The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been expanding since 2006 when Iron Man premiered, and as they've introduced new characters, cameos and teased future films sometimes the timeline can be confusing, and unless you're re-watching each movie or television show occasionally it's easy to forget some of the details.
Here is a helpful guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to the present:
Iron Man (2008)
Introducing: Tony Stark/Iron Man, Pepper Potts, James Rhodes, Phil Coulson, Nick Fury, Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger and Happy Hogan.
This film exceeded all expectations and suddenly made Iron Man a household name as huge and popular as Superman or Spider-man. It was a a huge gamble for Marvel Studios, and executive producer Jeremy Latcham was quoted saying that over 30 writers had passed on the project. Pretty interesting now that not even a decade later people are lining up to be involved in a Marvel movie!
The film opens with spoiled playboy Tony Stark making a sale on his inherited company's massive amount of weapons. He's captured by the terrorist group Ten Rings who try to make him build weapons for them. Instead he builds the original Iron Man suit and escapes. After being rescued by the military and hiding out in his home for a long period of time Tony creates a more advanced Iron Man suit. He uses it to take out the weapons depots in Afghanistan that had gotten a hold of Stark Industries weapons. In the end you realize it's his mentor and father's former partner Obadiah Stane who had sold weapons to the terrorists and even had given Tony to them. Stane has built his own version of an Iron Man suit and the two fight which leads to Stane's death. The next day at a press conference Stark tells the world that he is in fact the superhero the media has named "Iron Man" which is awesome because up to this point in all superhero movies the character had hidden behind their codename and mask! This set an unusual precedent for almost all of the MCU's heroes.
1. Rhodes watches Iron Man take off to fight the bad guy, he looks at the other suits and says "Maybe next time," hinting at a future for War Machine.
2. Coulson spends the film trying to get a meeting with Stark or Potts to ask for Stark Industries to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. This character explodes as a fan favorite who now anchors a TV show, a character that didn't even exist in the comics at the time!
3. Nick Fury appears at the end of the credits telling Stark "Did you think you're the only superhero in the world?" He walks out of the shadows and says "You've become part of a bigger universe you just don't know it yet." - Wait, is he talking to Stark or the audience? - and then he says the magic words that still make me tingle with excitement: "I'm here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative." Super exciting! If you don't remember here it is:
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Introducing: Bruce Banner/Hulk, Betty Ross, Samuel Sterns/Leader, Doc Samson, General Ross, and Blonsky/Abomination.
Returning: Tony Stark
In this sequel/re-imagining of the original Banner is on the run from the government who is hunting him after their failed experiment test of a super soldier serum turned Banner into the rage monster.
With Ross' approval Blonsky is given the failed serum to attempt to subdue the Hulk, instead he's beat and imprisoned (according to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
While the movie is better than people give it credit for what it was missing was heart and the humor we've come to love in Marvel films.
The movie introduces to the villain Abomination, the Leader (who we see "born" in the film) and we're introduced to Ross who could become the Red Hulk.
While none of these actors have returned to their characters yet (William Hurt is scheduled to return in Captain America: Civil War in 2016), the actual only character to reappear has been Bruce Banner, but recast.
1. In an alternate opening only released on the DVD we see Banner hiding out in the arctic while he's in a dark mental place and contemplating suicide. In a corner of the screen you'll notice Captain America frozen in the ice. This scene was scrapped because of the dark premise of suicide, and if you blink you'll miss Cap, but he's there!
2. In the end credits scene Tony Stark approaches General Ross in a bar to discuss the Avengers Initiative and presumably to swap information about the Hulk. We later learn, thanks to Marvel One Shot "The Consultant". that Coulson sent Stark in just to annoy Ross, and to hopefully keep Blonsky/Abomination from falling into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. This was at Jasper Sitwell's urging and since we now know he was working for Hydra it's curious what their motive could be! Could Hydra have Abomination?
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Introducing: Black Widow, Justin Hammer, and Whiplash
Returning: Tony Stark/Iron Man, Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, Phil Coulson, James Rhodes/War-Machine, and Nick Fury
Our second Avenger is introduced in this film, Black Widow. Interesting that she was introduced before Thor or even Captain America. Coulson, Widow and Nick Fury all get more story, as did War-Machine who was amazing.
We find out early on in the film that Stark is slowly dying because of the shrapnel inside his body, and the reactor that he's built to sustain himself isn't compensating, because of this we see Stark spiral downward towards alcoholism and reckless behavior. It takes the villain Whiplash to bring him out his funk, along with a cure from Nick Fury. Whiplash is hired by Justin Hammer who competes with Stark Industries for several weapons contracts. Whiplash builds Hammer several automated "Iron Man" suits that he later controls and uses to attack Stark in revenge for his father had been former colleagues with Stark's own father.
