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The Essential Marvel Cinematic Universe Guide: Phase One

It’s all been leading to Marvel Studios' 'Avengers: Infinity War'!

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Destiny arrives this Friday, April 27, with the arrival of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War. Ten years in the making, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a head when our heroes come together for battle against the Mad Titan himself. Over the years, this shared universe has developed into a complex web of stories filled with compelling crossovers that keep fans on their toes.

To understand how we got to “Avengers: Infinity War,” we have to start at the beginning. Marvel.com will break it down for you film by film – starting with Marvel Studios’ Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers—focusing on key events and characters to get you ready to assemble for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War! Let’s start from the beginning, in 2008 with the debut of Marvel Studios’ first MCU movie, Iron Man!

IRON MAN

  • Tony Stark—genius, billionaire, playboy—and leader of Stark Industries, a defense company he inherited from his father Howard Stark, is captured by terrorist group Ten Rings in Afghanistan
  • After the attack, Stark and fellow prisoner Doctor Ho Yinsen rig an electromagnet implant in Stark’s chest to keep shrapnel shards from reaching his heart
  • In an attempt to escape, Yinsen sacrifices himself while they create an electric generator to power a suit of armor
  • Returning home with the intent of no longer manufacturing weapons, Stark finds his father’s old Stark Industries partner Obadiah Stane who disagrees with this plan of action
  • Stark uses his time to build a more technologically-advanced suit, as well as a more sophisticated arc reactor, a mechanism that is keeping him alive
  • As the Ten Rings gather up pieces of Stark’s prototype suit to rebuild, Stane kills them and takes the suit for himself, called the Iron Monger
  • Stark’s personal assistant Pepper Potts, upon discovering Stane hired the Ten Rings himself, devises a plan to help Stark with the aid of Agent Phil Coulson from the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.)
  • Stane and Stark’s showdown culminates in a battle that shows off the power of the arc reactors
  • While Agent Coulson attempts a cover up narrative, Stark brazenly admits “I am Iron Man”
  • POST CREDIT: S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury tells Stark about the Avengers Initiative, “You think you’re the only super hero in the world?”

THE INCREDIBLE HULK

  • After exposure to gamma radiation, Dr. Bruce Banner, now with the ability to transform into a creature when his heart rate rises above 200, is on the run and a fugitive from the U.S. military who want to weaponize him
  • Discovered after Banner’s blood accidentally makes his way into a factory bottle, Lt. General Thaddeus Ross sends British military special ops Emil Blonsky to secure Banner, who fails and is then injected with an altered “Super Soldier Serum”
  • Banner continues to do research while corresponding with a mysterious Mr. Blue in hopes for finding a cure
  • After a second confrontation with Blonsky and Ross’ forces, Banner transforms into the Hulk and flees with Betty, his former girlfriend and Ross’ daughter
  • On the run, Banner and Betty meet “Mr. Blue,” Dr. Samuel Sterns, who believes he has found an antidote for Banner, but also reveals he had synthesized his blood into a mass supply
  • With Banner and Betty in custody, Blonsky demands to be injected with Banner’s blood serum regardless of consequences, which turns him into the Abomination
  • Ross allows Banner to transform into the Hulk to stop the Abomination
  • With Blonsky defeated, Banner retreats to Bella Coola, British Columbia where he experiments with transformation control
  • POST-CREDIT: Tony Stark approaches General Ross about a team that he’s putting together

IRON MAN 2

  • Stark has maintained peace through the use of his armor despite pressure from the government, and reinstated the Stark Expo as a nod to his father Howard’s legacy
  • The palladium core in the arc reactor that powers his suit as well as keeps Stark alive, is slowly poisoning him, prompting Tony to appoint Pepper Potters CEO of Stark Industries and hires Natalie Rushman to replace her as his personal assistant
  • While racing at the Monaco Grand Prix, Stark is attacked by an electric whip-wielding Ivan Vanko, whose father Anton collaborated with Howard Stark on the first arc reactor, and now seeks to avenge his father’s death
  • Tech rival Justin Hammer fakes Vanko’s death and enlists him to build a line of armored suits to rival Stark’s, while James “Rhodey” Rhodes takes the Mark II suit to the U.S. military after going toe-to-toe with a despondent and out of control Stark
  • Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury reveals Stark’s new personal assistant is actually Agent Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) and that his father Howard was a S.H.I.E.L.D. founder
  • Fury gives Stark some of his father’s old documents, including a hidden diagram of a new element, which he synthesizes for his arc reactor with J.A.R.VI.S., solving his palladium dependency
  • At Stark Expo, Hammer reveals his new Vanko-designed armored drones, led by Rhodey in a heavily weaponized version of the Mark II armor, which Vanko turns to attack Iron Man
  • Romanoff returns control of the Mark II armor to Rhodes while Stark defeats the drones, ultimately neutralizing the Vanko threat
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to only use Stark as a consultant, Stark and Rhodes receive medals for bravery, and Pepper steps down as CEO
  • POST CREDIT: Agent Coulson reports on a large hammer’s presence at a New Mexico crater 

