Franchise: Marvel Cinematic Universe
"You think you're the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet."
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
is a combined setting
produced by Marvel Entertainment
. It was distributed by Paramount
from 2008-2011, followed by Disney
from 2012 on. Starting with Iron Man
in 2008, the setting has grown to include numerous film adaptations of Marvel's many comic book properties.note
The setting also features secondary Marvel properties, such as the spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D.
, as common elements that tie the different films together.
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Released films taking place in this setting
Films officially in-development
- Phase One: Avengers Assembled
- Phase Two
:Marvel One-Shot Shorts:
Television shows taking place in this setting
Comic book tie-ins
Comic books taking place in this setting
: Organized by the trade paperback they're collected in. For brevity's sake, we're skipping adaptations of the movies themselves, though they're included with the collections listed.
- Iron Man: Security Measures - Set during the first movie, Fury and Coulson have to figure out whether Tony's reliable or if the Ten Rings broke him and made him The Mole.
- Iron Man: Fast Friends - A digital comic that explores the friendship between Tony Stark and James "Rhodey" Rhodes. (Not collected yet, despite what the solicit for the I Am Iron Man! trade claims.)
- The Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files - A two-part comic which details Nick Fury's first meeting with Bruce Banner and the Hulk. (Not collected yet, despite what the solicit for the I Am Iron Man! trade claims.)
- Nick Fury: Spies Like Us (Not collected yet.)
- Road To The Avengers - A collection of Iron Man 2 tie-ins, plus the one for Captain America: The First Avenger.
- Iron Man 2: Public Identity - A miniseries revealing the consequences of Tony Stark's decision to reveal himself as Iron Man at the end of his first movie, and growing friction between him and the military.
- Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Three digital comics involving Fury, Coulson, and Black Widow as they relate to Iron Man, including how Black Widow established the cover she used in Iron Man 2.
- Captain America: First Vengeance - A mid-quel of sorts for the Captain America movie, detailing some backstory for each of the main characters via flashbacks.
- The Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week - Chronicles the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s perspective and the events leading up to The Avengers.
- The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes - Set before the movie; while Black Widow tracks down Ten Rings operations, she faces someone who has modeled herself after the woman she used to be - and now wants the title of "Black Widow" for herself.
- The Avengers Initiative one-shot. As a thief tries to steal S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Avenger Initiative files, we see Fury's assessment of its prospective members. Collection also includes:
- Captain America and Thor: Avengers one-shot. In Cap's story, he and the Howling Commandos raid a HYDRA base only to find a monster inside. In Thor's; he, Loki, and their friends are trying to rescue Fandral the Dashing from the Dark Elves (though made non-canon by conflicting with Thor: The Dark World).
- Iron Man 3 Prelude - Set during the events of The Avengers, the mini-series chronicles War Machine's clash with the Ten Rings organization and explains why he was absent during the Chitauri invasion of New York.
- Iron Man: Coming of the Melter - Another prequel to Iron Man 3, the one-shot features Iron Man and War Machine facing down the MCU version of the Melter, a classic Silver Age villain. (Not collected yet.)
- Thor: The Dark World Prelude - Follows the Thor cast during the gap between the original movie and The Dark World.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier Prelude - Originally a digital-exclusive; with the focus on Captain America, Black Widow, and Brock Rumlow as they try to stop a terrorist cell.
- Captain America: Homecoming - A prequel focusing on Captain America and Black Widow between the events of The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The story sees the two Avengers trying to protect a scientist from a group of mercenaries who are trying to kidnap her. (Not collected yet.)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude - The collection includes the Guardians Infinite Comic, and they together present a series of short stories set before the movie: one on Nebula's childhood as well as her relationships with Thanos, Gamora, and Korath; one about a heist pulled off by Rocket Raccoon and Groot; and the Infinite Comic covering when and how the Collector hires Gamora to get the Orb.
- Ant-Man Prelude - A prequel focusing on a young Hank Pym's adventures as the original Ant-Man during the Cold War.
