MCU Binge Guide
Don’t have time to rewatch all 18 movies in the MCU before Avengers: Endgame? Fear no more! Here’s what you need to remember about each film.
For more information on all of the MCU movies, check out EW’s Marvel Movie Club here.
Iron Man (2008)
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts), Terrence Howard (Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes), Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Happy Hogan (Favreau)
The Story: While in the Middle East, billionaire playboy and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark is kidnapped by terrorists and held captive in a cave. His heart is severely damaged in the ambush, so Tony uses the technology he has at hand — which mostly consists of Stark Industries weapons the terrorists acquired — to create a powerful miniature arc reactor. Installed in his chest, the reactor not only fixes his heart but also powers a suit of armor that helps him escape. Upon returning home, Tony decides to leave the arms business and focus all his energy on perfecting his armor. Unfortunately, his business partner, Obadiah Stane, who was selling weapons to both the U.S. government and terrorists, has other plans for Tony’s new tech, and the two of them come to blows in their dueling suits of armor.
Key Moment: In the wake of the end battle, Tony holds a press conference where he reveals that he is indeed Iron Man.
Effect on the MCU: Introduces S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who invites Tony to join the Avengers Initiative. (For more, check out our Marvel Movie Club entry on Iron Man here)
EW Grade: B+
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Edward Norton (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Liv Tyler (Betty Ross), William Hurt (Gen. Thaddeus E. “Thunderbolt” Ross), Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky/Abomination)
The Story: In an attempt to replicate the Super Soldier Serum from World War II that created Captain America, scientist Bruce Banner accidentally poisons himself with gamma radiation. The accident creates the Hulk, a destructive monster who’s unleashed whenever Bruce gets angry. As Bruce searches for a cure for his ailment, he must also evade capture from General Ross, who wants to exploit the Hulk’s powers. Banner reconnects with the love of his life, Betty (the general’s daughter), and in New York he comes face-to-face with the commando Blonsky, who transforms into the powerful Abomination.
Key Moment: At the end of the movie, Bruce learns how to control the Hulk.
Effect on the MCU: Barely any. Save an offhand reference in The Avengers about destroying Harlem, the events of this movie are never mentioned again. A short film released after Thor retcons this film’s end-credits scene in which Tony approaches General Ross about the Avengers Initiative. However, Ross does appear in Captain America: Civil War (For more, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on The Incredible Hulk here).
EW Grade: C-
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Cast: Downey, Paltrow, Don Cheadle (Rhodey/War Machine), Mickey Rourke (Whiplash), Sam Rockwell (Justin Hammer)
The Story: Unsurprisingly, becoming Iron Man has made Tony’s life way more complicated and dangerous. The U.S. government is breathing down his neck because it wants his technology, but more important, the arc reactor in his chest is killing him, meaning he inches closer and closer to death each time he suits up. Naturally, Tony starts spinning out of control and pushes Pepper and Rhodey away in the process. Nick Fury intervenes and gives Tony scientific research from his father, Howard Stark, which helps Tony develop a new, nonlethal arc reactor. With his health crisis settled, Tony teams up with Rhodey (as War Machine) to take down rival manufacturer Justin Hammer, who’s joined forces with the vengeful Whiplash to destroy Tony.
Key Moment: Nick Fury informs Tony that he is unsuited for the Avengers Initiative.
Effect on the MCU: Despite a poor critical reception, Iron Man 2 sets up several important elements: It fleshes out S.H.I.E.L.D., introduces Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and ends with Thor’s hammer crash-landing in New Mexico (For more, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on Iron Man 2 here).
EW Grade: C+
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Stellan Skarsgård (Erik Selvig)
The Story: After Thor breaks a long-standing truce by impulsively invading the land of the Frost Giants, his father Odin, King of Asgard, strips him of his title and power and banishes him to Earth, where the former God of Thunder meets astro-physicist Jane Foster and her team. While Thor slums it in New Mexico and tries to reclaim his hammer, Mjolnir (which was confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D.), his brother Loki ascends to the throne of Asgard as Odin falls ill. In order to secure his rule, the jealous Loki sends the Destroyer to kill his brother, but Thor survives and returns to Asgard in time to stop Loki from annihilating the land of the Frost Giants. Unfortunately, Loki and Thor’s battle severs the path to Earth.
