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Who Needs the Mid-Credits Scene in 'Thor: The Dark World' Explained?

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November 9, 2013

Thor: The Dark World

If you were a bit confused about what happened in the mid-credits scene in this weekend's inevitable box office champion Thor: The Dark World (there's also an amusing scene at the end of the credits), you're not the only one. There are plenty of non-comic book readers out there who didn't know what the odd scene in the middle of the credits was all about. We'll explain the scene below (so beware of spoilers), and talk about how it will affect the rest of Phase Two in Marvel's cinematic universe, and how it even hints at what might be coming up in Phase Three. So without further adieu, let's dive into some nerdy comic book stuff.

**Spoilers for Thor: The Dark World from here on out!**

After some of the credits have rolled for Thor: The Dark World, we're reunited with Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), who are taking the dangerous Aether for safe-keeping at what looks to be a strange alien museum/indoor zoo run by someone who looks like Will Ferrell as Mugatu in Zoolander. Well, that guy is actually Benicio del Toro as Taneleer Tivan, or as he's more commonly referred to and called in the scene, The Collector. He's one of the Elders of the Universe (coming in at about three billion years old), a group of alien beings who are the last remaining members of their respective species. Each of the Elders had their own obsessive hobbies, and as you might have guessed, The Collector likes to collect things. Artifacts, alien creatures, weapons, etc. are his obsession, and in the comic books, he ends up wanting to collect The Avengers.

And so, Sif and Volstagg have been tasked with handing over the Aether to The Collector for safe-keeping (though you can tell this guy isn't very trustworthy), because Asgard is already storing the Tesseract (from Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers), and as Volstagg explains, it's too dangerous to keep two Infinity Stones in the same place. When this was said, some people might have gasped, fainted or screamed with excitement. And the moment was made all the better when The Collector ominously said, "One down, five to go." If you don't know why all this is so thrilling for Marvel fans, we'll explain that too.

The Infinity Stones (or Infinity Gems as they're more commonly referred to) are remnants of one of the earliest beings from the time of the universe's creation. Feeling lonely, the omnipotent god split itself into six different fragments, each coming to represent power, space, time, mind, soul and reality. Here's a rundown of each stone and the powers they behold (via Marvel Database):

Power Gem (Red) – Increased strength and durability, enhances superhuman ability, energy manipulation.
Time Gem (Orange) – Time travel, stopping/slowing down or speeding up time, accelerate or slow down aging, see into past/future.
Space Gem (Purple) – Travel through space, mostly through teleportation. Able to interfere with the motion of other objects.
Soul Gem (Green) – Observe, attack or even steal a being's soul or spirit. Also used to revert individuals to their natural state.
Reality Gem (Yellow) – Alters all of reality; similar to the effects of a Cosmic Cube, but much, much higher.
Mind Gem (Blue) – Near-limitless psionic/psychic abilities including empathy, telepathy and telekinesis.

In the film world, we've had the Tesseract and the Aether, clearly red and blue, but they don't exactly correspond with the gems from the comic books. The Aether could be considered the Power Gem seeing the effects it had on Jane Foster and Malekith in the film, but it doesn't fit perfectly. As for the Tesseract, it doesn't really fit the description of the blue Mind Gem, or any of the gems for that matter, so we're not sure how that will change things as the story unfolds.

Anyway, why are all these gems important? Well, in the comic books, they are all collected by Thanos, who appeared in the credits scene in The Avengers, and fitted into a golden glove, creating a weapon known as The Infinity Gauntlet, which is part of one of the most iconic Marvel storylines. He ends up using it to destroy half the universe in order to please the physical embodiment of Death (now you know why that line in the credits bumper about courting death is important).

The Infinity Gauntlet

As you can see in the photo above, The Infinity Gauntlet was once on display at Comic-Con in 2010, but only briefly. Of course, with the Internet spreading things like wildfire, everyone found out about it, and talk of a lead-up to the famous comic storyline coming to life on the big screen has been rampant. And now with this mid-credits scene in Thor: The Dark World, it's pretty much confirmed. But how will this all play out?

Well, the mid-credits scene is certainly part of a bigger plan for what lies ahead in the Marvel universe, but it's also a big set-up for Guardians of the Galaxy. We learned Benicio del Toro was playing The Collector over the summer, and this leads into that cosmic superhero ensemble rather nicely. The character has been said to be one of the villains in the film, but director James Gunn (who directed the scene in question) said Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) is the main villain, and he works for Thanos. More than likely, The Collector merely wants the gems for his collection, but in the comics, the one gem he gets ahold of ends up being taken by Thanos. We're guessing Guardians of the Galaxy will involve another Infinity Stone, and our ragtag team of heroes has to stop it from falling into the wrong hands.

As for Thanos, we're betting this will lead-up to his appearance as the main bad guy in The Avengers 3. Some originally thought he would take the spotlight in The Avengers 2, but when the title was announced as The Avengers: Age of Ultron (with James Spader playing the title villain), that pretty much put the kibosh on that plan. However, there's likely still some kind of connection to the bigger Marvel plan there. Of course, we're still a couple years away from finding that out.

