Leading up to the release of Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, we’re taking a look back at every element of the MCU thus far. This film is the culmination of everything that began with the first Iron Man film in 2008, and so we want to prepare you for what may be the biggest film of all time. We’ll dive into all 18 films released thus far, each of the TV series that are considered part of the MCU, and a selection of other shorts and comics considered canon within the MCU. Today we continue our Countdown with the final film in Phase One: The Avengers.
The plan wasn’t guaranteed to succeed. It was unlike anything that had ever been done before. Putting together a series of films centered around individual comic book characters, before having them all join together in one big team up movie. Some people laughed at it. Some people thought it would be a success. No one expected it to become the game changer that it did. Taking in $1.5 billion worldwide, the film was record breaking. It proved that Marvel knew what they were doing, and Hollywood decided to follow in their footsteps.
After The Avengers, every studio wanted their own Shared Cinematic Universe. Studios are still attempting to construct these Universes 6 years later. But none has seen the success that Marvel has. From the DC Comics films to Universal’s Monster Universe, other studios have seen varying degrees of success and failure. Meanwhile, Marvel constantly knocks it out of the park with each film. No film in the MCU has made less than $500 million since the release of The Avengers. Iron Man 3, the first film after The Avengers would bring in $1.2 billion. Avengers: Age of Ultron, the team up film’s sequel, would bring in $1.4 billion. Captain America: Civil War, which would bring almost every Marvel Superhero film back while also introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man into the MCU, would bring in $1.1 billion.
Marvel films have become guaranteed blockbusters. And none of it would have been possible if not for The Avengers. A great deal of which is thanks to writer and director Joss Whedon. Considered one of the best “geek” creators of our generation Whedon grew to fame due to his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Firefly. All of which became staples of modern geek culture. Whedon’s work in television and love of geek culture, helped turn The Avengers into a perfect realization of the beloved comic book characters. Whedon would return to direct the film’s sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, but would take a break afterwards from film work due to the stress of working on these films.
One of the biggest accomplishments of the film is how seamlessly it weaves everything together. The film not only brings the first “Phase” of the MCU to a close, but also opens up the this Universe for so much more. And while audiences may not have realized it at the time, the film is actually a very important indicator Marvel’s full plans leading up to Infinity War. We may not actually see Thanos until the mid-credits scene, but his presence in the film is stronger than it seems. Let’s get started.
The Other (Alexis Deinsof)
The film begins with The Other talking to Loki, offering him an Army to bring Thanos the Tesseract. Loki agrees to this. Throughout the film The Other comes to Loki to consult him as a messenger of Thanos. We may not see Thanos until the mid-credits scene. But looking back, his presence looms heavily over the film.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
Loki returns, after seemingly falling to his death at the end of the first Thor film. We know from the after-credits scene in Thor, that Loki had survived somehow and taken over Dr. Selvig’s mind. Throughout the film he takes over people’s minds, and brings his army to Earth. He’s captured at the end of the film and brought back to Asgard to stand trial.
Loki’s Scepter/Mind Stone
The Other (and Thanos) give Loki a scepter to help control minds on earth, and do his bidding. What we don’t find out until the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is that the scepter holds the Mind Stone. Our second Infinity Stone in the MCU.
The code name for the SHIELD operation to dissect, understand and use the Tesseract.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
The Leader of SHIELD, and the man responsible for orchestrating the “Avengers Initiative. While SHIELD had other plans for defending the world, Fury believed he could unite the team. “There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles we never could.”
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
On par with Coulson, she’s a high ranking SHIELD Agent who works under Fury. She spends most of the film following Fury’s orders and helping to fight Loki’s men.
Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård)
The genius astrophysicist returns as a pawn of Loki. He spend most of the movie under his mind control, and helps Loki to build equipment to control the Tesseract and open a portal which will bring the Chitauri army to Earth.
Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner)
Hawkeye spends nearly half the film under Loki’s mind control, but that being said he makes an impact when he’s working with the good guys. At the beginning of the film he’s the first person to realize the tesseract could bring something to Earth. We learn from Black Widow that he was supposed to kill her on a SHIELD mission and didn’t, which is how she joined SHIELD. When he regains control we see that him and Natasha have had several missions together. While everyone else is mostly using force to take out the Chitauri, Hawkeye’s the only one to actually act strategically, telling Tony they can’t bank so take them around corners. Overall he’s just as valuable as each of the other Avengers.
Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)
While Fury may have been the key to opening up the MCU and helping begin the connective tissue between films, it’s Coulson that truly made it work. Clark Gregg’s performance as the SHIELD agent is one of the highlights of the entire MCU. Just as Audiences loved to hate Loki, we loved to love Coulson. And in so many ways he represented everything that the MCU had become. Entertaining, funny, kick ass, loveable, he was fantastic on every level. But if the threat of Loki and his Invasion was going to have a major impact, it had to do something major to the MCU. That major change, was killing Coulson. It not only brought the Avengers together, giving them a real reason to fight.
While we were introduced to the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger, we get some more information on how it works, and the further capabilities of its power. Loki uses it throughout the film to travel from place to place and eventually open a wormhole above Stark Tower in order to bring his Army to Earth.
Natasha Romanoff (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow)
After being introduced in Iron Man 2 Black widow truly gets to show off her skills in this film. From her combat skills, to her abilities as a master interrogator, we see that she’s much more than a pretty face with a few good moves. She’s a powerful hero, and an important part of the team. We also learn that her and Hawkeye have a close bond and are often partners on SHIELD missions.
Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
Having not seen Bruce Banner since The Incredible Hulk, and with the recasting of Ruffalo in the role, we get a new take on the character not yet seen on screen. This version of Bruce is much more in line with his comics counterpart. Very intelligent, and worthy of going toe to toe with Tony Stark on scientific matters. Yet also very reserved and cautious. We learn in the film that while he’s been hiding, Fury has known exactly where he was and hasn’t gone after him as Fury views him as an asset and not a threat. We also learn that he’s controlling the Hulk not through staying calm, but through harnessing his anger, and manipulating it to his benefit.
Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)
Tony is his usual self through most of the film. His relationship with Pepper seems to be flourishing. He’s constantly suspect of Fury, but agrees to join in, partly out of interest in the other Avengers. There’s also an indication that part of his desire to join is to understand his father more. Given that his father studied the Tesseract, and was friends with Captain America. The film helps Tony grow a bit in the end, as his decision to potentially sacrifice himself to get rid of the missile sent to destroy the Chitauri, is very unlike him.
Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)
Only seen at the beginning and end of the film. We get to see Pepper and Tony on a date, before Coulson comes in to recruit Tony to fight Loki. Tony credits her for the design and building of the Stark Tower in New York. At the end of the film, when Tony send the missile through the wormhole to destroy the Chitauri he attempts to call Pepper. However we see she’s distracted by the news reports on everything going on in New York, and misses the call.
JARVIS (Paul Bettany)
Tony’s AI that acts as his personal assistant and the interface of the Iron Man suit returns. We don’t see much of Jarvis this time around, as Tony actually spends a lot of his time in the film outside of the suit or interacting more with the other Avengers.
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans)
As the first film, and adventure for Cap after being thawed out at the end of First Avenger. Cap is very cautious throughout the first half of the film. It’s done very subtly, but you can tell that he’s still adapting to his surroundings. There’s some good lines about him understanding references and being a “cap-sicle” that help build on all of it. Overall though this seems like the best way for his character to get into this world. He grew as a person in his first solo film through joining the Army. By following that up with him having something to fight for in this new world, he’s able to grow quickly.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
Thor is a little underused at times in the film. He comes in to bring Loki back to Asgard and has to sort of find his way in the team. But his interactions with Coulson and Hulk, help build his overall arch as a character. They prove that he has changed from the events of the first Thor film. The Thor that fights with Hulk, and tries to get him to calm down and turn back to into Banner isn’t the same Thor we met at the beginning of his solo film. The film also helps give him more reason to be personally interested in the things that happen on Earth. Given his role and power back home on Asgard, it’d be easy to write him off for any conflicts on Earth. But by having him befriend the other Avengers, he has good reason to return to Earth, besides Jane Foster that is.
Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández)
Only seen in a few short clips, Sitwell is on the Helicarrier working with the rest of SHIELD to stop Loki.
The Army given to Loki by Thanos to take over Earth and steal the Tesseract. Mindless drone-like aliens, all connected by a mothership on the far reaches of space.
Captain America’s Uniform
While all the Avengers get a bit of a costume upgrade for the film, Cap’s may be the most notable. His suit is much more in line with what he traditionally wears in the comics, and is sort of an upgrade from his USO costume.
Life Model Decoy
When Coulson arrives to the Stark Tower to recruit Tony to fight Loki, Tony tries to get him to leave by stating he’s a Life Model Decoy. In the comics Life Model Decoys are robots created to take the place of people in various situations. Often used as a way for Marvel to bring back dead characters. The Life Model Decoys would be brought into the MCU a few years later as a storyline in the TV show Agents of SHIELD.
