Franchise Flashback: The MCU

A decade in the making, Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the current era of the MCU as we know it as the entire universe is on the line and some heroes will most likely fall to stop the mad titan Thanos.  There have been 18 movies leading up to this event and our Franchise Flashback feature is back to go over and remind you who has been up to what and how we got to this point.

Iron Man

Iron Man (2008): Kicking things off for the MCU, Tony Stark is the hard partying, egocentric CEO of Stark Industries who is captured in the Middle East demonstrating a new, devastating weapons system.  A chunk of shrapnel from an explosion is moving fatally close to his heart so, under the pretense of building a missile system for the terrorists who captured him, he builds himself an Arc Reactor for his chest that keeps the shrapnel in place with electromagnets.  Tony also builds the Mark 1 Iron Man armor and escapes the terrorists and returns home, vowing Stark Industries will no longer sell weapons. This upsets his second in command, Obadiah Stane, who is revealed to have been behind Tony’s capture (which was actually supposed to be a hit).  Tony builds his first real Iron Man armor and goes on a crusade to stop his weapons from being used on innocent people but Stane, looking to take over the company and sell the smaller Arc Reactor tech, breaks into his house and takes it out of Tony’s chest. Tony, with help from his loyal assistant Pepper Potts, manages to get a weaker, older Arc Reactor into his chest and he battles Stane, who has also built a massive Iron Monger suit.  Tony can’t defeat him at his limited energy capacity but manages to lure Stane to the roof of Stark Industries and has Pepper overload the Arc Reactor that powers the building, destroying Stane and his suit. Tony then reveals his identity as Iron Man to the world and, in what’s still the greatest after credits scene of the MCU, is recruited by SHIELD director Nick Fury to join the “Avengers Initiative”

Iron Man 2 (2010): Tony’s next solo adventure finds him getting increasingly erratic and reckless after he realizes he is dying from the palladium metal that powers his Arc Reactor is also poisoning and killing him.  Tony tries to hide this fact by rebooting his father’s “Stark Expo” celebration, a World’s Fairesque celebration of technology that also includes his chief rival, Justin Hammer, who is trying to design AI powered Iron Man clones.  To assist him, he helps break out vengeful Russian technology expert Ivan Vanko, whose father worked with Tony’s father Howard to develop the Arc Reactor technology but was deported after he wanted to sell it for profit while Howard wanted to give to the world as a free energy source.  Nick Fury provides help to Tony by giving him SHIELD materials left by his father, as Howard was a founding member. Tony realizes a diorama of the Stark Expo complex is actually a diagram for a new element, which Tony is able to synthesize with his AI assistant JARVIS and the new element runs more efficently and will no longer poison him.  While Tony is working on his cure, Hammer is presenting his Vanko designed drones at the Stark Expo but Vanko takes control of all them and attacks the expo in his revenge plot and he’s also designed himself a suit with energy whips (which he had previously attacked Tony with during a Grand Prix race in Monaco). Tony teams with his buddy, Jim Rhodes, who had confiscated one of Tony’s suits after the two get into a fight at Tony’s birthday, arrives in the newly christened War Machine armor and helps Tony fight off the drones and Vanko (although Rhodes’ armor was also under Vanko’s control until SHIELD agent Natasha Romanoff and Tony’s driver Happy Hogan shut down the facility controlling them).

Iron Man 3 (2013): Following the events of The Avengers, Tony is suffering from PTSD after almost dying and seeing into the intergalactic portal where the Chitauri forces were coming out of.  He begins obsessively building different variants of his armor to be ready for any eventuality and to protect himself and especially Pepper, since they have been in a romantic relationship as well as a business one.  A figure calling himself The Mandarin has been behind a bombing campaign, one of the bombs severely injuring Happy Hogan, which prompts Tony to issue a personal challenge to The Mandarin. The Mandarin responds by blowing up Tony’s mansion and he barely escapes in an experimental armor that brings him to rural Tennessee, a lead in his investigation into The Mandarin.  Tony teams up with young tech whiz Hartley and learns that the “bombs” are not actually bombs, but soldiers given a treatment called Extremis that gives them enhanced abilities but is also highly unstable and causes their bodies to explode. Tony eventually learns The Mandarin is operating out of Miami and infiltrates his HQ to find, instead, Trevor Slattery, an oblivious actor hired to play The Mandarin while the “real” Mandarin is actually Aldrich Killian, the CEO of tech company AIM and the man behind Extremis.  Tony remotely calls a new armor and teams with Rhodey, now dubbed Iron Patriot, to try and save the President when Air Force One is attacked but, while they save the rest of the passengers, the President is taken. Tony tracks Killian to an abandoned oil tanker, who is holding both the President and Pepper, who he infected with Extremis to force Tony to help remove the flaws and perfect the process. Tony calls in an army of drone Iron Man suits and defeats Killian and his Extremis powered henchmen and then detonates all of suits as a sign of commitment to Pepper, cures her of her Extremis instability and then figures out a way to remove the shrapnel in his chest, which allows him to no longer rely on the Arc Reactor.