The film wasn't as good as the original so, like the Incredible Hulk was disappointing but still a good film. It was on the depressing side, and it was hard to see Tony struggle with the alcoholism, and the scene that always makes me cringe is his birthday party where he's in the suit shooting bottles and watermelons above the guests heads. The movie ends strong, and we see the team up with Iron Man and War-Machine which was really fun. We also see Nick Fury tell Stark that he's out of the Avengers Initiative.
1. Not subtle, but Black Widow is introduced in preparation for the Avengers, and we get to see her kick a ton of ass.
2. While Stark is being debriefed at the end by Fury we see the Hulk's fight with General Ross on the news in the background.
3. Tony is under house arrest and he's rebuilding his suit when Coulson pulls out what looks like an unfinished prototype of Captain America's shield.
4. Coulson is called away by Fury to the Nevada desert and in the after credits scene we see that he has found Thor's hammer Mjolnir in a crater surrounded by locals trying to pull it out of the dirt.
So with Hulk on the news, and Coulson heading to Nevada we know that these three movies took place very close together if not at the same time.
Introducing: Thor, Jane Foster, Odin, Loki, Erik Selvig, Volstagg, Heimdall, Frigga, Hogun, Fandral, Lady Sif, Darcy Lewis, and Hawkeye.
Returning: Phil Coulson, and Jasper Sitwell.
This was a risky move for the studio as well. Thor isn't your typical superhero, he's a Norse God who's actually from another realm! Here we start expanding the large spectrum of the Marvel Universe past Earth into other realities and mythologies. Lucky for the the studio, and for us, Thor did extremely well and
Loki has been the breakout villain in the Cinematic Universe. He's amazing, and we were lucky to have him as a villain in three films.
We begin the film seeing Thor nearly crowned the new King of Asgard but his arrogance has frustrated his father Odin so instead he's banished to Earth without his powers and told he can not regain them or his hammer until he learns humility where Jane Foster, Selvig and Darcy find him because they're studying gravitational anomalies which can transport through realms. Meanwhile back in Asgard Loki learns he's actually adopted and that he was parented by their enemies the Frost Giants. Odin had hoped that with an adopted son in their royal family that they could make peace with the giants, but Loki is furious and betrays them. Even sending the Destroyer after Thor on Earth, hoping he'll be killed without his powers. Thor regains his powers and stops Loki from destroying all of Asgard. Loki falls into a portal and disappears.
Coulson also played a large part in this movie investigating Jane Foster and Selvig's research, and in the after credits scene we see Fury pulling Selvig in to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.
1. Hawkeye appears very briefly when Thor breaks into the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound that has surrounded the hammer.
2. When Jane Foster gives Thor some clothing to wear the shirt's name tag says "Donald Blake, M.d." which is Thor's alternate ego in the comics. Jane explains it was her ex-boyfriends.
3. The Infinity Gauntlet is seen in Odin's vault, teasing at Thanos and the Infinity Gems.
4. Loki is pulled into a different dimension, somewhere, assumingly to meet Thanos (or another one of his goons) to be offered a position to help take down Earth which we later see play out in The Avengers.
5. In the end credits scene we see the banished Loki controlling Selvig as he starts working for Nick Fury who is showing him the Tesseract. This is the first time we see it, and the first of the Infinity Gems which have become the underlying story of the MCU.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Introducing: Steve Rogers/Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Colonel Phillips, Red Skull, Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, Dr. Erskine, Dum-Dum Dugan, and Arnim Zola.
Returning: Nick Fury
Steve Rogers begins as a scrawny and sick kid that fails at each attempt to join the army during WWII. He very much wants to serve his country so he keeps lying to register but keeps getting caught. Finally Dr. Erskine offers him a chance to really "be something". There's no other way to describe it than a "radical procedure" and Rogers becomes tall, strong and fast. As the story develops Cap is only used for rallies to promote war bonds. Eventually with the help of Stark and Peggy, and without permission, he goes behind enemy lines to rescue his best friend Bucky and several dozen other men who are captured. He finds Bucky being experimented on by Red Skull and escapes with all the men. This helps the military realize that he can be useful and during their next raid he and Bucky attempt to stop missiles from being fired to all of America's large cities. Bucky falls and disappears to his "death" and Steve with more determination gets on the plane and crashes it into the ocean with the active bombs on board. He wakes up in a hospital room that looks like it matches the decade but he runs out of it, sees it's a set and runs out into the modern street with cars, billboards and thousands of people. Nick Fury approaches him and tells him he's been asleep for over seventy years.
Really enjoyed seeing Howard Stark, and Peggy Carter has become a favorite! Dum-Dum's cameo made me smile and the Red Skull was well done, I just wish we'd seen more of him to see how evil he is, but what we did see was amazing.
1. We see the Tesseract again but now we learn about what it is. We see how powerful it is and we know that the Nazis are using it to build energy weapons with the help of Hydra.
