Ten years and 18 movies ago Marvel Studios set out to first introduce the superheroes on its roster and then ultimately bring them all together in one giant epic movie. Avengers Infinity War has set to do just that. Bringing all the characters together for an epic battle to save the planet, mankind, and the universe from Thanos. Though the saga will only conclude with the 4th Avengers movie slated for May 2019, Avengers Infinity War is the beginning of the end in many ways. So we’re here to help you catch up to the whole story and understand the buildup. Basically, giving you the cliff notes on the modern equivalent of the Iliad, Shahnameh, or the Mahabharata.
Phase 1 – The Set-Up
The journey began with Iron Man in 2008. The story of the rich, spoilt, genius Tony Stark, and his transformation into the heroic Iron Man. The stage was set with this explosive action-thriller and the audience were given a sneak preview of what awaits when Nick Fury appears in the post credit scene and says “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative”…..oooooh, goosebumps!
Then, just over a month later, came The Incredible Hulk. A kind of a reboot of the Hulk’s story after Marvel reacquired the rights to the character from Universal Studios, the movie takes the first step in establishing just how badass this character is. He is indestructible, uncontrollable, and unbeatable. He’s utter havoc (“Hulk smash”). And again, the post credit scene talks about the Avengers team-up when Tony Stark walks up to a sulking General Ross and says “What if I told you we were putting a team together?”……….OMG!
Two years later, following up on the huge success of Iron Man, Marvel released the sequel Iron Man 2. This movie not only developed the Tony Stark/Iron Man character even more, it started fleshing out the Marvel Universe further by introducing more characters that would eventually play vital roles, i.e Nick Fury, Black Widow, and War Machine. Oh, also cementing the Marvel tradition of post credit scenes, we get introduced to Thor via his hammer being found in a crater in the desert and the sound of thunder as the screen goes black………..oooooh, exciting!
A year after Iron Man 2, but occurring simultaneously with it in the cinematic universe, we are introduced to the Norse God of Thunder in Thor. A brash, pompous, kinda immature Asgardian prince who’s a little too full of himself. He is taught a lesson in humility when his father, Odin, banishes him to earth after stripping him of all his powers. But, after an act of selflessness he gets his powers back, as well as the hammer. And thus thwarts the plans of his over-ambitious conniving brother Loki. This movie is very reminiscent of an Arthurian tale (including a sword-in-the-stone type moment). The post credit scene introduces the Tesseract when Nick Fury enrolls Dr. Selvig into helping SHIELD harness its powers. We also find out that Loki is influencing Dr. Selvig’s mind……..DRAMAAA!!
A few months later Captain America: The First Avenger is released. The origin story of Steve Rogers, a true All-American hero who stands for what is right! Ugh…its almost too boring! But, as it turns out, Marvel did a pretty good job of it. Good enough to earn them over $300 Million! Besides, it’s in the title “The First Avenger”! Could it get any more exciting?! And of course the post credit scene is when Nick Fury actually enlists Steve Rogers……goosebumps, again!
A year later, in 2012, the entire buildup comes to its conclusion with The Avengers! Marvel’s highest grossing movie of all time at the box office (over $1.5 Billion!) the movie was a treat for every fanboy alive. It had everything you could want from a Marvel movie, drama, witty one-liners, epic battle scenes. Oooh them feels! And everybody could relate to it. Even us desi people. In the scene where Tony Stark counts off all the super Avengers he has on his side and Loki mentions he has an army, I have half expected “aur meray pass MAA hai”. Oh, and the Hulk going to town with Loki was exactly how my dhobi treats all my clothes. But here’s the interesting thing, the post credit scene for this movie shows Thanos for the first time. Hence starts the storyline of the Infinity Stones that will ultimately lead to the Infinity War six years later.
Phase 2 – The Saga Continues
Marvel really picked up pace for the second phase and released 6 movies in 3 years. Probably buoyed by the tremendous success of all their previous movies and the huge interest everyone showed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A year after The Avengers, Marvel released Iron Man 3. Again, a huge commercial success that grossed over a Billion Dollars! The movie shows how Tony Stark is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the events of The Avengers while also investigating a series of bombings and acts of terrorism by the character Mandarin. In the end, as a sign of his promise to Pepper Potts of moving on and improving himself, Stark has JARVIS destroy all of his many versions of the Iron Man suits and gets the shrapnel and arc reactor removed from his chest. In a complete departure from the norm, the post credit scene is a very funny interaction between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner where Tony is shown seeking therapy from Bruce and he replies saying “I’m not a therapist. It’s not my training. I don’t have the…temperament”. AHAHAHAHA!!
