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A combined setting occupied by most of the movies produced by Marvel Entertainment (and distributed mostly by Paramount Pictures, but now Disney is in charge of that), starting with Iron Man. Unlike in previous Marvel licensed movies, there exists continuity between different movies.
Phases One through Three of the films are collectively known as the Infinity Saga due to the importance of the Infinity Stones to the story.
- Iron Man (2008)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Thor (2011)
- Captain America the First Avenger (2011)
- 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) — Obviously a Compressed Adaptation of the comic book story.
- 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)
- Black Widow (2020)
- Eternals (2020)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
- Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness (2021)
- Spider-Man 3 (2021)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)
- Black Panther 2 (2022)
- Captain Marvel 2 (TBA)
- Ant-Man 3 (TBA)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBA)
- Fantastic Four (TBA)
- Blade (TBA)
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Agent Carter
Freeform (aka ABC family):
- Cloak and Dagger
- Jessica Jones
- Luke Cage
- Iron Fist
- The Defenders
- The Punisher
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
- Moon Knight
- Ms. Marvel
There are also two shorts (Marvel One-Shot) released thus far, both starring Agent Phil Coulson:
- The Consultant - premiered on the Thor Blu-ray
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer - premiered on the DVD of Captain America: The First Avenger
And there are also some comic book tie-ins for the movies:
- Captain America: First Vengeance - a mid-quel of sorts for the Captain America movie, detailing some backstory for each of the main characters via flashbacks
- Fury's Big Week - chronicling the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and Thor (as well as the Marvel One-Shots) from SHIELD's perspective and leading directly into The Avengers.
- Adaptation Distillation: Takes elements from both the 616 and Ultimate universes. For example, The Avengers are being formed by SHIELD, who are headed by a Nick Fury portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson whilst one of his Lieutenants is Maria Hill and the team's first major crisis involves Loki, who was the initial reason the team formed in the Marvel Universe, and the Chitauri, an Alien Invasion from Ultimate Marvel.
- Adaptation Dye Job: The Power Stone is purple instead of red, the Reality Stone is red instead of yellow, the Mind Stone is yellow instead of blue, the Space Stone is blue instead of purple, the Time Stone is green instead of orange, and the Soul Stone is orange instead of green. The colour scheme eventually made its into the comics, with the Infinity Gems being renamed the Infinity Stones.
- Adaptation Name Change: The Infinity Gems are now the Infinity Stones.
- Adaptational Wimp: The Infinity Stones. Though to be fair, it could be that since the Infinity Stones are so much more dangerous to handle than the Infinity Gems and using them at their full potential risks Explosive Overclocking. And unlike the Gems, the Stones retain their powers when brought to a different universe.
- The Space Stone is unaffected by this, but the Tesseract is. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube was on par with the Infinity Gems, though still below the completed Gauntlet, but is here merely 1/6th of the Gauntlet.
- Scarlet Witch was always powerful in the comics but there was no way she could touch an Infinity Gem. Here, she manages to shatter the Mind Stone. In fairness, this is outright said to be due to the fact that Wanda received her powers from the Stone and shares its energy frequency.
- The Power Stone is just an endless battery, not bestowing any form of Nigh Invulnerability upon its users as the Power Gem did.
- The Reality Stone's powers only work in the immediate area and the changes aren't permanent. The Reality Gem could not only affect permanent changes but the user needed the other five to have some hope of controlling it. By contrast, the Stone needs the other five to be really useful.
- The Time Stone needs intense concentration for minor changes and just to make sure it doesn't Ret-Gone its user. The Time Gem could take even a vague subconscious desire and deliver exactly what the user wanted.
- The Soul Gem had mastery over all life and death in the universe. The Soul Stone couldn't revive those that weren't killed by Thanos' Badass Finger-Snap.
- All-Star Cast: And how! Here are the main cast members of each film and see how many you instantly recognize:
- Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr.; Terrence Howard; Jeff Bridges; Shaun Toub and Gwyneth Paltrow.
- The Incredible Hulk: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell and William Hurt.
- Iron Man 2: Downey, Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson.
- Thor: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Colm Feore, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke and Stanley Tucci.
- The Avengers: Downey, Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Hemsworth, Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Skarsgård and Jackson.
- All There in the Manual: The scene with Tony Stark at the end of The Incredible Hulk gains new context thanks to an extra on the Thor DVD (See the entry for Batman Gambit).
