Exclusive: ‘Infinity War’ Directors Explain How Thanos Wields the Soul Stone; Red Skull’s Connection

     November 30, 2018

Be aware there are major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War below.

It’s almost quaint to think of now in the wake of Avengers: Infinity War‘s catastrophic ending, but for a while there, one of the biggest obsessions for MCU fans was just where exactly the Soul Stone was hiding. Over the course of their decade-long franchise build up, the creative minds at Marvel took their time revealing each of the Infinity Stones and working them into their narratives as the lead up to Thanos’ big debut, but they saved the Soul Stone for last.

Theories were rampant and ever-evolving. Some folks thought Ego would have it, some thought Hela would, a whole lot of people thought it would be waiting in Wakanda, but Infinity War delivered quite the surprising reveal when it turned out that only Gamora knew the location, and it was lying in wait on the planet Vormir. Not only that, in order for Thanos to collect the stone, he must pay the ultimate price — to sacrifice something he loves, a soul for a soul. RIP Gamora.


Image via Marvel Studios

Earlier this week, Collider hosted an exclusive screening of Infinity War with directors Joe and Anthony Russo in attendance for an extended Q&A. During the wide-ranging chat, the filmmakers had a lot to say about the soul stone, including their thinking behind that long-awaited reveal.

Asked how they decided on the location of the Soul Stone after all the hype, Joe Russo explained,

“We knew that we needed to do something special with that stone, but we knew that we also needed it to have an emotional connection to the plot and to Thanos as a character. I think it was the last stone that we figured out where it was because that was the hardest story to come up with. it was really when, the point where we decided that the movie was Thanos’ movie, we needed the lowest moment of the film to belong to him, so that’s when we started to develop the Soul Stone story. How could we create pain? How could we dimensionalize him so he went on this journey during the film.”

And what of the stone’s guardian? In a major surprise to fans, Gamora and Thanos arrived on Vormir to find none other than Red Skull, the Captain America: The First Avenger villain who disappeared into space after trying to wield the Tesseract. So why was he the right character to guard the Soul Stone?

“First of all, he had a very mystical ending at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.” Joe Russo explained. “He’s been on a journey since then. He’s a wraith now. He is a slave to the stones. He’s no longer the same person. He’s transcendent. He’s a ghost.” Plus, as Anthony Russo added, Infinity War screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely also wrote The First Avenger and felt close to the character.


Image via Marvel Studios

Did they ever consider any other characters to play that role?

“I think he was always that character. I think we may have played around once or twice in it not being him, but we needed someone the audience would trust, so that when he explained the rules of how you obtain the stone, that they would believe the character. I think it was Markus and McFeely who fought really hard to have him back in the film..”

The filmmakers also revealed that Hugo Weaving (who was replaced by actor Ross Marquand) was indeed in the mix to return at some point. “He may have,” Joe Russo said. “Kind of,” Anthony Russo added. “He was asked.”

Finally, the filmmakers talked a bit about clarifying the Soul Stone’s powers and how we see Thanos use them in Infinity War — specifically in Thanos’ flight against Doctor Strange and his finale chat with lil’ Gamora. Joe Russo explained,

“The Soul Stone obviously has the ability to manipulate your soul, the essence of who you are. One key moment where it’s used is where Doctor Strange turns into multiple Stranges and then Thanos uses the Soul Stone to eradicate all the fake Stranges and momentarily shoves Strange out of his own body, and Strange has to pull himself back in… Of course when Thanos goes to the Soul Stone itself, to speak to his dead daughter, he obviously has an ability to resurrect, conjure the spiritual representation of the people who are dead.”

For more from our extended Infinity War Q&A, be sure to check out the links below and stay tuned for more.

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