- The Avengers: Operation HYDRA - A prequel set between the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which focuses on the newly reassembled Avengers as they try to hunt down and defeat HYDRA.
Virtually every Marvel property is being considered for this franchise in some capacity, with more scripts being written than could ever be used. It should also be noted that Samuel L. Jackson
(who plays Nick Fury
) has signed an unprecedented
nine-movie deal with Marvel Studios note
and the contracts of other lead actors stretch even further. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, claims
that they have MCU films planned out until 2028
The runaway success of this franchise
has managed to convince other studios over the potential of Shared Universe
elements in film series; something that had long been seen as a niche, too convoluted to maintain, or too complex for audiences
to keep track of. FOX
both soon began expressing interest
in incorporating similar elements in some form with their respective X-Men note
and The Amazing Spider-Man note
film series, as well as their competitor
, DC Comics
, attempting their own counterpart
in similar lieu.
You can vote for your favorite film here
Tropes present across the cinematic universe:
Tropes A - B
Tropes C - F
- California Doubling: Played straight in many occasions (such as having Cleveland double for New York City in The Avengers and Washington, D.C. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but averted in the four Netflix shows, each of which will be shot in New York.
- As a television show with a smaller budget, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets hit with this a lot.
- The Cameo: Often, and it helps to establish a connected universe (such as Tony Stark appearing in Incredible Hulk and Nick Fury's brief scenes in Thor, Captain America, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Often done to hype the next movie in the queue or at least a future one: Nick Fury in Iron Man, Thor's hammer in Iron Man 2, Hawkeye and the Tesseract in Thor, Thanos in The Avengers, The Collector in Thor: The Dark World and Baron von Strucker, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch - plus a Name Drop for Doctor Strange - in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- A very sneaky one in the Collector's room in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians, but given the apparent build up for an adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock's regenerative cocoon most likely counts as this. As of the post-credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy, the cocoon has hatched.
- Agents Of SHIELD did this to a place, name-dropping the Triskelion several months before it appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- Creator Cameo: Plus, as is standard procedure for Marvel productions, Stan Lee always makes a cameo (even in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). J. Michael Straczynski appears in Thor and Ed Brubaker appears in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, each of them having served as a script consultant on their respective films.
- Remake Cameo: Lou Ferrigno makes another Hulk-related cameo, and in the same film, Bill Bixby makes a pseudo-cameo when Bruce is watching "The Courtship of Eddie's Father."
- There are minor cameos between this universe and the properties Marvel Studios doesn't hold; for example, there are Stark Industries-made machines in X-Men 2. There were also talks of having the Oscorp building from The Amazing Spider-Man appearing in The Avengers, but the latter was too close to completion by the time the idea was proposed.
- At one point, one of the people working on Amazing Spider-Man claimed the cranes that lined up to help Peter reach Oscorp faster were repairing the destruction caused in The Avengers.
- Similarly, Sony's pre-release marketing for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 included a ''Daily Bugle'' Tumblr feed to establish some minor aspects of the franchise and set up future films. One story states that Oscorp lost a contract for a military flying harness to a "Los Angeles-based conglomerate with offices in Manhattan", and implies that the lead engineer on the project, Adrian Toomes (the man who becomes the Vulture in the comics), is on the chopping block because if it. Clever way to tie in their own future film through back door crossovers at the least, and a way for Sony to make sure that they don't outright contradict the MCU in case future deals are struck.
- Guardians features two very noticeable ones. First being Cosmo, who served as the team's Mission Control in the comics. The second was Howard the Duck.
- Canon Foreigner: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, Dr. Erik Selvig, and Darcy Lewis.
- All the members of the lead cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season are original to the cinematic universe. Subverted with Skye, who is eventually revealed to be the comics character Daisy Johnson AKA Quake.
- Canon Immigrant: The JARVIS AI, which has since appeared in the comics as well as The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Ultimate Spider-Man.
- Also Agent Coulson, as of the Battle Scars miniseries, which came right before the Avengers movie. That same miniseries also debuted the 616-verse version of the Jackson-inspired Nick Fury (here Nick Fury Jr., to differentiate him from the original).
- The rest of Coulson's team from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are confirmed to have 616-verse versions debuting in December 2014.
- Civvie Spandex / Not Wearing Tights: Both averted and played straight. Many of the characters wear something resembling their iconic comic book outfits, but there are exceptions. Bucky Barnes and The Falcon wear military gear rather than a costume or Domino Mask, while Whiplash doesn't wear anything resembling his comic outfit.
- Clarke's Third Law: The films seem to be heading in a generally Sci-Fi direction, though Clarke's Third Law is quoted and specifically referenced in Thor, with Thor saying that in Asgard science and magic are the same thing, rather than sufficiently advanced science passing as magic or magic taking the form of a complex science. Furthermore, the semi-magical Bifröst of Asgard is an Einstein-Rosen Bridge that Jane and her team are studying at the beginning of the film. Loki on the other hand is referred to as "a master of magic" by an Asgardian, so the whole matter is rather unclear.
- Comicbook Movies Dont Use Codenames: Most characters don't have them. Iron Monger, Abomination, Black Widow, Whiplash, Hawkeye, Red Skull... all of their codenames have been referenced only a few times or not at all. The Cosmic Cube is also given the much more scientific-sounding moniker of "The Tesseract".
- Averted for Captain America and Iron Man. ("Captain America" is Steve Rogers's USO character name that was later upgraded to his heroic identity thanks to comic books released after his disappearance and "Iron Man" is the identity Tony Stark gives to his armor after the press dubs it as such). Also while "War Machine" isn't the actual Air Force designation for the armor James Rhodes wears, he likes the name himself and refers to it as such privately (the Air Force also upgrades his armor in Iron Man 3 and officially designates it the "Iron Patriot" armor).
- Star-Lord does his best to avert this, though everyone around him constantly lampshades how silly he sounds, insisting on a code name.
- Comic-Book Time: Totally averted, the timeline is identical with the theatrical releases of each individual film (other than some Anachronic Order in Phase One, but that's still not an example of Comic Book Time). Which is part of the reason why the MCU is so beloved, you get the chance of seeing actual change and development, in contrast to the 616-verse.
- Composite Character: An inanimate example. As we learn in Thor: The Dark World, the Tesseract is not only the comics' Cosmic Cube, but also one of the Infinity Gems.
- Continuity Overlap/Character Overlap: See below.
- One example of a Continuity Nod starts with Iron Man; Stane uses a portable device that, apparently, paralyzes via soundwaves, but was rejected by the military for some unspecified reason. It lasted for fifteen minutes, but could probably easily be scaled up somehow, for the new, heavier threats. And sure enough, they did have a similar Stark Industries device in The Incredible Hulk, big enough to be car-mounted. Two of them stunned the Hulk for a while, but ultimately he was strong enough to get back on his feet and smash them both.
- Not surprisingly, the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier impacted Agents Of SHIELD very hard, since the former resulted in SHIELD being disbanded due to internal corruption by HYDRA. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned the favor in its second season, with a mid-season cliffhanger with the release of the Terrigin Mists, and ties into the announced Inhumans movie.
- Continuity Porn: The Avengers is naturally this with references made to the past five films that preceded it! Also Phase Two has shades of this with Tony having PTSD-like flashbacks to his Heroic Sacrifice in Avengers in Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World has Loki shapeshift into Captain America while talking about Thor's "new friends" and Jane hits Loki for his involvement in the Chitauri invasion when they meet, and the Tesseract from Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers turns out to be an Infinity Gem/Stone in The Stinger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier has S.H.I.E.L.D. stepping up their defensive game as a response to what happened in Avengers!
- Continuity Reboot: The Incredible Hulk ignores the events of Ang Lee's Hulk (outside of Bruce being located in South America at the end), while the upcoming Daredevil TV show will ignore the events of the Fox Daredevil movie.
- Creative Closing Credits: Each movie has either this, or an Artistic Title sequence.
- Crisis Crossover: The Avengers for the movies; The Defenders for the Netflix series.