2. We're introduced to Hydra, the worldwide terrorist organization.
3. Howard Stark tells Captain America that the shield he's made him is made of vibranium. A nod to Black Panther and his country of Wakanda who we'll finally be introduced to in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
4. We see Red Skull pulled into another dimension by the Tesseract, similar to how Loki disappeared after Thor.
5. When Cap rescues Bucky he also rescues several other dozen men, one who will eventually become the husband of Peggy Carter according to her video at the Smithsonian which we see in Cap 2.
There was no post credits scene at the end of Captain America. Instead there was this AMAZING trailer for Avengers. Think back about how excited we were that everything up until now had built up for this and that these strong characters were coming together for a movie! This had never been done before and we still had ten months to wait!
The Avengers (2012)
Introducing: Maria Hill, and Thanos
Returning: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Loki, Selvig, Coulson, Pepper Potts and Jasper Sitwell.
Nick Fury, Coulson, Hawkeye Maria Hill and Selvig, are working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and experimenting with the Tesseract when Loki shows up and steals it, taking Selvig and Hawkeye with him, now under his control. Fury now terrified of what war this may bring to Earth rolls his Avengers Initiative into action manipulating some of Earth's most powerful heroes to join his side in this war. Black Widow lies, and recruits Bruce Banner aka the Hulk, Coulson visits his friends Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, and poor time displaced Steve Rogers is just looking to be useful in this world, and he's eager to have a mission. They easily apprehend Loki and take him back to the Hellicarrier base when Thor shows up to take his brother into custody, and eager to step in and take the Tesserect back to Asgard to be protected.
Even when Loki escapes, nearly destroying the Hellicarrier, killing Coulson (short lived, but he was technically dead) and he brings in his alien army to attack New York the Avengers finally assemble as a team and work together to take back the city, not only from Loki and the Chitauri but against Nick Fury's bosses The World Security Council who order a nuclear strike on New York City! The movie ends with Stark sending the nuke through the portal and killing the aliens.
1. This is something only fans of the comics caught but when Coulson was trying to get a hold of Stark, he answered the phone saying "you have reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark..." In the comics life model decoys are commonly used by high ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel, and in my opinion it's how Nick Fury survived that dive out of the helicopter in the beginning of the film as he tried to take out Loki who was driving off with the Tesseract. it's also how I wished they would have explained him faking his death in Cap 2....
2. Remember how I said the opening scene of Banner contemplating suicide was scrapped in The Incredible Hulk because it was "too dark"? Well Banner tells everyone during their yelling match that he already attempted suicide and it didn't work. Dark yes, off-putting no. It was great side to see that there is a weak side of Banner. A haunted, lost man, it would be a scary world when you're angry, depressed, isolated and you know that even death wouldn't be a release.
3. Of course the largest tease was at the very end when the Other (who was Loki's go between to Thanos, the real puppet master of the entire invasion) tells his Master that their plan didn't work, and he just turns and smiles, of course those who weren't fans of the comics were asking their friends who that purple man was! We know Thanos is planned to play a huge part in the Cinematic Universe and we know that his plan is to get a hold of the Infinity Gems. At this point we'd seen two of them, the first being the Tesseract from Captain America and Avengers and even though we didn't know it at the time the sceptor and it's gem become the plot device of Avengers 2.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Introducing: President Ellis, Aldrich Killian, and Trevor Slattery/Mandarin
Returning: Iron Man, Pepper Potts, James Rhodes/Iron Patriot, Bruce Banner, and Happy Hogan
Throughout the movie we watch Stark struggle with this idea that he barely saved the world during the events that took place in the Avengers. He's terrified because he knows that some big event is going to happen again and he doesn't know he'll stop it. After his buddy Hogan is attacked by some exploding men, and his own house is destroyed he goes on the run with a half working Iron Man suit. Eventually he is captured by Killian who is just pissed that Stark didn't want to work with him fifteen years earlier. He's also kidnapped Potts and has been experimenting on her just like the exploding men, with a project he calls "Extremis". Eventually Iron Man and Rhodes (no longer War Machine, but instead Iron Patriot because it had a more positive American image) take down Killian.
The first installment of the universe after the huge hit Avengers, Iron Man 3 was kind of a let down. While most people are angry that the man who we thought was the villain the Mandarin turned out to be just a paid actor impersonating a terrorist and working for the real villain Killian. I found the twist delightful and unexpected. I like having stories mixed up, it makes them less predictable. It also leaves it open for the Mandarin to become the Mandarin throughout the rest of the MCU. Another beef with the movie is that the President of the United States is in jeopardy but neither S.H.I.E.L.D. nor the other Avengers made appearances. Only Thor has an alibi, we can assume was still in the other realms calming the wars that he talked about in Thor 2.
The ending also brings into question what will happen to Tony Stark now that his arc reactor is out of his chest, the montage at the end shows Tony working to figure out how to cure Potts and himself. It makes sense, instead of working towards building a new and better suit looking for a cure.
