Remember the time you were dragged into the theaters by your nerd friends or a nerd ex-boyfriend to watch The Avengers? Or you just wanted to watch a superhero movie because you wanted to seem tough to the new girl you’re dating? Or maybe you just wanted to watch The Avengers because of the hype? Well, that’s not the problem, problem is- no matter what the scenario was, you actually ended up liking the movie. But you cannot really get the most of it because you don’t know about the references, about why your nerd friends are screaming and gasping and wooing at the smallest of dialogues. You don’t know how the plot came to this or how this guy is connected to that girl. But whenever you want to watch the movies, there are just so many of them that you can’t really get a hold of it. And now that there is at least one TV Show connecting to the MCU directly, your head just spins.
Enough with you being the lost one now, it’s time you took your beginner’s lesson to enter the- MCU, and get on the ultimate adrenaline rush of knowing all those references. All the movies of MCU, along with the TV shows related to them are detailed for you below, in absolute perfect chronology (without spoilers).
1. Ironman- (Released- April 14, 2008)
The film where it ALL started; and probably still the best individual superhero film in the MCU. Directed by Jon Favreau, the film focuses on the origin of Ironman- where he came from, and who he had to become before he became Ironman. The role of Ironman is portrayed by Robert Downey Junior, or more accurately speaking- Downey IS Ironman, because there has never been and probably never will be a better fit for the lovable narcissistic playboy technocrat of a character with a drinking problem. It is an absolutely well-directed well-acted entertaining movie with one of the best origin stories of all sci-fi films. But interestingly, Marvels studios had no idea that this was actually the stepping stone to a much bigger universe; so they only decided to get further on with the series IF the film were a successful one (which it was- a huge one). This is the reason you wouldn’t find many references in this film as the latter ones, but rest assured, Ironman is a fully pleasurable 2 hour journey with jam-packed action, tremendous storytelling and a lots of AC/DC.
2. The Incredible Hulk- (Released- June 6, 2008)
This movie cannot be connected to the rest of the MCU so much as the others. For starters, it has Edward Norton playing Bruce Banner, a.k.a- the Hulk in it, who did not reprise the role in the later films of MCU. This is not an origin story, and some people mix it up as a sequel to Ang Lee’s 2003 movie- The Hulk, where Hulk was played by Eric Bana. Yes, Ang Lee’s Hulk was an origin story, with a particularly dark theme, and that movie was more of an artsy one than a typical superhero action movie. So, you can watch it, it’s definitely a well performed movie, but that movie is NOT related to the MCU, the Incredible Hulk is. Incredible Hulk focuses on the ramifications of Dr. Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk, and has very little references to the MCU. But brace yourselves for the end credits scene, and only then you will know that the connections have started. This movie’s Hulk (the character) goes on into MCU, meaning the Hulk you see in the later films has this film as his background, only the role is now played by Mark Ruffalo.
3. Ironman 2- (Released- April 26, 2010)
Downey is back with the sequel to Ironman, and he is back in style. Though the movie has lower ratings than the first one, this movie has quite a bit of actions too and a lot of references to SHIELD. Now, SHIELD is a BIG part of the MCU, and a very interesting one, so much so as to have its own TV show. Therefore, even if you do not enjoy it as much as you did the first Ironman movie, sit through it to look for Easter eggs and enjoy!
4. Thor- (Released- April 21, 2011)
Now that we have Ironman and Hulk- two superheroes IN the world, MCU moves on to the hero who connects it all to the OUTSIDE world. This movie is technically not an origin story, since Thor originated before everyone else did. Yes, he is a God, so he was born eons ago. But the film shows how Thor came into the modern day earth and got connected to the whole MCU. With a decent plot and excellent acting from the protagonists, Thor can be easily rated as a good watch.
5. Captain America- The First Avenger- (Released- July 22, 2011)
So the producers now know that The Avengers is happening, and that they need a background to the first Avengers movie. Enter- Steve Rogers- a.k.a Captain America. It’s an origin story, and it brings in the world’s first superhero. The background for Avengers was also referenced in Thor, but it gets more detailed here.
6. The Avengers- (Released- April 11, 2012)
And finally, what it’s all been built up till now, arrives. Every comic book nerd’s dream come true- the best and the finest of all superheroes come together to save the world. Every hero in the movie has individual movies as back stories, except the SHILED agents, although they will not be entirely new to you. Jam-packed with action, suspense and thrill, the Avengers is definitely one of the best movies in MCU. And also, this is the movie that ends Phase One for MCU.