Key Moment: Thor is deemed worthy of wielding Mjolnir again after sacrificing himself to save a small New Mexico town in his fight against the Destroyer.
Effect on the MCU: The film takes action to the cosmos and establishes that magic in the MCU is science we don’t understand. In addition to introducing Hiddleston’s Loki, Thor marks Jeremy Renner’s debut as Hawkeye and gives us our first look at the Tesseract, one of the Infinity Stones (For more, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on Thor here).
EW Grade: A-
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Hayley Atwell (Agent Peggy Carter), Hugo Weaving (Red Skull), Sebastian Stan (James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes)
The Story: It’s 1942, and scrawny Steve Rogers is desperate to join the war effort after the military rejects him. However, he’s picked for the Super Soldier program, which gives him enhanced strength and durability. Meanwhile, the Red Skull, head of the Nazis’ science division Hydra, acquires the dangerous/mysterious Tesseract. Cap, after attacking key Hydra facilities with the help of Peggy, the Howling Commandos, and his best friend, Bucky (who seems to die during a mission), faces off with Red Skull, who plans to hit the U.S. with a plane of Tesseract-powered bombs. Unable to land the plane without detonating the bombs, Steve crashes it in the Arctic. Almost 70 years later, Steve wakes up in present-day New York after scientists find his preserved body in ice.
Key Moment: Peggy touching Steve’s pec after he’s injected with the Super Soldier Serum, which was completely improvised by Atwell.
Effect on the MCU: Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) finds the Tesseract at the bottom of the ocean, explaining how it ends up in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands. Bucky’s return is foreshadowed (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on Captain America here).
EW Grade: B
The Avengers (2012)
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Evans, Downey, Hemsworth, Johansson, Renner, Hiddleston, Jackson, Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk)
The Story: After Loki attacks S.H.I.E.L.D. and absconds with the Tesseract, Fury activates the Avengers Initiative, which assembles Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow. Loki uses the Tesseract to open a portal in space that allows the Chitauri, an alien race, to invade New York City, and it’s up to the Avengers to defend their planet.
Key Moment: Loki murders Coulson while escaping from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, galvanizing the Avengers to put aside their differences and work together.
Effect on the MCU: Not only did The Avengers vindicate Marvel’s crazy shared-universe experiment, but it also confirmed that MCU producer Kevin Feige had a long-term plan for this world, as it established Thanos as the MCU’s final boss. The mid-credits scene revealed that Loki was working for Thanos, who gave him the scepter containing the Mind Stone. The fallout from the invasion of New York is felt throughout the MCU — from Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming to the first season of Netflix’s Marvel’s Daredevil. Even though Coulson dies, he is eventually resurrected on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on The Avengers here).
EW Grade: B+
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Director: Shane Black
Cast: Downey, Paltrow, Cheadle, Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian), Ben Kingsley (Mandarin), Rebecca Hall (Maya Hansen)
The Story: Tony hasn’t been the same since the alien invasion in New York. He’s taken to obsessively tinkering with Iron Man armor because he’s extremely worried about the next attack, and his PTSD is also causing problems in his relationship with Pepper Potts. Enter: the Mandarin, a terrorist responsible for attacks across America. Tony tries to stay out of the conflict, but he’s drawn in when Happy is injured in one of the Mandarin’s bombings. Determined to get revenge, Tony declares war on the Mandarin, who responds by blowing Tony’s life to smithereens, forcing the genius inventor to depend on his wits to win.
Key Moment: Tony discovers the Mandarin is a hoax. It turns out this America-hating crusader is, in reality, just a drunk British actor that Killian, the leader of a shady think tank, hired to be a scapegoat for the bombings. Killian’s new tech is actually responsible for the destruction, which intensifies the War on Terror and creates demand for his weaponry.
