A guide to the 21 Marvel movies leading up to 'Avengers: Endgame'

MarvelBlack Widow, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Hulk in ‘The Avengers.’

“Avengers: Endgame” is the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

What started with “Iron Man” back in 2008 has grown into a billion-dollar film franchise that centres on Marvel heroes including Captain America, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel. From the six Avengers featured in the first “Avengers” movie to the large ensemble cast gathered for “Avengers: Infinity War,” the team of heroes has only continued to grow. “Endgame” is the end of one era, but it’s not nearly over for the MCU.

Here’s a comprehensive list of all of the movies in the MCU so far:


The Marvel Cinematic Universe launched with “Iron Man” when it flew into theatres in May 2008.

Paramount PicturesRobert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark.

Tony Stark is a wealthy, cocky, playboy, and genius when he first appears onscreen. As CEO of Stark Industries, he makes and sells weapons to the US military but during a trip to a war zone, Tony is captured by a terrorist group. With the help of a doctor in the cave, Tony recovers from his injuries but has an arc reactor in his chest keeping him alive. He uses that and other tools to create a suit that allows him to escape. When he returns home, he decides to stop making weapons and focuses on building a better suit and becomes Iron Man. Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., comes to Tony Stark and tells him about the Avenger Initiative.


Sometimes forgotten as an MCU film, “The Incredible Hulk” was released in June 2008.

MarvelEdward Norton in ‘The Incredible Hulk.’

Dr. Bruce Banner is changed into the Hulk when he’s exposed to gamma radiation as part of an attempt to revive the “super soldier” program from World War II. Banner tries to find a cure while also hiding from the army because he doesn’t want to be used as a weapon. Tony Stark finds him and tells him about a team being put together.

Actor Edward Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo for the rest of the MCU films.


“Iron Man 2” followed the first “Iron Man” just two years later and was released in May 2010.

MarvelTony Stark is back.

Taking place just six months after the first “Iron Man” movie, Tony is getting sick from his arc reactor and is attacked by a man who created weapons inspired by Iron Man. Tony’s business rival finds that man and uses him to build a suit like Tony’s. Nick Fury tells Tony about his dad’s involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. and introduces him to agent Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow.


Thor made his MCU debut in May 2011 in “Thor.”

via Marvel StudiosChris Hemsworth is Thor.

Thor, the prince of Asgard, is banished to Earth as a mortal where he meets astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster, her assistant Darcy Lewis, and Dr. Erik Selvig. Thor lost his hammer when he was sent to Earth and S.H.I.E.L.D. finds it, though none of the humans can lift it. After Thor’s adopted brother Loki takes the throne from their father, Thor sacrifices himself and gets his powers back.


Captain America got his origin story on the big screen in July 2011 with “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Disney/MarvelChris Evans is Captain America.

Steve Rogers wants to fight in World War II, but is initially rejected from the army for his small stature. He’s later recruited under a “super-soldier” initiative, which works and leaves him larger and muscular. He’s then paraded around as “Captain America” to inspire soldier. But when he learns his friend Bucky Barnes is missing, he attempts a rescue mission with the help of Tony Stark’s father, Howard. With Steve’s success, he and other soldiers continue to fight Hydra bases of Nazi soldiers. To stop an attack, Steve crash lands a plane in the Arctic. When he wakes up, Nick Fury tells him that he has been asleep for 70 years.


“The Avengers” brought the heroes together for the first time when it was released in May 2012.

MarvelThe original Avengers together.

After Loki steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.LD., Nick Fury activates the Avenger Initiative. Black Widow recruits Bruce Banner (now played by Mark Ruffalo) aka Hulk, while Captain America and Iron Man are brought in. Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, completes the group. They are tasked with defeating Loki and the Chitauri fleet but cause massive destruction in New York City in the process.


Iron Man dealt with the consequences from “The Avengers” in May 2013’s “Iron Man 3.”

MarvelTony Stark in ‘Iron Man 3.’

Tony builds a number of new Iron Man suits in the months after the events of “The Avengers” due to his PTSD of the attacks. He must also deal with attacks being perpetrated by a villain called the Mandarin. Iron Man is believed dead in an attack, and his friend James Rhodes aka War Machine, is rebranded as Iron Patriot (for a brief time) and sent to stop the attacks, though he is captured. Tony learns that an experimental treatment called Extremis is failing with explosive results.


In November 2013, Thor worked with his brother Loki to save the world in “Thor: The Dark World.”

Disney / MarvelJane and Thor in ‘Thor: The Dark World.’

Loki is imprisoned for the crimes he committed in “The Avengers,” but Thor needs his help to defeat Malekith, the leader of the Dark Elves. Malekith is awakened when Jane Foster finds and is infected by the Aether, which turns out to be the reality stone, one of the Infinity Stones. The Aether is left in the care of the Collector.


Captain America was sent on a mission for S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which hit theatres in April 2014.

Disney/MarvelCaptain America and Black Widow in ‘Winter Soldier.’

Captain America and Black Widow are working for S.H.I.E.L.D. two years after the events of “The Avengers.” During a mission, they learn about Hydra and the threat of the Winter Soldier. The two enlist Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, for help. Cap realises that the Winter Soldier is his friend Bucky Barnes, who supposedly died during a mission in World War II.


The Guardians of the Galaxy officially formed in August 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Disney/MarvelGamora, Rocket, Peter Quill, Groot, and Drax are the Guardians.

