Avengers: Infinity War is 10 years (and 18 movies) in the making, pitting Earth's Mightiest Heroes against the universes's most capable enemy, Thanos. Heroes have risen and fallen, villains have come, gone, and changed allegiances, and audiences have yet to feel exhausted by the sheer magnitude of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's ambitious undertaking. While Infinity War is hardly the end of an era, it's an undeniable turning point, with Marvel Studios looking to the future. Naturally, that makes it a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past.
When the Avengers face off against Thanos and his merry band of monsters, they'll have had a decade to prepare. As Tony Stark points out in the trailer, they have the upper hand with the fight being brought to Earth, but that's not to say the challenge won't be bigger than anything they've ever experienced.
Before the gloves are off (which is kind of an ironic saying, given the circumstances surrounding Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet), let's take a look at the where all of Infinity War's major players started from.
After all, audiences may be saying goodbye to some of them for good, so when else would there been a better time for nostalgia?
Keep reading to check out What The Avengers Cast Looked Like In Their First Movie Vs. Infinity War.
20 Tony Stark - Iron Man
By the time Infinity War rolls around, Tony Stark will have gone from a "genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist" to a dispirited superhero dancing to the tune of his own looming swan song.
During his entire character arc through 7 movies, Tony has proven his capacity for selflessness, transitioning from someone born with a gold-plated spoon in his mouth to someone willing to give his life for a bigger cause. His relationship with physical villains aside, moral conflict has been Tony's greatest challenge, going so far as to do battle with his partner and friend, Steve Rogers.
While there's no telling what his fate will be by the end of Infinity War, the fate of the first official star in the MCU may ultimately prove just how much he is willing to give once Thanos enters the ring.
19 Wanda Maximoff - Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) has also experienced quite an extensive evolution in terms of her personality, values, allegiance, and style. She made her debut in the mid-credit sting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, alongside her brother Pietro (aka Quicksilver). In the scene, the siblings are locked up in their own private cells, displaying their brand new powers (reality alteration and superhuman speed, respectively).
Once Infinity War comes around, not only has she suffered the loss of her brother, but Wanda is a full-fledged Avenger, turning her back on HYDRA (who she only aligned with in hopes that she could seek justice), and preparing to risk her life for the sake of the entire universe.
Like the rest of Team Cap, Wanda's hair has been changed in Infinity War, seemingly in an attempt to hide from the authorities.
18 Loki Odinson
One of the more complicated characters in the MCU, Loki hit the ground running in his quest for vengeance. First showing up in Thor (starring in a movie named after the brother he's jealous of is just adding insult to injury), Loki made all the wrong moves, which inevitably led to his villainous status. Where every member of the Avengers accepted whatever odds were against them and still fought for the greater good, Loki pursued power—going so far as to form an allegiance with Thanos himself.
In Thor: Ragnarok, after finally making up for his awful behavior by helping his brother defeat Hela, he still manages to undo his glimmer of good behavior by stealing the Tesseract (a.k.a. the Space Stone), simply making it that much easier for Thanos to complete Mission: Stone Hunt.
17 Bucky Barnes - The Winter Soldier - The White Wolf
Before HYDRA transformed him into the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes was— to steal a quote from his lifelong friend Steve Rogers—"just a kid from Brooklyn." Unfortunately, after fighting side-by-side with Steve (a.k.a. Captain America), he fell to his presumed death and disappeared. Cue a century of agony and violence.
Once Infinity War's action is underway, Bucky finds himself on the front lines, doing as soldiers do. At this point in time, he's been forgiven for the countless deaths he involuntarily caused, though it's unclear how exactly his and Tony Stark's reunion will play out - assuming it even happens in the first place.
As far as changes go, Bucky was one of the biggest, evolving from a clean-cut man in 1942 named James Buchanan Barnes to a a brainwashed assassin called the Winter Soldier, and finally to a shaggy Avenger called White Wolf.
16 Clint Barton - Hawkeye
Despite the fact that he hasn't shown up in any of the trailers, and despite the fact that neither his name nor his face show up on the film's poster, Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) will show up in Infinity War. It's not entirely clear what sort of role he'll be playing, but according to directors Joe and Anthony Russo, he's on a unique journey.
After Civil War, Cap's anti-Sokovia Accords team dispersed—all heading down different paths. Like Wanda, Clint's changed his hair a bit - shaving off the sides into a slight mohawk.
Now, Hawkeye doesn't have any super powers, he's never starred in his own movie, and more often than not, he can come off a bit disposable. That said, his journey up to Infinity War has been impressive. Starting out as an agent for SHIELD, he's been possessed, he's leapt off skyscrapers, he's managed to secretly raise his family in the middle of nowhere... and he's climbed the Avenger ladder all the while.
Now, it's completely up in the air what Infinity War has in store for him.
15 Bruce Banner - The Incredible Hulk
Though Mark Ruffalo never got the chance to pilot his own standalone film centered on Bruce Banner and the Hulk, the big green guy did get his own movie. It was the second entry in the MCU, following Iron Man. Instead of Ruffalo donning the trademark purple pants, Banner was played by Edward Norton.
