeeded in either of his attempts to use the stone's power, the entire universe would've been converted to dark matter. The stone is also nearly indestructible, being able to withstand blows from Mjølnir.

Those who fully understand its capabilities can remove the Reality Stone from others and safely absorb it into themselves, so long as they have the necessary fortitude to withstand its effect. Malekith was able to draw the Infinity Stone out of Foster and merge with it. Once a user has merged with the stone, their physical powers are greatly enhanced; Malekith, fused with the stone, was on par with Thor in terms of raw strength, and was also capable of rapidly regenerating lost limbs and enduring Thor's blows without taking significant damage, essentially fighting the Asgardian to a standstill only ending when he was crushed by his own ship.

Malekith was also able to use the Reality Stone's power to send out blasts of energy strong enough that a Mjølnir-wielding Thor had difficulty blocking them. The stone also allowed him to teleport, with Malekith being able to rapidly appear in front of Thor. While fully unleashing the Stone's power on the Nine Realms, Malekith grew in size to roughly three times Thor's height.

When inserted into the Infinity Gauntlet and wielded by Thanos, a user who fully understands and has mastered its capabilities, the Stone is able to warp reality to a greater extent than previously perceived, with Thanos demonstrating numerous powerful capabilities that he effectively employed.

From the Reality Stone, Thanos acquired the power to create highly elaborate physical simulations and illusions of false realities. Prior to the Ambush in Knowhere, Thanos used the Stone to create an illusion of himself interrogating the Collector in deserted Knowhere, in order to fool the approaching Guardians of the Galaxy, obfuscating the fact that the colony had already been sacked and burnt. The false reality was so convincing that the false Thanos could physically interact with others, even fighting and being killed by Gamora. Again, prior to the Battle of Titan, Thanos used the Reality Stone to alter the landscape of Titan and show Doctor Strange how the planet had looked in its prime, before it became a desolate wasteland.

Thanos transmutes Star-Lord's blaster into bubbles

The Reality Stone also gave Thanos the power to warp and transmute matter into anything he wished, most often using this ability to transfigure and use objects around him offensively. Thanos was also able to use these transmuting powers to affect living organisms. With a single blast from the Stone, Thanos easily incapacitated Guardians Drax and Mantis by temporarily warping their physical bodies, splitting Drax's body into pieces and turning Mantis into still-conscious strips of flesh. In both cases, these transformations were non-lethal and the targets were restored after Thanos departed the area.

Thanos was able to also use this ability discreetly, as when Star-Lord reluctantly attempted to execute his teammate and lover, Gamora, to prevent her capture by Thanos. The Titan silently transmuted Star-Lord's Quad Blasters to harmlessly fire bubbles, before the weapon itself dissolved into bubbles. Thanos would later do the same to Gamora's dagger on Vormir to prevent her from committing suicide.

During the Battle of Titan and Battle of Wakanda, Thanos used the Reality Stone's powers effectively in combat, transmuting a field of ship wreckage into a swarm of bats to attack Iron Man, and manipulating the ground to spawn a cage of stone pillars to trap Black Widow.

The Reality Stone can be used in conjunction with the other Stones to expand its effects. Combined with the Space Stone, Thanos was able to manipulate the terrain at such a scale as to pull a flying Doctor Strange into his hand, by pulling the surface of Titan itself towards him. In conjunction with the Soul and Time Stones, Thanos could heal fatal injuries he had sustained (discounting those caused by the Stones themselves), managing to fully heal the near-fatal wound caused by Stormbreaker as he teleported away with the Space Stone.

After the Infinity Gauntlet was completed and the Reality Stone's power reached its full potential, alongside the other Stones, Thanos was able to wipe out half of all sentient life in the universe with a simple snap of his fingers. However, using all six Stones in this manner at such a weakened state caused the Stones' combined power to nearly overwhelm him, with the Gauntlet and Thanos's left arm left scorched by the massive release of energy.

Aether

The Aether

"While the other relics often appear as stones, the Aether is fluid and everchanging. It changes matter into dark matter. It seeks out host bodies, drawing strength from their life-force."
Odin[src]

The Aether converts matter into dark matter, and seeks out host bodies in order to draw strength from their life force, i.e., energy from living organisms, thereby sapping them of energy in a process that would inevitably prove fatal. When used by Malekith, the Aether was capable of forming into tendrils or spikes to strike out at targets, regenerate lost limbs, and create a tornado of energy.

Malekith gains black eyes from the Aether

Whilst bonded to a strong host such as Malekith, the Aether greatly enhances the host's physical strength and durability. Malekith, bonded to the Aether, was able to fight Thor on a reasonably even basis. On its own, the Aether is capable of sending out shockwaves filled with its energy and pulses of power that can throw back any who it deems a threat to itself. These blasts have been enough to easily stun beings as physically powerful as Asgardians. The Dark Elves and Malekith appeared to have a connection to the Aether, with their 5,000 year hibernation ending when it was used for the first time since the First Battle of Svartalfheim.[1]

Trivia

Appearances

References

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