MCU: Ranking Each Phase 1 Movie Based On Its Importance To The Franchise’s Overall Story | Pretty Reel

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2008 to the end of Phase 4 with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As the franchise enters another era, it continues to grow through Avengers: Secret Wars, the ultimate culmination of the ongoing multiverse saga.

In its early years, Marvel used six projects to build the foundations of its universe, with this four-year period dubbed Phase 1. Each of these films built important characters, locations, and storylines that would come into play on specific dates. later. Still, some Phase 1 projects proved to be more important to the overall MCU story, as they expanded on not just the formation of the Avengers, but also their battle with Thanos.

6/6 The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk is the second film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, marking the only appearance of Edward Norton’s titular superhero before being recast with Mark Ruffalo for the character’s subsequent appearances. The film was released just a month after Iron Man, although it achieved much lower box office numbers, which prevented Marvel Studios from greenlighting any sequel, which would have also required the involvement of ‘Universal Studios.

Other than the Hulk’s appearance in future MCU projects, The Incredible Hulk has contributed very little to the franchise’s overall story. Until very recently, its supporting cast was completely overlooked by the franchise, leaving audiences wondering if the movie was even canon. Although many fans have turned to this Hulk movie in recent years, it also remains one of the weakest episodes of Phase 1. Nevertheless, with the re-emergence of characters like General Ross and Emil Blonsky, as well as Nelson’s Tim Blake Samuel Sterns’ return in Captain America: New World Order, The Incredible Hulk’s importance continues to grow.

5/6 Iron Man (2008)

As the very first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man introduced the world to Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, a portrayal that would quickly become iconic not just to Marvel fandom but to movie history as well. The film, while smaller compared to its many successors, remains one of the most beloved films in the entire franchise.

While this Jon Favreau-directed movie does a lot of the groundwork to set up the MCU, it, more importantly, stands on its own two feet, focusing above all on being a good standalone movie. . Instead of working to set up various story threads, Iron Man is heartfelt and hard-hitting, causing audiences to invest in his isolated story. It’s only really in the now-iconic post-credit scene that the film begins to set up a larger universe.

4/6 Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 is the highly anticipated successor to the original 2008 film, which was the surprise hit of the year when it was released. The film continues the story of Tony Stark, this time pitting the superhero against Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash, a villain many Marvel fans have chosen to forget about. Although many of the same creative voices from the original film were present for this sequel, including director Jon Favreau, it received somewhat lukewarm reviews upon release.

The film’s main criticism is that it tries to do way too much to fabricate a larger universe. Not only does Iron Man 2 continue Tony’s journey, it’s also bound to introduce Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and James Rhodes’ War Machine superhero alter-ego, all overshadowed by an Avengers subplot in background and a post-credit scene setting up Thor’s arrival. Ironically, much of the film’s notorious franchise-building has been undone or fleshed out in other movies, making Iron Man 2 surprisingly irrelevant to the larger MCU.

3/6 Thor (2011)

Thor departed massively from the previous three Marvel films, eschewing their ingrained sensibilities in favor of a noble realm of Asgardian gods, including Chris Hemsworth’s eponymous character. Despite mixed reviews upon release, Thor is by no means a bad movie, introducing audiences to a whole new dimension of the MCU. The film was followed by three sequels, marking the first solo franchise within the MCU to reach four installments.

Besides introducing Thor himself, this 2011 film also includes several characters that would be key to future installments in the franchise. The most notable of these is Loki, who became a featured actor in the Infinity and Multiverse sagas, not to mention the first villain the Avengers ever fought. Additionally, the introduction of Asgard proves to be a major stepping stone to the cosmic side of the MCU, a dimension of the franchise that would be fleshed out in future projects, such as Eternals and The Marvels. While perhaps ahead of his time for the MCU, Thor nonetheless gave audiences a taste of the supernatural events that would unfold in future phases of the franchise, stepping away from reality and embracing the fantasy world of Marvel.

2/6 Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger is a superhero film disguised as a period piece depicting the events of World War II. Audiences follow Chris Evans in the eponymous role as a scrawny Steve Rogers becomes the symbol of his nation’s fight against the Nazis. The film served as an immediate precursor to the culmination of Phase 1, setting up the formation of the Avengers.

Along with kicking off one of the richest character arcs in the MCU, The First Avenger also went to great lengths to set up Marvel’s super-team formation. From its title to its ending and its post-credit scene, everything about this movie is meant to set up The Avengers. Additionally, Captain America’s debut also features the introduction of the MCU’s first Infinity Stone, the Tesseract, which would become vital to the franchise’s history as the Infinity Saga began to unfold.

1/6 The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers was the culmination of the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film brought together the events of the franchise’s previous five installments, bringing together Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, and Hawkeye on screen for the very first time – and far from the last. The film was truly a story in the making, becoming a global hit that really kicked off the MCU’s golden years.

The first Avengers movie is paramount to understanding the full scope of the MCU. Not only does it showcase the line-up of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it also sets up the entire Infinity Saga, introducing the Mad Titan Thanos in its mid-credits scene. It all goes back to that first superhero team, which changed the scope of Marvel Studios and the film industry itself.

MCU: Ranking Each Phase 1 Movie Based On Its Importance To The Franchise’s Overall Story | Pretty Reel