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The Essential Marvel Cinematic Universe Guide: Phase Two

Marvel Studios' 'Avengers: Infinity War' in theaters now!

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After the debut of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been on a path, culminating in 19 films in total, with it all coming to a head in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War, now in theaters! We began the Marvel.com’s guide to Phase One of the MCU here.

As the stories progress, we go deeper into the MCU with Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. Now on to Phase Two!

IRON MAN 3

  • In 1999, Tony Stark meets scientist Maya Hansen, who has invented Extremis, a regenerative recovery treatment for crippling injuries, as well as disabled scientist Aldrich Killian, who is humiliated when Stark refuses his offer to work with his company, Advanced Idea Mechanics
  • Stark, now suffering from PTSD due to the New York alien invasion, copes by creating dozens of new Iron Man suits
  • Threatening the terrorist known as the Mandarin, Stark finds his home destroyed and his friend and chief of security, Happy Hogan, injured
  • Escaping in a Mark 42 suit, J.A.R.V.I.S. pilots Stark to rural Tennessee where he teams up with a 10-year-old boy named Harley
  • Stark investigates a local explosion to find bombings were actually triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis whose bodies exploded due to rejected of treatment and were part of a cover up for the program’s flaws
  • Stark discovers the Mandarin is actually British actor Trevor Slattery, a creation of Killian, who has appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability
  • Killian, the real Mandarin, kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis
  • Killian intends to kill President Ellis on live television making the Vice President into his puppet leader in exchange for curing his daughter’s disability 
  • Stark saves Potts, who has survived the Extremis procedure, while Rhodey—now the Iron Patriot—saves the President
  • Stark confronts Killian and traps him in a remote Iron Man suit that self-destructs; failing to kill him, Potts returns to finish the job
  • Stark orders J.A.R.V.I.S. to remotely destroy the 21 Iron Man suits, promising Potts he’ll leave his Iron Man persona behind, then undergoing surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart, throwing his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea
  • POST CREDIT: Recalling his PTSD, Stark realizes Banner has slept through his story

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

  • Long ago, Bor, father of Odin, defeated Dark Elf Malekith, whose goal was to unleash the Aether on the Nine Realms
  • After defeat, Bor secured the Aether while Malekith and his Dark Elves retreated into suspended animation vowing to one day return
  • In present Asgard, Loki stands before his father on trial for his crimes against Earth while Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three battle against the Mauraders who have been terrorizing the Nine Realms
  • The event where the alignment of the Nine Realms, known as the Convergence, is imminent, prompting world-linking portals to appear randomly
  • On Earth, Jane Foster is teleported to a distant planet; when she returns, Thor finds her infected by the Aether and takes her to Asgard for help
  • Malekith, awakened by the Aether’s return, attacks Asgard and searches for Jane knowing she contains the Aether, and in the process Thor’s mother Frigga is killed
  • Against Odin’s orders, Thor and Loki use a portal to Svartalfheim in a plot to use Jane to lure Malekith
  • Malekith merges with the Aether after drawing it out of Jane as Loki is left fatally wounded
  • Thor and Malekith battle as the Convergence begins to zenith, until Thor uses Selvig’s devices to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is crushed by his own ship
  • Returning to Asgard, Thor tells Odin of Loki’s heroic death—only for it to be revealed that Loki is in fact impersonating Odin and is alive and well after all
  • MID CREDIT: Sif and Volstagg entrust and hand over the Aether to Taneleer Tivan; unbeknownst to them, he plans to hunt down the other five Infinity Stones
  • POST CREDIT: Thor arrives and surprises Jane