Effect on the MCU: Having worked through his PTSD, Tony decides to have surgery to fix his heart; however, his fears about what’s out there drive him to create Ultron (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on Iron Man 3 here).
EW Grade: A-
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Hemsworth, Portman, Hiddleston, Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston (Malekith)
The Story: Following the events in The Avengers, Thor travels the universe restoring order to the Nine Realms while his mischievous brother rots away in an Asgardian prison as punishment for his crimes. Meanwhile, Jane accidentally unearths the Aether, an Infinity Stone, which reawakens Malekith and the Dark Elves, who want to use it to plunge the world back into darkness. After the elves launch a devastating attack on Asgard, Thor teams up with Loki to save the world and free Jane from the Aether’s infection.
Key Moment: Although Loki appears to die when he and Thor travel to the Dark Elves’ realm, it’s revealed at the end of the movie that Loki actually survived that encounter and has taken Odin’s place as the king of Asgard.
Effect on the MCU: The Dark World confirms that the Tesseract and the Aether are indeed Infinity Stones and that Thanos isn’t the only one searching for them. The Asgardians ask the Collector (Benicio Del Toro), who is also gathering the stones, to look after the Aether. Additionally, Thor returns to Earth to be with Jane, which means he’ll be available for Avengers: Age of Ultron (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry on The Dark World here).
EW Grade: B-
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Cast: Evans, Johansson, Jackson, Stan, Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill)
The Story: In the two years since The Avengers, Steve has started working for S.H.I.E.L.D.; however, that all changes when the Winter Soldier, a highly skilled Hydra assassin, tries to kill Nick Fury. With Black Widow and former pararescueman Falcon by his side, Steve plunges deeper into a conspiracy while also trying to reconnect with Bucky, who (gasp!) became the Winter Soldier after surviving that fateful fall in WWII and being brainwashed by Hydra.
Key Moment: Steve and Black Widow find out that Hydra has been operating within S.H.I.E.L.D. since the war ended, and that World Security Council member Alexander Pierce is one of its leaders.
Effects on the MCU: After this movie, S.H.I.E.L.D. is basically no longer a factor on the big screen. Black Widow and Steve Rogers become free agents, and Fury, who survived the attempt on his life, fakes his own death. Because Hydra has been running S.H.I.E.L.D., it acquired Loki’s scepter, which was responsible for giving twins Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) powers (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry here).
EW Grade: B+
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Vin Diesel (Groot), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Lee Pace (Ronan the Accuser), Karen Gillan (Nebula)
The Story: A band of banter-happy misfits must set aside their differences to stop one of Thanos’ minions from destroying a planet with an Infinity Stone. It’s basically the Avengers, except this superteam comprises a half human and four aliens (a green-skinned female assassin, a snarky talking raccoon, a socially inept warrior, and a tree humanoid), the film isn’t set on Earth, and instead of Loki and his scepter, we have the power-obsessed alien Kree radical Ronan, who tries to obliterate Xandar with the Power Stone.
Key Moment: After Groot sacrifices himself to save the Guardians, Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, and Rocket join hands and use the Power Stone — which usually vaporizes anyone who touches it — to kill Ronan.
Effect on the MCU: Gunn’s colorful space opera sets up the conflict between Thanos and his adopted daughters, Gamora and Nebula, both of whom hate each other as much as they hate their father. To make sure it’s in the right hands, Peter turns the Power Stone over to the Nova Corps, a space police force (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry here).
EW Grade: A-
Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015)
Cast: James Spader (Ultron), Olsen, Vision (Paul Bettany)
The Story: When the Avengers launch an assault on the last remaining Hydra base, they recover Loki’s scepter, which was responsible for imbuing the Maximoff twins with powers. Worried about Earth’s safety, Tony, alongside Bruce, uses the scepter to create Ultron, an artificially intelligent defense program that quickly decides that exterminating humanity is the best way to save the world. You know, everybody’s one fear when it comes to artificial intelligence.