1. Dr. Yensin returns in the 1999 flashback. He was the man who helped Stark survive in the cave and build the original Iron Man suit.
2. Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) is introduced as Aldrich Killian's company. The terrorist group is pretty important in the comics.
3. Instead of hinting at a future movie the after credits scene turned out to be Stark telling Banner about the events of what happened, as if he's a therapist and Banner replies that he's not that kind of doctor, but where was he during the movie's main plot?
4. "Tony Stark Will Return" was what read at the very end of the movie, while at the time Robert Downey's contract was in question it has been extended to include Avengers Infinity War I and II (hopefully both), and Captain America: Civil War!
Thor 2: The Dark World (2013)
Introducing: Malekith, Algrim and the Collector.
Returning: Thor, Jane Foster, Loki, Odin, Frigga, Dr. Selvig, Heimdall, Volstagg, Fandral, Hogun, Sif, and Darcy Lewis
As the worlds are aligning Loki is in prison, Thor is fighting for peace in the nine realms, Malekith is in suspended animation waiting for the Aether to return and Jane Foster is searching for portals into these other worlds (presumably looking for Thor).
As the story develops and the Dark Elves attack Asgard, killing Thor and Loki's mother Frigga, Jane Foster is hosting the Aether and Thor is forced to work together with Loki to avenge their mother. In the end Loki is killed, Thor is genuinely upset, and with Jane Foster they return to Earth to fight Malekith. Malekith is killed and Thor returns to Asgard to tell his father of what has happened. As Thor tells him his intentions to remain on Earth he finally receives Odin's blessing and leaves, and we see that Odin is actually Loki doing the hallucination trick. Odin is MIA and worst part of it is that no one will know to be looking for him with Loki impersonating him on the throne.
Overall the movie is kind of underwhelming, especially when it's sandwiched between Iron Man 3 which made a ton of money, and followed by Captain America 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy, unfortunately because of this Thor 2 is quickly forgotten.
1. While fighting the wars around the realms Thor fights a rock creature, called a Kronan. This species actually appeared in the very first Thor comic in a fight with the Asgaurdian.
2. The Aether is the second of the Infinity Stones to make an official appearance, after the Tesseract.
3. The mid-credits scene shows Volstagg and Sif taking the Aether to the Collector to keep it safe. They tell him that it's unwise to keep too many of the Infinity Stones together (since they already have the Tesseract), AND we actually hear someone reference them as Infinity Stones! They leave and the Collector replies "One down, five to go..."
4. With Loki on the throne of Asgard pretending to be Odin it'll be interesting to see what plays out. He faked his own death so no one is the wiser, but did he kill Odin? Could Loki just be hiding because he's afraid of how he failed Thanos? What happens once Thanos comes to Asgard looking for the Tesseract and he finds Loki?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Introducing: Falcon, Brock Lumlow/Crossbones, Sharon Carter/Agent 13, Alexander Pierce, Baron Strucker, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Returning: Captain America, Black Widow, Bucky/Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Peggy Carter and Jasper Sitwell.
Coming out of the underwhelming Captain America origin story this movie blew everyone out of the park. We open with an amazing fight scene where Cap has now joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and is operating closely with Fury and Black Widow, Cap is introduced by Fury to a program S.H.I.E.L.D. is working on to link Helicarriers together that can detect and eliminate threats through preemptive strikes. Cap is deeply opposed to this as it goes against the idea of innocent before guilty while
Fury becomes suspicious that someone is hacking him and he's attacked by several Hydra agents and finally the mysterious Winter Soldier which he barely escapes and hides at Cap's apartment where he gives Cap a flash drive and tells him S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised as he's gunned down by the Winter Soldier. Cap goes into hiding with Black Widow, and makes friends with Falcon because of their bond over being former military. The trio kidnap Sitwell, a known Hydra agent, and question him about the Helicarriers, he tells them that they've been reprogrammed to take out anyone who is dangerous to Hydra. The three fight the Winter Soldier who is revealed to be Cap's best friend Bucky since childhood, who didn't die on the mountaintop that day seventy years ago. They team up with Maria Hill, and a Nick Fury who is NOT really dead and take down the three Helicarriers and S.H.I.E.L.D. along with it. Bucky saves Cap's life but leaves before he wakes up.
1. When Cap meets Falcon in the beginning he pulls out a notepad full of things he intends to look into in the new century. It includes things like music and movies, but it's cool to note that there were several versions of this list in the movie depending on which part of the world you saw it in, catering each of the lists to the locals.
2. The beginning fight on board the Lemurian Star was the kick off moment in the movie where Cap fights the villain Batroc. Batroc was a minor villain off and on in the comics.
3. Before the movie debuted there was a lot of fuss over the Red Skull appearing in the film. People were convinced he'd show up, and most likely be Pierce in disguise. This was primarily because of action figures that were released and a track on the soundtrack was labelled "Alexander Pierce is the Red Skull" which made a fairly large statement about the movie. Both were later confirmed as red herrings meant to throw the fans off, and Red Skull never made an appearance and Pierce died.
