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Warning: SPOILERS ahead!
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was created, six singularities were turned into what we now know as the Infinity Stones. While each Stone has its own unique set of abilities, one has received more attention the others over the last decade: the Space Stone, originally identified as the Tesseract. The blue-colored artifact most recently appeared in Captain Marvel, playing a role in Carol Danvers’ origin story.
Because the Tesseract is the Infinity Stone that’s gotten the most screen time, and because of the way the MCU timeline jumped around for Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel, it can be hard to keep track of all the places it’s been in this franchise. Not to worry, we have you covered, as here are all the places the Tesseract has popped up chronologically within the MCU timeline.
In Tønsberg, Norway
Legends of Norse mythology state that the Tesseract was once the jewel of Odin’s treasure room, but around 965 A.D., it was removed from Asgard and taken to Earth.
It’s unclear why the Asgardians left the Tesseract in Tønsberg, Norway; maybe these beings felt it would be safer hidden on our world, though presumably Earth was already home to the Time Stone (encased within the Eye of Agamotto) at this point. Whatever the reasoning, for over a millennia the Tesseract remained safe and away from the wrong hands, but World War II changed that.
In 1942, Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. the Red Skull, arrived in Tønsberg to procure the Tesseract from an ancient church. While he initially thought it was located inside the coffin of a long-dead warrior, he soon realized this was a fake and found the real Tesseract hidden in a nearby wall. After killing the church keeper and ordering his men to destroy Tønsberg, Red Skull wasted no time in having Dr. Arnim Zola weaponize the Tesseract’s power, and the results were so effective that he decided to separate HYDRA from the Third Reich so that he could conquer the world.
By 1945, Red Skull siphoned off Tesseract energy to power numerous bombs he intended to drop on various countries, including the United States. Thanks to the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan’s interference, not only did that plan fail, but when Red Skull directly grabbed the Tesseract to use against his arch-nemesis, it transported him to Vormir, where he was forced to spend the following decades looking after the Soul Stone.
With Howard Stark
After Red Skull was transported off Earth, the Tesseract burned its way through the villain’s aircraft and fell to the ocean floor, but it didn’t stay there for long. Howard Stark, who’d already studied some Tesseract energy earlier in Captain America: The First Avenger with explosive results, recovered the cube as World War II ended.
We know Howard studied the Tesseract in the following years, as he had an illustration of it in his notes and it helped him discover a new element, which his son Tony would later synthesize to power the arc reactor keeping his heart going in place of Palladium.
At Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.
Since Howard Stark was one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D., one can surmise that the U.S. government also had access to the Tesseract after World War II. That would explain how by the late 1980s, through some unexplained sequence of events, it ended up at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and was studied by Dr. Wendy Lawson. As we learned in Captain Marvel, Lawson was actually a Kree scientist named Mar-Vell who defected from the Kree empire and tried to create a light-speed engine to help the Skrulls under her care find a new home. What powered this engine? Tesseract energy.
After Mar-Vell’s ship was shot down by Starforce and she was killed by Yon-Rogg, Carol Danvers, who had been working with Dr. Wendy Lawson, followed her mentor’s last instructions and destroyed the light speed engine. Carol was bathed in the Tesseract energy released in the explosion, resulting in her gaining her trademark energy powers. Six years later, Carol returned to Earth and recovered her human memories, and with Nick Fury, Maria Rambeau, Talos and Goose, she traveled to Mar-Vell’s base hidden in Earth’s orbit. There they found the Tesseract, and Goose, actually a flerken as opposed to a cat, swallowed the cube so that the Kree couldn’t take it.
Sometime after the events of Captain Marvel, Goose, now in Nick Fury’s care, coughed up the Tesseract on his desk. Now in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s care, the spy organization protected the Tesseract while members of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. studied it again, although they had no luck in figuring out how to tap into its unlimited energy.
After the events of Thor, Fury recruited Dr. Erik Selvig to join Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. on the hope that he could accelerate the Tesseract research. The World Security Council scrapped the Avengers Initiative in favor of Phase 2, the design of weapons that would be powered by the Tesseract that could be used against alien threats, similar to HYDRA’s World War II weaponry. Those plans never came to full fruition thanks to a certain Asgardian trickster.
Having struck an agreement with Thanos following his defeat at Thor’s hands and banishment from Asgard, Loki came to Earth armed with a special scepter, revealed in Avengers: Age of Ultron to contain the Mind Stone. In exchange for a Chitauri army with which he could conquer Earth, Loki was supposed to deliver the Tesseract to Thanos. Loki retrieved the Tesseract from Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. with ease at the beginning of The Avengers, and with the help of some brainwashed individuals, including Erik Selvig, he was eventually able to open a portal allowing the Chitauri to come through to New York City.
Unfortunately for Loki, the newly-formed Avengers managed to work through their issues and stand in his way. Even better, though he’d been brainwashed, Erik Selvig managed to insert a flaw allowing for the Mind Stone scepter to break through the force field protecting the Tesseract and close the portal, thus thwarting Loki’s invasion. Now not only did Thanos not receive the Tesseract as promised, he also lost the Mind Stone.
With the Bifrost Bridge still destroyed, Thor, who had been sent back to Earth in The Avengers by Odin’s dark magic, used the Tesseract to transport himself and Loki back to Asgard. Over a thousand years later, the Tesseract was back in Asgard and given a cushy spot in Odin’s vault. It being placed there also led to The Collector being given the Aether, a.k.a. the Reality Stone, as it was deemed unwise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together.
When Hela returned in Thor: Ragnarok and went into Odin’s vault, she declared that most of the objects in there were “fake” or weak. She admitted that the Tesseract wasn’t “bad,” though her true prize was the Eternal Flame. When Asgard was later destroyed by Surtur, it was believed that the Tesseract had been lost, but all was not as it seemed.
After laying waste to Xandar to obtain the Power Stone, Thanos turned his attention to securing the Space Stone next. Detecting it was aboard the Statesman, the ship carrying Thor, Loki, Valkyrie, Hulk, Korg, Miek and the Asgardian survivors, it didn’t take long for Thanos and his forces to slaughter half of those survivors in the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. The Mad Titan then arrived on the scene and started torturing Thor to get Loki to give up the Tesseract. His hand forced, Loki revealed the glowing cube; he had secretly taken it from Odin’s vault as he was retrieving the Crown of Surtur.
Thanos then smashed the Tesseract, took the Space Stone and inserted in the Infinity Gauntlet next to the Power Stone. With the Space Stone’s power, Thanos could now teleport anywhere he wished across the universe, as well as pull off feats like stopping one of Loki’s daggers, sending Iron Man’s energy blasts back at him and phasing the Hulkbuster armor into a rock wall. However, all that paled in comparison to Thanos using the Space Stone alongside the five other Infinity Stones to unleash The Decimation, which wiped out half of all life in the universe.
And that’s where we currently stand on the Tesseract/Space Stone front. Avengers: Endgame comes out on April 26, and while specific plot details for the movie are still being kept under wraps, you can be sure the Space Stone and the other Infinity Stones will factor in somehow since Thanos still had them when he retired to that serene planet at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Whether the Space Stone ends up being destroyed or ends up in the hands of another, we’ll be sure to update you on its whereabouts at the end of Phase 3.