These notes will cover the last 22 movies to get you caught up.
In preparation of the coming What If… Series? A new slew of episodes coming to Disney+, I thought it would be nice to see how we got here. How the multiverse came to fruition and what it means for Marvel and the MCU. I will not be following the release dates of the movies in MCU but their actual chronological order. I will also mention some pre, post MCU movies and some possible predictions. (I will not be talking about agents of SHIELD, Runaways, The Defenders or The pre MCU beta testing movies like Daredevil, Blade, X-Men, etc… I feel trying to insert them into this will just make things confusing)
Background: So we all know what we are talking about, I will start with what is, What If…? It is an alternate outcome of a possible story. This idea has always been around in literature and especially in science fiction. What if we colonized mars, or lived on the moon. What if the dinosaurs were still around and what if we lived in a world of superheroes. Marvel took this concept on and said, let’s try it. Back in 1977 the 1st What If… comic asked the question “What if Spiderman joined the Fantastic 4”. From about 1977 to 1984 Marvel pumped out stories like this to see what would happen if one or several events changed in a certain story. After so many issues Marvel eased off the gas pedal and only printed a few What If… stories every so many years.
The Eternals Chronologically start the MCU but as of now Captain America starts our movie universe.
We all know the story Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was a young man from Brooklyn trying to join the war effort during WW2. He was following his friend Buck Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and a dream to be more. Steve Rogers becomes Captain America via serum. He fights the Nazi’s, Hydra (a Nazi cell), loses Bucky in battle and gets the girl (in a way), Peggy Carter. The red skull strays from the original plan after he finds the tesseract, a powerful artifact that could tip the scales of the war. In the end Cap sacrifices himself to save the US and stop the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). He was later found frozen and preserved in ice and brought back to the modern era by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and SHIELD.
A young boy, Peter Quill, is taken to the stars and starts a life in space. Around the same time a Wankandan boy, Eric Killmonger, is left to fend for himself after the death of his father.
Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) comes to earth From the Kree homeworld, Hala, in search of Skulls (the Kree’s enemy) while Steve is still on ice. We are introduced to a young Nick Fury and a younger Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Carol learns the truth about her powers, her past, the Kree, the Skrulls and her real home planet earth. She forms a friendship with Nick Fury and gives him the idea to start The Avengers Program.
Ironman/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) (the true start of the MCU). Again we all know the story, billionaire playboy Tony Stark finds a new path in life after a near death situation in the Middle east. He makes a portable arc reactor and places it in his chest to survive after an explosion critically injured him. Tony Creates the Ironman suit to escape his captors in the Middle East but is later betrayed by Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges). He is later approached by Nick Fury about the Avengers Initiative.
At the same time Bruce Banner/Hulk (Edward Norton) Is dealing with his “curse” of being the Hulk. He is being chased by Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) and the military while trying to find a cure for his condition. He ends up fighting Abomination (Tim Roth), saving Harlem and fleeing the US.
Right after this Tony/Ironman is having his own issues with Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and Whiplash/Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). He has a falling out with Rhodey (now played by Don Cheadle) who takes an Ironman suit from him, and becomes War Machine. He is also dying due to the poisoning from the arc reactor in his chest. SHIELD helps him by giving him notes from his father. Notes he used to make a new, poison free, arc reactor. He later teams up with Rodey to stop Hammer and Ivan and saves Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Shortly after Coulson was called away to investigate a strange sighting in New Mexico. It is later revealed to be Mjolnir, the fabled hammer of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor is banished to Midgar (Earth) by Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) to learn humility. He meets and falls for Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). He later retrieves Mjolnir, saves the town and goes back to Asgard. Once there he fights his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who was trying to steal the throne. The Rainbow bridge is destroyed causing Loki to be lost in space and stranding Thor on Asgard.