4. New Helicarriers are introduced since the original in the Avengers. Nick Fury makes a small comment to Cap that they're courtesy of Stark Industries and that Stark personally had some input after being "up close and personal", a reference to Stark fixing one engine during an attack on the Helicarrier in Avengers.
5. Casual fans may have been surprised when the Winter Soldier's mask was removed to reveal Bucky but the seed was planted back in Captain America where Hydra and the Red Skull had been experimenting on him. Even though in this film he's brainwashed and crazed he eventually becomes a hero and even takes the shield and codename Captain America during Steve's short lived death. Time will tell if we'll see the same in the MCU, but I hope so!
6. Armin Zola makes an odd cameo. He's dead but he's downloaded himself onto a 1970s supercomputer. Cap and Widow found this computer where we got the stereotyped "villain monologuing" as Zola distracts them from the imminent attack, and his computer is ultimately destroyed.
7. Senator Stern makes a small cameo as a Hydra agent and is eventually arrested. You may remember Stern from Iron Man 2 where he was attempting to get the US government to force Stark to give up his suits. Now that we know he's Hydra it's interesting that Hydra wanted to get their hands on the Iron Man....
8. When Sitwell is explaining to Widow, Cap and Falcon that the Hellicarriers are programmed to kill anyone who stand in Hydra's way he name drops Bruce Banner and Stephen Strange. We know who Banner is but Strange is an exciting one. We know he's a sorceror and that he'll be getting his own Marvel movie very soon played by Benedict Cumberbatch!
9. At the end of the film we get a montage of what each of our characters are doing with the fall of Hydra. We see Rumlow, now a burn victim and elluding to his future as Crossbones. We also see Carter or Agent 13 as a CIA agent. She's a common love interest for Cap in the comics and is even the one who kills him when she's brainwashed! Carter is actually the niece of Peggy Carter who also cameoed in the movie.
10. In the mid credit scene we see Baron Strucker now in possession of Loki's scepter at a new Hydra base where he talks about his "miracles" and we see our first look at the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
11. In the after credits scene we see Bucky now dressed casually making his way through the Smithsonian learning about his original adventures with Captain America, presumably attempting to regain his memories.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Introducing: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot, Rocket Racoon, Ronan, Yondu and Nebula.
Returning: The Collector, and Thanos
This movie is the oddest out of all the Marvel movies. It's the one that stands the most on it's own, however it's also become one of the most popular and Marvel was so confident in it's success that they greenlit a sequel before the first was even released!
We're introduced to Peter Quill/Star Lord at a young age immediately following his mother's death when he's abducted by aliens and taken from Earth. We see him as an adult where he's a thief for hire and he's stealing an Orb that we'll know as one of the Infinity Gems. The Orb becomes the plot device that everyone is after and our heroes come together to form a team to stop Yondu from getting his hands on it to sell, as well as Thanos and his children Ronan and Nebula from using it for themselves. Eventually Ronan betrays Thanos, uses the stone but is killed by the Guardians who, between the four of them, can possess the power of the Infinity Stone thanks to Quill's mixed human and alien parentage. The Orb is left with the Xandar Nova Corps.
1. Not really a "tease", but we see the Collector again as he's a prospective buyer for the Orb. He explains to the Guardians (and the audience) that before the universe was formed there were six singularities that held enormous power and today they're scattered all over the universe. We see how powerful the Orb is as one of his servants grabs it and, rejecting her as a host, blows up his entire museum. Now we know the Aether is also there at this time, so what happened to it?
2. At the end of the movie we find out that Quill's father wasn't human after all, that his species is something much more ancient. We also learn that Yondu was originally hired to kidnap Quill and bring him back to his father but didn't.
3. In the Collector's museum there are lots of things that can be seen and also over-analyzed. Some that are confirmed are Howard the Duck, Cosmo the Psychic Dog, and even a Chitauri from Avengers. Another that is among large speculation is Beta Ray Bill. A horse headed man can be seen from behind in one of the cages, however this has been confirmed as NOT Beta Ray Bill.
4. Even though Yondu appears in the film as an anti-hero, he actually appeared in the comics as a founding teammate to the Guardians.
5. The Other returns showing again that he is the go between for Thanos and his servants, however Ronan kills the Other and goes to talk directly to Thanos. Even though Thanos plays a small in this film we know his part is coming up quick, and he even smiles quite largely at both the failed attempts to take over Earth in Avengers and when Ronan betrays him, like it's part of his plan along?
6. The mid credits scene shows us that Groot is in fact alive and is already growing rapidly in his new pot, and the after credit scene shows the destroyed museum of the Collector and his interaction with Cosmo and Howard the Duck.