Later that year we got the second installment of Thor with Thor: The Dark World, where we see a much more serious, borderline morose, God of Thunder. This was perhaps the worst Marvel movie made, and one of the lowest grossing movies. It had a weak script, mediocre acting, unimpressive fight scenes and….just…bad. Probably the only worthwhile thing was that it introduced the Aether as one of the infinity stones………..*snore*
After Thor 2 came Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was such a good movie! Especially after the mediocrity shown by Thor 2. It had all the hallmarks of a good Marvel movie, drama, intrigue, suspense, death, funny one-liners and dialogues, epic action scenes, an annoyingly goodie-two-shoes protagonist. Nick Fury dies, Sgt. Bucky is back, SHIELD is destroyed, Hydra re-imerges, Nick Fury is alive. There was so much going on in the movie that it almost felt like watching another Avengers rather than Captain America. AND AND AND….in post credits the characters of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are also introduced!………OMG!
And then, merely four months later, another epic movie is released. Marvel seems to be on a roll here! Guardians of the Galaxy was SO good, SO different, SO funny! It was completely different from any Marvel movie before it! I mean, did you see that opening sequence?? Any movie that has an opening credits with such an amazing retro song and such an entertaining scene is bound to be good! Plus there’s more amazing 80’s music and Thanos, and the Kree, and Thanos’ daughters, and Rocket, and GROOT!! Even the post credit scene is more 80’s music and HOWARD THE DUCK!…….Amazing!
May 1st 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron is released. The second Avengers movie promises to be bigger, and better than the first one. It kinda isn’t. Sorry. There is definitely a lot happening though. More characters, more Infinity Stones story development, a more sinister antagonist. But, somehow there’s something missing. The action sequences in the beginning show the Avengers as a well-oiled fighting machine, and they tag-team all their fights so beautifully. But every character still has his demons and flaws that eventually leads to them breaking off and coming undone when things go south. Ultimately they all band together again and are able to thwart Ultron’s plans of causing an extinction level event. The post credit scene once again hints at the coming ultimate battle when Thanos wears his Infinity Gauntlet and says “Fine. I’ll do it myself”……..now we’re talking!
Though this ought to have been the conclusion of Phase 2, Marvel didn’t stop there. The actual final movie of Phase 2 was Ant-Man. The origin story of yet another comic book character. It was perhaps too basic and too soon after Avengers 2 because it had the lowest opening sales of any Marvel movie after The Incredible Hulk. The movie was good. But not good enough. The comic prowess of Paul Rudd, and big names like Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly couldn’t help make it any better than an average Marvel movie…..*snore* (again)
P.S. weirdly enough the second post credits scene shows Bucky, aka Winter Soldier, trapped in a vice in what looks like a warehouse and Falcon and Captain America discussing what to do with him. Since “the accords” prevent them from contacting Tony, but Falcon says “I know a guy”…..Hmmm, now what could all this be about?
Phase 3 – The Showdown
The third phase of the MCU starts with a bang! Captain America: Civil War! Just the name says it all. All hell is about to break loose. In the aftermath of the destruction in Avengers 2, the UN has decided to create a panel that will oversee and control the Avengers. Half of the group, the major proponent being Tony Stark, agrees that they need oversight, while the other, including Captain America, think that this is a bad idea since it will mean they can be controlled by people with agendas rather than be deployed where needed. While this fracture starts to appear amidst the group a bigger rift occurs when Captain America recruits some of the Avengers into helping him clear his old pal Bucky’s name for the bombing at a UN convention. Tony Stark and the remaining Avengers team up to stop them and bring the Winter Soldier to justice. Oh, and while Captain America recruits Ant-Man, Tony brings…..TADA…Spider-Man! (Again, this seems more like an Avengers movie!!)
There is a truly memorable fight scene between Iron Man, Winter Soldier and Captain America and near its end the epic dialogue:
Captain America: He’s my friend (about Sgt. Bucky)
Iron Man: So was I
Doctor Strange introduces another character to the MCU. Played by the dreamy (I’m told that all the girls seem to think so) Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr. Strange is a talented neurosurgeon who badly injures his hands in a car accident. Vowing to return to his former glory he stops at nothing to find a remedy for his crippled hands. He eventually uncovers the supernatural world of sorcery and astral planes and other dimensions and whatnot. Dr. Strange manages to save the world from the powerful being Dormammu by using the time warping powers of the Eye of Agamotto. The post credit scene shows a Dr. Strange agreeing to help Thor find Odin so that they all, especially Loki, can leave Earth ASAP
MCU’s next movie was the sequal Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The movie is about the continued adventures of the Guardians and especially that of Star Lord discovering the identity and eventually reuniting with his Dad. Who happens to be a Celestial being called Ego. But Ego turns out to be a bad guy who plans on eventually killing Star Lord after he’s used him to gain control over several worlds. Since we still have Nebula and Gamora teaming up to try and kill daddy Thanos, GOTG 2 turns out to be a family drama about daddy issues. Albeit in a fun, comical, retro way. Also, in one of the many post credit scenes, we are shown the creation of “Adam”. Who could turn out to be Adam Warlock. And this guy plays a huge role in the Infinity Stones story in the comics.