While the Destroyer was defeated by Thor, at the end of his first solo venture, SHIELD took the remaining parts and turned it into a weapon. One that Coulson uses to attack Loki when he breaks out of his cell on the Helicarrier. Just before being killed by the God of Mischief.
While Fury had been working on the Avengers Initiative, SHIELD also had a different plan in place. Simple coded, Phase 2, they had taken Hydra Weapons and planned to use them to take down greater threats that came to Earth. All of this was brought about when Thor came to Earth and proved that humans were not alone in the Universe. That there were greater threats out there. That being said, there’s a glaring issue moving forward in the MCU. If Thor, and his introduction on Earth, was what made SHIELD decide to use Hydra weapons. And he was the first real threat from space. How does Captain Marvel fit into this? Her film is set to take place earlier in the MCU, so is SHIELD not involved somehow? That seems impossible given that Coulson and Fury are supporting cast members of that film…
World Security Council
A group of World Leaders who oversee SHIELD. The World Security Council doesn’t have high hopes for the Avengers, and ends up ordering a missile strike on New York in the midst of the “Battle for New York.” When the Avengers find out, Tony takes the missile through the wormhole the Chitauri are entering through and blows up their mothership. Effectively killing all of the Chitauri soldiers.
During the battle with Loki at the end of the film, the letters on Stark Tower are all knocked down. With a large “A” being the only thing left. The building, at the end of the film, becomes Avengers Tower. In the comics this is the team’s main base of operations. It’s also the living quarters for multiple Avengers.
The final after credits scene of the film doesn’t lead to anything else, or tease any Easter Eggs. It’s simply the Avengers sitting for a meal after the battle. None of them say a thing as they all eat and relax after the biggest fight of their lives. It’s a funny and interesting moment, and in all honesty helps us remember that there is humanity in these characters. Which in some ways may make it one of the best post credit scenes Marvel has ever done.
Thanos (Damion Poitier)
The big and rather important credit scene for the film happens midway through. After Loki has been defeated, The Other goes to his master and tells him that the Humans are a formidable adversary. That to fight them would be “to court Death.” His master rises from his chair, turns and smiles to reveal, Thanos. Many film fans may not have known what this meant. But comic fans had been anticipating this since the Tesseract was first alluded to in Iron Man 2. At first glance this moment with Thanos seems small, but it rewrites the entire film. Every action taken by Loki is him working for Thanos. Every interaction he has with The Other isn’t about them, it’s about Thanos. This reveal doesn’t just tell us that Thanos is coming. It tells us that he’s already attacked the Avengers. And he’s not going to stop at all.
When The Other tells Thanos that fighting the Avengers would be courting Death, this isn’t just a throwaway line to enhance his potential as an evil villain. In the comics, Thanos looks to find the Infinity Stones and rule the Galaxy with the Infinity Gauntlet, because he has fallen in love with the personification of Death. He believes that by wielding the unlimited power of the Infinity Gauntlet, he can court her, and win her over. We still don’t know if that character will appear in Infinity War, however it is rather intriguing that the villain for Thor Ragnarok was Hela, the Goddess of Death…
Quite possibly the most important moment, the most important line in the entire MCU thus far is uttered by Tony Stark at the end of the first Avengers film. When he goes to confront Loki and they talk one on one. He tells him that Loki can’t win. He tell him that they’re “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” the tagline for the Avengers comics. But most importantly he tells Loki, “Because if we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we’ll Avenge it.” That’s why they’re the Avengers. That line right there is their purpose for being. But they haven’t had to Avenge the Earth. They’ve protected it. If they are truly going to be The Avengers, then they have to Avenge the planet. Which means, Infinity War is probably going to take some major leaps. If this film is going to be the culmination of everything to come before it. Then Thanos has to win. Otherwise, they’re not the Avengers. Maybe the Re-vengers. But that name has kind of been taken now…
While that wraps up Phase One of the MCU, this universe was truly just beginning. The fanboys knew, the moment Thanos showed up that Marvel had some big plans. And while it’s taken ten years, it’s finally all coming to a close. Check back with us next time when we dive into Iron Man 3, the first film in Phase Two and the final solo outing for Iron Man.
Be sure to keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler, as we continue our Countdown to Infinity, leading up to the release of Avengers: Infinity War on April 27th! You can Check Out our Previous Installments Here: