This is it, people. Avengers: Endgame is one of the biggest film events in history to date, and to prepare for its April 24th theatrical release, Supanova will host special panels at this month’s Melbourne (6-7 April) and Gold Coast (13-14 April) events.
We’ll be assembling some serious talent to unpack the milestone, offering up comparisons between the films and their source materials, what we might see in Endgame and more.
To get you ready for not only the film but our panels, here’s a guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
PHASE ONE (2008-2012)
Films: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel’s The Avengers
Phase One effectively introduces the audience to the disparate members of the superpowered team that will come to be known as The Avengers.
Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye are ultimately brought together by SHIELD director Nick Fury to face down an alien invasion, led by Loki at the behest of the ever-so-briefly glimpsed evil mastermind, Thanos, who seeks to relieve humanity of its possession of a mysterious object known as the Tesseract.
Along with the introduction of SHIELD, we also get our first glimpse of its nefarious counterpart, Hydra, in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Notably, Thor includes our first brief look at the Infinity Gauntlet, the large golden glove wielded by Thanos to handle all six Infinity Stones, sitting in Odin’s vault, though it’s later revealed to be a fake.
In addition to the Tesseract – which is later revealed to house the Space Stone – we also get our first glimpse of the Mind Stone, set atop Loki’s staff during The Avengers.
The team manages to stop Loki and the Chitauri invasion, much to Thanos’ chagrin. Thor takes his (adopted) brother and the Tesseract back to Asgard, where it remains until Phase Three.
PHASE TWO (2013-2015)
Films: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man
Phase Two kicks off with a light-hearted exploration of PTSD, as Stark starts to get super-paranoid about future threats after almost dying during the Battle of New York.
In Thor: The Dark World, we’re introduced to another in our growing collection of multi-coloured space gems: the Reality Stone/the Aether, which lands in the possession of cosmic hoarder, The Collector.
SHIELD goes belly-up in The Winter Soldier, as Hydra is revealed to have been corroding and corrupting it from within, while Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes makes a return, having survived the events of The First Avenger only to be brainwashed into the merciless, titular killing machine.
With Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU casts its eyes skyward, opening up the cosmos as a vibrant, vital part of the bigger picture. Guardians also introduces the Kree and the Xandarians, and brings in Infinity Stone #4, the Power Stone, which ends the film in the custody of Xandar’s Nova Corps.
Things get worse for the Avengers in Age of Ultron, when Banner and Stark unwittingly create a nigh-unstoppable deathbot hell-bent on wiping out humanity in order to save the Earth. They manage to stop him but not without causing serious destruction in the nation of Sokovia, becoming the catalyst for the introduction of accords designed to restrict and regulate superhero activity.
Importantly, the film chronicles the creation of beloved Avenger, the Vision, an embodiment of Stark’s long-serving AI system, JARVIS, and the Mind Stone couched atop Loki’s staff. Thanos finally gets off his big purple butt and decrees that, after years of minions failing him, he’ll just go and get the Infinity Stones himself.
Ant-Man, which is way more enjoyable than it has any right to be, makes its major contribution to the broader canon by establishing the existence of the Quantum Realm (which will almost certainly be crucial to the Avengers’ success in Endgame).
PHASE THREE (2016-2019)
Films: Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame
The fallout from Age of Ultron reaches fever pitch in Civil War, as Tony and Cap trade barbs and blows over the Sokovia Accords and Cap’s old mate Bucky, who is framed for the murder of King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Stark finds out that Bucky actually did murder his parents, though, which strains things between the two bastions of the Avengers even further.
T’Chaka’s assassination paves the way for his son, T’Challa, to ascend to the throne and assume the mantle of the Black Panther, protector of his homeland.
Spider-Man is finally introduced, to the collective relief of webheads the world over. The film ends with the Avengers more fractured than ever, leading to the sorry state of relations at the outset of Infinity War.
The visually stunning Doctor Strange brings in the mystical artefact known as the Eye of Agamotto, which actually houses Infinity Stone #5, the Time Stone.
In Guardians Vol. 2, we rejoin the team in their cosmic adventures, learning more about Star-Lord’s origins and picking up a new member, the empathic alien Mantis. Thanos’ adoptive daughter, Nebula, departs to hunt the Mad Titan on her own, having reconciled with her sister, Gamora, over the course of the movie.
Following his successful introduction in Civil War, Spider-Man receives his first dedicated entry in the MCU but, rather than being about setting up future MCU stories, Homecoming instead takes the opportunity to demonstrate its connection to past events.
Taika Waititi’s Ragnarok totally rejuvenates Thor as a character, injecting a much-needed streak of humour and colour into the film’s very foundations.The film reunites the Asgardian god of thunder with old friend, the Hulk, who took off on his own during the events of Age of Ultron and hadn’t been seen since.
We are also reacquainted with the Tesseract, which Loki steals from the Asgardian vault before executing Thor’s plan to let loose the prophesied destroyer, Surtur, in an effort to defeat Hela. And we finally get our first direct lead-in to Infinity War – once again during the credits – as the now-displaced Asgardians (and the Hulk) find themselves adrift in space, staring straight down the nose of Thanos’ much, much bigger craft, Sanctuary II.
T’Challa is given his due with an A-grade origin tale, and we get our first in-depth look at the isolated, futuristic nation of Wakanda. The country becomes a haven for the recovering Bucky – taken there at the end of Civil War to undergo a reversal of his brainwashing – as well as a key battleground during Thanos’ impending invasion.
At the outset of Infinity War, Thanos catches up with the Asgardians. He receives the Tesseract/Space Stone from Loki, who had stolen it from Asgard during the events of Ragnarok, and who sacrifices himself in a doomed effort to murder the Mad Titan.
At this point, Thanos has already acquired the Power Stone from the Xandarians. He easily takes the Reality Stone from The Collector, relieves Strange of the Time Stone, and sacrifices Gamora to gain access to the Soul Stone – the only Infinity Stone not previously introduced during the first three phases.
Throughout it all, our various groups of heroes break off into different stables as their paths converge. Despite valiant stands on both Thanos’ home planet of Titan and in Wakanda, Thanos nabs the final piece of the Infinity puzzle, prying the Mind Stone straight out of Vision’s head.
You know what happens next: almost everyone who isn’t one of the original six Avengers gets turned into dust along with half of all life in the universe, Thanos declares victory, and Nick Fury doesn’t even get his final swear out as he desperately pages the previously unseen Captain Marvel for a last-minute assist.
The key takeaway from Ant-Man and the Wasp is that time travel is possible via the Quantum Realm, in which Scott Lang is left hanging after the Snap.
And, as the final film before Endgame, Captain Marvel includes some pretty major revelations and developments as far as the broader MCU is concerned. Not only are we introduced to Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers – arguably the most powerful hero in the entire dang universe – but we come to understand why she’s been absent from Earth for the past 20 years.
We also find out that, without Carol, there wouldn’t even be a team called the ‘Avengers’ to begin with, being that Fury took the title for his nascent initiative from her old Air Force callsign. It’s a nice little touch that indelibly ties Carol to the team, even though she’s been off-planet the entire time they’ve been around.
So, there it is. In the immortal words of Doctor Strange, we’re in the Endgame now.
Bring it on.
Avengers: Endgame opens in Australian cinemas on April 24, and you can find more information here.