- Didn't Think This Through: Steve, Nick, and Natasha's decision to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. in Winter Soldier. Sure it exposed HYDRA but it made life hell for all the other agents, if they weren't killed by the HYDRA sleeper agents, they ended being hunted down by the USA military and various intelligence agencies for interrogation (and possible incarceration) and if they don't give themselves up they go into hiding instead.
- Differently Powered Individual: Due to Marvel Studios not owning the rights to the X-Men, none of the characters are called mutants, instead being referred to "gifted" (on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and "miracles" (in the Winter Soldier Stinger). There are strong hints that the role of mutants will instead be taken over by Inhumans.
- Eureka Moment: According to the Building a Cinematic Universe documentary, when Marvel Studios was first created, one of the first meetings featured a discussion of which properties they still had the rights to. As they listed off the properties they couldn't use at the time, they slowly realised they still had the rights to most of the various characters who formed The Avengers.
- Extremely Short Timespan: In Phase One, most of the movies take place almost at the same time even though they were all made years apart; in fact the tie-in comic Fury's Big Week specifies that Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk all happened the same week. Tony and Rhodey's fight took place the same day Bruce Banner crossed the border into the United States, which was also the same day Agent Coulson reported electro-magnetic disturbances in New Mexico to Nick Fury. Thor and Mjolnir arrived in New Mexico the day after the Stark Expo battle, while Hulk's fight at Culver University took place on the same day as Tony and Fury's conversation at the end of Iron Man 2, which was also the same day Thor got his powers back. In relation, Iron Man 1 was stated to have taken place six months earlier, Captain America took place mainly 70 years ago during WWII, and Cap's revival and The Avengers takes place at least a year later. Phase Two has averted this so far, with their events occurring in roughly the same time span that the movies are released.
- Fanservice: The franchise tends to find excuses to portray its male heroes shirtless at least once a film. Which often makes it into the trailer. Black Widow, whose powers arguably include "being sexy", is possibly the least sexualized Avenger.
- Follow the Leader: Before 2008 and Iron Man, crossover films were thought to be a novelty, and the idea of a series of separate films with different writers and directors sharing a continuity and ongoing story was seen as impossible. Now, everyone wants to repeat the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and try to create their own franchise of inter-connected blockbusters. Fox wants to expand their X-Men franchise into a shared universe, which may or may not cross over with their Fantastic Four reboot, Sony is doing the same with Spider-Man through The Amazing Spider-Man Series, and DC is looking to turn Man of Steel into the first film in the DC Cinematic Universe.
- Foreshadowing: There's been a bit of a trend of alluding to future Marvel heroes before they debut:
- In Iron Man, Rhodey looks at one of the Iron Man armors and says "Next time, baby." He did indeed get to become War Machine in the sequel.
- Iron Man 2 has a brief scene where Nick Fury shows Tony a map of metahuman activity throughout the world. One of the markers is located in the Arctic, where Captain America was frozen - speaking of which, a box of S.H.I.E.L.D. gear given to Tony includes a prototype of his shield. Another spot on the map is in Africa, which was later confirmed to be a nod to Black Panther, who will be joining the MCU in 2016.
- Thor had a line where Selvig mentioned that he had a friend named Hank Pym who had a run-in with S.H.I.E.L.D. years earlier, though this was cut from the final release.
- Likewise, The Avengers has a deleted scene where the guard that Banner encounters asks him if he's a big guy who shrinks, alluding to Ant-Man.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sitwell name-drops Stephen Strange as one of the potential threats HYDRA plans to eliminate.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. incorporated subplots involving Inhumans since day onenote , a whole year before their movie was even announced and five before it's to be released.
Tropes G - R
- Genre-Busting: As described under Follow the Leader, the franchise changed what movie-goers and movie-makers alike thought was possible with crossover films, and along the The Dark Knight Saga redefined what the superhero genre could do. And every time it seems like one of their upcoming films will flop for whatever reasons, they still find financial success, and the critical success is steadily increasing too.