Loki is alive and has found a benefactor to help him conquer the Earth. Only the Avengers can stop him. But they have to be made a team. Nick Fury goes to recruit these heroes after an attack on a SHIELD base causing Loki to take over Hawkeye/Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) mind using a scepter with a strange gem in it. He enlists the help of Captain America, Ironman and Black Widow/Natasha Rominav (Scarlett Johanssan) to find Bruce Banner/ Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo). Thor later joins the fray when he realizes Loki is behind the chaos. The team falls apart. Later they come together to stop Loki and save New York. We later learn that Thanos orchestrated the whole thing.
After New York Thor struggles a little with his relationship with Jane Foster and he ends up losing his mother, Frigga (Rene Russo). We are introduced to the Aether (the reality stone), an old energy in Asgard and it has bonded with Jane, but the dark elves want the energy and will do anything to obtain it. Thor defeats the Dark elves and Loki dies in battle beside Thor. They get the energy out of Jane and things go back to normal.
Around the same time Tony is dealing with PTSD after NY and it’s causing a strain on his relationship with Pepper. He invents like 50 ironman suits to try and cope. Happy (John Favreau) is injured, Pepper is kidnaped and Rhodey is captured leaving Tony on his own to fight AIM and the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley later revealed to really be Guy Pearce). In the end Tony and Rhodey save the day and by using the extremis formula (it was a serum kinda like the one they used on Steve. Only side effect was exploding) Tony is able to live without the arc reactor.
Some time later SHIELD wanted to expand. Captain America and Black Widow have become full time employees of shield and worked together to keep the world safe. Nick is killed by the Winter Soldier (who is later revealed to be Bucky). This causes Steve and Natasha to go and find answers. They find out that Hydra was not defeated during the war but have slowly taken over SHIELD and plan to use its resources to inflict a massive massacre of potential threats to Hydra. Steve gets help from a retired paratrooper, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), takes on SHIELD/HYDRA, jogs Bucky’s memory and saves DC.
A young man, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) travels to a planet to raid a tomb for a big score (unbeknownst to him it’s the power stone). He takes it to the Nova Homeworld to sell it but he is met by Gamora ( Zoe Saladana) Daughter of Thanos. She is in search of the item he stole (she knows it’s an infinity stone). While there Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) see the back and forth between Gamora and Peter. They also know they both have a bounty on their heads and decide to catch them and cash in. They all end up being arrested by the Nova Corp and sent to jail. In jail they meet Drax (Dave Buatista). At first they hate each other but eventually come together to escape. They realize the item Peter stole in the power stone. One of the 6 infinity stones and it is now in the hands of Ronan (Lee Pace) and they have to get the stone back from him. They eventually do and save the Galaxy, via, dance off. LOL
No time after, The Guardians are flung into an adventure again. Yondu (Michael Rooker) is being rejected by the Ravagers due to kidnapping Peter at a young age. Ravagers do not deal in child trafficking. Gamora is dealing with her sister Nebula (Karen Gilian) and all the tension in their relationship. Rocket does some soul searching while Groot deals with the fact that he is a baby plant. Peter finally meets his father and learns he is an old entity trying to engulf the universe with only his presence. The group comes together to save the Universe and stop Peter’s dad. Yondu dies sacrificing himself to save Peter.
The Avengers are in full swing. They have a system and are now a solid team. During a raid on a Hydra base in Sokovia Tony finds the scepter Loki used to control minds. We are also introduced to Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). A brother and sister that Hydra experimented on. Tony has a vision of the Avengers dying. This prompts him to design Ultron (James Spader), a peace keeping A.I. that will make The Avengers obsolete. Unfortunately it goes south, fast. The team is torn apart by the opposing team of Ultron, Wanda and Pietro (With the help of Klaw). During all this Vision (Paul Bettany, who also voiced Jarvis) is born to help stop Ultorn. The Avengers battle an army of Ultrons, Pietro and Wanda become Avengers, Pietro dies and Sokovia is destroyed. Hulk and Thor leave the earth.
Some time after Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison. He is trying to be a good father to his daughter and stay out of jail. He is then pulled into a micronized world via Pym Particles. He is later trained by Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) and his daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lily) to stop Yellow jacket/Darren Cross (Cory Stoll), from using the Pym Particles for evil. (I’ll be honest not one of my favorites but I loved how the Ant Man movies progressed and got better in part 2).
