Phase 1: Avengers Assembled
The Marvel Cinematic Universe first began with the movie Iron Man in 2008 in which they teased the Avengers Initiative. Iron Man, and its sequel Iron Man 2 in 2010, formally introduced S.H.I.E.L.D. and several of it agents.The next hero to receive a movie release was the Incredible Hulk (a reboot of the 2003 Hulk movie) in 2008.
In 2011 Marvel added two more films to the continuity, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Thor introduced Loki, with Hawkeye making a cameo appearance. In Captain America, HYDRA was introduced as was the Tesseract, which would become an important plot device in The Avengers.
In 2012 The Avengers movie was released in which Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye were brought together by S.H.I.E.L.D. to fight an alien invasion lead by Loki and Thanos.
Most movies in the continuity had post-credit scenes which set up future movies and story lines. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been met with commercial and critical success.
2013 saw the release of Iron Man 3, which loosely adapted the Extremis storyline, and Thor: The Dark World. In addition to featuring Malekith the Accursed as the main villain, The Dark World also introduced the Collector and the Aether. This kicked off a running subplot throughout the movies concerning the Infinity Stones.
In 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released. The movie saw the return of HYDRA and left S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, while also introducing the new hero known as the Falcon. Guardians of the Galaxy was also released introducing the team as well as the Power Stone. Though considered a serious gamble at the time, Guardians proved to be a massive hit and one of the highest grossing films of the year.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man are both set for 2015 releases.
On September 24, 2013 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiered on television. The show deals with a small team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, lead by agent Phil Coulson, whose job is to handle strange cases. The show has seen the introduction of other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as well as some other characters from the original Marvel universe.
Phase 3 and Beyond
In October 2014, Marvel confirmed its Phase 3 slate of films. Phase 3 will consist of Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War - Part One, Captain Marvel, The Inhumans, and Avengers: Infinity War - Part Two. The announcements of Black Panther and Captain Marvel were warmly received, as the two properties will become the first MCU movies headlined by a minority actor and a woman respectively, as well as the first minority and female-led Marvel films in general since Blade: Trinity and Elektra.
In November 2013, it was announced that Netflix would have live-action shows based on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, leading up to a miniseries based on the Defenders.
A new TV series called Agent Carter began airing in 2015.
In April 2014, Kevin Feige and Marvel announced they had films and story lines planned out through 2028.
It was also confirmed that Sony's Spider-Man franchise would be incorporated into the MCU beginning with Spider-Man appearing in Civil War.
The Dark Elves and Malekith ruled the Nine Realms until Bor defeated them. The Dark Elves appear once every 5,000 years to unleash the Aether.
The Frost Giants of Jotunheim attempt to conquer Midgard/Earth. Their invasion point in Tønsberg, Norway becomes the site of an epic battle as Asgard's ruler, Odin, leads an army to repel the invasion and protect the planet. Odin and his forces push the Frost Giants back to Jotunheim where the All Father discovers an abandoned Frost Giant infant whom he adopts, names Loki and raises as his own alongside his son, Thor. A truce is negotiated between Odin and the Jotun king, Laufey.
Odin hid the Tesseract in Norway.
Odin tells Loki and Thor about the battle with the frost giants in Tønsberg.
Howard Stark is born.
Jim Morita is born.
Joseph Rogers is killed in a mustard gas attack while serving with the 107th.
(Steve Rogers) Captain America is born.
World War II begins.
Howard Stark demonstrates the vibranium.
Johann Schmidt found the Tesseract.
Steve Rogers was tested the super serum.
Bucky Barnes was presumed killed during a mission to capture Arnim Zola. In reality, he was actually captured by agents of HYDRA, who used a series of surgeries and brainwashing regiments to begin his transformation into the Winter Soldier.
Steve Rogers planned to take down Schmidt on his plane. Steve, the Tesseract and Schmidt's plane fell on the arctic. Steve Rogers slept for about 70 years.
Howard Stark finds the Tesseract. World War II ends with the defeat of Japan.
During the closing days of the war, Peggy Carter led the Howling Commandos on a raid of one of the last remaining HYDRA facilities. The Commandos recovered a Kree corpse, as well as an obelisk of seemingly alien origin.
Months after the war, Peggy later clashed with the Zodiac organization.
Obadiah Stane was born.
Nick Fury was born.
Stark World Exposition begins and stays for the whole year.
Anton Vanko works with Howard Stark on the Arc Reactor technology as "The Unity Project".
Stark World Exposition
Phil Coulson was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
After the death of his mother, Meredith, Peter Quill was abducted by Yondu and the Ravagers and taken into deep space.
At the 1999/2000 new years eve celebration, Tony Stark met Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian who is a handicapped scientist for A.I.M. Maya tells Tony she is working on the Extremis project.