- Marvel has also published a few tie-in comics, explaining events that happen between each film.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Kree.
- Anachronic Order:
- Though The Incredible Hulk was released before Iron Man 2, Iron Man 2's main story is wrapping up just as the Hulk is duelling Abomination in Harlem (as indicated by a TV report in the background). Likewise, Hulk also makes mention of Thor defeating the Destroyer in New Mexico.
- Ragnarok takes place, at the earliest, a year after Civil War despite it being released before Black Panther, which takes place a few weeks after Civil War.
- Black Widow, the first film of Phase Four, takes place during Phase Three (sometime after Civil War).
- The Netflix shows are an odd lot. They were released over the course of five years but take place over four. For example, Daredevil was released three years after The Avengers despite it taking place two years after. Likewise, the final Netflix seasons all took place before Infinity War but were released after.
- Bad Present: The post-apocalyptic world left behind by the Snap.
- Batman Gambit: The short film The Consultant included on the Thor DVD features Agents Coulson & Sitwell get out of the WSC's request that the Abomination be placed on the Avengers instead of the Hulk by having General Ross refuse the request. They send Tony Stark, in the hopes he'll piss Ross off & get him to refuse to release Blonsky. It works.
- Bigger Bad: Thanos. Every notable event in the MCU is tied to either him, his Infinity Stones, or the manner in which he was given his final defeat. Movies that aren't linked to Thanos in one way or another are few and far-between.
- Boomer Will Live: In Avengers: Infinity War, Rocket Raccoon survives Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet-powered fingersnap.
- In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott's human-sized pet ant survives Thanos' fingersnap.
- The Cameo: Often, and it helps to establish a connected universe (such as Tony Stark appearing in Incredible Hulk and Nick Fury's brief scenes in Thor and Captain America.
- Falcon appeared in Ant-Man, investigating when Scott tripped the security of the Avengers compound.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Often done to hype the next movie in the queue or at least a future one: Nick Fury in Iron Man, Thor's hammer in Iron Man 2, Hawkeye and the Tesseract in Thor, and Thanos in The Avengers.
- Creator Cameo: Plus, as is standard procedure for Marvel productions, Stan Lee always makes a cameo. J. Michael Straczynski also appears in Thor as he served as a script consultant.
- Lou Ferrigno makes another Hulk-related cameo, and in the same film, Bill Bixby makes a pseudo-cameo when Bruce is watching "The Courtship of Eddie's Father."
- Canon Foreigner: SHIELD Agent Phillip Coulson. Became a Canon Immigrant as of the Battle Scars miniseries, which came right before the Avengers movie.
- Cash Cow Franchise
- Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Most characters don't have them. Iron Monger, Abomination, Black Widow, War Machine, Whiplash, Hawkeye, Red Skull... all of their codenames have been referenced only a few times or not at all. Subverted with Thor and Doctor Strange (those aren't codenames) and with Luke Cage (the only superhero who gets constantly referred to by his codename, he is almost never referred to as "Carl Lucas").
- Composite Character: For the sake of pragmatism, the Infinity Stones take on a few roles.
- The Space Stone is introduced as the Tesseract, a live action version of the Cosmic Cube. It later gives Carol her powers, taking on the role of the Psyche-Magnetron.
- The Mind Stone doubles as Vision's Solar Gem.
- The Eye of Agamotto is but the container for the Time Stone.
- Continuity Overlap: See below.
- Continuity Snarl: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made the bold move to acknowledge Thanos' attack on Earth in late Season 5 but Season 6 noticeably didn't feature half the population reduced to dust (in fairness, Season 5 was going to be the last so it was likely just a fun little moment at the end). At this point, Season 6 has to be taken as an Alternate Universe, presumably one where they got the Gauntlet off Thanos on Titan.
- Doing in the Scientist: A necessity to incorporate Doctor Strange and the related characters in the setting. It's explained that the Clarke's Third Law trope ONLY applies to Asgardians, and that the Masters of the Mystic Arts wield legitimate supernatural magic.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Phase One films showed S.H.I.E.L.D. as being The Men in Black while later films would make clear that everyone knows about them, if not the specifics of what they get up to.
