27

In Guardians of the Galaxy, I couldn't help but notice that

the Infinity Stone

was inside a force field, inside some kind of containment unit. Star-Lord easily extracts the containment orb using some high powered magnet and, later on in the movie, the Collector effortlessly opens the containment unit, revealing the gem within. Why then was this

gem of infinite power

left unguarded on a deserted planet?

There seemed to have been life on the planet at one point (as revealed by Star-Lord's projection equipment), but by the time Star-Lord arrives all signs of life are largely gone, except for the few rats that he kicks. Moreover, the only environmental dangers shown in the movie were huge geysers. Therefore it's safe to say the stone was guarded neither by the environment nor by a society or anything remotely sentient. Since the gem was a source of infinite power, surely someone would've taken it in the time since the prior civilization was destroyed.

The time span was definitely large because the level of destruction on the planet could be caused either by time and natural entropy, or by

another infinity stone...

but not the one already stored in the force field. But even if a separate stone did destroy the planet, there was still enough time between destruction and Star-Lord's arrival for the evolution of primitive rats to occur from a planet that was wiped of all life.

Why was the stone even there when Star-Lord arrived? It was obviously sought after by the Kree/Nova antique dealer so its whereabouts were known. Why did no one else take the stone?

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    It is possible that the vermin creatures on the planet were either indigenous to the planet prior to civilization's fall, or that they hitched a ride on board the ship(s) of people who visited the planet in the past (salvagers etc). They need not have evolved from scratch after the fall. – Xantec Aug 12 '14 at 20:50
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    I imagine that if humanity had been wiped out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe some time around 1939, explorers of our planet would have wondered why the Tesseract was so unguarded. – TenthJustice Aug 12 '14 at 20:59
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    “It was obviously sought after by the Kree/Nova antique dealer so its whereabouts were known.” — Just because something is sought after doesn’t mean its whereabouts are known. See every Indiana Jones film. – Paul D. Waite Aug 12 '14 at 22:09
18

It is impossible to determine why the Infinity Stone was found on the abandoned world Star-Lord picks it up from. Finding lost or forgotten Infinity gems has a precedence in the canon Marvel Universe. In the comics, Thanos finds one of the gems forgotten because its possessor could not use it.

enter image description here

Scene from Thanos Quest #2 (1990), Thanos trades the Runner (another Elder of the Universe) to the Collector for the Reality Gem.

Several of the premises you present are problematic and aren't answered in the movie or in the comic source material. We know the stone is encased because it can't be casually handled. With a sophisticated locking mechanism, it may appear to be nothing more than a beautiful and cunningly-crafted artifact.

  • Since Star-Lord was an artifact/technology scavenger he may have had no more knowledge of what was within the container itself. Technically, Quill and Yondu, collaboratively with the Ravagers were supposed to be hunting for the container artifact together. I do not believe they were told what was within. Nor did they care. As long as they were paid.

  • As far as the destruction of the planet, we are only told the world was abandoned. I took it to mean, people lived there and then left suddenly. Since Star-Lord had a recording from the planet, it may have been within a relatively recent time period. It is difficult to be certain of anything. The recording could have been a week old or a million years we have no way to tell. I also considered it may have been attacked and destroyed by an external force, perhaps an alien invasion or even the mighty Galactus may have stopped to dine there.

  • As far as the Collector's 'effortless' opening of the containment unit, you should consider his ability part of his millions of years of experience and having access to the finest computers and technology the known Universe has to offer. What may have appeared effortless for him, might have taken lesser species millennia to open. Indeed, that may have been why the container was on display in the first place.

As to the Infinity Stone being on the planet in the first place, I posit any combination of these things:

  • Are the Infinity Stones semi-sentient? If so, the stone could have decided it wanted to be left behind. Their comic counterparts were known for choosing the best candidates for exploitation of their abilities. See: Soul Gem, Adam Warlock

  • The planet is listed as abandoned in the external shot's on-screen display. Could it have been forgotten, little more than a curiosity like a Fabergé Imperial Egg? When we look at the computer generated display of the planet's surface, the containment unit appears to be in what could be a museum on display.

  • This is corroborated by the appearance of the containment field. The device isn't hooked into a power plant, so it's not a source of power. It is sitting in a display only able to be disrupted by a strong specific electromagnetic/gravitic field.

  • Is it possible, no one but an elite few knew of the Infinity Stone within? The curator of the shop may have had some idea what was within the container, but I suspect he did not. Judging from the bum's rush he gave Star-Lord, he wanted nothing to do with the device once he learned Thanos/Ronan were interested in it.

