Right, we’ve done Phase 1 and hopefully that gave you a good understanding of how Marvel set up their shared universe. It’s an incredible feat and it only gets better in Phase 2! Enough chit-chat, let’s get started!
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Marvel’s golden boy is back to kick off this phase and although it’s better than the second film, it’s not the strongest start.
Tony is suffering psychologically (PTSD) from his trip into space (Avengers) and buries himself in his work creating a ridiculous amount of Iron Man suits. There’s a flashback from NYE 1999 with him being mean to a disabled scientist, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and getting it on with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall).
Happy Hogan is hospitalised by one of Killian’s explosive test subjects and when Stark calls out the Mandarin, he destroys Tony’s home. There’s a small scene in Tennessee, he goes to find the Mandarin who turns out to be an actor and Killian is behind it all. Hansen is working with Killian to perfect a cure for all disabilities (Extremis) which also gives the users crazy strength, regeneration and they’re… hot.
Killian infects Pepper Potts with Extremis, so Stark will help fix it. There’s a huge fight scene with all the Iron Man Armours, which is quite fun, before Potts saves the day as her body didn’t reject Extremis. Oh and Stark destroys the suits, because you know… he’s grown.
Post Credits: Stark finishes his story (about the film), while Banner wakes up. Pretty rubbish.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Thor is back! Starting with a flashback to Odin in his prime, he beats the Dark Elf Malekith and safeguards the Aether (one of the Infinity Stones) in his vault.
Forward to present day, Loki is standing trial for his crimes (Avengers, oops) and the nine realms are due to align, causing portals to appear randomly throughout. Dr. Foster investigates a portal and is infected by the Aether. Thor takes her to Asgärd to have it extracted.
Malekith attacks Asgärd, kills Thor’s Mother but fails to retrieve the Aether. Thor teams up with Loki to lure out Malekith and help him get revenger for killing their Mother. The Aether is taken, merged with the Dark Elf and Loki is “killed” (more on that later).
Earth is attacked (the centre of the alignment) and Thor kills Malekith by crushing him with his own ship on his home planet, after they use a portal for some trickery. On Asgärd, Thor declines the throne from Odin and we see Odin is actually Loki in disguise.
Post Credits: The Aether is given to the Collector (Benicio Del Toro) for safe-guarding and Thor returns to Earth.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Okay, so this is the best one so far. Part comic action, part war thriller. It kicks off with Cap working as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. while on a mission, Black Widow as a hidden agenda and Cap starts questioning their motives. Soon we find that Hydra have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. for years and now have full control. A hydra operative by the name of Winter Soldier assassinates Fury before
Cap is now a wanted fugitive along with Black Widow and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) who travel to an abandoned facility and discover Hydra plans to use Project Insight (three huge satellite-linked Helicarriers) to identify threats. Sam dons his winged backpack to become Falcon and during an ambush they discover the Winter Soldier is actually Cap’s childhood friend Bucky (brainwashed and experimented on by Hydra since WWII).
Maria Hill rushes them off to a safehouse, where Fury is alive! He faked his death in order to assist them in taking down Hydra. Cap broadcasts the Hydra plan to the world and replaces some chips in order for Hill to take back control. After a scuffle with Winter Soldier, Cap manages to get through to him enough for Bucky to save his life and the Helicarriers are destroyed.
Post Credits: Baron von Strucker is using Loki’s sceptre to experiment on some twins (Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver). Barnes visits his exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
One of the faves in the MCU, James Gunn did an incredible job in bringing this bizarre, irreverent tale to life; especially as no one outside of comic fans had heard of them. The soundtrack in this film is incredible, with a fantastic throwback to 70s and 80s classics referred to as Awesome Mix, Vol. 1.
The film starts with a flashback to 1988, where a boy named Peter Quill sees his Mother pass away before being abducted immediately outside by aliens. The film flashes away to present day where Peter (Chris Pratt) now refers to himself as Star-Lord. Peter finds a mysterious orb on a planet and intends to sell it on Xandar, where he is wanted by the authorities. Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) attempt to capture Peter for the bounty while Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is there for the Orb. A fight ensues and they are imprisoned on a Xandarian space prison.
In the prison they meet Drax (Dave Bautista) and escape together in order to stop Ronan the Accuser, a Kree fanatic (Lee Pace) from destroying Xandar. Gamora plans to sell the Orb to the Collector (remember him?). He opens it to show them the Power Infinity Stone but Ronan attacks and steals it.
