So me and my friend have been talking about some connections and weird coincidences that surround Tony Stark’s arc reactor and the Tesseract in the Marvel movieverse. Maybe it’s out there, but some of the similarities are eerie enough to give all of this a good thought. This is a pretty lengthy theory, so click that “read more” if your interest is spiked.
Alright, let’s travel back to 1942 when Johann Schmidt storms into Norway in search of the Tesseract. Here we learn that the Tesseract was the “jewel of Odin’s treasure room”, letting us know that its origins are from Asgard, where Thor tells Jane that magic and science are the same thing (which is something I want you to keep in mind while reading this). Schmidt tells the Norwegian man the same thing: “You are a man of great vision…what others see as superstition, you and I know to be science.” He kills the man and open fires onto the town because he’s a huge jerkstore, taking the Tesseract with him. Later we see Dr. Arnim Zola about to attempt to use the energy of the Tesseract to see if it’s capable of powering his weapons designs. As we know, they succeed. I’m guessing Zola’s weapons were very futuristic in their design, requiring an energy stronger than electricity or perhaps even nuclear power or any earthen fuels. Which says a lot about the energy needed to power those weapons. And we see them in action, we see that they’re capable of turning a person into nothingness (also note that the sound of these weapons firing off sound dead on the Iron Man suit’s repulsor beams).
Steve Rogers eventually storms into the HYDRA base, enraged that his military superiors wouldn’t even bother to rescue those imprisoned within its walls. We see some giant circular structures that are being used as energy sources for the base:
Anyway, Steve manages to steal a sample of the Tesseract’s energy components and returns it back to the good guys.
Here’s where things start to pick up some more relevance, if the above wasn’t convincing enough.
We know Howard Stark starts running tests on the sample Steve managed to bring back. Hell, he even does something to it that causes it to go unstable and blast him backwards (those damn Starks and things exploding on them), followed by a “write that down”. Later, after the Tesseract “kills” Schmidt/Red Skull (though if we refer to The Avengers we see that it has the ability to transport people to other worlds, leading me to believe that the Tesseract didn’t kill Skull, just sent him someplace else, especially if you watch that scene closely) and after Steve crashes into the ice, we see Howard Stark searching for Steve only have their radar picking up the energy signal of the Tesseract at the bottom of the ocean. He fishes it out, and continues looking for Steve.
I believe that Howard spent a lot of time running tests on the Tesseract, very possibly trying to replicate its energy. We know he wasn’t exactly successful, but I think it at least inspired him to create very similar designs (primarily the large arc reactor that powers the Stark Industries generator, which was later destroyed to completely fry Obadiah Stane to hell and back), providing Tony with the knowledge to create these replica designs via palladium.
Quick cut-scene: maybe you’re asking yourself how Howard could have possibly run tests on the Tesseract when it ended up in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s custody. That’s simple, Nick Fury tells Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 that Howard was one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D., and as a scientist and engineer, that would give him plenty of time and authority to study the artifact.
Howard left plenty of clues behind for Tony, which was damn useful since the palladium of his arc reactor at the time was poisoning and killing him. Howard even records a message for him, telling the specific reason why he can’t do what Tony can: he’s limited by the technology of his time (and if you’re buying this theory so far, may I just point out the deeper meaning and irony behind “I built this for you”?). We then have Tony analyzing Howard’s model of New York City, finally picking up on the riddles and clues his father left behind for him. Then we have an impressive sequence with badass music and muscly arms, where Tony creates a new element and all is well. It’s impressive, but highly unbelievable if you think about things in the terms of scientific logic.
Now, I know someone is going to pull the “but this is a movie based from comic books” card. I know, I know, okay? But bear with me and just take a little stroll with me outside of the open boundaries of science-fiction and comic book logic for a bit and look at this logically (or as logically as we can while pretending that all of this is possible).
Tony says to Fury in Iron Man 2 that he’s tried every known element on Earth to find a replacement for Palladium. He then creates this new, unnamed element. Now, transuranium elements (let’s just call them super-heavy elements) do exist, and scientists have created a couple atoms of them in special laboratory experiments. Problem: all of them are so unstable that they only live for a few fractions of a second before decaying into nothing, or they’re so radioactive they’d kill you. If Tony had actually managed to create a new element stronger than palladium when no other element was a suitable replacement, it would not have continued to live and work within the reactor or Tony would just have died from radiation exposure. I won’t even go into element half-life, but there, I mentioned it.
None of that would have been possible…unless he managed to somehow successfully replicate one of Howard’s formulas to produce Tesseract material.
We know that the Tesseract can power machines and weapons that require a great deal of energy. Tony’s suit would be a weapon that requires an extreme amount of energy. And let’s be honest, a little thing like the arc reactor could not realistically power a weaponized suit like Stark’s unless there were some other (perhaps otherworldly) properties going on there.
