The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a vast and ever-expanding universe of superheroes and villains. It has been around since 2008, when Iron Man was released, and has since grown to include over 20 movies, multiple television shows, and a variety of comic books. The MCU has become a cultural phenomenon, with its characters and stories inspiring millions of fans around the world.
The MCU timeline is a complex one, with many characters and events intertwining and overlapping. To help make sense of it all, here is a timeline of the major heroes and villains of the MCU.
Iron Man (2008): Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist, is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build a powerful weapon. He instead creates a suit of armor and uses it to escape and become the superhero Iron Man.
The Incredible Hulk (2008): Bruce Banner, a scientist, is exposed to gamma radiation and transforms into the powerful and uncontrollable Hulk.
Iron Man 2 (2010): Tony Stark must face off against the villainous Whiplash, while also dealing with the government’s attempts to take control of his technology.
Thor (2011): Thor, the god of thunder, is banished to Earth and must learn humility before he can reclaim his power and return to Asgard.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): Steve Rogers is transformed into the super soldier Captain America and must battle the evil Red Skull and his forces.
The Avengers (2012): Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye team up to battle the alien invasion of Earth led by Loki.
Iron Man 3 (2013): Tony Stark must face off against the powerful Mandarin and his forces.
Thor: The Dark World (2013): Thor must battle the dark elf Malekith and his forces in order to save Asgard.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014): Steve Rogers must battle the mysterious Winter Soldier and his forces.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): A group of misfits, led by Peter Quill, must battle the villainous Ronan the Accuser and his forces.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): The Avengers must battle the powerful artificial intelligence Ultron and his forces.
Ant-Man (2015): Scott Lang must use his shrinking technology to battle the villainous Yellowjacket and his forces.
Captain America: Civil War (2016): Steve Rogers and Tony Stark must battle each other and their former allies in order to save the world.
Doctor Strange (2016): Stephen Strange must use his newfound magical powers to battle the powerful Dormammu and his forces.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): The Guardians must battle the powerful Ego and his forces.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017): Peter Parker must battle the villainous Vulture and his forces.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Thor must battle the powerful Hela and her forces in order to save Asgard.
Black Panther (2018): T’Challa must battle the villainous Killmonger and his forces in order to save Wakanda.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018): The Avengers must battle the powerful Thanos and his forces in order to save the universe.
Avengers: Endgame (2019): The Avengers must use time travel to undo the damage caused by Thanos and his forces.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): Peter Parker must battle the powerful Mysterio and his forces.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an ever-evolving and ever-expanding universe of heroes and villains. This timeline of the major characters and events of the MCU is just a small glimpse into the vast and complex world that Marvel has created.
Though there are dozens of heroes and villains within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the universe itself has only been around since 2008. Over the last twelve years, Marvel has released nearly two dozen films, essentially restructuring the entire landscape of popular culture, science-fiction, and action movies. The following timeline outlines the most significant events and characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date.
Phase One of the MCU begins in 2008, with the release of Iron Man. This introductory film marks the first onscreen appearances of Iron Man/Tony Stark, Nick Fury, War Machine/James Rhodes, and the first post-credits stinger. This seeds the introduction of other Marvel characters and storylines.
2009 introduces Marvel’s first sequel (and origin story) with The Incredible Hulk. That year also sees Disney purchase Marvel Entertainment, resulting in many changes to the company’s future films.
2010 continues to introduce audiences to a variety of heroes, most notably Thor with the release of Thor. That same year, Captain America: The First Avenger is released, setting up one of the most beloved characters of the MCU.
Phase One is wrapped up with 2012’s The Avengers, bringing together the heroes of the previous four films and introducing audiences to Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Big Bad of the MCU, Loki.
Phase Two of the MCU continues with the release of Iron Man 3, introducing Iron Patriot/James Rhodes, Aldrich Killian, The Mandarin, and saving the world from a powerful new technology.
The sequel to Thor introduces audiences to Malekith the Accursed, dark elf of Svartalfheim, as well as the potential romantic interest of Thor, Jane Foster.
The next two films of Phase Two focus on Steve Rogers and his home thaworld conflict between Hydra and SHIELD. Both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron introduce important villains, such as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Ultron, and Quicksilver.
2015’s Ant-Man introduces audiences to Scott Lang, showcasing that even the smallest of heroes can have a tremendous impact.
Phase Three of the MCU begins with 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. This film brings back many of the characters from our Phase Two, as well as introducing new antagonists, such as Zemo, Scarlet Witch’s brother Quicksilver, and Black Panther/T’Challa.
Doctor Strange is released later that year, introducing mysticism and alternate dimensions to the MCU. The film introduces audiences to the villainous Dormammu, as well as the Time Stone.
2017’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduces Mantis and Ego the Living Planet. The film also foreshadows the upcoming Infinity War with the introduction of the Sovereign and a post-credit scene.
2017 also marks the release for two films focusing on villains of the MCU. Thor: Ragnarok introduces Hela, the Goddess of Death and first female antagonist of the MCU. That same year, Spider-Man: Homecoming introduces Vulture and the underworld in which Spider-Man must navigate.
Phase Three is wrapped up with Avengers: Infinity War, and the first appearance of Thanos, the Mad Titan. The movie also introduces the scene for Avengers: Endgame, the longest and most successful film in Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame is the epic conclusion to the previous two phases of the MCU. This hit film concludes the stories of many heroes, introduces new faces and villains, and concludes the storyline on a bittersweet note.
Ultimately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has introduced audiences to dozens of heroes and villains while constructing a cohesive narrative that spans a dozen films. As the MCU continues to evolve, fans should expect to meet even more fabulous characters and watch the stories of our beloved characters come to fruition.