Starting out with the incredibly successful Iron Man in 2008 and culminating with the whirlwind The Avengers in 2012, Phase One of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe managed to hook both movie going audiences and fans of the comic series on which the movies are based.
While each of six movies all work as stand-alone’s, the fact that they feel very similar gives them a coherence and a consistency that builds up and pays off in the climactic The Avengers, which sees all the separate factions coming together and teaming up to save the day.
The Marvel movie franchise is a compelling and exciting one, and the fact that there is a big, overarching story arc going on in the background makes the pay-off even better as you look back and connect the dots. It adds an extra element that makes the series even more unique.
And let’s not even get into how good an idea the post credits scenes are at putting a spin on the actual movie ending and hooking you into the next cinematic offering!
So without further ado lets delve into Phase One and have a look at the movies! (Needless to say…spoilers ahead! You have been warned!)
Iron Man (May 2, 2008)
IMDb summery: “Billionaire industrialist and genius inventor Tony Stark is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.”
Let’s be honest, Iron Man is awesome. And who doesn’t want to be as great as Tony Stark…he’s a cool guy. Granted, he could probably get under some people’s skin, but you got to respect the whole devil-may-care attitude that he has going on. Of course Tony has his human side, and his effervescent character is kept in check (in a fashion) by his personal assistant/muse/love interest Pepper Potts. The premise of the movie is good and you get to see how, and more importantly why Tony creates the high-tech all-singing all-dancing suit that he becomes famous for. Not going to lie, if I could be any Avenger I’d be Iron Man. Despite some uncertainty about the true identity of this new superhero Iron Man after he saves the day, Tony eventually understatedly yet spectacularly reveals it to be him. Boom!
Post credits scene? The mysterious Nick Fury approaches Tony wanting to talk to him about the Avengers Initiative and intimating that he isn’t the only superhero in the world. Ooo, who’s he talking about? That’s you hooked into the next movie!
The Incredible Hulk (June 13, 2008)
IMDb summery: “Bruce Banner, a scientist on the run from the U.S. Government must find a cure for the monster he emerges whenever he loses his temper. However, Banner then must fight a soldier whom unleashes himself as a threat stronger than he.”
If you haven’t painted yourself green, shouted “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” and ripped out of an old, slightly too small shirt while pretended to be The Incredible Hulk, then you haven’t lived. (Side note – this is also why I am banned from the McDonald’s in Leeds city centre). The Hulk is one of the more well known superheroes out there, and the movie does the character justice. A scientific experiment gone kind of wrong, he’s just as volatile and unpredictable as people remember. Luckily while Bruce is in Hulk mode, he still maintains a tenuous link to his normal self – and his love for estranged girlfriend Betty Ross – and in turn she helps him focus his Hulk rage to defeat the evil Abomination. An actiony love story involving a big green tank of a beast, this is my least favourite in this phase. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, it’s just the weakest in my eyes.
Post credits scene? Bruce has managed to take charge of his power and is able to transform in a more controlled fashion. While in a bar a certain Mr Tony Stark pulls up a stool next to him, telling him that a team is being put together. Ooo, a team, I want to find out more. That’s you hooked into the next movie!
Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)
IMDb summery: “After unmasking himself as Iron Man, Tony Stark must deal with the adversaries who seek his powers — including a business rival and a Russian scientist who’s constructed a similar warfare suit.”
Showboating with his new found fame as Iron Man, Tony Stark is living it up more than ever, despite being slowly poisoned by the palladium core that powers the superhero suit. Choosing not to seek help and living life more recklessly in the face of impending death, Tony is suddenly pit against a enemy that forces him to confront his mortality even more. But the fun doesn’t end there. Oh, no. Tony is next approached by S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury and agent Natasha Romanoff who are in need of assistance to defeat a small army or copied Iron Man-esque drones, and after a pep talk from Peppa (a Peppa talk?) and having uncovered a way to end his dependency on the pesky palladium core, Iron Man and Iron Patriot/War Machine (aka Tony’s friend James Rhodes in a militarised suit) take on the drones. Managing to eventually defeat the bad guys, the battle is nearly as fantastic as the banter flying between the two friends! In a debriefing room (in which news footage of The Hulk rampaging is playing in the background), Nick Fury informs Tony that due to his difficult personality he intends to only use him as a consultant.