Hulk

The Incredible Hulk (2008): After he’s subjected to gamma radiation as part of an experiment for the US Army, Bruce Banner (played the one and only time by Ed Norton) becomes a fugitive and hides in Brazil working in a soda factory but he cuts his finger and some of his gamma infected blood ends up in a bottle, letting Army general “Thunderbolt” Ross know his location.  A special ops team, led by Emil Blonsky, is sent to capture Bruce but he transforms into the Hulk and escapes. Bruce returns home to NYC and seeks out his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross at Culver University but Betty’s new boyfriennd, psychiatrist Dr. Leonard Samson, calls General Ross, who sends a full battle group to the university and a massive battle with the Hulk ensues.  Blonsky, who was injected with super soldier serum Ross has been developing to try and replicate the process that created Captain America, takes on the Hulk head on but is seemingly killed by a forceful backhand by the Hulk. Blonsky survives and quickly heals due to the serum and leads a team that finally captures Betty and Bruce at the apartment of Dr. Samuel Sterns, who has been helping Bruce online try to figure out a cure for his Hulking out.  Sterns has developed an antidote but it will only stop each individual transformation and he’s also synthesized a frightening amount of Bruce’s infected blood, which Bruce warns him to destroy before Blonsky arrives. Blonsky forces Sterns to inject him with all the infected blood and becomes the Abomination, rampaging through Harlem. General Ross reluctantly realizes that only the Hulk can stop Blonsky and he allows Bruce to transform and defeat Blonsky after a brutal battle.  After the battle, Bruce flees to Canada and continues to try and control the Hulk.

Thor

Thor (2011): Thor is introduced into the MCU as the arrogant son of Odin, ruler of Asgard and king of the Norse gods.  Thor is the God of Thunder and next in line to rule, causing great jealousy from his brother Loki. When the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, who Odin defeated long ago, attempt to retrieve their most powerful weapon, the Casket of Ancient Winters, from Asgard, Thor leads a disastrous attack on Jotunheim, which forces Odin to intervene and breaks a truce between the realms.  Odin strips Thor of his powers and his hammer, Mjolnir, and banishes him to Earth. Shortly thereafter, Odin has to enter the Odinsleep, a period where he is in a deep slumber to recover his strength. Loki seizes command of Asgard and reveals he is in league with the Frost Giants, letting them enter Asgard to recover the Casket and kill Odin. On Earth, Thor meets scientists Dr. Jane Foster, Dr. Erik Selvig and their assistant Darcy Lewis, who are studying the possibility of other dimensions, and learns that SHIELD has found Mjolnir nearby in the New Mexico desert, but he’s unable to lift it due to Odin placing a spell on it that only someone who is “worthy” can lift it.  He’s captured by SHIELD agents Phil Coulson and Clint Barton but Dr. Selvig helps him escape. Thor’s allies, Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, seek out Thor on Earth so he can come back and stop Loki but Loki sends the magical armor The Destroyer against them. Thor heroically offers himself to The Destroyer in exchange for sparing the lives of the others and he’s struck by The Destroyer’s beam. However, his sacrifice restores his worthiness and he regains his powers and Mjolnir and defeats The Destroyer. Returning to Asgard, Thor finds that Loki killed Laufey, his actual father and the king of the Frost Giants, and is planning destroying the entire realm with Asgard’s interdimensional transporation system, the Bifrost Bridge, thus “saving” Asgard and proving himself as the true heir to the throne.  Thor battles his brother and destroys the Bifrost, but both of them are forced over the edge and hang above the emptiness of space, Odin awakens and tries to save them both but Loki lets himself fall, although he’s found by Thanos and put to work as part of his plans to secure the Infinity Gauntlet and the Infinity Stones.

Thor: The Dark World (2013): Following the events of The Avengers, Loki is imprisoned on Asgard and Thor is ending a campaign to restore peace to the Nine Realms after the Bifrost is restored.  The Realms are also going to be in alignment for a rare event called The Convergence, which makes portals between realms start randomly appearing everywhere, including Midgard/Earth.  Jane Foster is investigating these portals in London and accidentally stumbles onto a portal that leads to the hiding place of the Aether, a powerful weapons that infects her body. Thor arrives and brings her back to Asgard but Odin says there is nothing they can do.  The Aether’s recovery also awakens ancient Dark Elf Malekith, who leads an attack on Asgard, during which Thor and Loki’s mother Frigga is killed. Thor makes a deal with Loki to lead himself and Jane to Svartalfheim, the Dark Elf’s “Dark World”, to lure Malekith there and defeat him away from Asgard.  Their plan fails however and Malekith draws the Aether out of Jane and into his own body and kills Loki (although this is revealed as another of Loki’s many tricks).  Malekith takes a portal to Earth and goes to Greenwich, which is the center of the Convergence. Thor and Jane return as well and Thor fights Malekith across London and into other realms thanks to portals.  With help from Jane, Darcy and Dr. Selvig, who they rescue from a mental institution, the group manages to transport Malekith back to Svartalfheim and he’s crushed by his own damaged spaceship. The Aether is recovered and given to The Collector on the intergalactic hub known as Knowhere by Lady Sif and Volstagg, one of the Warriors Three.