Now we arrive to The Avengers, where the Tesseract rears its ugly head again as a formidable force to be reckoned with. The most important - and only - scene I’m really going to talk about from this movie in concern with this theory is when Loki attempts to control Tony via the scepter, which is a weapon powered by the Tesseract. It flat out does not work. Now, there’s reasonable doubt here as to whether or not the scepter would have been able to place Tony under Tesseract Mind Control if it had touched his skin rather than have been prodding at the reactor. Reasonable doubt because we know from Iron Man 2 that the new reactor gave Tony a boost, judging from his reaction when he put it in. Maybe the new Tesseract fueled reactor sends enough of its enegy through Tony’s body that even if the scepter had touched his skin it still wouldn’t work. Regardless of that speculation, the reactor completely shuts down the scepter. It doesn’t just not have an effect on Tony, the reactorshuts the scepter down.
My friend suggested that Tesseract energy can’t be used against the Tesseract other than to neutralize it, which is supported by the fact that the scepter was able to shut down the actual Tesseract that was creating a giant wormhole in space for the Chitauri to come through. Also, take into consideration that Stark Tower is powered by arc reactor energy, which I’m presuming is based off of Tony’s new reactor since Pepper tells Tony that “all of this came from that” and points to his new reactor.
More interesting similarities…
The chamber Tony uses for the reactor to power his tower (yay rhyming!):
The chamber used to hold the Tesseract to send Loki back:
Also, look who brings the Tesseract:
Another quick, interesting tidbit is that Nick Fury tells Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 that Howard was about to “embark on an energy race that would dwarf the arm’s race”, something that would make nuclear energy look like a “Triple A battery”. And look what Tony’s bragging about in The Avengers: “I’m the only name in clean energy right now.”
The one thing that some of you may be thinking doesn’t fit into all of this is that in the novelization of Iron Man 2, the new element that Tony creates is named as Vibranium, which we know is the metal that Steve’s shield is made out of.
Usually the Tesseract disintegrates everything it blasts. Leaves nothing behind. The only objects the Tesseract has not been able to turn to nothingness are Steve’s shield and Mjölnir, which we know was crafted in the explosion of a dying star. An explosion. Kind of makes you think about how Vibranium is the rarest metal on Earth (How did it get here? Via explosion?) and the only source of it found on Earth was crafted into Steve’s shield. It still fits with the theory that the Tesseract’s energy (which may be Vibranium fueled) can’t be used against another form of its energy other than to neutralize it, or in this case, simply not affect it at all (also think of the explosion that took place when Thor attacked Steve in the forest). Maybe Vibranium has both metallurgical and chemical variants.
Well, if you’ve made it to the end of this post, congrats. I hope this was at least interesting.
OMG EVERYBODY LOOK
IT’S A TESSERACT/TECH ESSAY AND IT’S NOT MINE
Okay THE BEST PART ABOUT THIS is how it fills EXACTLY the hole I pointed out before: Tony would not be “discovering” an element his father had worked with,i.e. vibranium.
TWO, I LOVE THE GIANT HYDRA TECH/ARC REACTOR THEORY, because I have yet to rewatch Captin America since accidentally dissertationing on the tesseract.
The only qualm I have is a minor one, that the size change from the display arc reactor in IM1 to Tony’s miniaturized one in the cave is not a matter of elemental power source but rather just technological miniaturization— I mean, we even (hypothetically) have Hydra evidence that they created smaller tesseract batteries than Howard/Stark Industries’ giant one. HOWEVER it could be some sort of geometric law of physics because if we look at the tesseract harness at the beginning of Avengers, and the equipment Banner is using in the Helicarrier to look for the tesseract, and, to a lesser extent, the portal-harness at the end, they all echo this circular array setup.
HOWEVER I love how fucking elegantly this solves the design dilemma of “Tony discovering vibranium” which AFAIK is not stated in the movies anyway, only the novelization. (Vibranium itself, is, well, a whole ‘nother matter.)
More on the nitty gritty, however: the palladium that Tony is using throughout IM1 and IM2 is acting as a stabilizer, for who knows what some kind of reaction (where we see in his cave-science and also with Vanko that there’s some kind of gaseous or fluidic addition that causes the glow). (Palladium is also in the same metal group as iridium— what Selvig says he needs to stabilize the tesseract portal.)
Actually, crap, I might have to go back and find my original notes on this, because I initially stumbled onto it when I was researching catalytic converters and incidentally, looking at wikipedia just now, palladium is also used in fuel cells. But I believe there’s a line in either Iron Man or IM2 about this? That it’s a stabilizer? Anyway, it brings up interesting thoughts regarding the line “what’s keeping you alive is also killing you”, because catalytic converters decrease pollution output.
