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Thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've seen three items that are supposedly Infinity Gems (Stones?):

The Tesseract, as seen in several Phase 1 movies, but notably The Avengers,

The Aether, as seen in Thor: The Dark World, and

The Orb (specifically, the thing inside it), as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy

In The Avengers, we learn that Loki was working with/for Thanos to retrieve the Tesseract for him, in exchange for Thanos giving Loki an army to conquer Earth.

In Guardians of the Galaxy, we learn:

Ronan was working with/for Thanos to retrieve the Orb, or more specifically the stone inside it, in exchange to Thanos helping him destroy Xandar.

But I don't remember any mention of Thanos at any point in Thor: The Dark World. However, I only saw that movie on TV, once, and easily may have missed something. Has any attempt, in any of the movies, been made to explain why Thanos did not try to retrieve the Aether as well? I assume he's going to need to try at some point if he really is rebuilding the Infinity Gauntlet.

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Probably because he didn't know about it. The events of Thor: The Dark World take place over a relatively short period of a few days. During that time, the Aether:

  1. is discovered by Jane,
  2. taken by Malekith,
  3. taken back by Thor, Jane & Friends,
  4. and finally left with the Collector.

There wasn't enough time for Thanos to learn that the Aether had been recovered (after having been lost for millennia), much less for him to send some agents to recover it.

Based on what we see in Guardians of the Galaxy, it seems like the Collector is collecting the Infinity Stones for himself, not Thanos. Probably at some future point Thanos will come to take the Aether from the Collector.

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    Yeah, I assume the two of them are competing to collect the stones, and seemingly for different reasons. I didn't get the impression that The Collector wants to use them, just have them. – KutuluMike Aug 12 '14 at 21:38
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    @MichaelEdenfield After seeing the Thor 2 mid-credits scene with the Collector, I assumed he was getting them for Thanos. It wasn't until Guardians showed him to be one of multiple factions seeking out the Orb. – user1027 Aug 12 '14 at 21:40
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    In fact, Thanos does recover the Ether in Avengers: Infinity War. – Robert Columbia Jul 30 '18 at 2:00

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