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

  • Adjusting to present day life, Steve Rogers meets Sam Wilson, a veteran U.S. Air Force pararescue trooper
  • Rogers, now working for S.H.I.E.L.D. under Nick Fury, teams up with Black Widow, Brock Rumlow and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s S.T.R.I.K.E. team to rescue hostages from the mercenary, Georges Batroc
  • Rogers discovers Romanoff has her own agenda under orders from Nick Fury, to extract data about Project Insight where three Helicarriers linked to spy satellites will take out potential threats
  • At the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Rogers confronts Fury who becomes suspicious of Project Insight and warns top S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce to delay the project
  • An ambushed and on the run Fury meets with Rogers where they are ambushed by an assassin with a cybernetic arm
  • Romanoff tells Rogers that the assassin is known as the Winter Soldier and using the flash drive a dying Fury handed to Rogers, they find a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. bunker where they access the voice of Arnim Zola who reveals that HYDRA has been secretly operating within S.H.I.E.L.D. within its ranks
  • Zola tells them that deaths of S.H.I.E.L.D. leaders were HYDRA’s doing and implied that Howard Stark’s death was not an accident, they also realize that Pierce is HYDRA’s leader
  • Ambushed by the Winter Soldier, who kills S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/HYDRA mole Jasper Sitwell during the scuffle, Rogers realizes that the Winter Soldier is actually his best friend Bucky Barnes, who was captured and experimented on after the war
  • Fury, having faked his death, plans to sabotage the Helicarriers, while Rogers reveals Hydra’s plot to everyone at the Triskelion
  • Fury kills Pierce, Rogers and Wilson decommission the Helicarriers, ending with The Winter Soldier and Rogers battling, climaxing with The Winter Soldier ultimately rescuing Rogers before disappearing
  • Before leaving to create a new identity, Romanoff hands Rogers a file on Barnes and his experiments, with that information, Rogers and Wilson decide to find the Winter Soldier
  • MID CREDIT: von Strucker walks through a lab where Hydra is experimenting on the scepter, towards two holding cells which imprison “the twins,” Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
  • POST CREDIT: The Winter Soldier walks through the Captain America exhibit and sees a memorial dedicated to Bucky Barnes.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

  • Quill, who was abducted from Earth when he was a child, steals an orb on the planet Morag but is attacked by the disciple of Ronan the Accuser, while Yondu, leader of the Ravagers, issues a bounty for Quill’s capture
  • Ronan needs the Orb to complete a deal Thanos, who has sent Ronan his two daughters, Gamora and Nebula to aid in the collection
  • Quill, attempting to sell the orb, is ambushed by Gamora who steals it, drawing the attention of two bounty hunters–a genetically-engineered raccoon named Rocket and the tree-like Flora Colossus, Groot–who are in the chase for Yondu’s bounty
  • The Nova Corps capture the four and place them in prison where they meet Drax the Destroyer who wants revenge against Ronan for killing his family
  • The ragtag group, with Gamora intending to betray Ronan, escapes the prison and boards Quill’s ship, the Milano, fleeing to Knowhere to make contact with Gamora’s buyer for the orb
  • Ronan meets with Thanos to discuss Gamora’s betrayal who entrusts Nebula to fix the problem
  • The buyer Taneleer Tivan, known as the Collector, opens the orb revealing an Infinity Stone whose power draws in his assistant Carina, who grabs the Stone, triggering an explosion that destroys his collection
  • Ronan arrives, defeats Drax and captures the orb, while Nebula destroys Gamora’s ship, leaving her floating in space until Quill makes a deal with Yondu for the orb in return for their rescue
  • Ronan embeds the Stone in his hammer, taking the power for himself, as Nebula allies with Ronan against her father
  • The Guardians, Ravagers, and Nova Corps confront Ronan, with Groot sacrificing himself for the group
  • Quill destroys Ronan with the freed the Stone 
  • Quill gives the Stone to the Nova Corps, deceiving Yondu who remarks that it was good that the Ravagers did not deliver Quill to his father per their contract
  • Through the Nova Corps, Quill discovers he is only half-human; his father being part of an ancient, alien species
  • MID CREDIT: Drax misses the newly-formed sapling Groot dancing
  • POST CREDIT: Taneleer Tivan sits among the ruins of his Collection while Cosmo and Howard the Duck make an appearance