7. In the comics the planet Xandar is actually destroyed without being introduced, and the last remaining Nova Corps member comes to Earth and gives his power to Richard Rider who becomes the superhero Nova. It's my assumption that Thanos will go after the Orb on Xandar and destroy the planet in the Guardians sequel. Now that we're invested in the planet and it's inhabitants it would be an easy way to show us how dangerous Thanos is, and what he's planning for Earth.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Introducing: Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, Ultron, Laura Barton, Ulysses Klaue, and Helen Cho.
Returning: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Banner/Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Selvig, Baron Strucker, Peggy Carter, Heimdall, Falcon and War-Machine.
The initial action sequence we see the Avengers attack a Hydra base to find Loki's scepter. We see that Hydra has several Chitauri technologies that they've been experimenting on and the Avengers are attacked by the "miracles" Strucker has been experimenting on the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Back at Avengers tower Stark and Banner experiment with AI using some of the tech they found at the Hydra base. That night the AI, Ultron, comes to it's own intelligence and rebels against the Avengers destroying parts of the tower, and stealing the scepter. Ultron kills Strucker and recruits Quicksilver and the Witch to work for him. The Avengers pursue them and after an altercation the Witch subdues all the Avengers with her psychic abilities and shows them their worst fears. The only ones she misses are Stark and Hawkeye. Ultron and the twins escape as Stark is distracted with the Hulk rampaging through the nearby city. When the worldwide backlash comes up against the Hulk and Avengers because of the destruction he caused the team goes into hiding at Hawkeye's secret farmhouse and his secret wife and kids. The twins learn more about Ultron's plans and realize he plans for human extinction so they ditch him for the Avengers who they help in stealing Ultron's final android form that's powered by the Infinity Gem from Loki's scepter. Thor helps awaken the android body and explains to his teammates about the stones. The team, now reunited, and joined by Vision, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver head to Sokovia to take on Ultron and his army of robots. During the final battle Nick Fury, and Maria Hill show up with a Helicarrier to aid in the rescue efforts of the city and Quicksilver is shot protecting Hawkeye and a small child. Vision confronts the final Ultron body and destroys it. In the end Hulk disappears leaving the team, Iron Man agrees to fund the team but only from behind the scenes, Hawkeye moves to his farmhouse with his family, and Thor leaves for the other realms to investigate why the Infinity Stones have been popping up the last few years. The New Avengers are introduced to us: Captain America, Black Widow, War-Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and the Vision.
1. In Strucker's base he's shown experimenting on Chitauri technology including one of the "whales" in one piece. How did Strucker ever get that out of New York?
2. At the Avengers tower during Stark's party Cap and Falcon talk about their "missing persons case", they are of course referring to their search for Bucky.
3. After the party the Avengers joke around with Thor and each try to lift his hammer. Stark can't move it, even with the Iron Man suit, or War Machine's help, but Cap moves the hammer an inch. Why isn't Cap worthy, as he's the epitome of pure intent? Well in his vision from the Scarlet Witch we see his worst fear is when the war is over. Cap gave up his life to be experimented on for the war, and after sacrificing himself to the war he woke up seventy years later and has absolutely no idea what to do in this century. I suggest that Cap wasn't able to move the hammer because deep down he needs the war to keep going, it's his entire self-identity and he doesn't know what he would d without it.
4. We didn't get to meet Black Panther but we hear the first of Wakanda and their vibranium mines. We do meet Ulysses Klaue and Ultron cuts off his hand, a tease at the character who will most likely be the villain in the Black Panther film.
5. Peggy and Heimdall both appeared in Cap and Thor's visions, respectively.
6. Laura Barton is actually a character from the Ultimate comics who's also married to Hawkeye and the characters have children. Her story doesn't end well though, she and her children are murdered by a traitor within the Avengers who is eventually revealed to be Black Widow. Dark, right?
7. In Black Widow's vision we see her go through some of her KGB training which involved a hysterectomy and ballet lessons. In the comics the character has so much history with ballet, and it helps her with her fighting form.
8. After her brother is killed and she retaliates with immense destruction towards Ultron the Scarlet Witch stays behind satisfied that her death is imminent. The Vision flies in and saves her, possibly eluding to their famous comic romance.
9. There is no after credits scene, but the mid credits scene is Thanos grabbing the Infinity Gauntlet and saying "Fine, I'll do it myself!" eluding to the upcoming Infinity War movies.
Introducing: Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Hope Pym, Hank Pym/Ant-Man, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, Paxton, Luis, Maggie and Cassie.
Returning: Falcon, Captain America, Bucky, Peggy Carter and Howard Stark.