7. Ironman 3- (Released- April 14, 2013)
Phase two of MCU starts with this movie. Originally, it was supposed to be a sequel to both Avengers and Ironman 2. But later, the producers decided to focus only on Tony Stark. As you know, the world has changed. People now know that there are superheroes, and that they will protect the earth no matter what. They are the toughest, they are the mightiest. But after what happened in The Avengers, it’s bound to have effects on the superheroes too. As the Marvel team says- “Tony is facing something world changing, and he is a very scientifically minded guy who thought he was at the cutting edge of science, and suddenly he learns there’s an infinite amount he doesn’t know.” Ergo, watch Tony Stark deal with the changes, and deal with it in style.
8. Thor 2- The Dark World (Released- October 30, 2013)
The mighty Thor is back again, with an agenda to not to just save one world, but many. Set after the course of events in The Avengers, Thor 2 focuses on Thor’s growth as a person (or an Asgardian), and his kinship with his lady love. Filled with cosmic science, actions and thrills, Thor 2 definitely has its place in the MCU; and though there aren’t actually a lot of references in this film, please sit through the ends credit scene for a new kind of surprise.
9. Captain America- The Winter Soldier- (Released- March 13, 2014)
The best stand-alone Marvels movie since Ironman, Winter Soldier is the story of Steve Rogers fighting for the right till the end. The plot is more than an excellent one, and the action is just out of the world! Gather all of your intel on SHIELD till now because the plot revolves around it. There are a hell lot of references in this movie, including the ones related to the upcoming characters and films in the MCU, and therefore is like a Christmas for a true MCU fan. Sit through two hours of absolute kick ass entertainment and superior storytelling, and fall in love with Cap all over again.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy- (Released- July 24, 2014)
Behold an absolutely new gang of lovable misfits into the MCU, the mightiest ones not in just one world, but in a whole Galaxy. None of the characters come with individual backstories, although the film sufficed with that. The movie has a cross galactic plot and has little references to the prior movies, yet, it’s a really fun watch. It has been renewed for a new volume, and is yet to be connected with The Avengers, although producers have confirmed that since the Avengers and the Guardians are two teams of protectors around the worlds, they are likely to have a crossover somewhere in the future of the Universe.
11. Age of Ultron- (Released- April 22, 2015)
The second installment to the Avengers, Age of Ultron is where the earth’s mightiest heroes come back together to save the world. A few new characters are introduced in the movie. The movie has a lot of references and sets up plots for a few upcoming films in the MCU as well. This movie shows an absolutely different face of the Avengers, of how they have all grown and become matured since the first time they were together. The plot is amazing and so is the action. It leaves some pretty deep ramifications behind, but at the end, all turns out well.
12. Ant Man- (Released- June 29, 2015)
And finally, the film that ends Phase Two. Ant-Man is the newest member of the MCU, and is brought in with a great new story. This movie’s plot has nothing much to do with the previous films, but it does have a few mind-blowing references. The action is brilliant, so are the performances, so sit tight throughout a different kind of superhero tale.
Marvels Agents of SHIELD
As the name suggests, the series is about SHIELD. All the inside stories, all the humdrums, everything depicted with an absolutely superb plot and remarkable characters. It first aired on September 24, 2013- 5 months after Ironman 3 hit the theatres. The series is an ongoing one and is currently showing the third season. Meanwhile, Thor 2 came to the screen on October 2013- the references to which are shown in the 8th episode of the First season. So watch that episode after you watch Thor 2. Then, Captain America 2 hit the theatres on March 2014, which creates a HUGE impact on SHIELD. Therefore, the detailed ramifications are inevitably portrayed on the show. The episode that starts with the consequential events after Captain America 2 is the 17th one in Season 1. Also, the 20th episode of the second season refers to the aftermath of Age of Ultron.
This series is not set in the current MCU, rather in the 1940’s- in the timeline after the Second World War. It first aired in January 6, 2015, and is a continuation of Agent Carter’s story after the movie Captain America- the First Avenger. The series has references towards the foundation of SHIELD and a few other things in the MCU, but it is not necessarily connected to the films.
All these aside, Netflix has joined Marvel’s hands to make the fans enter a new world of awesomeness. The first series from Netflix and Marvels is Daredevil- that is already a hit, and first aired on April 10, 2015. It is an absolutely brilliant show, with some references to the MCU, but directly connecting to none.
Next, Marvels and Netflix are bringing in three new characters in respective series as well, them being Jessica Jones (which is already airing), Ironfist and Luke Cage. All four series will run concurrently with the MCU, but they won’t join the films, although they will be joining each other in a miniseries called The Defenders, allegedly planned to hit the TV in 2016.
And let’s not forget the One Shots that Marvel has been distributing like Halloween candies. Their list is given below-
1. The Consultant (Watch after The Incredible Hulk)
2. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (Watch after Thor)
3. Item 47 (Watch after The Avengers)
4. Agent Carter (Watch after Captain America- The First Avenger)
5. All Hail the King (Watch after Ironman 3)
So there's your whole guide to the MCU, now jump in and get started!