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

  • The Avengers—Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—raid a HYDRA facility where Baron Wolfgang von Strucker has been using the scepter previously owned by Loki
  • As the Avengers try to reclaim the scepter, Pietro (Quicksilver, who has superhuman speed) and Wanda (Scarlet Witch, who can manipulate mystic energy) Maximoff fight them off
  • After retrieving Loki’s scepter, Stark and Banner discover artificial intelligence in the scepter’s gem, which he secretly decides to use for Ultron, his global defense program
  • As Ultron activates and becomes self-aware, destroying J.A.R.V.I.S. and believing it must destroy humanity, it attacks the Avengers at their headquarters
  • Backlash against the Avengers begins, forcing the team to take shelter at Barton’s home, Thor leaving to look for meaning, and Romanoff and Banner talking about starting a new life
  • Hypnotized by the scepter, Dr. Helen Cho uses the Wakandan Vibranium Ultron acquired from arms dealer Ulysses Klaue and the scepter’s Stone along with her synthetic tissue-generating Cradle to create a body for Ultron
  • Wanda, reading Ultron’s mind, discovers his plan for human annihilation and the twins turn on him, while Barton retrieves the Cradle
  • Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. into the Cradle while Thor brings the body to life with lightning, creating Vision who is a receptacle for scepter’s gem known as the Mind Stone – one of the six Infinity Stones
  • In Sokovia, Ultron has lifted the Sokovian capital with the intent of crashing it to cause mass extinction, as the Avengers fight Ultron, Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and War Machine, arrive to help
  • Wanda, grief-stricken over Pietro’s death, destroys Ultron’s body, while the city descends as Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the city into pieces
  • The Avengers part ways once Vision destroys the last remaining part of Ultron—Hulk fleeing in the Quinjet, Stark and Barton leave the team, Thor returns to Asgard, and Rogers and Romanoff set off to train a new team of Avengers, which includes Rhodey, Vision, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch
  • POST CREDIT: Thanos dons the Infinity Gauntlet with the intent of seeking out the Stones himself

ANT-MAN

  • In 1989, scientist Hank Pym resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering their attempt at replicating his dangerous Ant-Man shrinking technology
  • In the present day, Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, and his former protégé, Darren Cross, have forced him out of his own company, Pym Technologies, where Cross, much to Pym’s horror, has created the Yellowjacket shrinking suit based on Pym’s designs
  • Scott Lang, upon his release from prison on burglary charges, moves in with his old cellmate Luis and takes on a new robbery deal so he can provide child support and remain in his daughter Cassie’s life
  • Manipulated by Pym, Lang is forced to take on the mantle as the new Ant-Man and steal the Yellowjacket from Cross
  • Lang’s training includes fighting, controlling ants, battling Falcon, and stealing a device from the new Avengers Facility
  • Still resentful towards her father for her mother’s death, Pym reveals his wife Janet, known as the Wasp, sacrificed herself into a subatomic Quantum Realm in order to abort a Soviet missile launch
  • Cross manages to capture Lang, sell the Yellowjacket and Ant-Man suits to HYDRA, and hold Cassie hostage
  • Shrinking to subatomic size, Lang penetrates Cross’ suit and sabotages its mechanics, ultimately, killing Cross
  • Pulled into the Quantum Realm, Lang wills himself to not give up upon hearing Cassie’s voice
  • Lang, kept out of prison and unable to remember his time in the Quantum Realm, gives Pym hope for his wife’s survival
  • MID CREDIT: Pym shows van Dyne a new prototype Wasp suit
  • POST CREDIT: Captain America and Falcon, with Bucky Barnes in custody and unable to contact Stark because of “the Accords,” search for someone who can help them ou

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

Stay tuned to Marvel.com as we finish off the series with Phase 3 of the Essential Marvel Cinematic Universe Guide!

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