- Extremely Short Timespan: So far, most of the movies take place almost at the same time even though they were all made years apart. Iron Man 2 contains references to The Incredible Hulk and Thor that indicate all three films happened at roughly the same time, and the original Iron Man was only six months earlier. (Captain America: The First Avenger, on the other hand, took place mainly 70 years ago during WWII; and we aren't told when the modern-day bits are in relation to the other films - although SHIELD's world map in Iron Man 2 includes a marking at what would be about the right spot for where Cap was found, meaning the final scenes of that film also probably happen at about the same time). To balance it out, The Avengers takes place at least a year later.
- The Avengers tie-in comic Fury's Big Week puts more detail into the timeline by showing the events of Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk all happened the same week. Tony and Rhodey's fight took place the same day Bruce Banner crossed the border into the United States, which was also the same day Agent Coulson reported electro-magnetic disturbances in New Mexico to Nick Fury. Thor and Mjolnir arrived in New Mexico the day after the Stark Expo battle, while Hulk's fight at Culver University took place on the same day as Tony and Fury's conversation at the end of Iron Man 2, which was also the same day Thor got his powers back (and possibly the same day Cap was discovered).
- Genre Roulette: Though collectively under the "superhero" genre, each hero's movies skew towards their own genre. Iron Man is Science Fiction, The Incredible Hulk is a Monster Movie, Thor is Fantasy, and Captain America: The First Avenger is more of a War Movie. The Avengers, throwing everybody together, falls under Science Fantasy.
- Gilligan Cut: From the Marvel One-Shot The Consultant.
- Government Agency of Fiction: SHIELD in all the movies, and before their time, there was the Strategic Scientific Reserve, which is implied to be the OSS to SHIELD's CIA. There are also the World Security Council, and the unnamed organization that Thaddeus Ross answers to (which is only referred to as "the United Nations", but it's clearly NOT the actual U.N.).
- Hero of Another Story: Many of the movies tease that there are other superheroes out there, Tony Stark pops up in The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury has appeared at least by name in every film so far, Hawkeye as an Agent of SHIELD in Thor, etc.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: A twofer -- For all of the well known actors appearing in the films, and for the various cameo appearances in the films by characters from other entries in the universe.
- Live Action Adaptation: Obviously.
- MacGuffin: The Infinity Stones in the Infinity Saga.
- Mythology Gag: Bound to be several considering their comic book origins. A few in particular come to mind:
- Tony considers making the Mk II armor completely gold, but then decides it's "a little ostentatious" before throwing the red in.
- A student being interviewed about the Hulk's rampage is named Jack McGee after the reporter from the 70s TV series. His friend is named Jim Wilson, an old side character from the comics.
- A billboard in New Mexico advertises a "Journey Into Mystery," the title of the series Thor debuted in.
- Agent Coulson gets gas from Roxxon Oil in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer."
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: One word: Thanos. After the Snap and the Blip (aka the Unsnap), Earth (if not the entire universe) is a much different place.
- The Other Darrin: Mark Ruffalo is this to Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in the Avengers movie.
- Starting with Thor: Ragnarok, Mark Ruffallo is also this to Lou Ferrigno as the voice of Hulk.
- And before that, Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard as James Rhodes.
- Howard Stark has been played by a different actor in each film he's appeared in (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Captain America). Gerard Sanders reprises his role in Agent Carter, while John Slattery is more or less set in stone as the Howard Stark of the movies.
- Phlebotinum Du Jour: The entire Verse invokes three versions:
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Captain America and the Super Serum which made him who he is has been coveted ever since World War II, with many sides failing to reproduce it in any functional capacity. Cap himself, The Hulk, The Red Skull, and The Abomination are all byproducts of this form of phlebotinum.
- I Love Nuclear Power: Gamma radiation is the specific shtick of the Hulk franchise, but other heroes have some radiation involved too (Captain America's origin involved "Vita-Rays", Thor's hammer can cause electromagnetic disturbances), and all Tesseract and Arc-Reactor (see below) based-technology emits gamma radiation and other types.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Asgardian tech, specifically the Tesseract. Besides all the Asgardian gear in Thor and the use of the Tesseract in Captain America and The Avengers, it's also implied that Iron Man's Arc Reactor was reverse-engineered from the Tesseract by Howard Stark.
- Playing Against Type:
- Promoted Fanboy: Notably, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury; when Marvel asked for the rights to his likeness for the Ultimate Marvel version of Fury, Jackson said he wanted the chance to play Fury in a movie in exchange.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: SHIELD.