Post credits scene? An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D reports that a large hammer has been found at the bottom of a huge crater in New Mexico. Ooo, a large hammer? What has that got to do with anything and why is if of importance to S.H.I.E.L.D? That’s you hooked into the next movie!
Thor (May 6, 2011)
IMDb summery: “At the centre of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth”
Thor: The god of thunder! Cool, powerful and important when at home in Asgard, he’s a slightly off kilter, self important guy when he get’s banished to Earth. Of course he wouldn’t have been banished in the first place if it wasn’t for his jealous and evilly charismatic brother Loki, but we’ll let Loki off because he’s still kind of likeable even though he’s trying to stitch our eponymous hero right up. While on Earth he bumps into astrophysicist Dr Jane Foster, hits it off, and they try to straighten stuff out and get Thor back to Asgard. Even though it means they’ll never see each other again. And he has to have a showdown with his brother! Heartstring pulling, I know! This movie feels somewhat more disconnected to the previous three as a large portion of it isn’t even set on Earth, but there’s enough there to keep them all connected, in turn helping you understand how they all mesh together.
Post credits scene? Nick Fury presents a briefcase holding a strange, glowing object to one of Jane’s assistants, asking him to study it and discover it’s power and importance. He slowly agrees…prompted by an invisible Loki. What, Loki’s invisible? What’s the significance of the object? That’s you hooked into the next movie!
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011)
IMDb summery: “Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. As Captain America, Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes and Peggy Carter to wage war on the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull.”
I love a good war film, and this one zooms you all the way back to World War 2. The most ineresting one, I’m sure you’ll agree! But wait, there’s a twist! Howard Stark (yes, the father of Tony Stark – AKA Iron Man) has invented a certain somethin’-somethin’ that creates super soldiers. A weedy and useless Steve Rogers uses some, and boom, the first ready for battle super soldier that quickly assumes the Captain America mantle. So off he goes to the front lines in order to stop Red Skull, head of secret organisation HYDRA and Hitler’s head of weaponry. Unfortunately Red Skull is hell bent on destroying American cities with weapons of mass destruction carried on-board his own aeroplane ship thing, and in the ensuing struggle to put a stop to it Captain America has to crash the vehicle into the ocean. Oh no! Captain America felt more disconnected to the rest of Phase One only because it isn’t set in the time period. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but this one seems the most stand-alone kind of movie. Like Band of Brothers but with a weird red-head monster man thing and a hot love interest.
Post credits scene? Who wakes up in a hospital bed? Only Captain America. But wait…this isn’t the ’40s! It’s modern day America. I know, right! And who’s this ‘Fury’ guy with the eye patch proposing a mission with global ramifications? That’s you hooked into the next movie!
The Avengers (May 4, 2012)
IMDb summery: “When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.”
This is it, the big one, the pay-off of all five movies that came before! Loki is searching for the Tesseract (you know, the strange, glowing object seen at the end of Thor?) and is on the war path and Earth (and New York in particular) is in danger! Again! Nick Fury rounds up Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and even Thor to get their superhero heads together and sort stuff out. Of course with all the different personalities and ideas there are some biiig arguments and plenty sharp, cutting yet witty banter flying around. Long story short, when the alien invasion party shows up, they all manage to team up to pretty great and spectacular effect. Seeing all the separate heroes working together as one is a pretty awesome sight, but despite their efforts it’s pretty touch-and-go as to whether they will be able to say the day. Will they? Won’t they? Will they? Won’t they? Course they will. Just! The aliens flee, Loki is captured and along with the Tesseract they travel to Asgard to relative safety. A happy ending, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Post credits scene? An alien informs his master that this particular scuffle with Earth has failed. This particular one? Wait, what do you mean? Was that just round one and is there more to come? That’s you hooked into Phase Two!
So there you have it! Which is your favourite movie in Phase One and why? Be sure to leave your comments below and keep an eye out for my review of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two movies coming soon!