If you’re anything like me, self-isolation has me revisiting old favourites – one of those being the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now thanks to Disney+, the streaming service is providing plenty of action-packed films from Marvel. Following the release of Avengers: Endgame in April, 2019, the MCU has moved into its next phase of films which includes Captain Marvel and the stand-alone film of Black Widow. 

While the release of the next phase is inevitably delayed due to the pandemic, it allows us the time to catch up on the very best from the original universe. The first Avenger, Captain America, took to the screen from 1943 and first launched in 2012, the first Avengers film featured just six members. In The Avengers: Infinity War, 32 members joined forces starting from the OG Captain America, to newcomers from Guardians of the Galaxy. And it is this loop of superhero characters that have formed a highly successful series of films and in true Disney style, everything is related in an intertwined storyline.

Consider this a watch list wrap up to pass the days in quarantine. A comprehensive look at how meticulous Marvel has constructed its film empire, and the beginning of the end for the much loved ‘The Avengers’ franchise.

captain america: the first avenger (1943 – 1945, 2011)

First introduced in the ’40s, Captain America has been dubbed the very first Avenger. A Republic black-and-white serial film loosely based on the original Timely Comics, the story was reimagined in 2011. Based back in 1941, the plot follows Steve Rogers a budding fighter who is accepted into an experimental program which turns the young man into a ‘super soldier’.

Credit: Republic Pictures

captain marvel (1995)

the incredible hulk (2008)

While his face may have changed over time (now played by Mark Ruffalo), 2008 saw the iconic Incredible Hulk enter the MCU. First seen in comics back in the ’60s, his origin story was solidified. Seeking a cure for gamma radiation, his newly-invented concoction turned him into a green monster. Soon he faces nemesis, The Abomination and is forced to fight becoming an unlikely hero.

Credit: Universal Studios

iron man (2008)

Robert Downey Jr. was one of the next stars to be cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark. A billionaire tech genius, Stark becomes a self-made superhero with the invention of an armed suit. Fighting against terrorists who wish to use his technology for devastating weapons, Stark makes his debut as Iron Man in a bid to fight evil.

Credit: Marvel / Disney

iron man 2 (2010)

thor (2011)

Sparking a series of its own films, Thor was introduced to the MCU in 2011 with another origin film. Born into the empire of Odin, king of Asgard, Thor prepares to ascend to the throne when a battle ensues and ends in his banishment to Earth. Brother Loki attempts to wreak havoc in the kingdom of Asgard, forcing Thor to fight without his powers.

Credit: Mark Fellman / Mar – © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

the avengers (2012)

The debut of an entire franchise of highly successful films, The Avengers is where it all began. Linking back to Thor, the hero’s brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) finds access to unlimited power called the Tesseract. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth.

Making up the original Avengers, Fury joins the forces of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), for the most epic battle scenes from MCU.

iron man 3 (2013)

thor: the dark world (2013)

captain america: The winter soldier

guardians of the galaxy (2014)

Reminiscent to The Avengers squad, Guardians Of The Galaxy is its intergalactic counterpart, first introduced in 2014. Space adventure, Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) is forced to join with a band of misfits and outcasts after stealing a highly coveted orb, from villain Ronan. With the true power of the orb realised, the curious group of creatures band together to save the universe.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2014)

avengers: age of ultron (2015)

Bringing back the original crew, Avengers: Age Of Ultron follows Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye after Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron. Backfiring, the group rejoin to save the planet from a new villain.

ant-man (2015)

A master thief that is just released from prison, Scott Land (Paul Rudd) is recruited by former protégé Darren Cross, Dr. Hank Pym. Embodying ‘Ant-Man’, the hero is trained by Pym in a suit that allows Lang to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. With his new role, Ant-Man must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.

Credit: Marvel Studios / Disney

captain america: civil war (2016)

spider-man: homecoming (2016)

Rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, Spider-Man: Homecoming reimagines Peter Parker as a young teen, returning home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. However, Peter is soon forced to use his talents to defeat the evil Vulture, who threatens to overhaul his life.

Credit: Chuck Zlotnick – © 2017 CTMG, Inc.

doctor strange (2016-2017)

One of the star characters in Avengers: Infinity War, the origin story of Doctor Strange begun in 2016. With his hands rendered useless after an accident, brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) stumbles upon a world of alternate dimensions in a bid to find a cure for his condition. Now, Strange must choose between his status in the real world or to harness his new-found powers to become a powerful sorcerer.

Credit: Marvel Studios

black panther (2017)

Since its release, Black Panther has garnered attention for its history-making nominations this awards season. Making up the 18th film in the MCU, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is one of the most recent additions to The Avengers squad. His story began after the death of his father and king of Wakanda, and the entrance of a new enemy. Harnessing the full power of the Black Panther, he and his family must rally to save the kingdom and ultimately, the world.

Credit: Marvel Studios

thor: ragnarok (2017)

ant-man and the wasp (2017)

avengers: infinity war (2017)

SPOILER ALERT: Logistically, I am still impressed as to how this film was pulled off. Employing endless sets, characters and intertwining story lines, perhaps this is where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is best illustrated. With 32 characters all facing off against Thanos – a villain looking to take over the world with the six Infinity stones – half the cast perishes in a deadly battle. Said to be one of the most expensive films to create it serves as the prelude to Avengers: Endgame.

Credit: Marvel Studios

avengers: ENDGAME (2019)

Possibly the most anticipated film of all, Avengers: Endgame is considered the book end to the MCU. After Thanos, an intergalactic warlord, disintegrates half of the universe, the Avengers must reunite and assemble again to reinvigorate their trounced allies and restore balance. Sad deaths are encountered, but make way for the next universe.