- Reed Richards Is Useless:
- Discussed in the Iron Man movie. Tony Stark's power cell is stated as being able to generate 3 gigajoules per second of energy -- which is, of course, 3 gigawatts of power generation. This is about as much power as produced by the largest man-made nuclear reactor and about 15 times the power of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier (and two and a half times the power required to travel through time). The movie makes it clear that the Arc Reactor is incredibly valuable, and Obadiah Stane wants to use it for profit, but Tony is adamant that the technology stays in his hands and his alone, because he's seen what happens when his technology ends up in unsupervised hands.
- The second film averts this trope though - in the opening sequence shows Ivan Vanko building the first Whiplash suit, and various newspaper clippings are shown that mention, among other things, new technological advances developed by Stark Industries made available to the general public. Tony Stark's claims that he has privatized world peace and created the most peaceful time in human history further cements this aversion.
- The Iron Man anime, based heavily off the continuity of the films, averts this; the plot begins with Tony going to Japan to build what he hopes will be the first of countless arc reactor power plants around the world, to help with the energy crisis.
- In The Avengers, Tony shows that he is preparing to spread his Arc Reactor technology around the globe, but on his terms. It is also implied that his releasing of the Arc Reactor in the War Machine suit is what helps S.H.I.E.L.D. develop all those advanced toys that they use in the film. Nick Fury also mentions that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to use the Tessaract to bring clean, sustainable energy to the entire world, though both Stark and Bruce Banner become suspicious that S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't call in Stark, the world expert on clean energy. S.H.I.E.L.D. is actually developing Tesseract-based weaponry to fight extraterrestrial enemies with power comparable to the Asgard.
- Discussed in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Ultron is almost personally insulted that the best usage that Howard Stark could think of for his vibranium was to make it into a frisbee. Helen Cho even comments that Ultron is using vibranium in a medically feasible way that never even occurred to S.H.I.E.L.D. In Ultron's view, this trope is not only typical of humans (which he highlights by the fact that they never thought to open the Scepter holding the Mind Stone) but why he's the superior successor.
- Black Panther as always. As Killmonger, and later T'Challa himself, call out the Wakandan kings for, Wakanda's advanced technology could help the world enormously but they choose to horde it all away.
- In Cracked's After Hours, the quartet, during Why Captain America is the Worst Avenger, discuss this trope. They note that Tony Stark isn't useless; as he builds impressive technology for Spider-Man and War Machine; but Cap's traditionalist attitudes make Tony largely useless to the Avengers.
- Hank Pym is probably the most useless scientist in the MCU. As he himself says, the Pym particle could revolutionize the world yet he keeps it to himself, not trusting anyone with its use. While it could be weaponized, there are also a lot of humanitarian things it could do for the world. As Endgame shows, when Scott gives Tony all of Hank's notes, had Hank shared the technology, it could have been used for so much more than Pym ever thought possible.
- Running Gag:
- As with all Marvel productions, Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee being featured in most of the films in a blink and you'll miss it Creator Cameo.
- It's not a good idea for Asgardians like Thor and Loki to boast how powerful they are. They're not even going to finish the sentence.
- Throughout Phase 2, people seem to lose limbs.
- Simultaneous Arcs: Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor all take place over the course of one week, with S.H.I.E.L.D. scrambling to have someone at each site.
- Smug Snake: Loki straddles the line between this and Magnificent Bastard. While he's far from incompetent, he is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and ultimately, his arrogance is what leads to his downfall.
- Spy Catsuit: Black Widow and Maria Hill; probably goes for all the female SHIELD agents. Hawkeye seems to have a variation of one as well. All of the bridge crew of the helicarrier also wear them.
- The Stinger: Most of the movies have had one, so far. The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: The First Avenger are exceptions. One was originally planned for the Hulk's movie (The Tony Stark scene) but was edited into the film proper. Captain America's stinger was more like a teaser trailer for the Avengers movie. Avengers: Endgame doesn't have one, instead showing what sounds like a metal armor being forged.
- Superhero: *ahem*
- Super Soldier: About half of the superhuman origins in this 'verse have their roots in trying to either bioengineer better soldiers or just give them better equipment; most obviously Captain America but also Iron Monger, Hulk, Abomination, the Hammer drones, and Red Skull. Most of the rest are tied to Asgardian tech, specifically the Tesseract (see Imported Alien Phlebotinum above).
