Avengers: Endgame is about to release in cinemas worldwide, so here's a full recap of the MCU ahead of the film. The MCU is unlike anything that's been seen on the big screen before; a shared universe of disparate franchises, an ongoing narrative that somehow weaves its way through 22 different movies. Marvel calls the first three waves of the MCU "The Infinity Saga," because they set up Thanos' insane quest for the Infinity Stones.
A lot of Marvel fans have been conducting walkthroughs of the MCU, trying to rewatch each film before they go to see Avengers: Endgame. But with Endgame releasing within the week, it's really hard to do that now. And that matters, because Endgame is envisioned as a celebration of the last decade's worth of Marvel blockbusters, and there's evidence it even features time travel that will revisit the ends of previous movies. Most MCU films can be watched as standalone, but Avengers: Endgame is set to be the exception.
Given that's the case, here's the CliffsNotes version of the MCU to date. This runs through all the highlights in each movie, with a particular focus on all the major plot threads that build up to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
- This Page: Phase 1
- Next Page: Phase 2 and 3
- Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is kidnapped by terrorists and escapes after creating a powerful suit of armor.
- After improving the armor, Stark publicly outs himself to the world as Iron Man.
- Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., approaches Stark with the offer of making him part of the Avengers Initiative.
The Incredible Hulk
- The Incredible Hulk is confirmed to exist in the MCU.
Iron Man 2
- Tony Stark clashes with Nick Fury, and is initially viewed as unsuited for the Avengers Initiative.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy Black Widow infiltrates Stark Industries to monitor Stark for a while.
- James Rhodes takes one of Stark's armors to become the superhero War Machine.
- Thor, son of Odin, is briefly banished to Earth where he must prove himself worthy to wield the enchanted hammer Mjolnir.
- His half-brother Loki makes his first attempt to claim the throne of Asgard, and sends the Destroyer to Earth to kill Thor.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit Doctor Erik Selvig, a scientist under the influence of Loki, to research the Tesseract.
Captain America: The First Avenger
- Back in the 1940s, Steve Rogers is injected with the super-soldier serum and transformed into Captain America.
- Working with the SSR, he battles to stop the Red Skull using the power of the Tesseract to destroy the Allied Forces.
- In the final battle, the Tesseract blasts the Red Skull into space and is lost in the Atlantic Ocean. Steve Rogers is forced to sacrifice himself by crashing his plane in the Greenland ice.
- Steve Rogers' body is recovered in the present-day by S.H.I.E.L.D., who successfully resuscitate him.
- Loki steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. and uses it to launch an alien invasion. It is revealed that he was working for Thanos.
- Nick Fury assembles the Avengers, who successfully drive back the invasion.
Page 2 of 2: MCU Phase 2 and 3
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019