When I rewatch Iron Man 2 tonight I will report back, because THIS SHIT IS MY LIFE NOW. (Hahaha, you think I’m kidding…)
BUT OH. MY GOD. IF THE ELEMENT THAT TONY DISCOVERED MAKES SPACE WARPING A POSSIBILITY? YES. YES I SHIP THIS LIKE THE MOTHERFUCKING USPS. And I’m already sort of a philatelic, SO.
I mean, if we’re talking heavy elements (we are), and on top of that potentially transuranium heavy elements, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ELEMENTS THAT ARE SO DENSE THAT YOU HAVE EIGHT SPACE CUBES IN ONE SPACE. HOW DO YOU FUCKING LIKE THAT.
(brb break for me crying because I AM OUT OF CONTROL TODAY, EMOTIONALLY, BETWEEN THIS AND THE S.H.I.E.L.D. SHOW GREENLIGHT)
OKAY! Okay. So this reaffirms all my suspicions that the Tesseract will remain key in the Marvel Movie Universe/franchise. Although hopefully not strictly because it would be too much to have everyone always focusing on this one thing rather than doing their own, and eventually it would devolve into an argument about Marvel Spice-Must-Flow-Where-Are-The-Dilithium-Crystals-Hey-Assholes-We’re-Out-Of-Tylium-Suddenly-It’s-All-A-Parallel-For-the-Oncoming-Energy-Crisis (and isn’t it convenient that I stumbled on this article yesterday).
Although they did say it emitted Gamma radiation, which, admittedly, I was about to use Banner as an outlier to the tesseract-focus theory, but I guess I kinda can’t now. Shit
here’s hoping they don’t also tie in Clint and Natasha to that thread
Okay, I guess, one last complaint I forgot about. I’m not in love with the idea that the Tesseractium (which for some unknown design reason is a triangle and I cannot fathom it) is stopping Loki’s Magic Mind-Warping Mace. (Not a mace, yes, just trying to alliterate.) Well, at least, not strictly on its own. Possibly assisting, but to me it has more to do with the function of Tony’s not-an-artificial-heart in that it acts as electromagnetic field (which was what Yinsen put it initially, hooked up to a car battery) that repels the shrapnel.
Incidentally, I’m not totally in love with the EMF-reactor concept, either, but that’s because I overanalyze things, ESPECIALLY the engineering ones. One, it really bothers me that it’s just “keeping this shrapnel away” rather than him going in for surgery to get it taken out. Shrapnel could still cause internal damage and bleeding even if it’s not finding its way into his vital organs. Two, I always want to say it looks like it’s hooked up to his heart’s action as well because he nearly dies when Stane takes it out of him, but then I remember that Stane gave him the sonic-paralytic so nevermind.
Um, also, rewatching IM the other day, when he gets Pepper to put the second arc reactor in in the lab scene, there’s that dangly hookup, and I was just like “wtf? He took the magnet out what is going on” and then he’s just like “hook it into the base plate” TONY WHY DO YOU HAVE A BASE PLATE IN YOUR CHEST CAVITY THERE IS LIKE NO EARTHLY REASON FOR THAT TO BE NECESSARY.
However, same scene, of note: he took the ghettorigged magnet out at that point so theoretically the second reactor acts to create an EMF field without such an obviously “magnet” magnet. Design concept that I feel is probably worthy of note (if only because I might bitch about it again in the future regarding engineering and plot consistency).
Fun fact, I just wiki’d artificial hearts and the guy who first successfully got one implemented was named Jarvik. There’s probably some horrible, wretched, break-your-heart angsty fic (or maybe just essay parallel) hiding in that fact regarding Tony’s arc reactor and the fact that Jarvis used to be his actual human butler in the comics but is now a computer program.
[EDIT: Meant to add a note about the colors of Tony’s repulsors/reactors. Generally they seem more whitish to me, and I think the bluish tint in the underwater scene was the water itself. However I’m not going to totally dismiss it as his “tech” has had a blue theme in all the movies, from his computers to his holoCAD to Jarvis to the HUD. (which really bothered me in Avengers?! like seriously I don’t think he was joking about the spinning rims because he fucking lit his helmet up with blue neon underlighting. TONY.)
ALSO LET’S APPRECIATE WHATEVER WRITERS/ADVISORS/EVERYONE WHO ARE WRITING RELATIVELY ACCURATE SCIENCE PLOTS REGARDING… SCIENCE. I.E. PALLADIUM AND IRIDIUM AND TESSERACTS AND STARK’S LAWS AND ALL OF THAT WHOLE JAZZ]Source: scratch-the-maven
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