Actor changes aside, Banner has made quite a leap from his role in The Incredible Hulk. He's battled mental illness, acceptance, self-control, and identity; and by the time he shows up in Thor: Ragnarok, after disappearing for two years, Banner and the big guy have learned to accept each other (or they've at least considered it).
Once Infinity War rolls around, Banner is back on Earth, seemingly a bit more confident in allowing his inner green giant to come out and play when the occasion calls for it.
14 Natasha Romanoff - Black Widow
When Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) made her on-screen debut in Iron Man 2, she was very much positioned as a sidekick. She proved that she could handle herself in a fight, but it wasn't until The Avengers that she really got to explore her character, ultimately positioning herself as a key player in the MCU.
That said, given the events of Civil War, and how she ended up switching sides in the end, Romanoff is joining Cap and Co. on their run from Johnny Law. In Infinity War, she's even dyed her hair, presumably to better evade detection. She's going back to her roots (which is to say, she's going undercover), but she'll be coming out of the shadows once the fight against Thanos picks up steam.
13 Thor Odinson
When audiences first met Thor, he wasn't worthy. In fact, he was so unworthy of the path his bloodline set him on that his father, Odin, cast him out of his kingdom, banishing him to Earth. From there, Thor's journey has been especially epic. He's embarked on interplanetary adventures, fought the goddess of death, and even lost his eye— which have all humbled him immensely, oddly enough.
By the time he begins the fight against Thanos, the odds are completely against him.
During the mid-credit sting in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor's ship is greeted by Thanos' ship, and though it's unclear how exactly events unfold shortly thereafter, the Comic Con trailer for Infinity War showed Thor floating through space. Odds are Thanos sucker-punches him into said unfortunate position, prefacing his journey for the rest of the film.
12 Stephen Lang - Ant-Man
Out of all the Avengers, Stephen Lang seems like the unlikeliest hero. He's served time in prison for robbery, he's dealing with the ongoing blows of divorce, and he's been employed by Baskin Robbins. Still, in keeping with the theme of Ant-Man, no hero is too small.
While Lang hasn't had much time to really flesh his character out, Paul Rudd's charm has certainly helped audiences get on board. That said, just like Hawkeye, Ant-Man isn't included in the film's poster, nor is he in either of the two trailers (unless he's just too small to see).
You can argue that Marvel is keeping him out of Infinity War promo in order to keep everyone's attention on Ant-Man and the Wasp, releasing just three months later, but it could also just indicate that he's either not important to the plot.
11 T'Challa - Black Panther
When T'Challa made his MCU debut in Avengers 2.5 (aka Captain America: Civil War), he shared the same disadvantage that characters like Black Widow and Bruce Banner dealt with in their respective debuts: not being introduced in his own standalone movie.
What's more is that his alter ego debuted amid tragic circumstances, limited dialogue, and in the company of essentially the entire MCU. That said, though, he still ended up stealing the show.
T'Challa proved to audiences that not only was it time to add Black Panther into the mix, but that Chadwick Boseman was the man to play him. Just a year later, he'd star in his own standalone movie, only to follow it up two months later with Infinity War. New though he may be to the Marvel cinematic family, he easily climbed the ranks to fan-favorite status.
Technically speaking, actor Paul Bettany was part of the MCU from the very beginning, starring in Iron Man as the voice of JARVIS. However, things didn't get physical until Avengers: Age of Ultron, when he was brought to life as Vision.
Powered by the Mind Stone and fleshed out with synthetic vibranium (like Captain America's shield and Black Panther's suit), Vision was intended to be the final phase of Ultron's evolution until the Avengers thwart his plan.
In Civil War, Vision showed signs of being more than a operating system, and in Infinity War, he goes so far as to physically take the shape of a human. Whether he'll survive Thanos' inevitable Infinity Stone extraction— which gets a sneak peek in the trailer— is the big mystery.
9 James Rhodes - War Machine
Colonel James Rupert Rhodes (Rhodey to his friends) was one of the first characters introduced in the MCU back in 2008's Iron Man. However, not only did the character himself make a transformation, eventually donning the superhero alter ego War Machine, but Terrence Howard was recast with Don Cheadle.
In terms of changing over the span of the past 10 years, Rhodey takes the cake.
As far as his character goes, Rhodes has remained steadfast in his allegiance to patriotism - not unlike fellow soldier Steve Rogers, despite their differing opinions in Civil War. Suffering paralysis of his legs following the battle in Civil War, Rhodes is still very much capable of battling in Infinity War thanks to some innovative tech from Tony Stark.
8 Stephen Strange - Doctor Strange
Stephen Strange's transition into a superhero was kind of similar to Tony Stark's. Rich geniuses who never considered the odds would ever be against them, only to lose precisely what made them so powerful to begin with: control. The main difference between the two, however, is that Tony's path led to technical innovation, while Doctor Strange's led to the manipulation of time.
