By Joe Bursley
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Unless your head has been buried under an Infinity Stone, you’ll know that this week marks the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War. A massive movie event that has been teased since the original Avengers six years ago, this film marks a turning point in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe with the highest stakes yet, as well as twists allegedly so shocking that Marvel has refused to reveal the name of Avengers 4.
However, the MCU currently sits at 18 separate movies preceding Infinity War, and this upcoming blockbuster apparently has 76 total characters in the movie. With so much plot and so many characters to keep track of, you may be asking yourself, “Wait, what’s going on again?” So, if you’ve missed a movie or two, or need a refresher since it’s been a few months, I’ve got you covered. Here is your quick recap of the MCU before Infinity War.
Earth-bound: The Avengers, or what’s left of them.
The most recent bombshell movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Avengers 2.5—er, Captain America: Civil War. This film, based loosely on the comic book event of the same name, follows Captain America as he feuds with Iron Man over the Sokovia Accords: an international government watchdog regulation that would keep the Avengers from acting as vigilantes, with all the collateral damage they’ve caused. No matter that Steve Rogers has helped stop World War II, an alien invasion of New York, an evil Nazi organization operating within the US government, and an army of robots created by Tony Stark’s failed AI program. But the Avengers accidentally blew up an office building while on duty, so they obviously need to be reeled in.
Image from BGR
Throughout the film, it is revealed that Bucky, formerly the Winter Soldier, is still in hiding, and that Helmut Zemo plans to expose him in order to break up the already-pretty-broken-up Avengers for revenge, or something. A series of contrived coincidences happen, and suddenly Cap and Bucky are fighting Iron Man mono e shield-o in a Hydra base, because Bucky was brainwashed to kill Tony Stark’s parents, and everyone punches instead of talking out their feelings. So, what happened to the formal Avengers?
Well, the current standing members include Rhodey/War Machine (with the assistance of prostheses, of course), Vision, and Tony/Iron Man. The rest of Team Iron Man include Spider-Man, who gets a solo movie to follow up; Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, who switched teams at the last second before going into hiding, and T’Challa/Black Panther, who switches teams and gets a solo movie to follow up. Team Cap is declared more or less the “losers” of the war, and while Steve and Bucky take refuge in Wakanda, the others find themselves under worse circumstances. Scott Lang/Ant Man, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, and Sam Wilson/Falcon are taken to an underwater high security prison called the Raft, where they wait out the movie…supposedly.
There are still a few non-Avengers on Earth we need to cover. Peter Parker/Spider-Man has a neighborhood adventure with Iron Man where he keeps trying to get into the Avengers, only to turn the offer down once Tony actually offers the position to him. T’Challa/Black Panther returns to Wakanda and must fulfill his duties as the now king until his cousin comes to usurp the throne. In the end, he decides that Wakanda must forego its isolationist foreign policy and open up to the world. Also, we get to see that Bucky has been fully healed from his Winter Soldier brainwashing thanks to Wakanda’s advanced science and technology development. And last but not least, Dr. Stephen Strange has an Iron Man-esque arc and learns the ways of sorcery, defeats a cosmic giant with the Time Stone’s playback loop feature, and now guards a mystical library where he has a brief run-in with Thor and Loki. Speaking of which…
Space-bound: The Universe of the MCU
Marvel has exactly two properties that exist in space and not on Earth currently, and they are the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor films. To begin with, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reunites us with Peter Quill/Star Lord, Gamora and her twisted adopted sister Nebula, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Baby Groot. Star Lord is found by his father: Ego the Living Planet. Ego takes the Guardians back to his…planet, where he tries to use Peter as a living battery in order to spread his tumor-plants across the galaxy. They jam out to some 70s rock music, crack way too many jokes, and Yondu, Peter’s alien abductor/new father figure, sacrifices himself to save Star Lord and purify the word “daddy.” Groot grows up into a snotty teen (which is redundant), Nebula leaves on a solo mission to exact revenge on Thanos (which she probably failed at), and the Guardians take Ego’s former dim-witted slave Mantis to now be their own dim-witted slave (Six Guardians and still Gamora is the only sane one of the bunch).
Image from SlashFilm
The other cosmic adventure of 2017 was Thor: Ragnarok. After swearing to find the Infinity Stones after the events of Age of Ultron, Thor scours the universe and finds exactly zero. Which is weird, considering they are falling out of a MacGuffin hole for Captain America, Loki/Vision, Jane Foster, Star Lord, and Doctor Strange. Thor returns to Asgard, where Loki has been cosplaying as their father on the throne. With the help of Dr. Strange/Doctor Strange, they find Odin before he dies, meet their older sister Hela, then get trapped on a trash-gladiator planet with none other than the Hulk! Bruce Banner has been stuck as the Hulk for two years now and isn’t too happy about it when he finally comes to. They escape with the help of a Valkyrie named Valkyrie to save the people of Asgard and stop Hela from taking over Asgard by…blowing up Asgard. Thor loses his eye, his hammer, and most of his hair, but everyone escapes on a big ship and ride off into the sunset—straight into an even bigger ship piloted by, most likely, Thanos.
And that’s your recap of everything and everyone that’s been going on in the MCU, just in time for Avengers: Infinity War. 76 characters enter and less than 76 will survive, most likely. Who will live and who will die? Can Marvel effectively fit all these characters into one movie with good arcs, a sensible plot, and lots of action to set up future movies? Based on Age of Ultron, I’m inclined to say ‘no,’ but I hope to be surprised. If you need anymore details about these characters before seeing Infinity War, I don’t know what to tell you. Go watch the actual movies, for crying out loud. These actors need to make a living too.
Joe is a sophomore Telecommunications major at Ball State. Joe’s focus at Byte is writing and editing for the Features section. After graduation, Joe hopes to work as a producer at a news studio and eventually publish a book or two.