We open up the movie to a flashback and see the Triskilieon, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters that were destroyed during Captain America 2, with Peggy Carter, Howard Stark and Hank Pym discussing the Pym particles technology. Pym refuses to give it up and resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the present we meet recently released convict Scott Lang bunking up with his former cellmate Luis, we learn about his daughter Cassie, and how he's not allowed to see her until his child support payments get caught up, and unable to get a job with his criminal record he finally takes Luis up on a plan for a heist. Little do they know they're being manipulated into the heist by the very man they're stealing from - Hank Pym. Scott ends up stealing the Ant-Man suit and as Pym teaches him how to use it we find out that Darren Cross, the new man in charge of Pym Industries, has been developing his own Pym particles and has figured out the secret. With the help of Pym's daughter Hope and Luis they create a plan to break into the office and steal his prototype. Cross puts on his own suit and becomes Yellowjacket and in the final battle between he and Lang he takes Lang's daughter Cassie hostage. Eventually Cross' suit is broken and he continues to shrink past the subatomic into infinity.
1. For part of their plan Lang and Pym need some Stark tech so Pym goes to a Stark warehouse that is actually the New Avengers building and he has a fight with Falcon. Later in the film Falcon comes back looking for Lang.
2. When Darren Cross is making a speech to the shareholders he uses the terms "Tales to Astonish" which is a reference at Ant-Man's first appearance in the comic "Tales to Astonish".
3. At one point Lang suggests they call the Avengers for help and with Pym's reaction it's fairly obvious that he still harbors strong negative feelings Stark since he left S.H.I.E.L.D. He even makes a comment about cities falling from the sky which is a reference to Sokovia in Age of Ultron.
4. The Wasp was something that fans have been wanting since before Ant-Man was even announced. She was a founding member of the comic book Avengers and we finally got to see a tease of her in this film. In a flashback we saw Pym's wife the original Wasp who, like Cross, broke her suit and has been shrinking for infinity. In the mid credits scene Pym shows his daughter a prototype suit for her to become the new Wasp.
5. Lang's daughter Cassie grows up to be Stature a member of the Young Avengers. I would love to see a future movie where this actually comes to the big screen!
6. In the after credits scene we see Cap, Falcon and Bucky. It looks like they've finally found their missing person and he's in bad shape! Falcon says that this would have been better a week ago, and that Iron Man is busy and it's strongly insinuated that he can not be trusted and Falcon says "I might know a guy," referring to Ant-Man.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-Present)
Introducing: Melina May, Grant Ward, Skye/Quake, Fitz, Simmons, Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird, Deathlok, Lincoln Campbell, Lance Hunter, and Alphonso "Mack" Mckenzie.
Returning: Coulson, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Lady Sif
After his death in Avengers Nick Fury experiments on Coulson and has him brought back to life. He creates a special ops team of S.H.I.E.L.D. and after the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier when S.H.I.E.L.D. is completely destroyed Coulson creates a "New" S.H.I.E.L.D. with his team and in season 2 meets up with a much larger S.H.I.E.L.D. team that also survived the Hydra attack and the two merge.
Also in season two S.H.I.E.L.D. was introduced to the Inhumans and their terrigen crystals which can either kill you or give you powers. Skye was given those powers as she has some Inhuman parentage it turns out.
1. Several times the idea of a supervillain prison comes up called The Cube. One inmate we know of is a character who has yet to appear - Marvel Boy. The Kree anti-hero has been a large part of several comics crossovers including the time Norman Osborn created a team of Dark Avengers and Marvel Boy posed as his version of Quicksilver. We've also met comic book villain Gravitron who controls the force of...you guessed it...gravity! Also Absorbing Man and several other 'B' and 'C' villains.
2. In the first season scientist and S.H.I.E.L.D. member Fitz said several times to his teammates "embrace change". This was also the slogan for the Skrull Invasion during the comics crossover Secret Invasion. Could they be teasing that the Skrulls are already among us?
3. We've been introduced to not only the Inhumans, who will play major roles in the upcoming stories, but also the alien race the Kree who we also saw in Guardians of the Galaxy. These aliens are responsible for creating the Inhumans thousands of years ago, and for giving Captain Marvel her powers.
4. Once Hydra gives the word to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. with all their sleeper agents one of our main characters Grant Ward is shown to be a true villain, and has quickly become the main villain of the series.
5. In the pilot and first season finale Nick Fury makes a cameo giving Coulson instructions. Maria Hill has also cameoed a few times to give her two cents and aid. Lady Sif from Asgard has also appeared twice.
6. Lady Sif knows that Coulson survived the events of the Avengers, but none of the Avengers know. Could she break the news to Thor? How long until the rest of the heroes find out he's alive and Fury has been lying about one more thing?
Agent Carter (2015-Present)
Introducing: Edwin Jarvis, Jack Thompson, Daniel Sousa, and Rogery Dooley.
Returning: Agent Carter and Howard Stark.
An Agent Carter miniseries aired when AofS was on hiatus early in 2015, and will air it's second season at the same time come 2016. The show follows Agent Carter working to clear Howard Stark's name at his request who's found himself framed for selling weapons to the enemy.
1. In the premiere Howard Stark is interrogated in front of government officials, and his attitude is much similar to his sons when he's interrogated in Iron Man 2.
