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The Dose: Roadmap to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Dose: Roadmap to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Dose: Roadmap to the Marvel Cinematic Universe
April 29
21:59 2015

Akshay Mirchandani / Sports Editor

Disclaimer: Be warned: there are spoilers, as this is a quick rundown of everything that has happened so far. If you are having a Marvel marathon before Friday, be careful.

If you love Marvel movies, this week is like one long Christmas Eve.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” releases on Friday and it’s arguably the biggest thing Marvel has done so far. All of the Marvel movies are incredibly popular, but not everyone has seen each one of them, and the common fan may not even realize how they all connect.

So this is a guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, from Phase One (Iron Man to the Avengers) to Phase Two (Iron Man 3 to now), and even the television shows.

Phase One:

Iron Man (2008)


The one that started it all. The first MCU film introduced Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, and how he became the armored Avenger. Not only were we introduced to Stark, but we also got Clark Gregg’s debut as Phil Coulson and the emergence of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The post-credits scene had Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury paying Stark a visit, and wanting to talk to him about the Avengers Initiative. This essentially introduced what the MCU was, and sent comic fans everywhere into a frenzy.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

This is arguably the least important movie in the MCU. It introduced the Hulk/Bruce Banner played by Edward Norton, who has since been recast for Mark Ruffalo.

We did get a Tony Stark cameo at the end, talking about putting a team together, but outside of that, it really stands alone as far as the MCU goes. Though, there is a photo of the “Harlem Terror” from the film in Ben Urich’s office in “Daredevil.”

Iron Man 2 (2010)

The sequel to the first Iron Man is pure buildup for the first Avengers movie more than anything else. Black Widow is introduced, and we learn more about S.H.I.E.L.D.

Outside of that, this is probably the worst MCU movie. There’s a convoluted plot of how Stark’s arc reactor is killing him, and him having to create a new element while also dealing with a new villain. But, we also do see Stark’s best friend James Rhodes don a suit for the first time and become “War Machine.” The most important scene was the post-credits scene where Coulson discovers a hammer in the middle of a desert. This brings us to…

Thor (2011)


Ah, the introduction of the mighty Avenger and his evil stepbrother Loki. This wasn’t a great movie, but it was significant in the sense that we finally see the MCU give us a look away from Earth to Thor’s home realm of Asgard.

Thor gets banished to Earth thanks to some manipulation by Loki, but eventually comes back a changed man (god?). Loki disappears, but returns in the post-credits along with a blue cube known as the Tesseract in S.H.I.E.L.D custody.

That played a big role in “The Avengers” but also a big role in…

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

We flash back to World War II and meet Steve Rogers/Captain America, Peggy Carter and Bucky Barnes. After a puny Rogers is given enhanced abilities thanks to the Super Solider Serum, he ends up facing off against Red Skull and HYDRA, the Nazi Deep Science Division.

The Red Skull is using weapons powered by the Tesseract, which we saw at the end of Thor. In the end, Cap takes down the Red Skull on a giant plane, who seems like he is beamed away by the Tesseract.

Cap crashes the plane in the middle of the Arctic and freezes, only to be discovered by S.H.I.E.LD. years later. Barnes “dies” earlier in the movie, while Howard Stark, Tony’s father, finds the Tesseract on the bottom of the ocean.

The Avengers (2012)


Loki returns to Earth armed with a mysterious scepter from an alien force. He steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. and escapes while brainwashing Clint Barton/Hawkeye in the process.

Fury, Coulson and Maria Hill call in Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man to help find the cube. I won’t go through everything that happens, but it leads to Coulson dying (more on that later) and the team getting Hawkeye back. Coulson’s death brings the team together, but Loki summons an army of aliens who attack New York.

The Avengers end up saving the day, and go their separate ways while Thor takes Loki and the cube back to Asgard. In the end, we find out that Loki was just a puppet for the mad titan Thanos, and he has much bigger plans than taking over the Earth.

Phase Two:

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The first movie of Phase Two sees Tony Stark dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after the events of “The Avengers.” Fighting an army of aliens and nearly dying after carrying a nuke through a space portal can have that effect on someone.