Peter Quill, known as Star-Lord, comes to lead a rag-tag team consisting of the assassin Gamora, bounty hunters Rocket Raccoon and Groot, and Drax. The group first comes together after Peter steals an orb, which turns out to the hold the power Infinity Stone. The movie also introduces Thanos, Gamora’s adoptive father. Thanos is the big villain in “Infinity War” and “Endgame.”


The Avengers united for the second time in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which was released in May 2015.

MarvelCaptain America, Thor, and Iron Man in ‘Age of Ultron.’

The Avengers raid a Hydra facility in Sokovia where they find Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who have been held as test subjects. They also discover an artificial intelligence, which Bruce Banner and Tony Stark decide to use to finish Stark’s defence program – Ultron. Instead, they accidentally create an AI that wants to destroy humanity.

Stark creates Vision when he uploads his AI, J.A.R.V.I.S., into a synthetic body. The battle to defeat Ultron destroys Sokovia and results in Quicksilver’s death. Following the devastating event, Hawkeye retires and Thor goes to Asgard, while War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and Falcon become official Avengers members.


“Ant-Man” introduced Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, to the MCU with its July 2015 release.

Disney/MarvelPaul Rudd is Ant-Man.

Scientist Hank Pym worked for S.H.I.E.L.D for a time but left to prevent his shrinking technology from getting out. Years later, Pym manages to get Scott Lang, an ex-con, into his shrinking suit and become Ant-Man. Pym tasks Scott with stealing technology from an old protégé who may use it for evil. And in his mission, Scott steals a product from the Avengers headquarters. He fights Falcon there, which is how he’s later recruited for “Captain America: Civil War.”


“Captain America: Civil War” pit Marvel heroes against each other when it came out in May 2016.

MarvelCaptain America went against Iron Man in ‘Civil War.’

Following the events of “Age of Ultron,” Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are at odds over how the government should treat individuals with powers or abilities such as the Avengers with the proposal of the Sokovia Accords. Tony is for government oversight, while Steve is not. Steve recruits Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant-Man, while Tony gathers Black Widow, Black Panther (in his MCU debut), War Machine, Vision, and Spider-Man (also in his MCU debut), and the two groups duke it out. Also causing problems is the brainwashed Bucky Barnes. Cap tries to protect his old friend despite the bad he’s causing. Barnes is eventually taken to Wakanda where he’s kept until they can find a cure to help his mind.


“Doctor Strange” introduced Dr. Stephen Strange to the MCU when it was released in November 2016.

MarvelBenedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange.

After getting in a car accident, Dr. Strange recovers in Kamar-Taj where he studies mystic arts under the Ancient One and a man named Mordo. He learns how to use the power of the Eye of Agamotto – which contains the time stone, one of the Infinity Stones – to turn back time. Strange has the stone under his protection when “Infinity War” begins.


Peter Quill met his dad in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which came out in May 2017.

MarvelKurt Russell plays Peter Quill’s dad.

The Guardians are heroes following the events of the first “Guardians” movie but find themselves in trouble after Rocket steals from the Sovereign race. Upon escaping, they meet Ego, who claims to be Peter’s dad. Ego turns out to be more than the Guardians bargained for and they have to work to stop him from destroying planets.


Peter Parker got his own MCU movie with the release of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in July 2017.

Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures EntertainmentTom Holland is Spider-Man.

Peter goes back to school following the events of “Civil War” and tries to balance a normal high school life with his attempts at being a hero. Tony Stark swoops in to mentor the kid and doesn’t initially think Peter is ready to be a superhero. Tony eventually asks Peter to join the Avengers full-time, but Peter turns the offer down.


Thor saved Asgard from absolute destruction in “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was released in November 2017.

MarvelThor has his hair cut.

Two years following the events of “Age of Ultron,” Thor must defeat his sister Hela before she brings Ragnarok on and destroys their home. But before he can do that, he must escape from the planet Sakaar, where the Hulk has also ended up.


Marvel fans saw Wakanda for the first time thanks to “Black Panther,” which was released in February 2018.

MarvelChadwick Boseman is Black Panther.

T’Challa, aka Black Panther, returns to his home country following the death of his father to take his place as king. He has to fight to save his home from a challenger (Killmonger), and does so with the help of Okoye, Nakia, and his sister, Shuri.


“Avengers: Infinity War,” released in April 2018, united more heroes than ever before.

MarvelA large battle was fought on Wakanda.

In “Infinity War,” the original Avengers gather along with Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Bucky Barnes, and more for a fight to save humanity from Thanos. Needless to say, the plan fails and Thanos snaps 50% of humanity out of existence. That’s where “Endgame” starts.


“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which hit theatres in July 2018, was set two years after the events of “Civil War.”

MarvelEvangeline Lilly is Wasp and Paul Rudd is Ant-Man.

Wasp, Ant-Man, and Hank Pym work create a stable way into the quantum realm to rescue Janet van Dyne, who has been trapped in the quantum realm for 30 years. The events of “Infinity War” aren’t touched on except for an end-credit scene.


“Captain Marvel” became the first female-led superhero movie in the MCU when it hit theatres in March 2019.

MarvelBrie Larson is Captain Marvel.

Set in 1995, “Captain Marvel” centres on the Kree warrior Vers as she ends up on a journey of self-discovery. After accidentally ending up on Earth, Vers learns that she’s part human and named Carol Danvers. Carol also learns that her powers are much stronger than she was previously taught and hones in on her abilities.

The movie also explores the early days of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson.


“Avengers: Endgame” is the most recent instalment and the final one before “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”

Disney/MarvelThe surviving Avengers try to save their friends.

The surviving Avengers work to undo the effects of Thanos’ snap from “Infinity War.”

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