After Ultron the Avengers were not on the best terms. While Cap (America) was out on a mission Wanda caused an explosion killing Wakandan dignitaries in Lagos. Actions had to be taken against The Avengers. After New York, DC, Sokovia, and now Lagos the UN took action placing the Avengers under a council by laws of the Sokovia Accords. They argued about it. Steve left to bury Peggy. She died in her sleep. During the signing of the accords King T’Chaka dies in a bombing leaving T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) to receive the Mantle of king and black panther. All these events split the team. Cap, Hawkeye, Sam, Bucky, Wanda, and Scott were against the Accords. Tony, Rodey, Vision. Were for the accords. Blank Panther only wanted Buck for the bombing so he sided with Tony. Spider man/ Peter Parker (Tom Holland) only wanted to impress Tony. Black Widow was playing both sides. It all came to a head when they realized they were all being played by Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Steve and Bucky fought Tony because Tony found out Bucky killed his parents back in 1991. In the end Steve decided to save Bucky and leave the Avengers. Nat went on the run. Clint, Sam, Wanda and Scott were all locked up, but late Steve got them out. Rodey lost the use of his legs and Steve and Bucky hid out in Wakanda.
While on the run Natahsa reminisced on her life. She settled in the middle of nowhere. While running an errand she was attacked by Taskmaster. Natasha did not know she was carrying an important chemical that could shut down the Red Room, the place where Black Widows are made. She got away only to run into her (adopted) sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) in Budapest. After trying to kill each other they stopped and talked. Yelena told her that the red room was still active and Nat did not believe her. Nat was with SHIELD when they killed the leader of the Red Room, Dreykov (Ray Winstone). They decided to find their “father” Russian Super Soldier Alexi (David Harbour). Alexi was put in prison for what he knew. Once they got them out Alexi said they needed to find their “Mother” Melina. Once they find Melina, family antics ensue, dramatic back stories and some minutes later, they are infiltrated by the red room. Once in the red room facility massive amounts of double crosses and reveals happen and they finally shut down the red room. The girls trapped there are freed and Natasha finds closure.
Doctor Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has the world in the palm of his hand. He is considered the best surgeon, dare I say, in the world. While driving to an event he ends up in an accident. He is lucky to have survived but his hands are severely damaged. After spending most of his money on all known methods he is given a tip about a place that can heal impossible wounds. He makes his way to the Ancient One’s (Tilda Swinton) temple. He is turned away and stays because he has nowhere else to go and has run out of options. After a demonstration on what he is getting into he stays and learns. He learns extremely fast. Strange then has a run in with Kaeclilious (Mads Mecklesen). Strange learns about Dormammu and his quest to conquer the earth. Strange with the help of Wong (Benedict Wong) and Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) defeat Dormammu. Mordo then goes on a mad quest.
T’challa has been safeguarding Wakanda for some time now. He will be officially crowned king but wants Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) to be there. He goes on a mission to get her and tell her of his father’s passing and that he will be crowned king. At the same time Eric Kilmonger (Micheal B. Jordan) is plotting his way into Wakanda and taking the crown. During the ceremony M’Baku (Duke Winston) challenges T’Challa for the right of king and loses. Wakandan informants have tracked down Klaw (Andy Serkis) a man who smuggled vibranium out of Wakanda and killed W’kabi (DAniel Kaluuya) parents while escaping. T’Challa catches Klaw, but he is busted out of a room during his interrogation. Eric kills Klaw and takes him to Wakanda as a gift. He then challenges T’Challa for the mantle of king and black panther. T’Challa accepts and loses. W’kabi is quick to change sides. Eric then gets ready to empower his “brothers and sisters” in every nation to stand and fight. T’Challa is barely alive and found by M’Baku. He is given his powers back and goes to challenge Eric. A battle ensues and T’challa wins. Realizing Eric had a point, T’challa establishes an outreach program in Eric’s old neighborhood and pulls Wakanda out of its isolationist ways.