2. Anton Vanko makes an appearance who you should remember from Iron Man 2 where he is much older and encourages his son, Whiplash, to take revenge on the Starks.
3. In Iron Man we "meet" Stark's automated butler system J.A.R.V.I.S., but in this series we meet the original Jarvis who was Howard Stark's butler and confidante.
4. A female villain is introduced as a graduate of the Soviet's Black Widow program. Dottie becomes a main antagonist for Carter, as well as an introduction of the Black Widow program that will eventually train Natasha Romanoff of the Avengers.
5. A tease at the end of the series also has an introduction to the Winter Soldier program led by Hydra scientist Zola.
Introducing: Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Wilson Fisk, Ben Urich, and Claire Temple.
The Netflix original show chronicles Matt Murdock a blink lawyer by day, but vigilante at night as his alter ego Daredevil's early days in fighting petty crime and Wilson Fisk's rise to power.
Murdock and Nelson start their own small law office and after saving her from certain death Page joins them as their secretary. Her and Nelson go back and forth on whether Daredevil is a villain or a hero unaware that he is the alterego of their friend Murdock. Temple aids Murdock whenever he's injured fighting and the two become very close and she helps him attempt to expose Fisk as a crime lord.
1. After his father's death Murdock ends up in an orphanage...the same that Skye grew up in from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Could Skye and Matt know each other?
2. Urich was a famous journalist, not only in Daredevil comics but appeared largely in Spider-Man as well.
3. In a seemingly throwaway line Foggy mentions "that Greek girl" from Matt's past. He is of course referring to Elektra who has yet to appear in the series. I'm hoping for season 2!
4. As we further explore these ninjas Daredevil has come across in Hell's Kitchen. It's very likely that we'll be introduced to the crime organization known as The Hand soon. This could easily tie in with Elektra's entrance as well!
5. While there are no direct tie-ins, no large cameos from characters from other parts of the MCU we've heard mention of the Alien Invasion from the original Avengers, as well as other name drops and incidents.
So there you have it! That is the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to date!
There are still twelve more upcoming movies! Here's what we know about each of them so far.
- Captain America: Civil War will feature the return of all current and former Avengers with the exception of Thor, plus the introduction of newcomer Black Panther, and a young Spider-man.
- Civil War will pit the Avengers against each other as a new law asks heroes to register with the government as a type of superhero enforcement. Captain America will lead the opposed, and Iron Man will lead the government side.
- Dr. Strange will introduce us to the Sorceror Supreme, and we also know this won't be an origin story, but we'll likely see flashbacks of how Strange got his mystical powers.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is set for Summer 2017 and all the main characters are again returning (besides Ronan). We've also been told that Nebula and Yondu will play large roles, we'll see some of Rocket's backstory and the larger story will deal with Quill's father.
- The Marvel/Sony joint Spider-Man movie will not be an origin story as he'll have already appeared in Civil War.
- Thor: Ragnorak will be a huge lead in to Avengers Infinity Wars Part I as he'll be searching for answers with the Infinity Stones. It's likely this story will all take place off of Earth. We'll likely see Loki return, but chances that Natalie Portman will are slim. Rumors are she didn't want to return for the sequel but Marvel pushed it because of a previous contract. With this story taking place off world it should be an easy excuse to not have Jane present.
- Avengers Infinity War Part 1 is due for Summer 2018. All we know is that Thanos is putting together the Infinity Gauntlet with all the Stones throughout the previous films. He'll be the big bad guy that our heroes face and they'll all have to come together to beat him. Including the Guardians! Little is known as to who exactly will appear in either Part I or Part II. It's been said that the Avengers won't appear in both so Part I could star the Guardians as Thanos' plan takes off and Part II could be Thanos showing up on Earth and the Guardians close behind to team up with the Avengers.
- Black Panther is being introduced in Civil War, and his solo film will take place between Infinity Wars films which is odd. Especially since the first part will most likely end in a cliffhanger, if the films take place in real time this means that the cliffhanger won't be immediately resolved in the sequel but it'll be one year later, assuming the real time continuity that Marvel has done up to this point.
- Captain Marvel's solo film is also taking place between Infinity Wars films, so it'll be interesting to see how this cosmic character could potentially connect the two films. My hope is that, like Panther, she'll appear somewhere in the Universe before her solo.
- Inhumans is slated to be the last film of Marvel's Phase 3. Which would be an odd way to end the Cinematic Universe so it's very likely that the series will continue after Infinity Wars and after Inhumans, if Infinity War Part II was last I would argue that the MCU could potentially end.
- The Inhumans themselves have been introduced already in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show but we're assuming that the film will introduce us to the Royal Family Black Bolt, his queen Medusa and their families.
- We also can expect great things from the other Netflix series Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders. We know that Punisher is being introduced and can hope for many others of our street heroes!
Well there we go. A very fun article to say the least. Did I miss any easter eggs? Anything that's coming up? What are you looking forward to the most? I want to hear from you!