Key Moment: Thor interrupts Steve and Tony’s incessant squabbling and uses the Mind Stone to upload J.A.R.V.I.S.’ consciousness to a body, thereby creating Vision.
Effect on the MCU: Tension between Tony and Steve boils hotter and hotter, Thor has a nightmarish vision in a mystical hot tub that sends him running back to Asgard, and Banner runs away (to space) in order to protect Natasha from himself. Most important, however, Age of Ultron marks the first appearance of black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who mentions Black Panther’s home country, Wakanda, and Thanos finally decides to get off the sidelines and go after the Infinity Stones himself (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry here).
EW Grade: B-
Ant Man (2015)
Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Evangeline Lily (Hope Van Dyne), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Corey Stoll (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket), Michael Peña (Luis)
The Story: Twenty-six years ago, scientist Hank Pym resigned from S.H.I.E.L.D. because they were trying to replicate his shrinking technology. In the present, Pym’s concerns return as his former business partner Darren Cross, who forced him out of his company, is close to creating his own shrinking suit. In order to stop Cross, Pym and his daughter, Hope, recruit Scott Lang, an ex-con, to become the new Ant-Man and stage a thrilling heist.
Key Moment: Scott survives a trip to the quantum realm (i.e., where you go if you shrink too much), which gives Hank hope that his wife, Janet (a.k.a. the Wasp), might still be alive after disappearing many years ago.
Effect on the MCU: Scott breaks into the Avengers’ new headquarters and has a brief tussle with Falcon, which serves as his unofficial audition to join Team Cap in Civil War. Hank designs a new Wasp suit for Hope, who will colead the Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp (out July 6). Finally, the post-credits scene reveals that Steve and Falcon were finally able to track down Bucky.
EW Grade: B
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Directors: The Russo brothers
Cast: Evans, Downey, Johansson, Stan, Mackie, Cheadle, Renner, Bettany, Olsen, Rudd, Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther), Tom Holland (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross)
The Story: After several civilians die during an Avengers mission, the United Nations moves forward with the Sokovia Accords, a global legal mandate that would put the superhero team under U.N. supervision. The proposed legislation fractures the superhero community, pitting the pro-government-oversight Tony Stark and his allies against Team Captain America, who value the Avengers’ independence. In the end, we all learn that no one ever wins when the family feuds.
Key Moment: The massive Leipzig Airport fight between Team Cap and Team Iron, which marks the first time we see Holland’s Spider-Man in action and is one of Marvel’s best battle scenes.
Effect on the MCU: Tony and Steve’s relationship changes after it’s revealed that Winter Soldier assassinated Tony’s parents. Nevertheless, Steve promises Tony that he and his friends will be there when the world needs them. T’Challa grants Steve and Bucky asylum, agreeing to help cure the latter of his brainwashing.
EW Grade: A-
Doctor Strange (2016)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch (Stephen Strange), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Karl Mordo), Rachel McAdams (Christine Palmer), Benedict Wong (Wong), Tilda Swinton (Ancient One), Mads Mikkelsen (Kaecilius)
The Story: After his hands are damaged beyond repair in a car accident, arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange scours the world looking for something that could allow him to perform surgery again. His journey takes him to Kamar-Taj, where he meets the Ancient One and Karl Mordo, who agree to train him in the mystical arts. However, Strange abandons his desire to work as a surgeon again when it falls on him to stop Kaecilius, an evil sorcerer, from summoning the interdimensional monster Dormammu to Earth.
Key Moment: Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto, which contains the Time Stone, to trap Dormammu in a time loop until the malevolent being gives up on entering our dimension.
Effect on the MCU: Strange becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, which allows him to help Thor find his father, Odin, in Thor: Ragnarok. However, Strange’s days as the reigning wizard on Earth may soon come to an end because Mordo vows to end all sorcerers after witnessing both Strange and the Ancient One violate the natural order.
EW Grade: B+
Guardians of the Galaxy (2017)
Director: James Gunn
Cast: Pratt, Saldana, Bautista, Cooper, Diesel, Gillan, Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Elizabeth Debicki (Ayesha), Kurt Russell (Ego)
The Story: The family drama continues as the Guardians help Peter reconnect with his godlike father, Ego, whose plans for the universe aren’t as benign as they initially seem. While spending time with Ego, Peter learns how to use his celestial powers. Meanwhile, Ayesha, queen of the gold-skinned Sovereigns, hires Yondu to capture the Guardians, who stole from her, while Nebula and Gamora continue to work through their sister issues.
Key Moment: Ego, whose true form is a living planet, reveals that he’s been traveling the cosmos planting his seed all around the universe in order to remake it in his image and that he purposefully gave Peter’s human mother a tumor because she stood in his way.
Effects on the MCU: After making amends with her sister, Nebula embarks on a crusade to kill her adoptive father, Thanos. Elsewhere, Ayesha, still seething over the Guardians decimating most of her fleet, creates a new being called Adam, hinting at the arrival of a major comics character.
EW Grade: B-
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Holland, Michael Keaton (Adrian Toomes/Vulture), Zendaya (Michelle “MJ” Jones), Marisa Tomei (May Parker), Jacob Batalon (Ned), Downey
Key Moment: Peter discovers that the Vulture is actually his prom date’s father.
Effect on the MCU: Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was co-produced by Sony, the owner of Spider-Man’s screen rights, reboots the character and situates his story within the events of the MCU. At the end of the movie, Tony invites Peter to join the Avengers and even offers him a fancy new suit, but Peter declines, choosing to focus on being the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for just a little bit longer.
EW Grade: B+
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Hemsworth, Hiddleston, Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett (Hela), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), Idris Elba (Heimdall)
The Story: The destruction of Asgard is at hand as Hela, the Goddess of Death, escapes from her prison after Odin, her father, finally perishes. Thor and Loki try to confront their older sister, who destroys Thor’s hammer and sends both of them off into space. The hammerless God of Thunder lands on the trash planet Sakaar, which is ruled by the Grandmaster. In order to save his home world from Hela, Thor must first survive a gladiator match with none other than Hulk, who has been fighting on Sakaar since Age of Ultron.
Key Moment: Thor loses his eye in the climactic battle against Hela on the Bifrost, but in the process he also remembers that he doesn’t need Mjolnir to bring the thunder.
Effect on the MCU: After two movies, Thor finally ascends to the throne of Asgard and leads his people away from their dying home to Earth. During the chaos on Asgard, Loki steals the Tesseract once again, which draws Thanos’ ship right to the Asgardian refugee vessel.
EW Grade: B
Black Panther (2018)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Boseman, Michael B. Jordan (Erik Killmonger), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Letitia Wright (Shuri), Winston Duke (M’Baku), Daniel Kaluuya (W’Kabi), Angela Bassett (Ramonda)
The Story: T’Challa returns to Wakanda to succeed his father as king of the isolationist and technologically advanced country. However, his reign is challenged from within, igniting a struggle not only for his life but also for the future of Wakanda.
Key Moment: T’Challa’s long-lost cousin Killmonger announces his desire to fight T’Challa in ritual combat for the throne. Killmonger, who was born in America, believes Wakanda’s reclusive ways have failed the African diaspora, and he wants to use the country’s vibranium-powered weaponry to shatter white supremacy around the world.
Effect on the MCU: Even though Killmonger ultimately dies in the end, he leaves a lasting effect on both T’Challa and Wakanda. The king decides that it’s finally time to reveal Wakanda’s true nature to the world and share its vast resources with everyone, which puts Wakanda in position to play an important role in Avengers: Infinity War. Furthermore, Shuri, T’Challa’s genius little sister, manages to remove the Hydra programming from Bucky’s head (For more information, check out the Marvel Movie Club entry here).
