MCU's Tesseract Timeline: How The Space Stone Went From Captain Marvel To Avengers: Infinity War
Captain Marvel spoilers below!
Marvel's latest movie, Captain Marvel is out in theaters right now and making a killing at the box office. It's a fun adventure movie starring Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as the titular hero as she romps around 1990s Earth on a mission to discover her past against the backdrop of the Kree-Skrull war. It's Marvel's first big screen adventure starring a female superhero front and center and serves as our introduction to numerous new elements--Captain Marvel herself, Kree, Skrulls--and answers lingering questions like what happened to Nick Fury's eye. It's also a solid movie in its own right, even if it feels weird to be watching it with little more than a month to go until the MCU as we know it comes to an end in Avengers: Endgame.
But! Captain Marvel isn't a standalone work. Despite being a prequel set years before most of the other MCU movies, it ties in with the rest of the series in countless ways. Case in point: the Tesseract, which actually plays a major role in Captain Marvel. If you're wondering where it's been and how it's moved from one movie to the next, we've got a timeline to help you out.
There are Captain Marvel spoilers past this point, so tread lightly if you haven't watched the latest MCU movie yet!
The Tesseract, which contains the Space Stone, went on quite a journey in the MCU to get from the original Captain America movie all the way to Thanos's gauntlet in Avengers: Infinity War. Along the way, it turns out, it played a big role in the events of the 1990s, including Air Force pilot Carol Danvers gaining her powers and becoming Captain Marvel. It may not be as omnipresent as Stan Lee, but it has shown up in quite a few movies now. For a full breakdown of how this Infinity Stone went from Red Skull's grip to Thanos's glove, read on!
When you're finished, check out what those major Skrull changes could mean, why everyone's talking about Goose the cat, and our explanations of Captain Marvel's post-credits scenes. Then you can start stressing out over Avengers: Endgame theories (as if you're not already) and see the Easter eggs and references you might have missed.
1. The Tesseract in Asgard
The earliest known location of the Tesseract in the MCU is in Asgard. Specifically, Hugo Weaving's character Red Skull remarks in Captain America: The First Avenger that the Tesseract was once "the jewel of Odin's treasure room," Odin of course being Thor and Loki's father (Anthony Hopkins' character). It's unclear how the Tesseract wound up in Asgard to begin with, or how it traveled from Asgard to Earth. No doubt there are some crazy stories there, but we don't currently know them.
2. World War II
In the first Captain America movie, the Tesseract provided a MacGuffin for Red Skull and Steve Rogers to fight over. At the time, it was far from clear that it was an Infinity Stone in cube form. The movie ended with Cap crashing his plane into the Arctic ocean--with the Tesseract/Space Stone on board.
3. Red Skull in Infinity War
Although we didn't know it at the time, the Tesseract actually contained the Space Stone, one of the Infinity Stones that Thanos would eventually hunt down. When Red Skull got his fascist hands on it, the Stone zapped him into space. We learned years later, in Avengers: Infinity War, that it had set him the task of guarding the Soul Stone on a planet called Vormir. But that's beside the current point...
4. With SHIELD
The Tesseract made its way to SHIELD when Tony Stark's father, Howard Stark, helped discover the location of the plane Steve went down in. It remained with the organization through the 1990s, when we catch up with it in Captain Marvel, and beyond.
5. Project Pegasus
Project Pegasus plays a big role in Captain Marvel, but before this movie it had only been mentioned or glimpsed in passing, such as in the Avengers movie prequel comics The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week, where Project Pegasus is described as SHIELD's initiative to analyse and study the Tesseract. There were also Easter eggs glimpsed in previous MCU movies like Iron Man 2, and the facility played a big role in the first Avengers movie, though it wasn't clear at that point how important Project Pegasus really was (it ultimately got the Kree's attention, as we're about to describe).
6. In Captain Marvel
SHIELD had possession of the Tesseract from the time of its discovery in Cap's sunken plane through the events of the first Avengers movie. In the middle, during the 1990s, the latest MCU movie has revealed that the Tesseract/Space Stone was being studied by a Kree scientist named Mar-Vell (Annette Bening), who was using it to develop a light speed space travel engine.
7. Captain Marvel's powers
As we saw in Captain Marvel, the Space Stone is actually the ultimate source of Carol Danvers' powers: When she blew up Mar-Vell's engine, Carol became imbued with the Tesseract's power. No doubt that's going to come in handy when it's time for Captain Marvel to (hopefully) help undo Thanos's snap in Avengers: Endgame.
8. A trip through a Flerken
The Tesseract got bandied about quite a bit throughout Captain Marvel, including in a vintage Happy Days lunchbox. Eventually Goose the Flerken/adorable cat swallowed it (Flerkens have pocket dimensions in their stomachs apparently), and then hacked it up again right on Nick Fury's desk during Captain Marvel's end credits scenes.
9. Destruction of Project Pegasus
After the events of Captain Marvel, the Tesseract remained in SHIELD's care. They continued to study it, eventually with the help of Doctor Erik Selvig, until the first Avengers movie, when the entire Project Pegasus facility was destroyed following Loki's arrival on Earth. You may or may not remember--it feels like a long time ago at this point--but Loki wanted to claim the Tesseract for himself so he could use it to open a portal and make way for the invasion of Earth.
10. Bad, bad Loki
At the end of the first Avengers movie, Thor transported Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard. The next time we saw the Space Stone was in Thor: Ragnarok. It had apparently been placed back in Odin's vault in Asgard after the events of the first Avengers movie, where it rested until Asgard's destruction, when Loki nabbed it on the way out. That ultimately turned out to be a very bad decision.
11. Paying the price
Loki paid the price in Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos attacked the Asgardian refugee ship to claim the Space Stone from Loki. Despite his attempts to thwart Thanos through treachery, Loki wound up dying at the Mad Titan's hands, and the Space Stone went into Thanos's Infinity Gauntlet. The rest, of course, is history. Snap!
12. What's next?
With the Infinity Gauntlet apparently destroyed at the end of Infinity War, you may think that the Stones have lost their power. But given what we know about the Infinity Stones, that seems unlikely. Besides, the remaining Avengers will need a way to bring everyone back after Thanos's Snap disappeared half the universe. That's likely to involve Scott Lang's Quantum Realm adventures and/or Carol's Space Stone-fueled powers, which means the Tesseract itself could still have a role to play in the MCU's future.