When you think of trying to jump into the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the DCEU, or any other superhero cinematic world, it may seem comparable to jumping into an ocean… without a life jacket. You might have watched the original Iron Man and maybe a part of the first Captain America… but you might be wondering: who on earth is Shuri, and where has Wakanda come from?
And with Marvel expanding its universe beyond just Hollywood, and making its way onto the screen through TV series and even video games, sometimes with the cross combination of TV shows based on video games, the superhero universe is only expanding. If it still seems impossible to get your foot into the door, look no further! A quick history rundown on some of the most popular superhero movies and series should get you right up to speed, just in time for the next upcoming Marvel film (remember to stay through the credits!), so keep reading below.
What Was The First Marvel Movie?
The best place to start with any franchise is at the very beginning, and in the case of the MCU, that would be the ever-iconic Iron Man that was released in 2008. So iconic in fact, that it’s even been registered in the National Film Registry! According to the comics, Iron Man was responsible for establishing the Avengers in 1963, and it was made up of Tony Stark himself, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, the Wasp, and Ant-Man.
The movie takes a bit of a different approach. The first Iron Man focuses on Tony Stark narrowly escaping with his life intact, leading him to develop the iconic Iron Man suit that has seen many advancements over the years. At the very end of the film, we see Nick Fury for the very first time, and it is the first time that we hear of the ‘Avengers Initiative’ being used, a task force of sorts that Nick Fury wishes to bring together for the safety of the planet.
Iron Man kicked off as the very first installment within ‘Phase One’ of the MCU. Phase One is commonly referred to as ‘The Infinity Saga,’ with Phases Four to Six being known as ‘The Multiverse Saga.’
Each phase plays a different role in what characters are introduced, and they all feature different films to add to the Marvel storyline.
Here are the films that comprise Phase One of the MCU:
- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man 2
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Avengers
Each of the films certainly focuses on the individual character, but the end ‘finale’ of Phase One is where we see The Avengers all come together for the first time in an epic battle in New York. It’s also worth noting that not all of them are in chronological order in terms of the timeline of events, but that adds to their charm!
Phase Two seems a combination of both beloved heroes at this point, as well as the introduction of new groups and individuals as well:
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: The Dark World
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
Up until this point, it’s smooth sailing. From here on out, though, the MCU gets a little more complicated, and we don’t blame you if you’ve lost track! Alongside the movies, at this point, Marvel also began to expand into the world of TV series, with Netflix hits like Daredevil, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, and many more. Straying away from the typical MCU universe, the TV shows take a much closer look into the everyday lives of these people and what they do on a daily basis to protect their city, but we do see a return of Matt Murdock in Phase Four later on, telling us that maybe characters will make a surprise return in the mainstream movies as well!
In the main timeline of movies, though, Phase Three was made up of:
- Captain America: Civil War
- Doctor Strange
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Spiderman: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Black Panther
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Ant-Man and The Wasp
- Captain Marvel
- Avengers: Endgame
- Spiderman: Far From Home
Even if you haven’t watched Endgame yet, you certainly heard of it when it hit cinemas. It really was the grand finale that everyone was hoping for from Phase Three, and it united both OG fans of Phase One as well as welcoming new fans alike.
From Phase Four onwards, it starts to become a little tricker to keep track of things because the TV series begins to take a more active role in the timeline of events, and we see the crossovers in some of the bigger titles as well.
The main concept that seems to be at the center of all the movies and series of Phase Four is the concept of ‘The Multiverse,’ and as the name suggests, it’s multiple universes that are responsible for how the world(s) exist in the MCU! Everything from time, matter, information, energy, and space are all made up, thanks to the Multiverse.
We can expect to see Phase Five expand on this concept further and explain some of the theories it put forth in the movies and shows in Phase Four!