This movie has a convoluted plot, with Iron Man facing off with a new villain known as the Mandarin, who turns out really isn’t the Mandarin. It’s confusing, but it all comes to a head with Stark revealing his “Iron Legion,” the 42 Iron Man suits he’s built, to fight a bunch of enhanced super soldiers with the help of Rhodes.

Stark gets the shrapnel and signature arc reactor removed from his chest and seemingly gives up being super hero to be with Pepper Potts until, you know, Friday.

The biggest thing to take from this movie is Stark realizes that there are threats out there that perhaps super heroes can’t take out, a theme that will be present in Age of Ultron. Not to mention the army of Iron Men who can be controlled by Artificial Intelligence, another setup for Ultron.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Thor had his hands full in this movie, which centers on the Aether, a red, fluid-like thing that has plenty of power.

We discover the Aether is an Infinity Stone, just like the Tesseract from ‘The Avengers.”

When a race of aliens known as the Dark Elves, led by Malekith come after the Aether, Thor breaks Loki out of prison for help. But, Loki seemingly dies in a fight with the Dark Elves, and their leader acquires the Aether to attack Earth.

Thor, with some help from Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, stops the Elves and retrieves the Aether, but decides to remain on Earth to be with Foster, while the Aether is given to The Collector by Thor’s Asgardian allies.

The biggest revelation is Loki is alive, and is posing as Odin, the king of Asgard. That storyline will be explored in Phase Three’s “Thor: Ragnarok,” but the most important part of this movie is another Infinity Stone is revealed, and another will likely surface in Age of Ultron.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)


Cap is working as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with Black Widow and Fury. But, when his old friend Bucky Barnes returns and is working for HYDRA as the brainwashed Winter Soldier, it is revealed HYDRA has been growing inside S.H.I.E.L.D. for years.

Cap, Fury, Black Widow, Maria Hill and Sam Wilson/Falcon stop HYDRA and the Winter Solider from sending Helicarriers in the air with the potential to wipe out millions of people. But, S.H.I.E.L.D. falls in the process, while Fury goes into hiding. Cap and Falcon go on a mission to find Barnes, while Hill gets a job with Stark Industries.

The post-credits scene shows new HYDRA head Baron von Strucker in a lab with Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers, along with two new characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, imprisoned in glass.

This movie sent ripple effects throughout the MCU. S.H.I.E.L.D. falling means the Avengers are operating on their own, and Age of Ultron will pick up right where that post-credits scene left off, and it looks like the scepter will play a big role again.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)


This is the first MCU movie that is completely cosmic. This takes a while to explain, but essentially Chris Pratt’s Star Lord is mysteriously taken from Earth after his mother dies.

Years later, he teams up with various beings from across the galaxy (Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot) to take down Ronan, an alien from the Kree race in possession of another powerful Infinity Stone.

But, once again, he’s just a pawn in Thanos’ game. The Collector returns and explains what Infinity Stones are, and it becomes clear Thanos is after them. The Guardians beat Ronan and retrieve the stone, but won’t appear in Age of Ultron, and won’t return until Phase Three.

It is rumored another stone will be revealed in Age of Ultron, and it will all come together in Phase Three’s two-part “Avengers: Infinity War.”


Marvel’s new Netflix series, Daredevil, is part of the MCU, but doesn’t connect with Age of Ultron in any way. Still, it’s worth watching if you’re a Marvel fan in general.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, is a different story. Remember how Coulson died? Well, he was resurrected and is the central character of this show.

I won’t spoil or explain what happens, mostly because it would take another 2,000 words, but recent episodes of AOS have led directly into Age of Ultron. If you haven’t watched it, you don’t need to see it to see Age of Ultron, but if you started the series and stopped in the middle, I highly urge you to give it another try.

On the opposite side of the S.H.I.E.L.D. spectrum, ‘Agent Carter’ takes a look back at the start of the organization, and fleshes out the backstories of Peggy Carter, Howard Stark and even a bit of Black Widow. As Marvel continues its foray into the small screen space, expect more and more ties to this expanded universe.

Featured photos courtesy of Marvel Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Universal and Disney

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