No matter what happens, it's incredible to see this kind of cohesive planning between multiple blockbuster franchises. Having Marvel bring some of their most iconic storylines and characters to life in this manner is unprecedented, and the studio continues to give fans what they want, even if they mess with the mythology a bit (see Mandarin in Iron Man 3). All I know is the feeling that arose when the Infinity Stones were mentioned in this credits scene made me feel like a kid again.  We can't wait to see what happens next.

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  • Somethingfunny
    Great explanation. Can't wait to see what unfolds over the next few years!
    • Jack Handy
      Good article. Explains a lot. One note:Please hire some interns to edit your writing. And don't say you didn't have time.
      • AnotherDan
        I agree. Aren't you a senior editor Ethan?
  • http://wanderbythewater.blogspot.com/ Melissa
    the tesseract is space not sure about the aether but if i had to guess it is reality.
  • Trey Wilson
    Huh?
  • xShineyxDiverx
    Beautiful explanation you gave here. I want to hug this cinematic universe to my chest.
  • Chris Groves
    Wikipedia is your friend, folks.
  • AnotherDan
    I think you're wrong Ethan. Well, partially right..but mostly wrong. Neither the Tesseract nor the Aether display the power sets of the Mind or Power Gems respectively - as you so handily pointed out in you little guide to the Infinity Gems, the Tesseract's power set is closer to the Reality Gem (yellow) than the Mind Gem (blue), and the Aether is NOTHING like the Power Gem's (red) power set. Given this, why Marvel would shoehorn in (Gunn even admitted that this was filmed a short time before T:TDW was released) this mid-credit sequence (except as a lead-up to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline) though is beyond me. It's more likely that Odin had already been sitting on one of the Infinity Gems and somehow obtained another one outside of the storyline of T:TDW, and then sent one of them (obviously the Power Gem) to The Collector. Where, how, when it was obtained? Well, maybe Marvel could do a one shot for release with CA:TWS. Anyway, my guess is that The Collector has already done a deal with Thanos to provide him with the Gems in exchange for Thanos providing him with one of every last thing in the Universe after Thanos destroys the rest in service to Death. Oh, and he's probably stupid enough to not believe that Thanos would betray him...
    • AnotherDan
      Meh...http://www.craveonline.com/film/interviews/601057 this interview that Crave Australia did with Kevin Feige that went up a few days ago actually explains that they ARE Infinity Gems - the Tesseract is Space and the crystallised Aether is another Gem - though which is unspecified in the article..
    • adam lamonica
      You're assuming they follow the cannon almost to the letter.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net/ Ethan Anderton
      Well, in the scene the Tesseract is definitely an Infinity Stone because it's specifically called that. It's just a matter of what stone, and the way the stones transfer to the big screen may not be exactly the same as it is in the comic books.
    • Ayotunde Afolabi
      Feige already said they're taking a couple liberties with the original canon i.e. conforming previously used artefacts/story lines/characters to fit his/their choice of using the infinity gauntlet and everything associated with that
  • Such heroic nonsense
    Hmmmm you know what i havent had in awhile.....................Big League Chew.
  • lattimore
    Can someone explain to me (and why no one has mentioned) the cheap and tacky production level of this scene? It looks like it was shot in Kevin Smith's basement! It felt like a scene from an early Power Rangers episode - not from a multimillion dollar plus franchise. Seriously not bagging on anyone here - just was truly shocked with how cheap it felt........anyone else agree?
  • http://wuzzon.blogspot.com/search/label/LOST cabinboy
    Yeah, I was *really* hoping that the Tesseract would be a true Cosmic Cube, but it does seem to be a portal gun (Red Skull's beam-out, the connection to Chitauri space, Loki and Thor's return to Asgard at the end of THE AVENGERS), so Space Gem (or Space STONE, that seems to be the MMU lingo) works for that. And the Aether, well, it glows red, which would match the comic book Power Gem. Given what it seems to do/be—a destructive force that apparently enhances the strength/defense of its wielder and can be manipulated at will—the Power Stone might fly. But maybe they'll try to go with more scientifish names once they're named in-MMU? The names and powers of the comic book universe Gems are a bit… vaguely defined, aren't they? Maybe the MMU will give us a Dark Matter Stone? Spacetime Stone? Maybe names based on the fundamental forces, plus, let's say… time and soul/mind stones? I'd guess that in addition to its marquee capability as enhancer/manipulator of some aspect of existence, each of the stones is an inexhaustible power source/emitter of some kind. Zola, Skull, and Hydra were able to harness the Tesseract's, and Project Pegasus was working on it, both apparently without having any knowledge of its space-bending capability when they began. And it *seems* like two of the Dark Elves' weapons were Aether-based/powered tech: the Kurse transformation and the singularity grenades. I absolutely despise the use of devices with screens in a movie theater, but I know it frickin happens. That said, has anyone left a screening with a snapshot of those pages in Odin's Asgardian storybook? =) Some more speculative crazytalk rambling on post-DARK WORLD MMU here: http://goo.gl/sTaK1m

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