  • Was the stone placed on this world, on purpose, hidden in plain sight? The world, abandoned after an apocalypse, with apparently little left to scavenge might be the ideal place to hide something of indeterminate value. More likely, legends of the stone's existence would force people with time and manpower to go on a scavenger hunt until its location could be determined. We have no idea how long Star-Lord or Ronan's crew had been looking for it before finding it.

  • Oh, his name is "Ronan"? I had though it was "Ronin", further implying his renegade/masterless status. Guess I should have read the credits more carefully. – Xantec Aug 12 '14 at 20:57
  • I found the fact that The Collector and Thanos apparently found the stone at almost the exact same time a bit problematic. Assuming we don't write it off as a silly plot-based contrivance, I can only assume that the discovery of the first two has set both of them to the task of finding the remaining 4 (now 3). – KutuluMike Aug 12 '14 at 21:11
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    I assumed the appearance of the Tesseract and the War over the Aether set everyone looking for the others in a race to consolidate the remaining powers. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 12 '14 at 22:24
  • Xantac, I would not be surprised if that wasn't the hidden message in Ronan's name. He has always been a bit of a loose cannon even while he worked for the Supreme Intelligence as his right hand, problem-erasing Accuser-on-record. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 12 '14 at 22:34
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    According to the Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki, on Morag, the sea lowers every 300 years to reveal the temple the Orb was in. Maybe it could not be detected until now, because it was under water. – Dennis_E Nov 13 '14 at 16:44
14

Because the stone was under water and inaccessible until that moment.

From Marvel Cinematic Universe wiki:

Every 300 years, the sea lowers and the Temple Vault, an ancient structure hidden deep beneath the waves, is made accessible. It is here that the Orb was located.

http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Morag

So basically everyone was waiting for the moment when the stone would be accessible and that is also why everybody found the stone at the same time.

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    They can fly around effortlessly in space but a little water keeps them from an Infinity Stone? Even if it's canonical, it's absurd. – Schwern Feb 18 '15 at 19:17
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    If it was usually covered in water, then how were there rats living on it? – Mary ML Apr 4 '15 at 1:02
  • @Schwern it's not that it was inaccessibe, but rather simply hidden – Petersaber Aug 21 '15 at 12:58
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    @Schwern Space is mostly empty. An ocean is mostly not. They're completely and radically different things. Don't let the tendency for people to use nautical terminology for spacefaring fool you: space is nothing like the ocean. – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 '18 at 9:54
  • @MaryML The species may bury itself in sediments and go into hibernation until the conditions are right; a lot of earth species do this (albeit not for 300+ year spans). Perhaps they are amphibious. Or species on the land may opportunistically spread out along the continental shelfs to newly exposed lands to feed. We're not told exactly how long it's been since the water exposed the temple, or how far away it is from normally unsubmerged land (if any). – zibadawa timmy Mar 19 '18 at 10:00
12

From the Guardians of the Galaxy blu-ray commentary:

So this ancient planet Morag had a pretty advanced civilization, and it was destroyed probably through some sort of global warming, and is covered by oceans, but the oceans recede every 300 years. And, so, Peter Quill has been waiting for this time to go and get this Orb. And Yondu found out about it from The Broker. - James Gunn

(Starts at 5:51)

Earlier in the commentary, he also mentions that the snazzy holographic recording that Quill uses was given to him by the Broker in some unused backstory. He also mentions that Quill went to Morag before it was really safe to do so, which is why he was the first there.

2

So, we've established that the world in question, at least the site of the temple, is completely covered in water for 300 years at a time. That doesn't necessarily mean that inside of the site is submerged, but that the entrance is. It's entirely possible, due to various natural (as could happen on earth) reasons, that the entire cavern or temple or however you would describe it is not constantly submerged during some or all of those 300 years. That would explain the presence of non-aquatic life forms.

Assuming these things to be true, it would make sense that if multiple parties knew of the existence and whereabouts of the gem, that they would also arrive at its location at generally the same time given they only have a limited time to acquire it. Quill was almost certainly unaware of what he was retrieving (and honestly, I'm not sure who it actually was who sent him to get it), but Thanos knew what he himself was after. So, I don't think the question is why was it left unguarded, but why was it left there and how was it located by multiple parties.

  • 2
    Welcome to SFF.SE. I highly recommend you take the tour, because we're not your average discussion board. In fact we're not a discussion board at all; we're a question-and-answer board. This post looks like it has some elements of an answer buried within, but it's generally more conversational than we like answers to be; that's what comments are for. You can't comment on other people's posts just yet, but in the meantime I'd suggest you streamline this post into a more focused answer to the question being asked – Jason Baker Apr 30 '15 at 3:55

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