The third movie in Phase 3 of the MCU was Spider-Man: Homecoming. The coming of age, and teen drama, story of Peter Parker and his evolving super-human side, the Spider-Man. Having had a taste of the big league in Captain America 3, Peter Parker tries to do more with his improved Spider-Man suit and his super abilities. He takes on more than he can handle with Toomes in his Vulture suit. But the boy prevails and is able to save the day by capturing Toomes. This was a pretty good movie and did really well for Marvel Studios. It was also a pretty huge deal for the nerdy fans of MCU because after having reacquired the rights to Spider-Man from Sony in Captain America 3, this was the first solo Spider-Man movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel followed up the successful Spider-Man, with Thor: Ragnarok. And OH MY GOD WHAT A MOVIE!! Taika Waititi did an unbelievable job of totally re-inventing the Thor movies. The best Thor movie to have ever been made, this was a hilarious and unbelievably entertaining movie. Again, so much is happening. Thor realizes Loki is still alive, Loki is acting as Odin, Odin is missing on Earth, Thor has an evil elder sister Hela, Odin dies, Thor’s hammer is destroyed, Thor & Loki are lost in space, Hela kills every one and takes over Asgard, Thor is imprisoned and turned into a gladiator, Hulks also a gladiator, they escape together with Loki and a Valkyrie, they fight Hela, Asgard is destroyed, Hela is defeated, Thor and surviving Asgardians are kinda lost in space! Like WOW!
Marvel’s most recent movie in the MCU is the incredibly popular Black Panther. With the movie earning an astounding $1.3 Billion Dollars, it is the highest earning solo movie in the MCU. EVER. Black Panther is the story of T’Challa, the new King of Wakanda, a mysterious country that is more advanced than any other in the entire world thanks to its Vibranium (the same super metal that Captain America’s shield is made of), and has managed to keep itself hidden from the rest of the world. Its protector is the Black Panther, a warrior bestowed super human capabilities after ingesting the “heart shaped herb”. We have been introduced to Black Panther in Captain America 3, but this movie reveals more about the importance of Wakanda and the power of the special metal called Vibranium.
And so we come to the beginning of the end; Avengers: Infinity War. Time to give you the actual cliff notes about the whole saga (hehehehe….gotchya);
- Thanos is an evil being who wishes to have unlimited power, which can be achieved by wielding all the Infinity Stones.
- Six Infinity Stones are scattered all over the universe though most of them keep ending up on Earth at one point or another.
- The Infinity Stones are;
- The Space Stone – AKA the tesseract, can be used to open portals for travelling anywhere in the universe. First contained in Odin’s vault, it ends up on earth where we first see it in Captain America. Last seen in Thor: Ragnarok, where Loki might have taken it.
- The Reality Stone – AKA the Aether, can be used to completely control reality by changing the physical laws of the universe. Seen in Thor 2. It has been given to the Collector for safekeeping.
- The Mind Stone – AKA Loki’s Scepter, can be used to control the minds of others or enhance that of the wearer. First scene in Avengers as Loki’s Scepter, its greater powers are discovered when it creates Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and ultimately Vision. It currently resides on Visions forehead.
- The Power Stone – AKA the Orb, gives immense destructive power. First seen as the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy, it is now in the possession of the Nova Corps for safe-keeping.
- The Time Stone – AKA the Eye of Agamotto, can be used to manipulate time. Seen in Doctor Strange it is currently at Kamar-Taj, or around Dr. Strange’s neck (depending on his mood at the time, i guess) on Earth and under the protection of Dr. Strange.
- The Soul Stone – alias unknown, it can help capture and manipulate souls as well as bring back souls to life. Current location in the MCU is unknown.
- The Avengers have seemed to split into two separate groups but there is now a bucket-load of characters. And they are;
Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Stange, Star Lord, Nebula, Drax, Rocket, Groot, Gamora, and a plethora of other characters from the 18 previous movies.
- While Thanos will try and unite all the stones in his Gauntlet, the Avengers will try and thwart him so they can save Earth from his destruction.