EW Grade: A-
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Director: The Russo Brothers
Cast: Josh Brolin (Thanos), Evans, Downey, Hemsworth, Boseman, Johansson, Ruffalo, Bettany, Olsen, Holland, Stan, Mackie, Cheadle, Hiddleston, Gillan, Bautista, Salda, Diesel, Cooper, Gurira, Wright, Pratt
The Story: The heroes mobilize to stop intergalactic despot Thanos from collecting all six Infinity Stones. As Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange travel to Thanos’ home-world, Captain American and his allies head to Wakanda to prepare for Thanos’ eventual invasion, and the Guardians help Thor on his quest for a new weapon.
Key Moment: After Thanos assembles all of the Infinity Stones, he snaps his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, which results in hands of the universe’s population fading to dust, including at least 12 of the heroes.
Effect on the MCU: Earth’s avenging superhero group has been reduced to the original seven heroes, plus Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, Ant-Man, and Wong. On the upside, they will soon meet Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, whom Nick Fury managed to page for help before being vaporized.
EW Grade: B
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Cast: Rudd, Lily, Douglas, Peña, Walton Goggins (Sonny Burch), Hannah Josh-Kamen (Ava Starr/Ghost), Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet van Dyne), Laurence Fishburne (Bill Foster)
The Story: In the wake of Civil War and the Sokovia Accords, Scott finds himself on house arrest and retired from superherodom. Well, that is until Hope and Hank recruit him to help them rescue Janet van Dyne, Hope’s mom and Hank’s wife, from the Quantum Realm. But before they can do that, they must acquire a part from the greasy black market dealer Sunny, who wants to steal Pym’s research, and defeat Ava/Ghost, a woman who needs to absorb the Quantum energy from Janet to survive, which would kill Janet (Drink each time someone says quantum). A few big-small shenanigans later, Sonny is thwarted, Janet is rescued, and Ava’s condition is temporarily cured after Janet voluntarily gives her some of the energy.
Key Moment: In the end-credit scene, Scott journey into the Quantum Realm to siphon off more energy for Ava while Hank, Janet, and Hope remain in the physical world to bring him back. However, Thanos snaps while he’s in there and Pym and the Van Dyne women vanish, leaving Scott to languish in the Quantum Realm.
Effect on the MCU: It explains why Ant-Man wasn’t part of the war against Thanos in Infinity War.
EW Grade: C+
Captain Marvel (2019)
Directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson (Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers), Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn (Talos), Jude Law (Yon-Rogg), Annette Benning (Mar-Vell/Wendy Lawson/Supreme Intelligence), Lashana Lynch (Maria Rambeau), Gemma Chan (Minn-Erva), Gregg,
The Story: A member of the Kree Starforce, Carol Danvers has no memory of who she is or how she acquired her powers. Her quest answers ultimately leads her to Earth, where she crash lands and teams up with a young a Nick Fury to unlock the secrets of her past and save the planet from a potential Skrull invasion led by Talos. After reuniting with her best friend Maria, she ends up learning that she gained her powers (photon blasts and more) after she absorbed the energy of an experimental jet that was powered by the Tesseract and built by Dr. Wendy Lawson, a.k.a. Mar-Vell, a Kree scientist who worked for the air-force and was basically Carol’s mentor.
Key Moment: Carol spends the entire movie believing that the shape-shifting Skrulls are her enemy; however, Talos informs her that he and his brethren are simply refugees looking for their family members, whom Mar-Vell promised to protect. The real villain of the story is Starforce leader Yon-Rogg, who wants the Tesseract for himself and is a willing participant in this unjust war against the Skrulls.
Effect on the MCU: In the triumphant final act, Carol harnesses all of her powers, which were partially supprssed for most of the film, and goes full Super Saiyan to defeat to Yon-Rogg and the Kree, which establishes her as the MCU’s most powerful superhero. Furthermore, Carol’s decision to take to the stars and help Talos and the Skrulls find a permanent home explains why she hasn’t been around for Earth’s other crises.
EW Grade: B