MCU movies over the years.
Looking at the reception the latest "Avengers" movie has been receiving at the box office (already USD201 million overseas while yet to be released in North America, based on current Box Office Mojo stats), it's safe to presume that Marvel will continue churning out more hit movies in the years to come.
It could be said that 2000 was the year Marvel saw a heightened interest in its movies, following the release of Bryan Singer's "X-Men" that drew the audiences just a bit more into the Marvel universe; a universe which soon expanded in 2008 into the marvelous MCU that is now well-loved by the vast majority of moviegoers around the world.
MCU, a movie series based on Marvel Comics' characters, has a collective global box office gross of over USD7 billion, making it the second highest-grossing movie franchise after "Harry Potter". Every movie has thus far been produced by Kevin Feige.
Since covering all of Marvel movies will make this a pretty lengthy list, let's keep this (relatively) short by keeping the focus on the aforementioned MCU or Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America reside.
[Warning: Minor SPOILERS for those who haven't watched any of the 11 MCU movies released so far]
Tony Stark and his red and gold armour started it all back in 2008. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the titular superhero, also a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who was one day kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build a devastating weapon. Tony, being Tony, had his own idea and built an armoured suit instead. After upending his captors, he returned to the U.S. and decided to make good use of his armour by refining it and using it to fight the bad guys. The superhero recently faced a different battle, one that would be dragging him to the court of law, when a pair of comic creators Ben and Ray Lai claimed rights to his suits of armour. Marvel has so far ignored the brothers' cease-and-desist letter.
The Incredible Hulk
He's mean when he's green. This is the second movie to come out during Phase One of MCU (Avengers Assembled 2008-2012). It follows Bruce Banner, a scientist exposed to gamma radiation, who turns into The Hulk whenever his heart rate rises above 200. Banner is desperate to find a cure for his condition but has to be on the run when General Thunderbolt Ross plans to weaponise the Hulk process. He later becomes part of the Avengers when Stark approaches him, telling him that a team is being put together. Edward Norton played the titular character but did not make a return in the following movies, replaced instead by Mark Ruffalo, who made his first Hulk appearance in 2012's "The Avengers".
Iron Man 2
The second "Iron Man" movie was released in 2010. This time around Stark faces pressure to hand over his Iron Man technology to the government. His health is also slowly declining due to the arc reactor in his chest. But there's no rest for Stark's suited alter ego just yet. A Russian scientist called Ivan Vanko makes his own version of powerful weapons and teams up with Stark's business rival, Justin Hammer, to bring Iron Man down. This movie marks the first appearance by Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson's character who also goes by the names Natalie Rushman or Natasha Romanoff. Black Widow has yet to get her own standalone MCU film, but she has appeared in three more after "Iron Man 2" and will also return for 2016's "Captain America: Civil War".
Arrogant but powerful god Thor gets his first standalone MCU film in 2011. Chris Hemsworth really had to prove his worth before the back-then 27-year-old was handed the role, having to bulk up to really fit Thor's image. The movie tells of the story of Thor, the son of Odin, king of the Norse Gods, who will one day ascend the throne of Asgard. His brutality, however, leads his father to banish him to Earth, stripped off his powers; his only companion is his hammer Mjolnir that can only be wielded by the worthy. Back in Asgard, his brother Loki plots mischief, while on Earth Thor finds himself in the company of human, mortal friends (and enemies). The ending suggested that there would be more to come – and there was, in the sequel two years after.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America was first introduced in the MCU in 2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger". Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, the sickly man who was recruited into a secret military operation and turned into a super soldier that has come to be known as Captain America. He is tasked with fighting against Red Skull, head of Nazi weaponry division Hydra who underwent an imperfect version of the operation, making him a dangerous enemy to face. Following its critical and commercial success, the movie earned two more sequels, 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and 2016's "Captain America: Civil War". It is revealed in the post-credits scene that Rogers was approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury to join the Avengers mission.