Thor: Ragnorak (2017): Following Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor has been hunting the galaxy for Infinity Stones but has been unsuccessful.  He escapes a close call with Surtur, demonic ruler of Muspelheim and learns that his father Odin is no longer on Asgard.  Thor returns home and finally learns that Loki is alive and has been ruling under the guise of their father. Thor forces Loki to travel to Earth with him and, after help from Dr. Stephen Strange, they find Odin, who reveals they have an older sister named Hela that he banished because her lust for power was growing out of control.  Odin’s death allows Hela to escape her imprisonment and she quickly takes control of Asgard, banishes Thor and Loki to random corners of the universe and kills the Warriors Three along with destroying Mjolnir. Thor finds himself on Sakaar, a planet ruled by the deceptively good natured Grandmaster, who forces Thor to become a gladiator in his Contest of Champions.  Thor befriends fellow gladiators Korg and Miik and finds himself up against the Hulk in the gladiator arena, whose location was unknown at the end of Age of Ultron. Thor and Hulk fight and the Grandmaster rigs the battle so Hulk wins. Afterwards, Thor tries to convince Hulk, local bounty hunter/scrapper Valkyrie (who is also the last survivor of Asgard’s elite female fighting force that was wiped out the first time Hela tried to invade Asgard) and Loki, who also ended up on Sakaar and managed to talk his way into the Grandmaster’s good graces to help get back to Asgard and stop Hela.  Valkyrie, Bruce Banner and Thor steal the Grandmaster’s personal yacht and take a wormhole back to Asgard, leaving Loki behind as he attempted to betray his brother yet again. Korg and Miik find Loki and take him with them along with the other freed gladiators. Thor, Hulk and Valkyrie fight Hela’s giant wolf Fenris and her undead soldiers led by Skurge the Executioner. Loki and the gladiators arrive in a giant spaceship, which they help the citizens of Asgard evacuate to. Thor battles Hela but loses an eye and seemingly cannot defeat her but he has a vision of Odin and realizes they have to allow Surtur to cause Ragnarok and destroy Asgard to defeat Hela, which they do.  Thor is declared the new king of Asgard and they begin the journey to Earth resettle but are intercepted by a massive spaceship.

Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): Steve Rogers is a skinny and frail kid from 1942 Brooklyn who is desperate to join the Army and help fight in World War II.  He’s approached by Dr. Abraham Erskine to join the Special Strategic Reserve and undergo a special procedure that will turn him into a super soldier.  The procedure works but an agent working for Hydra, under orders from the villainous Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull, kills Dr. Erskine and, with his death, the secret of the super soldier formula dies with him.  Steve is not sent to battle and is instead used as a propaganda tool to help sell war bonds and perform in USO shows in Europe. In Italy during a show, Steve learns that his best friend, James “Bucky” Buchanan is missing with his unit while they fighting Hydra forces.  Steve disobeys orders and has Agent Peggy Carter and Howard Stark fly him in behind enemy lines, where he single handedly saves Bucky and his team, the Howling Commandos, and comes face to face with Schmidt, who reveals his hideous true face that was the result of an inferior version of Steve’s super soldier serum.  Steve is allowed to fully join the battle and leads the Howling Commandos in strikes against other Hydra bases and Howard Stark designs him a shield made out of Vibranium that becomes his primary weapon. Steve’s team learns that Dr. Arnim Zola, Schmidt’s chief scientist who is trying to harness the power of an ancient artifact called the Tessaract, is travelling via train and the Commandos attack it to capture him.  The mission is successful but Bucky is seemingly killed when he falls from the train. Zola gives up the main Hydra base and Steve leads an all out assault to stop it. Schmidt escapes in a giant plane that will launch missiles at major US cities and Steve gets on board to stop him. Schmidt is destroyed by the power of the Tessaract and it burns through the plane and falls into the ocean. Steve sees no way to land the plane with detonating the weapons on board and sacrifices himself to crash land the plane into the Arctic Ocean.  Howard Stark recovers the Tessaract but is never able to find Steve’s body or the plane. Steve awakens in the modern day and meets Nick Fury, who recruits him to The Avengers and SHIELD.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Following The Avengers, Steve is partnered with Natasha Romanoff and the pair conduct covert missions for SHIELD, including rescuing hostages from a tanker ship controlled by terrorist Georges Batroc.  Natasha has a secondary mission, unknown to Steve, and has uploaded data to Nick Fury. Steve confronts Fury and learns that SHIELD is developing “Project Insight”, three flying Helicarriers that are linked to spy satellites and will preemptively eliminate any threats.  Fury becomes suspicious when he can’t decrypt the data Natasha recovered and asks SHIELD official Alexander Pierce to delay Insight. On the way to a meeting, Fury is ambushed by mercenary The Winter Soldier and his troops, but manages to escape to Steve’s apartment, giving him a flash drive before he’s gunned down by The Winter Soldier and warning him that SHIELD is compromised.  Steve meets with Pierce but refuses to give up the info Fury trusted to him, leading Pierce to declare him a fugitive and Steve has to fight his way out of the SHIELD HQ, the Triskelion. He links up with Natasha and the pair learn about a secret SHIELD bunker from the flash drive. Investigating, they learn from the uploaded digital consciousness of Arnim Zola that Hydra has been infiltrated into the ranks of SHIELD for years and they are ready to reveal themselves, with Project Insight allowing them to kill anyone opposed to them, which they learn from SHIELD mole Jasper Sitwell. After a brutal street battle with The Winter Soldier, where Steve realizes the Soldier’s true identity is Bucky,  Steve and Natasha get help from Steve’s new friend Sam Wilson, an Air Force pararescueman who used an experimental flight suit, and also learn that Nick Fury faked his death and has a plan to destroy the SHIELD helicarriers. The group goes to the Triskelion and reveals Hydra’s plan, pitting the sleeper Hydra agents against real SHIELD agents while Fury and Romanoff defeat Pierce and Sam and Steve attack the helicarriers, replacing their control chips and allowing SHIELD agent Maria Hill to take back control. Steve fights Bucky but tries to get through to him before being hurled out into the Potomoc River. Unconscious, Bucky saves him but flees. The helicarriers are destroyed and SHIELD is disbanded with Nick Fury staying “dead” and going to hunt down Hydra in Europe while Sam and Steve decide to go after Bucky and try to help him return to his old self.