Though Doctor Strange has yet to receive a sequel (nor an official confirmation from Marvel Studios), the character is still very much a member of the Avengers by the time Infinity War comes around. He made a quick cameo in Thor: Ragnarok. His role in Infinity War will likely be significantly more valuable, considering the fact that he is in possession of the Eye of Agamotto, better known as the Time Stone.
7 The Guardians of the Galaxy
After two movies, the Guardians of the Galaxy are still very much a ragtag team of outcasts. Still, they've made some considerable changes. For one, they're all very much fighting for the good guys (despite previously only working for the highest bidder), so once they show up in Infinity War, they'll hopefully still remember how to be team players.
While Peter Quill took lead status in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, the standout Guardian in Infinity War will be Gamora. As she's Thanos' adopted daughter, the third Avengers movie is the perfect vehicle to take a deeper dive into Gamora's backstory and emotional arc, which will undoubtedly be the case, given all of her footage shown in the latest trailer.
6 Sam Wilson - Falcon
One of the first characters, aside from Steve Rogers, to learn about the Winter Soldier is Sam Wilson (aka Falcon). After buddying up with Steve in Washington D.C., he ultimately positioned himself into a fight, only against the Winter Soldier, but HYDRA itself, which was ultimately a kind of unofficial audition for the Avengers. Clearly, he got the part.
By the time he shows up in Infinity War, Wilson plays a vital role in the Avengers' second wave, despite the fact that he temporarily discontinued his official Avenger status after siding with Steve in Civil War.
Though Wilson has mostly been portrayed as more of a sidekick to Captain America than a full-blown hero, that'll likely change once the MCU enters Phase 4 post-Avengers 4.
5 Pepper Potts
Though Pepper Potts may not get as down and dirty as her crime-fighting co-stars (aside from her third-act role in Iron Man 3), she's still a key player among the Avengers.
For example, while Tony Stark has enough brain power to rival the likes of Albert Einstein and Elon Musk, Potts supplies the order and balance. In fact, their entire relationship is proof that Tony isn't just a walking computer.
The last time audiences saw Potts back in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Tony was hinting at a possible marriage proposal. Once Infinity War hits theaters, their reconnection after the brief separation in Civil War isn't just for romance, but the higher emotional stakes. After all, the higher these heroes rise, the harder they fall.
4 Peter Parker - Spider-Man
Also making his debut in Civil War alongside T'Challa is Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man). Marvel Studios saw fit to skip over Parker's backstory, seeing as audiences are more than familiar with the character, so when Parker is finally inducted into the MCU, he's allowed to hit the ground running.
By Infinity War, Parker has shown up in two MCU movies, including Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming; however, given that he's still in high school, his character arc revolves mostly around his ability to maturely handle the cataclysmic battleground unfolding around him. That said, his familiarity with personal loss may well prepare him for the losses he'll inevitably witness by the end of Infinity War (if not Avengers 4).
Contrasting Gamora's reckless, but ultimately heroic, lifestyle, Nebula ultimately took her life down a darker, more complicated path.
Another one of Thanos' adopted children, Nebula is introduced into the MCU as a fairly straightforward villain in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. It's not until Vol. 2 that Nebula finally starts to shed some of her nastier habits.
Where does that leave her come Infinity War? Seeing as she has so much bad blood with Thanos, she'll be in the same boat as everybody else— wanting to defeat him.
Karen Gillan has mentioned that she'll be forming an unexpected alliance on her path to defeating Thanos. Regardless whether or not she'll continue aligning herself with heroes over villains, her future role in the MCU is going to be unexpected to say the least.
2 Steve Rogers - Captain America
As far as "before and after" pictures go, nobody can outshine Steve Rogers (aka Captain America). When he first showed up in Captain America: The First Avenger, his heart was in the right place, but his physique wasn't especially threatening. That said, his journey towards the Avengers Initiative was propelled through a muscular makeover, which merely complemented his deep-seated desire for truth, justice, and fighting bullies.
Once Infinity War rolls around, not only has Steve had severe internal battles with the distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, etc., he's stripped away the Captain America persona altogether, likely taking on a new alias as seen in the comics. Whether he specifically refers to himself as Nomad remains to be seen, but it may well get a nod. Like the rest of Team Cap, he's wrong some new hair - and a beard.
One major player in the MCU who has had very little screen time is the main villain himself, Thanos. Now, the tides have turned. Not only is he a key character in Infinity War, he's the central character.
Co-screenwriter Stephen McFeely stated, "In many ways it's Thanos’ movie." Does that necessarily mean that audiences will end up sympathizing with the guy? That remains to be seen. He'll certainly have more time to flesh out his motivations than he did in his mid-credit scene after The Avengers.
Up until this point, audiences (who haven't kept up with the comics) know Thanos as the purple dude with the big chin who is obviously not one of the good guys. By Infinity War, they'll come to know exactly how far he is willing to go to balance the universe— and how capable he is of pulling it off.
Which character from The Avengers do you think has had the biggest transformation? Let us know in the comments!