Xandar is attacked by Ronan, while Quill and the Ravagers assist Xandar in protecting it. Groot sacrifices himself to save them all and after a dance-off with Ronan (yes, dance-off), Star-Lord and the group use the Stone to destroy Ronan. After fighting to save the planet, their criminal records are expunged and they are now known as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Post Credits: The Collector is seem with Cosmo the Soviet cosmonaut dog and Howard the Duck
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Let’s jump right into it here (it’s a big one). In Sokovia (fictional, Eastern-European country), the Avengers raid a Hydra facility run by Baron von Strucker (Winter Soldier post credits scene, anyone?) to reclaim the stolen Sceptre used by Loki in Avengers, while the Maximoff twins (Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver) escape.
Banner and Stark analyse the Sceptre to find it has an Artificial Intelligence in it and use that to complete Ultron (James Spader), Stark’s global defence idea. This has some bad consequences and in full SkyNET, it decides that humans are the disease destroying this planet. They soon track down Ultron buying Vibranium (Cap’s Shield material) from a smuggler named Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), who has now allied himself with Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver. Scarlett Witch uses her telepathic powers to mess with the Avengers and sends the Hulk into a rampage, requiring Stark’s Hulkbuster armour to stop him.
The Avengers beaten, escape to a safehouse while a scientist (under the Sceptre’s control) helps Ultron create a synthetic-tissue body. While attempting to stop Ultron, he gets part way uploading his consciousness. Scarlett Witch reads his mind and discovers his plan, doubting the twins have made the right decision. Ultron captures Black Widow while Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. to the synthetic body and Thor “activates” it, allowing Vision (Paul Bettany) to be born. Thor explains that the stone on Vision’s head (which came from the Sceptre) is one of the six Infinity Stones (Soul).
The twins join the Avengers in Sokovia, where Ultron plans to lift a huge part of the country in order to drop it and cause a global extinction. Ultron has been busy building robots and the Avengers fight off the robots, attempting to stop it. S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive to help evacuations and Quicksilver dies shielding Hawkeye from bullets. One of the robots activate the machine but Stark and Thor manage to overload it and explode the landmass. Vision then hunts down Ultron’s last remaining body and destroys it.
Hawkeye retires, Hulk disappears in a Quinjet not wanting to hurt Black Widow (there’s some sort of love-thing, it’s not important) and Thor returns to Asgärd. Meanwhile, Cap and Black Widow start training Scarlett Witch, War Machine, Falcon and Vision as new Avengers in their new facility.
Post Credits: Thanos decides enough is enough and dons the Gauntlet to capture the Infinity Stones himself.
Surprisingly, Age of Ultron wasn’t the climax of Phase 2 with this funny and clever origin story wrapping up a new addition to the ever-increasing MCU.
The film opens in 1989, with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) the original Ant-Man leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. as they want to replicate his shrinking technology. Back in present day, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been released from Prison and is trying to get on the straight and narrow. Separated from his Wife, he just wants to make an honest living to spend time with his daughter Cassie. As an ex-con struggling to get work, he reluctantly agrees to pull a heist with his former cellmate and now roommate Luis (Michael Peña).
After gaining access to the vault in Hank Pym’s house, he discovers the only thing there is a suit. The suit turns out to be the original Ant-Man suit, allowing Scott to shrink down to the size of an ant. Meanwhile at Pym Technologies, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) and Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) push Hank Pym out of the business as Cross manages to recreate the Pym Particle in order to shrink any matter.
Pym set the whole heist up in order to test Lang and ensure he was right for the job. With his daughter Hope, they train Lang on how to use the Ant-Man suit and control ants in order to break into Pym Technologies and steal the Yellowjacket (Cross’ own shrinking suit). After breaking in, Cross captures them and dons the Yellowjacket himself hoping to sell the technology to Hydra. Lang then fights Cross and overrides the suit’s regulator to go subatomic and break the Yellowjacket suit (killing Cross also). While in the Quantum Realm (confusing, I know) – he reverses the effects and returns to the macroscopic world.
Post Credits: Pym shows Hope the new prototype Wasp suit and Falcon tells Cap he knows a guy who can help (referencing Lang).
Well, there we have it! After reading that back, I think I’ve hit the 15 minute mark. This should give you a good overview of Phase 2 of the MCU. Look out for my Phase 3 (so far) out soon, ready for Avengers Endgame!
You can also get hold of the Phase 2 boxset right here.