Captain America: Civil War (2016): After Age of Ultron, Steve leads a new team that includes Sam, Natasha and Wanda Maximoff.  The team tracks down and defeats former Hydra mole turned mercenary Brock Rumlow, now going by Crossbones and wielding any exosuit, in Lagos but Wanda is unable to contain an explosion with her powers and an office nearby is destroyed, killing dozens of civilians, including several aid workers from the nation of Wakanda.  General Ross, now Secretary of State, reveals that the UN has ratified an agreement called the Sokovia Accords and The Avengers will have to answer to a special council. Tony Stark is for the agreement, as he feels guilty about helping to create Ultron and the loss of life that resulted while Steve is against the Accords, thinking they should decide where and when to intervene.  At the signing of the accords, an explosion destroys the UN building in Vienna, which kills Wakandan king T’Chaka along with dozens of others in attendance. The perpetrator is revealed to be Winter Soldier and T’Chaka’s son, Prince T’Challa, vows revenge. CIA agent (and former SHIELD agent) Sharon Carter (also the great-niece of Peggy Carter) reveals Bucky’s location in Bucharest to Steve and he and Sam go to find him.  Bucky claims innocence but a SWAT team arrives and they have to fight their way out. T’Challa also arrives and chases Bucky through the streets of Bucharest but all four of them are eventually captured. Helmut Zemo, desperate for revenge against The Avengers because his family was killed in Sokovia, infiltrates the facility where Barnes is being held under the guise of a psychiatrist and activates his old brainwashing with a stolen Hydra manual.  Bucky is forced to reveal the location of a Siberian Hydra base where other Winter Soldiers are being held in cryostasis and is then sent to attack the facility while Zemo escapes. Steve and Sam manage to capture Bucky and he shakes off the brainwashing and tells the duo about the secret base. Going rogue to try and get Bucky out of the country and stop Zemo, Sam and Steve covertly gather allies, including Scott “Ant-Man” Lang, Clint Barton and Wanda Maximoff, who was under house arrest at the Avengers base under the watchful eye of Vision, the physical manifestation of Tony’s JARVIS AI.  Tony, meanwhile, gather a team that includes Vision, T’Challa, Natasha Romanoff, James Rhodes and Peter Parker aka Spider-Man and the two teams battle at Leipzig/Halle Airport, which results in Rhodes being critically injured by an errant energy blast from Vision and everyone except Bucky and Steve captured. After dropping off the renegade team at the floating Raft prison. Stark finds evidence that proves Bucky was framed and goes to the Siberian base to assist Steve and Bucky. The trio finds the other Winter Soldiers dead and Zemo reveals his ultimate goal was to get his hands on a video that proves Bucky, while brainwashed, murdered Howard and Maria Stark.  Tony loses it and attacks Bucky and Steve, resulting in a brutal battle where Bucky’s metal arm is destroyed and Steve has to disable Tony’s suit with his shield to stop him. Zemo is captured by T’Challa, who followed the trio to Siberia and allows Bucky to take sanctuary in Wakanda, where his scientists will try to permanently remove Hydra’s brainwashing. Steve, meanwhile, frees his comrades from the Raft and leaves a phone for Tony, saying that, despite what happend, if the world needs them, he can call on his team.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Peter “Starlord” Quill, who was abducted by aliens as a kid following the death of his mother, steals an ancient orb that is also of interest to fanatical Kree extremist, Ronan the Accuser.  Quill’s former boss, Ravager leader Yondu, finds out about Quill’s theft of the orb and puts out a bounty for him while Ronan sends an assassin, Gamora, to kill Quill and take the orb. Quill and Gamora get into a fight on Xandar, homeworld of the intergalactic peacekeeping force Nova Corps, which also draws bounty hunters Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon, and Groot, a living tree creature.  All four of them are apprehended by Nova Corps and sent to the space prison known as The Kyln. The quartet meets fellow inmate Drax the Destroyer, who seeks to kill Ronan as revenge for killing his family. Drax almost kills Gamora but Quill stops him after he learns that Gamora was going to betray Ronan to stop him from getting the orb, which hides unimaginable power. Gamora reveals she has a buyer for the orb and will split the proceeds with the rest of the group, so they escape together and head to the intergalactic outpost known as Knowhere.  Gamora’s buyer turns out to be The Collector, who reveals that orb hides an Infinity Stone, one that will destroy anyone not powerful enough to control it’s power. The Collector’s assistant grabs the stone to try and get revenge on The Collector but she explodes due to the stone’s power and destroys The Collector’s archives. Ronan and his forces arrive on Knowhere and he defeats Drax while Nebula, Gamora’s insane and cybernetically enhanced sister, destroys a fighter ship Gamora was piloting, leaving her floating in space. Quill rescues Gamora and contacts Yondu, who picks up the pair but Ronan gets the orb and prepares to use it to destroy Xandar.  Rocket, Groot and Drax threaten Yondu to give them back Quill and Gamora but Quill has already made a deal to get the Ravager’s help to defeat Ronan in exchange for the orb. The Ravagers and Nova Corps team up to try and stop Ronan’s ship, the Dark Aster, but he has embeded the infinity stone into his warhammer and he easily defeats the Nova Corps fleet. The Guardians, while the air battle is going on, infiltrate the Dark Aster on Quill’s ship, the Milano, and Gamora manages to defeat Nebula, who escapes. Rocket crashes a Ravager ship into the Dark Aster and the ship crashes to the surface, with Groot sacrificing himself to save the rest of the team.  