Tony Stark wakes up and breaks up with Maya Hansen. Maya and Aldrich upgrade the Extremis.
Thaddeus Ross convinced the military to reincarnate the Bio Force Enhancement Project inspired from Project Rebirth on World War II. Bruce and Betty work on the project for 3 years.
Bruce Banner tested the same serum that Steve Rogers used with gamma radiation. He later became the Hulk. Bruce Banner was mistaken as a "green sasquatch" by local Canadians.
S.H.I.E.L.D. believed Hulk was a threat.
Tony Stark was captured by a terrorist group in Afghanistan known as the Ten Rings. Yinsen helped Tony work on an armor so Tony can get back to America. Bruce Banner met Nick Fury who was disguised in a bar. Bruce Banner retreated to Rio de Janeiro to work on a cure with Samuel Sterns. Nick Fury declared that Hulk is a minor threat. Tony Stark battled Iron Monger and declared that he is Iron Man. Nick Fury later approaches Tony and wanted Tony to join the Avengers Initiative. Tony declined the offer. Nick Fury sent Natasha Romanoff to convince Tony again.
Bruce Banner mistakenly left a hint of his blood on a soda bottle, when he sent a sample to Samuel Sterns to work on a cure. Stark realizes that other countries are using his technology. Stark lets Pepper Potts as his CEO. General Ross' armies traced Bruce to the soda factory. Jane Foster found an aurora in New Mexico. Bruce Banner makes his way to Culver University.
Captain America's crash site was discovered by an oil team. Studies continued on Vanko's Whiplash/Hammer technology, on Jane Foster's Nine Realms Theory, on Stern's mutation and transforming the Destroyer into a handheld weapon. Hawkeye was sent to the Mojave to help Selvig to assist work on the Tesseract. Steve Rogers was thawed and sent to New York City. Steve wakes up and escapes from a S.H.I.E.L.D. building. He was stopped by Nick Fury. Nick Fury told Steve he had been asleep for almost 70 years.
Thor was banished to Earth after almost renewing war with the Frost Giants, where met and fell in love with Jane Foster. With help from Sif and the Warriors Three, Thor managed to unravel a plot by Loki and defeat the Destroyer. Loki was believed dead after falling into a void below the Bifrost Bridge.
Loki activated the Tesseract with the help of The Other and Thanos, and was given command of the Chitauri military. Nick Fury reactivated the Avengers Initiative to battle the alien invasion after Coulson died at the hands of Loki. Coulson was later revived by S.H.I.E.L.D. through unknown means. During the Battle of New York, Col. James Rhodes used the War Machine armor to combat the Ten Rings in China. After sending a bomb to the Chitauri's mothership, Tony Stark suffered PSTD. Loki and Thor returned to Asgard and gave the Tesseract to Heimdall. With the Tesseract, Heimdall fixed the Bifrost bridge. Extremis discharges happened at various locations including California, claimed to be attacks by Mandarin (a persona created by Aldrich Killian which is portrayed by Trevor Slattery, a British drug addict and actor).
Tony Stark had a therapy session with Bruce Banner about the Extremis idea. Bruce Banner slept since he heard about the 1999 new years eve story. James Rhodes was given the upgraded Iron Patriot armor, which had been refurbished by the A.I.M. think tank group.
A revived Phil Coulson was tasked with heading up a new S.H.I.E.L.D. team and recruited the mysterious hacker Skye.
After Malekith's death, Sif and Volstagg gave the Aether to Taneleer Tivan, The Collector because the Tesseract was already returned to Asgard. It would be very unwise to keep both Infinity Stones at the same place. Once Taneleer got the Aether, he said, "One down, five to go".
Alexander Pierce was revealed to be a a mole working for HYDRA, who had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. in the decades since the end of World War 2. With help from the Winter Soldier, Pierce attempted to use a new fleet of Helicarriers to take over the world, but was stopped by Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff, and their new ally, Sam Wilson (The Falcon). Rogers and Wilson later headed off for parts unknown to track down the Winter Soldier, while Romanoff went into hiding. During this time, Baron von Strucker was revealed to be the new leader of HYDRA, with teenagers Pietro and Wanda Maximoff working as volunteers for his genetic experiments. Strucker was also shown to be in possession of Loki's staff Phil Coulson and his team later succeeded in taking down another HYDRA cell led by John Garrett, which had tried to sell Deathlok technology to the military as part of a plan to conquer the United States. Agent Grant Ward was also revealed to be a HYDRA sleeper, and was defeated by Melinda May.
Nick Fury tasked Phil Coulson and his team with rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. while Fury went to Europe on a covert mission to eradicate the remaining HYDRA cells.
