The Cube is a fictional location, with an unknown origin and mysterious controllers. So far, only three Cubes have been shown in the film series, with each film representing their own Cube. The two Cubes are similiar in shape and design, with some slight, minor differences, while the third Cube is rather futuristic in design, and is technically a tesseract (which cannot exist as a physical structure).
The purpose of each Cube, as well as its benefactors, are unknown, although it can be assumed that each Cube is either closely related, or is directly controlled, by the U.S Government, as all Cube participants (and Cube technicians) are American.
The original, first Cube, was featured prominently in the 2004 prequel, Cube Zero. While this was the last film in the trilogy, chronologically, this is the first Cube. This Cube was shown to have three exits. One was an "official" exit to the Cube that was meant to be found by any participants, the second one was a service entrance directly connected to an elevator shaft to be accessed by Cube technicians (in case of emergencies or in need of repairs), and the last one, the auxillary exit, was a secret exit that lead directly into a lake and was known only to the management of the Cube (but it was still rumored upon by Cube technicians, and was also discovered by Wynn).
This Cube, like the second Cube, featured an industrial design, with a minor difference being that the door mechanism was changed: the clamp of the door didn't pull outward, but instead was rotated 90 degrees to the right, and the door would automatically open. Also, the texture design of the Cubes was different, with the first Cube going for a simplistic design. Unlike the second Cube, where the room panels itself were painted in different colors, the first Cube achieves this effect by simply having the lamps illuminating a different hue. While the second Cube had the wall panels to illuminate the room, the first Cube had simple external lights.
This Cube also boasted highly advanced technology: each room had a mechanical arm that could detect and record neural pathways during REM cycles, essentially recording dreams and projecting them in a form of digital footage.
As with the second Cube, this one also features traps. Most of them have motion sensors, but some are triggered using other means (never stated which ones, but used to prevent the traditional "boot tossing" method that the participants usually employ). It was shown that the code letters also detect which room is safe, and which one is trapped, but never explicitly stated how (Wynn knows the code, but it's unknown if it operates via prime power numbers as in the first film).
Like the second Cube, it featured 17.576 rooms (although this number was never explicitly stated). Unlike the second Cube, which was set on Cartesian coordinate numerical system, the first Cube had a simplified letter system based on the English alphabet (which, since it consists of 26 letters, hence 26x26x26 = 17.576). The letters also indicate the position of the room inside the Cube (latitude, longitude and elevation). The letters were set on the metal plates featured at the edges of the adjoining room entrances, and when the rooms would move, the letters would be erased once the room was aligned back to its original position (also known as "clean sweep"), although clean sweep could also be performed manually.
The first Cube also had a security system: In the event of a malfunction, the Cube would "reset" during which all the traps would deactivate while the Cube would "reboot" back. During this time, the Cube is harmless to explore, as none of the rooms would move, and all the traps are set off. However, after a 10-minute countdown, the Cube would "erase" all participants by flash burning, which would immediately incinerate and vaporize all participants.
The official Exit of the Cube was located on one of the edges of the Cube, which featued a large hall, which was illuminated white (which would temporarily blind a participant). Shortly after, external chains would rise up and chain a participant to his legs and neck. During this, two Senior Technicians have to perform an official "Exit procedure", using a large apparatus which would they remotely connect to the Cube and featured a screen for a remote feed, a microphone and two buttons labeled "YES" and "NO". In this event, a Senior Technician has to ask the participant of his name and whether or not do they believe in God (symbolizing the theocratic nature of the Cube's benefactors). If the participant responds NO, they are then incinerated and killed. It's unknown what happens if they say YES, since Dodd stated that nobody ever said YES (although it is implied that in any case, they are incinerated regardless of their answer).
It can be theorized that this Cube is controlled by a totalitarian, theocratical government (shown twice, where Wynn and Dodd pray before a meal, and another, more direct one, was with the aforementioned official exit procedure). All participants are death row inmates who consented to the punishment, and had their entire memories wiped out. However, it seems that the government has began using the Cube as a political tool against enemies of the state (political activists, journalists, opposition, etc.), which makes Wynn rebel.
In an event of an emergency, a senior Cube Supervisor would arrive from "upstairs", where he and his own technicians would assume direct command of the Cube, granting full access to additional features that regular Cube technicians are unable to do. During this, the Supervisor technicians, equipped with cybernetic egzoskeletons mounted on their arms, palms and fingertips would override the main room and assume direct command. This way, they could initiate shutdown of the Cube, or manually perform clean sweep of all the rooms.
- Cassandra Rains - Alive (successfully escaped the Cube via auxillary exit)
- Robert T. Haskell - Deceased (vaporized via flash fire incineration during "reset")
- Jellico - Deceased (killed after being injected by a flesh-eating virus)
- Meyerhold - Deceased (killed after being strung with multiple fiber wires and decapitated)
- Bartok - Deceased (killed after a trap rapidly increased the atmospheric pressure in the room, causing his body to decompress and explode)
- Ryjkin - Deceased (killed after being sprayed with highly corrosive acid, causing his body to melt)
- Eric Wynn, Junior Cube Technician - Alive (lobotomized, memory wiped and placed in the Cube as a participant for illegally entering the Cube and aiding a participant to escape)
- Dodd, Senior Cube Technician - Deceased (disemboweled by Jax after swallowing a key)
- Owen, Senior Cube Technician - Deceased (abducted, memory wiped and placed in the Cube as a participant, incinerated after answering No in the exit procedure)
- Chickliss, Senior Cube Technician - Deceased (never shown on screen, but death confirmed by Dodd)
- Jax, Senior Cube Supervisor - Alive
- Mr. Finn - Alive
- Mr. Quigley - Alive
The second Cube, like the original, was the setting of the original 1997 film. Unlike the first Cube, the exterior nor the staff was never shown, so the purpose of the Cube was never stated.
The second Cube features a different coding of the room's position, shown in three-digit numerals which indicate the location in the Cube (latitude, longitude and elevation). As with the first Cube, the second Cube consists of 17.576 rooms. As with the first Cube, it also contains traps, activated via sensors (motion, heat and sound sensors).
While it was never stated why the participants were placed inside this particular group, each of them possessed a skill which would aid them in their escape.