Ronan survives the crash and is still determined to destroy the planet but Quill distracts him with horrible dance moves long off for Drax and Rocket to destroy Ronan’s hammer and free the power stone. Quill grabs it and is unable to contain it’s power but the Guardians hold hands and use their combined strength to use it to kill Ronan. They leave the stone in the possession of Nova Corps and, now a team, they head off to do good across the galaxy.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): The Guardians, working a job for the genetically perfect Sovereign, defeat an interdimensional monster in exchange for recovering Nebula, who the Sovereign had captured,  but Rocket draws the wrath of the Sovreign and their leader, Ayesha, when he steals some of their precious energy batteries. The Guardians flee the Sovereign fleet with the aid of a mysterious spaceship but the Milano is badly damaged and they crash land on a nearby planet.  Ayesha hires Yondu and his Ravagers to track and capture the Guardians while the Guardians meet the owner of the mysterious ship that saved them, who turns out to be Peter’s father Ego. Ego is a member of an ancient and powerful intergalactic race called the Celestials and invites Peter, Drax and Gamora back to a planet he’s created while Rocket and baby Groot stay behind to repair the ship and guard Nebula. Ego explains he hired Yondu to recover Peter after he learned of Meredith Quill’s death but Yondu kept him for some reason and Ego has been searching the universe for him ever since with the aid of his assistant, Mantis.  Peter learns he has the powers of a Celestial as well and bonds with his father but Gamora is skeptical. Rocket and Baby Groot are attacked back on the planet by the Ravagers and captured. Nebula leads a mutiny against Yondu after he expresses hesitation in turning over Quill once they find him. Nebula steals a ship and finds Ego’s planet, attacking Gamora which leads to a fight where the pair eventually uncover a mountain of child skeletons hidden in a cave. Ego’s true plan is revealed when he explains that he realized his purpose in the universe was to spread his consciousness across the galaxy and he left small pieces of himself on each planet he visited, which if activated would terraform that world into an extension of Ego.  This process requires two Celestials and he impregnated hundreds of different alien mates to try and find a child with his powers, which only Peter has developed. Peter learns that Ego purposefully gave his mother cancer and turns on his father. Mantis lets Drax and the others know Ego’s plan and Rocket, Groot and Yondu soon arrive as well, after Rocket and Yondu teamed up to take out the mutinous Ravagers. Rocket creates a bomb that can destroy Ego’s core but the Sovereign arrive to complicate things. Peter battles his father while Rocket, and then eventually Groot, set the bomb and set the timer. The blast destroys Ego’s “brain” and the planet starts to collapse. Yondu rescues Peter but at the cost of his own life as he only has one protective space shield, though Peter realizes that Yondu actually did care for him and kept him safe from Ego after Yondu realized what Ego was really doing with all the children he delivered.  The Guardians hold a burial for Yondu and all of the Ravager clans arrive to pay their respects while Nebula leaves to seek vengeance on her father Thanos by herself.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (2016): Dr. Stephen Strange is a brilliant but arrogant surgeon who is involved in a horrific car crash that causes irreparable damage to his hands, ending his career.  After spending most of his fortune on experimental procedures that don’t work, Strange learns about a place called Kamar-Taj by a man named Jonathan Pangborn, who was a paraplegic who regained the use of his legs.  Strange encounters Mordo and The Ancient One, members of a mystical order that is able to harness the power of magic to, among other things, travel anywhere on Earth or even across dimensions using the astral plane.  Strange joins their order and, using his intellect and photographic memory, quickly gaining magical abilities and delving into forbidden texts. He also takes the Eye of Agomotto, an ancient artifact that holds an Infinity Stone that can manipulate time.  Strange also learns about the Sanctums, three magical outposts in New York City, London and Hong Kong that protect the Earth from threats from other dimensions. A former member of the magical order, Kaecilius, had previously stolen pages from an ancient text from Kamar-Taj and he and his followers are working to allow an ancient evil, Dormammu, escape his Dark Dimension and consume Earth, which they believe will then give them enternal life as time does not exist in the Dark Dimension.  Kaecilius and his minions destroy the London Sanctum and attack NYC, which Strange manages to hold off with help from a magical cloak, the Cloak of Levitation. Strange and Mordo learn that The Ancient One sustains herself by drawing energy from the Dark Dimension, which disgusts Mordo and shatters his belief in the order. The Ancient One tries to stop Mordo in the Mirror Dimension but is fatally wounded. Strange and Mordo head to Hong Kong to try and stop Kaecilius but find the Sanctum already destroyed and the Dark Dimension already flowing into the normal dimension.  Strange uses the Eye of Agomotto to turn back time and enters the Dark Dimension, introducing time to the timeless realm. Trapping Dormammu in a time loop, Dormammu agrees to not engulf the Earth and take Kaecilius and his followers into the Dark Dimension in exchange for ending the loop. Strange returns the eye to the order and takes up residence in the NYC sanctum to protect it and continue his study of the mystical arts.

