When Iron Man came out in 2008, I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined that it would jump-start a multi-billion dollar franchise, but it was just the beginning. Over 20 projects later, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a bonafide success. But for people who have never seen an MCU movie, it could be hard to follow along.
The MCU helps with this by dividing its timeline into phases. The first set of movies is considered phase 1, the second set phase 2, and so on. So, let’s take it back; all the way back to phase 1. Here are all of the MCU Phase 1 movies in order.
Tony Stark (the man under the Iron Man suit) is a billionaire playboy who is the head of Stark Industries; one of this company’s business ventures is weapons manufacturing.
After getting a taste of his own medicine and narrowly escaping certain death, the billionaire has a change of heart and decides to help the world in the only flashy way he knows how: by creating and donning the Iron Man suit.
This movie would be the first in an Iron Man trilogy. Iron Man would also introduce characters that would make numerous appearances throughout the MCU, including Pepper Potts and Rhodey.
Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner, the doctor who unwillingly transforms into the giant green monster, the Hulk. Although his transformation was caused by the government, they basically take no responsibility and start hunting him down. This leads the Hulk down a path of death and destruction, but he can’t be held fully responsible; the government chasing him is to blame.
This would be the only time that Edward Norton played this character. After creative differences, he was replaced. However, other characters and their respective actors would return in the future. One of these is Abomination, who recently appeared in the Disney Plus tv show She-Hulk.
Iron Man 1 was a big hit, so you know that a sequel wasn’t far away. Although Tony Stark is now the world-renowned hero Iron Man, things aren’t going that great for him. In fact, it couldn’t get any worse because he is on the verge of dying. Oh yeah, it can get worse because new villains spring up and threaten to kill the already dying man.
Also making their way into Iron Man’s life is Scarlett Johansson’s character, Natalie Rushman. She may seem like an ordinary person, but she may have a hidden agenda. And continuing a storyline from the first movie, Rhodey’s superhero alter ego, War Machine, makes his debut.
Thor is the prince of Asgard, a fantastical realm. He is over 1000 years old, but he sure doesn’t act like it. He’s brash and arrogant and doesn’t always stop and think. To teach him a lesson, his father sends him to Earth. Here, Thor will hopefully learn what it means to be a leader, hero, and prince.
Since this movie, Thor has become one of the most prominent characters in all of the MCU. Just recently, his fourth movie was released. No other Avenger can make that claim (although Captain America is well on his way).
Although this movie was released after the others, Captain America takes place before them; that’s because this movie is set during World War II. Steve Rogers had the heart of a hero and a soldier, but unfortunately, the army didn’t think he had the body of one. That was until he was experimented on, and he became the perfect soldier.
But Rogers became more than that, he became a hero and the face of the U.S. armed forces. He became (pause for dramatic effect) Captain America. Captain America would go from leading armed forces against Nazis to leading the Avengers against various world-ending threats. Speaking of the Avengers…
This is it. The culmination of the MCU’s phase 1. The heroes that we met in the previous films team up to take down an extraterrestrial threat. Although some are reluctant, and all faced a rocky road to becoming the heroes that they are, all of them step up when the world needs them the most.
After this movie, the MCU would only get bigger. More threats and villains pop up, and more Avengers are added to the roster. And even though this movie closes the chapter on the MCU’s phase 1 storyline, it also creates the basis for the next few phases.
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