Black Panther delivered a thoughtful and adrenaline-pumping introduction into the technological utopia of Wakanda for moviegoers everywhere... but there is one thing that the movie did not deliver, and it was the main thing that Marvel fans were expecting from the last film before Avenger: Infinity War. After the only unaccounted-for Infinity Stone failed to make an obvious appearance in Black Panther, fan theories began popping up speculating that it may have shown up in a more subtle way. But now, director Ryan Coogler clarified that the Soul Stone is not in Black Panther, and actually may not be in Wakanda at all.
Before Black Panther was even released, Marvel fans were looking to the movie to reveal the location of the Soul Stone. Everything just seemed to add up: every other Infinity Stone had been revealed and Black Panther was the final Marvel movie before the Infinity Stone-centric Avengers: Infinity War. On top of that, most of the action in the Infinity War trailer was set in Wakanda — why else would the Infinity Stone-seeking Thanos pop up in Wakanda if not for an Infinity Stone? And we already know where the rest of the Infinity Stones currently are thanks to previous Marvel movies. You can get a more in-depth refresher on where each Infinity Stone is ahead of Infinity War here, but in short: Loki has the Space Stone, Vision has the Mind Stone, The Collector has the Reality Stone, Nova Corps has the Power Stone, and Doctor Strange has the Time Stone locked away in Kamar-Taj.
So basically, the stage was set for Black Panther to unveil the Soul Stone, but... it didn't. Or at least, it didn't appear to. After the movie came out, theories about the Soul Stone subtly turning up in Black Panther began to surface all over the Internet. People argued that the Soul Stone may have been that red-orange sand T'Challa is buried in to speak with his dead father, or that the Soul Stone was in the center of the meteorite of Vibranium that crashed into Africa to create Wakanda. The latter theory also put forth the idea that the Soul Stone could be present in all of the Vibranium in Wakanda.
The theories sounded good, but it turns out fans were overreaching. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler confirmed to IGN that the Soul Stone had no part in Black Panther. He explained that including the Soul Stone on top of all that super-powered Vibranium just seemed like too much:
I love the Infinity Stones as much as any comic book fan, it’s just Wakanda already has its thing, which is Vibranium. For us, that was special enough, so to throw in something like another special thing didn’t feel right. It felt like we should stick with our one MacGuffin for the country and explore that, let that be the important thing because, frankly we didn’t need to have another piece like that ... [Marvel Studios] never really was interested in putting a stone in there, either.
Ryan Coogler's explanation also seems to debunk the fan theory that the Soul Stone was somehow connected to Vibranium, and also makes it sound like it is not in Wakanda at all... at least not currently. Given the prominence of Wakanda in the Infinity War trailer, it's still likely that one of the Infinity Stones will be showing up in the secretive African country. But for now, the mystery of where the Soul Stone actually is remains unsolved.
We will get all the answers soon enough, when Avengers: Infinity War lands in theaters on May 4.