Marvel's The Avengers
The Avengers gather for the first time in 2012, no doubt delighting every hardcore Marvel superhero fan out there. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye are given the task of stopping Thor's brother Loki from total world domination. Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's love interest, make a return here on Robert Downey Jr.'s insistence, even though director Joss Whedon made no plan on inserting supporting characters initially. This movie is currently the third highest-grossing movie of all time, right behind Avatar and first runner-up Titanic. Though it is only a matter of time before the movie might get knocked out of the top three as the recently released "Fast and Furious 7", the fastest movie to race past the USD1 billion mark, is speeding up the chart; moving from its number seven spot to number five within a short time.
Iron Man 3
Tony Stark gets a third standalone movie in 2013, another critical and commercial success as it became the highest-grossing movie of 2013 and is currently the seventh highest-grossing movie of all time. There might have been some legal issues, as the previously mentioned Lai brothers also attempted to sue Iron Man for striking a pose in its poster similar to their comic character "Radix", but that did not thwart the man in iron suit to continue his avenging. In this threequel, Stark has to recover from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) caused by the events from 2012's "Avengers". Again, no rest, as he still has to investigate a terrorist organization led by a mysterious entity called Mandarin. "Iron Man" star, Robert Dwoney Jr., received the Generation award at the recent MTV Movie Awards, presented to him by his fellow Avengers.
Thor: The Dark World
Forgetting their sibling squabbles for the sake of saving the Nine Realms from the Dark Elves, Thor and Loki make a pretty good team in this 2013 sequel. It was not as well received by the critics as the first film but it was still a commercial success, judging by the box office record and the third instalment that is scheduled for release in 2017. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston return here in their respective roles, as well as Natalie Portman as Thor's love interest, Jane Foster. Foster also plays an important role in this movie as she finds the Aether – the Dark Elves' ultimate weapon – and becomes its host. Thor brings her to Asgard before she could be captured and used to destroy the Nine Realms.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The ninth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Careful comes in the form of a "Captain America" sequel. Two years after the Battle of New York, Steve Rogers is now working in Washington D.C. for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. under Director Nick Fury. This time he joins forces with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and a new ally, the Falcon. Captain America struggles to expose an ever-widening conspiracy, the team soon find themselves facing an unexpected enemy. It was revealed that the recently released "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a continuation from this movie. Expect to see Chris Evans reprising his role in an upcoming 2016 threequel.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Chris Pratt proves he's leading man material when he led the highly successful film as space adventurer Peter Quill a.k.a. Star Lord. The movie follows Quill, orphaned after his mother's death, who is abducted by a group of space pirates. Twenty-six years later, Quill finds himself the target of relentless bounty hunters for stealing an orb wanted by a powerful villain named Ronan. When he realises the true power of the orb, he and his ragtag team consisting of a gun-toting Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), a treelike-humanoid Groot (Vin Diesel), assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and vengeful Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) have to guard the galaxy from destruction. The team will be back next in its 2017 sequel, while Pratt's fans will also get to see him in "Jurassic World" this June.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Here we see the return of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk and Hawkeye. The team faces a new enemy, Ultron; in a way conceived by the "He's fast, and she's weird" twins (as described by Cobie Smulder's Maria Hill), Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – or Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Scarlet Witch gets into Stark's head, leading him to jumpstart a peacekeeping programme, which ultimately backfired and ultimately produced Ultron. It is now up to the team to save the world from global extinction. This movie truly goes global as it was shot in locations like Korea, UK, and Africa.
What comes next?
Careful where you trod, "Ant Man" will be in the cinemas this 16 July. In 2016 and 2017, "Captain America: Civil War", Benedict Cumberbatch-led "Doctor Strange", "Guardians of the Galaxy 2", an untitled "Spider Man" movie and "Thor: Ragnarok" are making their way to the big screen. From 2018 to 2019, the first part of the third "Avengers" instalment, "Avengers: Infinity War Part 1"; "Black Panther"; "Captain Marvel"; the second part, "Avengers: Infinity War Part 2"; and "Inhumans" are next in line slated for release.
Cinema Online, 28 April 2015