THOR

  • Physicists Jane Foster and Erik Selvig, along with Darcy Lewis, drive towards a lightning storm in New Mexico where they hit a person with their car in the chaos
  • In a flashback, Odin, King of Asgard, defeats King Laufey and the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, and seizes their source of power, the Casket of Ancient Winters
  • In present day, just as Odin’s eldest son Thor prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, Frost Giants arrive to retrieve the Casket, prompting Thor to travel to Jotunheim to confront Laufey against his father’s warnings with his brother Loki, Sif, and the Warriors Three (Volstagg, Fandral, and Hogun)
  • For his betrayal, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him from Asgard to Migard, as a mortal, with his enchanted hammer Mjölnir, which he can only wield again once he’s worthy
  • After being hit by Foster’s van, Thor goes on the hunt Mjölnir with Foster, where he infiltrates a S.H.I.E.L.D. site where he discovers he is no longer worthy enough to lift his hammer
  • Loki, who learned he is not Odin’s biological son, but a descent of the Frost Giants, becomes acting king after falls into an “Odinsleep” coma and sends the Destroyer to Migard to follow Sif and the Warriors Three and kill Thor
  • The Destroyer attacks the warriors prompting Thor to sacrifice himself, proving him worthy of wielding Mjölnir
  • Betraying Laufey, Loki believes he has proved himself worthy to his adopted father Odin
  • In a fight between Loki and Thor that destroys the Rainbow Bridge, Loki sacrifices himself after Odin refuses to give his approval
  • Thor admits to his father that he is not ready to reign, as Foster and her team on Earth search for a way to connect with Asgard
  • POST CREDIT: Selvig is taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and shown the Tesseract. Mind-controlled by Loki, Selvig agrees to investigate the object. 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

  • In 1942, the Nazis, led by Johann Schmidt, discover an object known as the Tesseract
  • Steve Rogers, rejected from World War II recruitment due to his small stature and health issues, attends an exhibition of future technologies with friend James “Bucky” Barnes where he meets Dr. Abraham Erskine, who allows Rogers’ military enlistment
  • Sacrificing himself during basic training, Rogers proves his worth to Erskine, Col. Chester Phillips, British agent Peggy Carter, and the Strategic Scientific Reserve’s “super-soldier” experiment
  • Schmidt, who underwent a similar super-soldier procedure, and Arnim Zola harness the energies of the Tesseract for the purpose of powering Zola’s inventions
  • Just as Rogers successfully completes the super-soldier treatment, Schmidt’s assassin kills Erskine and flees with the last of the super-soldier serum
  • Rogers tours the country with a revue selling war bonds as “Captain America”
  • Schmidt secedes from the Third Reich, completing the process of forming HYDRA to follow his own agenda
  • Learning that Bucky and his unit were lost in a battle with Schmidt’s forces, Rogers begins a solo rescue attempt, with the aid of a Vibranium shield gifted from Stark, that leads to the discovery of Schmidt’s Red Skull
  • Rogers recruits a team, the Howling Commandos, made up of Barnes, Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth, and Jacques Dernier, to take on HYDRA directly
  • The Tesseract destroys the Red Skull, which Stark recovers in the ocean, while Barnes and Rogers are both presumed dead
  • Rogers awakens to present-day Times Square where Nick Fury tells him he has been asleep for 70 years
  • POST CREDIT: Nick Fury brings Steve Rogers an assignment

MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS

  • During his exile, Loki meets the Other, leader of the Chitauri, striking a deal – recover the Tesseract in exchange for conquering Earth
  • Erik Selvig, lead on Tesseract experiments, unknowingly activates the object, opening a wormhole, and summoning Loki to Earth
  • Loki escapes with Selvig and Clint Barton, whom he brainwashed, as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury and Agent Maria Hill reactivates the Avengers Initiative
  • Agent Natasha Romanoff is sent to find Bruce Banner, Agent Coulson visits Tony Stark, while Fury recruits Steve Rogers, in order to retrieve the Tesseract, putting in play the Avengers
  • His tough brotherly love ineffective, Thor agrees to Loki’s imprisonment aboard S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Hellicarrier
  • Loki escapes his prison at the cost of Coulson’s life, providing fuel for the Avengers to cooperate as a team
  • Reunited, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye take on Loki’s Chitauri invasion of Earth
  • The World Security Council decide to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile which Stark intercepts and diverts into the wormhole before falling back to Earth and being caught by Hulk
  • The explosion stops the Chitauri attack, while Romanoff closes the portal with Loki’s scepter, ending the battle
  • Thor returns home to Asgard with Loki and the Tesseract in tow, while Fury notes that the Avengers will reassemble again if needed
  • MID-CREDIT: The Other tells his master of Loki’s defeat, warning that engaging the Avengers would be courting Death, thus prompting Thanos to smile
  • POST-CREDIT: Post battle, the Avengers enjoy shawarma in silence among the rubble

Don’t get locked out of opening weekend – grab tickets to “Avengers: Infinity War” on Fandango now!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com as we tackle Phase Two and Phase 3 of the Essential Marvel Cinematic Universe Guide.

 

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