After the official dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria Hill began working with Tony Stark on a new plan to protect the world by using the Avengers and Stark's Iron Legion drones.
After a peace treaty was signed between the Kree and the people of Xandar, Ronan the Accuser partnered with Nebula and Gamora to find a rare silver orb for the women's father, Thanos, who agreed to wipe out Xandar in exchange for the orb. After Ronan discovered that the sphere contained one of the Infinity Stones, he attempted to kill Thanos and wipe out Xandar by himself. Gamora betrayed Ronan and partnered with a now adult Peter Quill to form the Guardians of the Galaxy, who killed Ronan and turned over the Stone to Nova Corp leader Irani Rael.
A new HYDRA cell led by Daniel Whitehall later emerged. The group was soon infiltrated by Bobbi Morse and Jemma Simmons, but not before a mission to retrieve an alien obelisk resulted in the death of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Isabelle Hartley and Idaho.
During a skirmish with HYDRA and Dr. Calvin Zabo, Skye was revealed to be Zabo's daughter, Daisy Johnson. She was also revealed to possess Inhuman heritage, which manifested when she underwent Terrigenesis.
Due to the fact that 20th Century Fox and Sony were making licensed Marvel movies well before Marvel started making its own films, a number of properties are deemed off-limits to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Among the most prominent would be the X-Men and Fantastic Four, as well as most characters associated with them. Director James Gunn has also stated that the Badoon are off-limits as well, thanks to having their film rights owned by Fox. Any and all Spider-Man characters are also barred from appearing, thanks to Sony producing the Spider-Man films. The films are also forbidden from reference the term "Mutants", which is why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. developed the term "Gifted" to describe people with superpowers.
Curiously, there are a select few characters who thanks to murky legal statuses, can be used by both studios. Quicksilver appeared in both Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past and Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron, in both cases played by completely different actors and with completely different roles. This is often chalked up to the fact that despite primarily being associated with the Avengers, the hero originated during the Silver Age X-Men run. Film rights to the Skrulls are also confirmed to be owned by both studios.
Rights to the Daredevil franchise were previously owned by Fox, but the rights reverted to Marvel after Fox failed to enter a reboot into production before the designated deadline. This meant that film makers behind The Wolverine were forced to abandon plans to use The Hand, and instead opted to use a similar group of ninja known as the Black Clan. In 2015, Marvel will be rebooting the character by introducing their own version of Daredevil in a live-action mini-series show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Netflix. A similar fate nearly befell the Fantastic Four, but Fox was able to start production on the reboot, The Fantastic Four, in time to block Marvel's attempt to regain the property.
There were plans for Sony and Marvel to crossover their universes by having the Oscorp building from The Amazing Spider-Man appear in The Avengers, but this idea never made it to fruition.
It has been widely suggested by many (including longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont) that Disney's sudden interest in the Inhumans was spurred by their desire to create substitutes in the MCU for mutants, and that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch may be depicted as Inhumans in Marvel's films.
Cast members in the MCU include:
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Algrim/Kurse (Thor: The Dark World)
- Jaimie Alexander as Sif (Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
- Tadanobu Asano as Hogun (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agent Carter, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man)
- Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Paul Bettany as JARVIS and The Vision (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther (Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther)
- Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger (Iron Man)
- Josh Brolin as Thanos (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War - Part I, Avengers: Infinity War - Part II)
- Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine/Iron Patriot (Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark (Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter, Agent Carter)
- Benicio Del Toro as Taneleer Tivan/The Collector (Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Alexis Denisof as The Other (The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Vin Diesel as Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Michael Douglas as Henry "Hank" Pym/Ant-Man (Ant-Man)
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War)
- Christopher Eccleston as Malekith the Accursed (Thor: The Dark World)
- Idris Elba as Heimdall (Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War)
- Jon Favreau as Harold "Happy" Hogan (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3)
- Karen Gillan as Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor (Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok)
- Maximiliano Hernández as Jasper Sitwell (Thor, The Avengers, Item 47, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki (Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok)
- Anthony Hopkins as Odin (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- William Hurt as General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Toby Jones as Arnim Zola (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery/The Mandarin (Iron Man 3, All Hail The King)
- Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War)
- Neal McDonough as Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan (Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
- Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Virgina "Pepper" Potts (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3)
- Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3)
- Natalie Portman as Jane Foster (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta (Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Thor, The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2, All Hail the King)
- Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/The Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)
- Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash (Iron Man 2)
- Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Ant-Man)
- Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Zoe Saldana as Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
- Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig (Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill (The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- James Spader as Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War)
- Ray Stevenson as Volstagg (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Ant-Man)
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
- Liv Tyler as Betty Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
- Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)