- Super Weight:
- Type -1: Steve Rogers pre-treatment
- Type 0: Agent Coulson, Thunderbolt Ross, Howard Stark, Tony Stark
- Type 1: Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor (human), Nick Fury, Maria Hill, the Howling Commandos, SSR soldiers, Emil Blonsky (pre serum)
- Type 2: Captain America, Red Skull, Emil Blonsky (after serum), anyone armed with HYDRA weaponry, Whiplash (first suit)
- Type 3: Most Asgardians, Loki (during Thor), Frost Giants, Chitauri soldiers
- Type 4: Iron Man, War Machine, Obadiah Stane (Iron Monger suit), Whiplash (second suit), Hammeroids, Hulk, the Abomination, Thor, Odin, Loki (during The Avengers), the Destroyer, Heimdall, Leviathans
- Type 5: The Bifrost.
- Type 6: The Infinity Stones.
- Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
- If Thor is on Earth, it's because so is something alien. By and large, he sticks to space heroics and defending Asgardian territories. Even Lady Sif doesn't hang out with Team Coulson for very long.
- Phase 1 justifies it. Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor all took place at the same time, preventing any hero from helping the other.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Sam, Steve and Natasha simply cannot contact the rest of the Avengers and ask them for help because HYDRA has pretty much taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. Even discounting that, Tony didn't have any suits at the time, Banner, as mentioned in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is in isolation and it's unlikely that any of them knew how to reach Thor.
- In Doctor Strange, Wong says that the Masters of the Mystic Arts handle the magical threats to the world while the Avengers deal with the physical ones. True to form, no other heroes shows up during the Battle of Hong Kong. Though the whole thing happens so fast, and involves rewinding time, that there's no realistic way that the other heroes could have gotten there in time from Upstate New York. Furthermore, the other heroes at the time were split into Pro-Bucky and Anti-Bucky factions, so for a neutral hero like Strange, calling for help wasn't really an option.
- In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter feels that the weapons gang is an Avengers level threat but Tony disagrees, instead calling the FBI to handle it. That being said, T'Challa is the only other Anti-Bucky superhero besides Tony and Peter active at the time, and T'Challa can't help Peter because he is busy with the events of Black Panther.
- Neither Captain Marvel nor Avengers: Endgame properly explain why Fury didn't call Carol back during the events of the prior films. Though the latter does justify Carol not coming back of her own accord by stating that she protects a lot of planets who don't have local Avengers.
- Discussed in Spider-Man: Far From Home where Peter, feeling out of his depth, asks Fury to call Captain Marvel (whose name Peter is not allowed to invoke), Thor (who is off-world), or Doctor Strange (who is unavailable). Justified in The Stinger with The Reveal that "Nick Fury" is actually Talos who has literally no idea how to justify this and is simply dodging the question whichever way he can. He even says that he doesn't know where the Avengers are. Also, Doctor Strange is busy with the events of Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness, and all the other superheroes are busy with the events of either Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, or both at the same time.
- During Black Widow, Natasha doesn't think to call on Steve, Sam, Wanda or Vision to help her fight Taskmaster.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Numerous scenes throughout the movies, but the biggest by far being the post credit scene for Thor.
- Time Skip: Following Thanos' death in Avengers: Endgame.
- Truer to the Text: Captain America: The First Avenger is significantly more faithful to the source material than Captain America (1990 film) was, to say nothing of the 1979 films starring Reb Brown.
- The Verse: The MCU is designated Earth-199999 in the overall Marvel Multiverse.
- Wham! Line: The Stinger from Iron Man. Whilst there had been talk of Marvel wanting to make an Avengers movie at some point, this was the moment that it became a reality.
Nick Fury: I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.
- And the second big Wham! Line of the MCU; not so much for what's being said as who it's said to:
The Other: To challenge them is to court death... [cue Thanos]
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Averted. Everyone with gadgets has a good explanation for where they got them. More often than not, these weapons are built by a member of the Stark family or designed by SHIELD.
Agent Cale: Is this one of Stark's?
Agent Coulson: I don't know. That guy never tells me anything.
- World of Badass: Hell yeah.
- World of Ham: From a billionaire superhero who built his suit in a cave with a box of scraps to some major Ham-to-Ham Combat between Norse gods, there's plenty of ham to offer.
- World of Snark: With Joss Whedon as head writer. Did you expect anything less? Even Captain America in Winter Soldier and the characters from the Darker and Edgier Daredevil series get a few quips in. Subverted with T'Challa, who is The Comically Serious.