- “Their leader, Malekith made a weapon out of that darkness, it was called the Aether. While the other relics often appeared as stones, the Aether is fluid and ever changing. It changes matter into dark matter and seeks out host bodies, drawing strength from their life force. Malekith sought to use the Aether's power to return the universe to one of darkness. But after eternities of blood shed, my father Bor, finally triumphed, ushering in the peace that lasted thousands of years.”
- ―Odin Borson
The Aether is the weaponized form of the Reality Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones.
The Aether is a mysterious force that existed before the birth of the Nine Realms. It is known to be able to convert matter into dark matter, and otherwise maintains an almost lifelike existence that causes it to bond in a parasitic fashion to a living host. Once bonded, the energies of the Aether slowly consume any mortal host, and also have a volatile and deadly effect on any who come into contact with the host in a manner that the Aether perceives as threatening. Bonded with a stronger host that understands its power, the Aether can be employed as a weapon where it lashes out with a concussive force, or reaches out to convert matter. During its brief time bonded to Malekith, the Aether also enhanced his physical form, causing him to grow threefold in height.
Every five-thousand years a cosmic event known as the Convergence causes the Nine Realms to become aligned, and Malekith planned to use this event and release the Aether to plunge the Nine Realms back into darkness. But the Asgardians intervened and took the Aether from him by force. Bor then had it hidden away where none could find it, and over the following five millennia its story faded from known history.
After five-thousand years, the next Convergence brought the Nine Realms into alignment again, and in so doing portals began to appear in the walls between realms. Jane Foster was dragged through one such portal to the hidden vault of the Aether where it bonded itself to her. She was taken to Asgard for treatment, but the physicians there could do nothing to remove it.
The Aether quickly became the central focus of a war when Malekith returned after a five-thousand year sleep to reclaim it. He almost succeeded when he pulled the Aether from Foster into himself and became its new host, but was stopped in the act of transforming the Nine Realms by the combined efforts of Foster and Thor.
Having recovered the Aether, the Asgardians decided that it was unwise two store two Infinity Stones in one vault, and turned the Aether over to Taneleer Tivan, the ageless archivist and curator known as the "Collector." The Collector accepted the stone under the pretense of it being protected. However, as soon as the Asgardians left, he revealed that he had ulterior motives for accepting it, as he needed it and five other objects for his plans.
The Aether appeared on a video footage as The Collector was giving Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot the history of the Infinity Stones.
The Aether appears in Thor's vision of the Infinity Stones and their connection in the previous years.
Thanos retrieves the Aether and turns it back into the Reality Stone and inserts it inside the Infinity Gauntlet.
The Reality Stone, along with the rest of the Infinity Stones, were destroyed by Thanos to prevent the snap from being reversed. Later in 2023, Thor and Rocket went back in time to Asgard in 2013 to retrieve the Aether during the mission to gather the Infinity Stones so they can reverse the snap. Upon retrieving the Aether and the other stones, Bruce Banner used the Nano Gauntlet to snap and revive all of Thanos' victims. During the battle of Earth, Tony Stark used the stones to kill Thanos and his forces at the cost of his life. Upon being done with the stones, Steve Rogers went back in time to return the Reality Stone and the other stones to the exact moments where they were taken.
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