Ant-Man

Ant-Man (2015): Scott Lang is released from prison after being arrested for theft and tries to create a normal life so that he can reenter the life of his daughter, who lives with Scott’s ex-wife and new husband.  After being fired from Baskin-Robbins because of his criminal background, Scott’s friend Luis lets him know about an “easy” burglary, which he agrees to in desperation. Breaking into the home of scientist Hank Pym, Scott finds a safe but instead of the money he’s expecting, he just finds what he thinks is a motorcycle jumpsuit.  Scott takes it anyway and gets out and, at home, tries on the suit and accidentally activates it’s shrinking powers. Scott is horrified and tries to return it but is arrested again. Pym sneaks in the suit for Scott and reveals the burglary was a test setup by him to see if Scott had what it takes to become the new Ant-Man. Hank used to be Ant-Man and worked covertly with SHIELD alongside the likes of Howard Stark and Peggy Carter, but when he learned they wanted to replicated his tech (and also reeling from the death of his wife Janet), Hank resigned and hid the tech from the world.  Hank’s protege, Darren Cross, is close to creating his own, weaponized shrinking suit, the Yellowjacket, and Hank wants Scott to break into Pym Industries and steal it back. Hope Van Dyne, Hank’s daughter, has been secretly assisting Hank for years and help Hank train Scott to use the suit to it’s full potential. After stealing a piece of tech from The Avengers (and defeating Sam Wilson), Scott gathers Luis and his heist crew and breaks into Pym Industries. He’s captured by Cross after setting explosives and trying to get the Yellowjacket suit, along with Hank and Hope. Cross reveals he’s selling the fully operational Yellowjacket tech to Hydra, who plan on using it to have deadly, undetectable assassins.  Scott escapes and he and Hope fight off Cross’s goons and the Hydra agents but Hank is shot and a Hydra agent escapes with a vial of the Yellowjacket shrinking particles. Cross puts on the Yellowjacket suit himself and attacks Scott’s daughter’s house, holding her hostage and forcing Scott into a showdown. Scott shrinks to dangerous size and manages to force the Yellowjacket suit to uncontrobably shrink, killing Cross. Scott is almost trapped in the “quantum realm”, a microscopic plane, but Scott manages to regrow back to normal size. Scott decides to continue being Ant-Man and a recovered Hank also shows Hope that he has developed a suit for her as well, an updated version of her mother’s Wasp suit.

Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): After Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker returns home to Queens as Tony Stark tells him he still has a lot to learn before he actually becomes a full fledged member of The Avengers.  Peter goes back to taking down smaller crimes around his neighborhood, reporting to Tony’s driver Happy, but he uncovers criminals using high tech weapons and decides to track down who created them to prove himself to Tony.  The weapons are being created and sold by a group of criminals led by Adrian Toomes, whose company lost a lucrative bid to help clean up after the Battle of New York as the government sanctioned Department of Damage Control will be doing it instead.  Toomes’ group proceeds to steal technology and weapons after various incidents in the MCU, recombining them into weapons and tech to sell on the black market and Toomes has created a powerful flightsuit that is his main tool to gather stolen tech. Peter’s friend Ned discovers Peter’s secret ability and he helps Peter track down the group to Maryland, which Peter and Ned are headed to with their school’s academic decathlon team.  Peter stops Toomes from stealing tech from a Department of Damage Control truck but Peter becomes trapped in a DDC facility until he and his suit’s AI, Karen, figure out a way out. Peter realizes that a piece of tech he and Ned found after Peter initially chased after Toomes’ group is an unstable Chitauri grenade, which goes off in the Washington Monument. Peter races there and rescues the Decathlon team. Back in NYC, Peter questions a low level criminal, Aaron Davis, who Peter saw looking to buy some of the Toomes’ gang’s weapons.  Aaron reveals he has a nephew in Queens and doesn’t want weapons like that out in the world, so he tells Peter where a buy is going down, which is on the Staten Island Ferry. Peter breaks up the deal but FBI is there as well and Toomes escapes in the chaos, using a weapon to split the ferry in half. Peter tries to hold it together with his webbing but Tony Stark has to intervene and help save the ferry. Tony takes back the advanced suit he gave Peter and Peter tries to go back to normal high school life, asking his crush Liz to the prom but his horrified to find out her father is Toomes.  Toomes realizes who Peter is as well and gives him one chance to back off because he saved Liz’s life in DC. Peter can’t let Toomes pull of his heist of a Stark plane carrying Avengers level weaponry and tries to stop him but Toomes detonates his warehouse hideout, trapping Peter in the rubble. Peter summons all of his strength and lifts the debris to escape, getting to the plane and steers it from the outside with his webbing so that it crashes on Coney Island. Peter and Toomes continue to fight but Toomes’ wingsuit is close to exploding. Peter saves Toomes and webs him up to some boxes with a note for the police.  Tony is impressed by Peter’s win and reveals he’s made him a brand new, high tech and armored Spider-Man suit and is going to reveal him as the newest member of The Avengers but Peter declines, deciding to stay New York fighting smaller crimes and only requests back the original suit Tony gave him, which Tony sends to Peter’s apartment.

The Avengers

The Avengers (2012): Nick Fury is overseeing an evacuation of a SHIELD research facility where Dr. Selvig has been investigating the Tessaract, which was revealed to be in SHIELD’s possession at the end of Thor.  The Tessaract has been giving off strange energy readings and opens a wormhole, from which Loki appears and takes the Tessarct and uses his scepter to brainwash Dr. Selvig and Clint Barton and escapes. Fury activates the Avengers Iniative and sends Agent Natasha Romanoff to collect Dr. Bruce Banner while Agent Phil Coulson goes to Tony Stark to get his input on the Tessaract research and Fury gets Steve Rogers.  Loki shows up in Stuttgart but conspicuously surrenders immediately to the team. On the way back to Fury’s helicarrier, the team’s quinjet is attacked by Thor, who is looking to retrieve his brother and bring him back to Asgard to answer for his crimes. Stark and Thor briefly battle but it’s broken up by Steve and Thor agrees to accompany the SHIELD forces to the helicarrier. Bruce and Tony examine Loki’s staff and try to locate the Tessaract, which Tony finds out SHIELD wants to utilize to create weapons.  Loki reveals his capture was part of his plan and Barton leads a brainwashed team in an attack on the Helicarrier. Bruce loses control and transforms into the Hulk and Thor tries to stop him while Natasha faces Barton and manages to knock him unconscious, breaking Loki’s spell. Steve and Tony remove debris and restart one of the Helicarriers’ engines, preventing it from crashing. Loki tricks Thor into getting trapped in a containment cell, which he sends plummeting to the ground but Thor manages to break out before impact.  Hulk attacks a SHIELD fighter jet and then falls to the Earth, transforming back into Banner. Phil Coulson is stabbed Loki during his escape and is declared dead (although Nick Fury brings him back to life with alien technology and he leads his own covert SHIELD team for years) and Coulson’s “death” rallies the remaining Avengers. Loki has the brainwashed Dr. Selvig open a wormhole above New York City and unleashes the alien Chitauri army onto the city. The Avengers arrive and go into battle, with Natasha managing to disable the wormhole generator and the Hulk brutally takes down Loki.  Tony guides a nuclear missile launched by the World Security Council, who oversee SHIELD, back into the wormhole and destroys the Chitauri mothership, disabling their forces and Tony is saved from a deadly freefall by the Hulk after his suit runs out of power. The Avengers go their separate ways for the time being but agree to come together whenever they are needed.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): The Avengers reassemble to destroy a Hydra facility run by Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, who acquired Loki’s scepter following the Battle of New York and used it to create two superpowered siblings, Wanda Maximoff and her brother Pietro.  The Avengers arrest Strucker and recover Loki’s scepter but the Maximoffs escape. Tony and Bruce discover that the gem of Loki’s scepter has an AI and they decide to use it to finish Tony’s “Ultron” project, which is a global defense program to prevent something like the Chitauri invasion from happening again.  Ultron breaks from his programming, builds himself a body and attacks The Avengers, taking the scepter and believing the only way to save the Earth is to eliminate humanity. Ultron recruits the Maximoffs siblings, who want revenge on Tony Stark because his weapons killed the rest of their family. Ultron seeks out arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to obtain vibranium but the Avengers arrive to break up the deal.  Wanda manipulates their minds and causes the Hulk to go on a rampage, forcing Tony to call in his special Hulkbuster armor to stop him. Ultron uses Loki’s scepter to brainwash Dr. Helen Cho and combines her synthetic tissue technology, the vibranium and the gem inside the scepter, to create a “perfect body” that he will transfer himself into but Wanda is able to read the mind of the new body as Ultron uploads himself and sees his plan for humanity’s extinction and the siblings turn on him, stopping the upload and allowing Steve, Natasha and Clint to obtain the body but Natasha is captured by Ultron.  Tony finds JARVIS on the internet, having escaped there to avoid being erased by Ultron, and they upload him into the new body, creating The Vision. Thor tells the tem the gem in Vision’s forehead is one of the Infinity Stones and he saw it in an apocalyptic vision he had. The team rallies and heads to Sokovia to stop Ultron from lifting the entire city using a vibranium powered levitation device and then dropping it from orbit, causing an extinction level event. The Avengers battle Ultron’s drones while Nick Fury and SHIELD evacuate civilians to a Helicarrier. Pietro dies defending Barton and Wanda destroys Ultron’s main body in revenge, but one of his drones activates the levitation device, causing it to plummet to Earth.  Tony and Thor manage to smash it into smaller pieces to prevent a bigger disaster while the Hulk flies off in a quinjet preprogrammed by Bruce to stop him from endangering the team anymore, especially Natasha. Vision finds and destroys Ultron’s final body, ending the threat. Tony reveals he’s built a new base for the team and Steve and Natasha are training a new team that includes Wanda, Jim Rhodes, Sam Wilson and The Vision. Thor returns to Asgard and Clint retires from active duty to return to his farm and his family.

