Various people handle the tesseract throughout the MCU. I'm interested in the distinction between Ebony Maw in Avengers: Infinity War:

Ebony Maw offers the tesseract to Thanos

(Loki and Thanos also handle the tesseract in this scene.)

and Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger:

Red Skull holding the tesseract

Unlike Ebony Maw, Red Skull gets kind of "beamed up" as a result of handling the tesseract (seemingly involuntarily).

Why is it different when Ebony Maw handles the tesseract and when Red Skull handles the tesseract?

  • There might be something to it, but my first impulse is to answer with another question - why does Thanos' shade of skin color change throughout the teasers/clips and infinity war?
    – David Hobs
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 4:41
  • Fury was able to handle it in the original Avengers, if memory serves Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 4:47
  • @Gallifreyan if you're referring to when Loki first appears, Fury puts on a glove before removing it from the device and trying to escape with it
    – Memor-X
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 5:54
  • Without sounding dismissive, I'm gonna say MAGIC. Ebony Maw impressive magical abilities; not to mention he's not actually touching it in the screenshot you provide. For all Intents and purposes, Red Skull is just a normal dude... Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 6:20
  • 3
    I'd always inferred that the stones work by reading intent. The Skull wanted to use the Tesseract and so it reacted to his touch. Ebony Maw wasn't trying to use it, he was just handing it on to Thanos.
    – Dave
    Commented Jan 24, 2019 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


Because the Tesseract activated when the Red Skull held it

Despite what everyone on Earth believed, Schmidt didn't perish from the Tesseract. Instead, he was teleported to the planet Vormir, the home of the Soul Stone, as punishment for his abuse of the Space Stone's power. Due to loving no one but himself, Schmidt was unable to take control of the Stone for himself and the Stone cursed him into becoming its guardian for over seven decades, rendering him unable to escape the planet and forcing him to advise seekers of the Stone what price they needed to pay to obtain it as well as making him immortal and able to immediately tell who came to Vormir.

Source: Red Skull > Biography > Stonekeeper > Advising Thanos (1st Paragraph)

from the above what happened was that when he held it what happened to the Red Skull was punishment for abusing the power of the Space Stone (what the Tesseract is the container of) since Red Skull used it as a battery for weapons but as per the wikia entry on it

The Tesseract is a cube which contains an Infinity Stone, representing the fabric of space. If used correctly, the Tesseract can open gateways to any part of the universe and provide interdimensional travel.

Source: Tesseract > Capabilities

why did it look like he disintegrated? because it's cool. though seriously it was probably because he was being forced though the portal against his will unlike the times Loki, the Chitauri or Thanos used it's power.

Red Skull's state on Vormir, as indicated in the first quote, seems to be the result of him trying to take the Soul Stone for himself and not having anyone to love (to sacrifice), was punished again.

  • Those quotes are from a fan-authored wiki, not a canon source right? I mean, they have no more authority on the MCU in describing rationales and explanations than I do. They have no way of knowing that the space stone was "punishing" him, rather than perhaps just taking him somewhere he already wanted to go.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 16:14
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    @T.E.D. consider what Red Skull said in Infinity War - "A lifetime ago, I, too, sought the stones. I even held one in my hand. But it cast me out, banished me here. Guiding others to a treasure I cannot possess.". we can infer "it" as being the Space Stone while banishment is a form of punishment. if a stone can punish someone then most obviously it would do so for misusing it's great power. while yes we can't, without a doubt, be sure that it was because he made weapons it's not too much of a leap to speculate
    – Memor-X
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 23:24

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