The Avengers are disbanded and Tony is feeling lonely. After spider man’s performance in Germany Tony Stark takes him under his wing. Peter is struggling with wanting to do more as a hero and navigating being a teenage boy. After royally messing up and almost costing people’s lives Tony decides to ground Peter and take back his suit. Peter proves he doesn’t need the suit to be Spider man and earns the respect of a villain, the people of New York, and Tony. Oh and his aunt finds out he’s Spiderman.
During Thor’s romp through the 9 realms he finds things in chaos. He gets his final answers from Surtur in Muspelheim. Thor is warned of Ragnarok and how Surtur will bring an end to Asgard. Upon returning home to warn his father he sees right through Loki’s trickery and they both go to get Odin. Not being able to find him, they enlist the help of Dr. Steven Strange. He lets them know where to go and to find Odin. He tells them he is dying and his life force was the only thing keeping his crazy sister at bay. He dies and instantly Hela (Cate Blanchett) emerges from a portal. They attack and she destroys Mjolinor. As they retreat they wind up in Sakaar. There they find Hulk. He is a gladiator and he and Thor fight. Soon after Thor plots to escape. He is aided by Bruce, Loki and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). They arrive on Asgard to help Heimdal (Idris Alba) fight off Hela. The Prophecy is fulfilled and Hela dies on Asgard as it is destroyed by Surtur.
Scott Lang has settled into house arrest pretty well. Everything is going fine until he starts having visions of Hope as a young girl and possibly receives a message from Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank Pym’s Wife who was lost in the quantum realm. Hope and Pym go to Lang to see if he can help get Janet out. He is reluctant due to his house arrest and the fact that he and Hope are not on good terms. Hope has a lead on some equipment they need. She and Lang go to get it and end up confronting Ghost (Hannah John – Kamen). She is secretly working with Bill Foster (Lawrence Fishburne) to try and stabilize her cells which are in quantum flux causing her pain all the time. After some interrogations, car chases, comedy, and action Scott reaches Janet and pulls her out of the Quantum realm. They also help stabilize Ghost in the process. Scott then goes back in to explore the Quantum realm.
The Avengers are no more. Thor is in space with the Asgardianss, Hulk and Loki. They are ambushed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his Black Order (side bar: probably the biggest cast to ever grace a screen full of so many well established stars). Thanos trounces them all and makes it look easy. He then takes the space stone which was in the tesseract (he already has the power stone). Hulk/Bruce Banner is sent to earth to warn the others Thanos is coming. Banner warns Dr. Strange who calls Tony Stark. A few minutes later Ebony Maw and Black Dwarf show up to retrieve the Time stone from Dr. Strange. Spiderman sees the spaceship and intercepts. He runs into Ironman who is now fighting the 2 from the black order. Strange, Tony and Peter all end up on the ship heading to Thanos to give him the stone. Bruce calls Steve. In Europe Vision and Wanda sneak off to be alone and are ambushed by Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive. They fight but are saved by Steve, Natasha, Sam. The 2 aliens get away and Steve takes them all to the Avengers compound. They run into Rhodey who is ready to help. Bruce is also there and they come up with a plan to remove the stone from Vision’s head.
Peter Quill and the Guardians find Thor’s ship and surprisingly finds Thor alive. Thor plans to go to Nidavellir to forge a new weapon while Peter, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis go to Knowhere to get the reality stone before Thanos. They are too late and Gamora is captured by Thanos. Through Nebula Thanos learned the location of the soul stone. Steve takes his team to Wakanda to remove Vision’s stone. They prepare for a huge epic battle (and it was epic).
On Titan Peter Quill Runs into Tony and his crew and they wait for Thanos. It was another epic battle but Thanos won, oh and he sacrificed Gamora for the soul stone.
Thanos then made his way for earth to retrieve the final stone. He got the stone, snapped his fingers and in the most heartbreaking scene in action movie history he wiped out half of all life in the universe.
To be continued in part 2. Yes I know I left out a lot of details but like I said I’m just summarizing the whole series so far.