Black Panther

Black Panther (2018): After the events of Civil War, T’Challa returns home to Wakanda and goes through an ancient ritual, including a trial by combat against the Jabari Tribe’s leader, M’Baku, to claim his title as king of Wakanda as well as being it’s protector, Black Panther.  T’Challa learns that Wakanda’s old enemy, Ulysses Klaue, has been spotted in Busan, South Korea, and T’Challa takes his trusted allies Okoye, leader of Wakanda’s elite female warriors, the Dora Milaje, and Nakia, a Wakandan spy, with him to apprehend Klaue. CIA agent Everett Ross, who met T’Challa during the events of Civil War, is there as well and T’Challa gives Klaue to the CIA after capturing him.  Mercenary Erik “Killmonger” Stevens breaks Klaue out of CIA custody and critically injures Ross, who T’Challa takes back to Wakanda, leaving Klaue and Killmonger at large. Ross is saved by T’Challa’s sister Shuri, who uses the country’s highly advanced vibranium technology to almost instantly repair his spine and heal the gunshot wound. Killmonger kills Klaue and brings his body to the border of Wakanda, giving him an audience with the ruling council and T’Challa.  Killmonger reveals his father was N’Jobu, T’Challa’s uncle, who T’Challa’s father T’Chaka killed to keep Wakanda a secret, as N’Jobu was planning on distributing Wakandan tech to people of African descent around the world to allow them to rise up against their oppressors. Killmonger challenges T’Challa to ritual combat, defeating him and throwing him over a waterfall, claiming the throne and the title of Black Panther. Despite being forced to support Killmonger due to ancient obligations, Okoye helps Nakia, Shuri, Ross and T’Challa’s mother Ramonda flee the city and they seek help from the Jabari Tribe, as M’Baku owes T’Challa for sparing his life.  They find that the Jabari have found T’Challa, although he’s unconscious and badly injured. Nakia gives him the last remaining herb that gives the Black Panther his power and T’Challa is restored to full strength. T’Challa returns to challenge Killmonger, who has claimed his own armored Black Panther suit, and Okoye brings the Dora Milaje back to T’Challa’s side, battling the forces of her lover W’Kabi and the Border Tribe while Killmonger and T’Challa battle deep inside the vibranium mines. Ross, meanwhile, pilots a fighter jet remotely with help from Shuri and stops Wakandan weapons from leaving the country. M’Baku and the Jabari arrive to help T’Challa and the Border Tribe is defeated.  T’Challa lands a killing blow when the train that transports vibranium temporarily disrupts the armor of Killmonger’s suit. T’Challa decides that the centuries of seclusion are over and Wakanda will reveal their true nature to the world, with his first step setting up an outreach center in Oakland where N’Jobu and Killmonger lived. It’s also revealed that Bucky Barnes, left in Wakanda’s care following Civil War, is seemingly close or completely cured of his Hydra brainwashing thanks to Shuri.

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