“Loki” is out now. “Black Widow” is on the way. Needless to say, there’s a lot of new Marvel content coming out. But did you know that it all connects together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Here’s an explainer on the MCU.
What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a collection of movies and television series that tell a singular narrative related to Marvel characters, settings and stories. The MCU is a product from Disney and Marvel that brings us heroes from Black Panther and Doctor Strange to Spider-Man and Iron Man.
What is the MCU story so far?
The MCU started when Tony Stark became Iron Man. The 2008 “Iron Man” movie showed Tony Stark trapped in a cave in the Middle East, with the only survival tactic being to create an artificial heart using nanotechnology. That helped him become Iron Man and set the course for the future MCU.
We saw introductory films for heroes such as Thor, The Hulk and Captain America, learning about how they all tied into the Avengers Initiative — a plan by Nick Fury’s SHIELD agency to fight off big threats.
When aliens invade Earth in search for the Tesseract — which is in the hands of the mischievous Loki — Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow and other heroes form a team known as the Avengers, who work together to stop an invading alien army.
Once that’s done, we learn more about Captain America’s return to the real world and how the Avengers deal with the fallout of the Battle of New York.
It’s then that Stark decides to build some androids to help fight off crime so the Avengers don’t need to act alone, including a rather powerful one named Ultron. But things turn haywire as Ultron turns on the Avengers and threatens to destroy the world. They stop him, but at a major cost as hundreds of thousands of people die.
The MCU takes a turn toward space as well with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, which focus on a group of heroes who are trying to stay safe out in space while protecting others. It’s then that we learn more about Thanos’ plan to capture all the Infinity Stones, which have the power to destroy the universe.
Back on Earth, we see Captain America and Iron Man face possible charges for what’s been done with the world — unless they sign the Sokovia Accords, which allow superheroes to be registered with the U.S. government so they can’t go rogue. This starts a civil war between our heroes, splitting them into two groups. They have a huge fight against each other, which ends with them going down different paths.
Not long after that, Thor and his family and friends are attacked out in space by Thanos, who is still searching for the Infinity Stones. Thanos makes his way toward Earth. This unites the Avengers toward a single goal — defeat Thanos.
But Thanos has collected all of the Infinity Stones and decides to wipe out half of the universe’s population, hoping it’ll keep resources fresh for people. Many of our heroes disappear. Five years pass before the Avengers squad teams up again to stop Thanos. They kill him easily. But then, they travel back in the past to collect the Infinity Stones so they can bring back their friends who were lost. But a past Thanos arrives to stop the Avengers. This culminates in a huge battle.
Spoiler: Our heroes win.
Now, questions arise about what’s next. We know all of the surviving heroes are dealing with the fallout from Thanos, and there seems to be a creation of new timelines and alternate reams. So, we’ll see where this leads.
Full list of current Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and TV shows.
The Infinity Saga
- Iron Man (2008)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Thor (2011)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
- Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Black Panther (2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
- “WandaVision” (January 2021)
- “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (February 2021)
- “Loki” (June 2021)
- “Black Widow” (July 2021)
- “What If … ?” (August 2021)
- “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (September 2021)
- “Eternals” (November 2021)
- “Hawkeye” (November 2021)
- “Spiderman 3: No Way Home” (December 2021)
- “Moon Knight” (March 2022)
- “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” — May 6, 2022
- “Ms. Marvel” — June 8, 2022
- “Thor: Love and Thunder” — July 8, 2022
- “Black Panther 2” — Nov. 11, 2022
- “The Marvels” — Feb. 17, 2023
- “She-Hulk” — TBD
- “Secret Invasion” — TBD
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