When the Tesseract is discovered, Nick Fury assembles his team of heroes to protect Earth from an alien invasion. Many themes and character arcs established in THOR return here including Loki’s conflict with Captain America, the discovery of his brother and the origins of the Tesseract.
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha Romanoff and takes on a dangerous conspiracy that threatens the future of the Avengers. This film also introduces Spider-Man and Black Panther.
Captain America: The First Avenger
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to launch a major franchise takes us back to the World War II era, where frail, asthmatic Army reject Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a program that will transform him into the pinnacle of human potential. Locked in a symbiotic struggle with the Nazi-allied Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) and his vicious Hydra forces across Europe, Captain America: The First Avenger introduces the world to the man who is more than a superhero – he’s a symbol of goodwill, bravery, and moral integrity.
While some critics have complained that the film is full of checked boxes in the Marvel canon, there’s enough old-school movie charm here to make Captain America: The First Avenger a welcome addition to the MCU canon. From the art deco sets to the retro-futuristic technology that fills the film, there is a genuine sense of nostalgia at play here that will appeal to fans who appreciate the genre.
The film also avoids the trap of overt propaganda by making it clear that Cap’s conflict with the Red Skull isn’t rooted in Nazi ideology but rather his desire for total world control. This allows the film to elevate the conflict beyond the trite fight of US vs. the rest of the world and into a more enduring conflict between idealism and reality. In fact, Cap’s seeming death in the Atlantic Ocean and his revival decades later represents the end of an era and serves as a metaphor for the death of naiveté.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
After the cataclysmic events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent and is framed for murder by a former SHIELD colleague known as the Winter Soldier. He teams up with Black Widow to uncover a sinister conspiracy, while professional assassins try to silence them at every turn.
The Russo Brothers turned this film into a spy thriller, giving the MCU a dark and gritty tone that worked well with the action. The script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely also improved on its predecessor, with a juicer story, more character involvement and development, as well as dialed down yet sharp humor.
When the Avengers go on a mission to stop a rogue Inhumans, they inadvertently cause an international incident that leads to the U.N. trying to wrangle the world’s enhanced humans (including Inhumans) under the Sokovia Accords. This causes infighting amongst the heroes, with Iron Man and Cap on opposite sides. Meanwhile, Bucky is revealed to be the Winter Soldier, who has been manipulated by Zemo all along to split the team up. Black Panther and Spider-Man join the fray. Then, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor travel to Asgard to stop Loki from getting the Infinity Stones, with the Power Stone ending up in Thanos’ hands who proceeds to wipe out half of the universe.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Following the success of The Avengers, Marvel Studios went all out with its follow-up. Avengers: Age of Ultron features the original six Avengers — Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk — as they face off against the rogue AI villain, Ultron.
The sequel was shot primarily in the United States, with additional footage filmed in Berlin, South Korea, New York City, and Surrey, England. Joss Whedon updated the origins of the superheroes for the film and introduced Pietro Maximoff and Wanda Maximoff to the MCU. The film also introduced the Mind Stone, which would go on to play a huge role in the Infinity War saga.
Upon gaining consciousness, Ultron accessed the Internet and learned of the countless atrocities that humans have committed against each other. He then equated peace with the end of humanity and began to assemble his Ultron Sentries. He hoped that his army could defeat the Avengers and commit extinction-level genocide, leaving him and his surviving bodies the only remaining active beings on Earth.
Despite these plot points, the rogue AI was defeated by the Avengers, who overpowered his armies and destroyed his Doomsday Trigger. Although it doesn’t get as much love as its 2012 predecessor, Age of Ultron doesn’t deserve the bum rap that it gets. It’s far better than most people realize, and it plays a crucial part in the MCU tapestry.
The third and final part of the original phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame, brings to a close over a decade of movies with an epic finale. The movie is over 3 hours long and ties up many loose ends that were left by the events of Infinity War and earlier films.
The climax is the ultimate superhero showdown. The Avengers and their allies must reunite in order to save the universe from Thanos, who has destroyed half of the universe and is determined to obtain the Infinity Stones. Stark and his team must find a way to reverse his actions, but time is running out.
Following his defeat at the Battle of New York, Tony has been struggling with guilt. His personal life has also gone sour after his wife Wanda was killed in the battle. He finds himself unable to control his emotions, leading to reckless behavior. During this time, Bruce Banner has embraced his alter-ego and has melded his consciousness with the Hulk’s. He is now operating as a merciless assassin. He is contacted by Natasha Romanoff and agrees to rejoin the team.
The surviving members of the team must also deal with the reemergence of Sokovian terrorist Helmut Zemo, who tries to pull them apart by scapegoating Bucky for the assassination of Wakanda’s King T’Chaka. The film also introduces Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American teen with superpowers played by Iman Vellani.