- Genre Roulette: Though collectively under the "superhero" genre, each hero's movies skew towards their own genre:
- A God I Am Not: Though Loki would dispute the claim, most appearances by Asgardians are accompanied by at least a line or two reminding the audience that they are Human Aliens and not gods.
- Godzilla Threshold: Best summed up by Tony Stark in four simple words:
Tony: We have a Hulk.
- And Captain America in three:
Cap: And Hulk? Smash!
- Government Agency of Fiction: S.H.I.E.L.D. in all the movies, and before their time during WWII, there was the Strategic Scientific Reserve, which is essentially the OSS to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s CIA.
- Hero of Another Story: Many of the movies tease that there are other superheroes out there, Tony Stark pops up in The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury has appeared at least by name in every Phase One film, Hawkeye appears as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Thor, etc.
- Captain America: The First Avenger features a blink and you'll miss it appearance by the original Human Torch as a statue at Stark's expo (doubles as a Mythology Gag and Actor Allusion).
- The Winter Soldier offhandedly references Stephen Strange.
- Humans Are Warriors: After repelling the Chitauri invasion, even their leader admits fighting them is "to court death."
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Tesseract, a tool of Asgardian (maybe) origin, directly impacts the plot of Captain America: The First Avenger as the means by which HYDRA powers their weapons, and indirectly impacts both Iron Man films thanks to Howard Stark's research into it, which led to the Arc Reactor's development. It also becomes the centerpoint of the first Avengers movie. The Destroyer's remains, left behind on Earth at the end of the first Thor movie, also count, considering S.H.I.E.L.D. reverse-engineered a weapon capable of actually slowing down someone with Asgard/Jotun physiology using it.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Beginning to be enforced as of the end of Phase One, with "Marvel's The Avengers", "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", and "Marvel's Agent Carter". Sometimes it can get awkward; for instance the comic book tie-in collection "Road to Marvel's The Avengers".
- Intercontinuity Crossover: While none have happened yet, Sony has made attempts to tie in the Spider-Man movie franchise (which they hold the rights to, rather than Marvel Studios) into the MCU. First they tried to get the Oscorp building in the background of the Avengers (which was scrapped due to how late into production they were) and in 2015 have offered to allow the character (or at least Peter Parker) to appear in Captain America 3.
- Killed Off for Real:
- Dr. Erskine in Captain America: The First Avenger, courtesy of Heinz Kruger.
- In Iron Man, after being deemed no longer useful by Obidiah Stane, Raza, the leader of the Ten Ringsnote , is disposed of by Stane.
- In Thor, Laufey is killed by Loki, so that Loki would become Odin's favorite son, and be able to be the true heir to the throne.
- Maya Hansen from Iron Man 3 is also killed off, courtesy of Aldrich Killian.
- In Thor: The Dark World, Queen Frigga.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Arnim Zola's body has decayed but he uploaded his mind to a computer system, allowing him to survive into the modern day. However, the bunker housing the computer with his mind is destroyed by a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova Corps Denerian Garthaan Saul is killed when Ronan the Accuser's flagship crushes him while Garthaan attempts to slow his advance towards Xandar. Ronan himself would later be killed by Star-Lord using the Infinity Gem.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Over the course of Thor and The Avengers, Earth goes from being an insignificant backwater planet to being a potential rival on the galactic stage. It even gets the point where Thanos takes an interest.
Director: Was that the whole point of this? To make a statement?
- Live-Action Adaptation: Obviously.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: When you take into account the various films, TV episodes, and tie-in materials, the main cast alone for the whole MCU is well into the dozens; counting supporting/recurring characters pushes it way higher.
- A specific example: The Avengers has ten of the main characters from various parts of the franchise in the film (six Avengers, three high-ranked SHIELD agents, and Loki), plus minor characters. And Age of Ultron is going to have even more.
- Within the individual franchises, both Thor and Captain America have literal armies among the main cast, especially when you look at the number of actors with roles considered important enough to receive billing in the main credits sequence. Both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger had 14 actors billed in their credit sequences, which is one more than The Avengers had with a "mere" 13 actors billed there. This was escalated in the sequels, where Thor: The Dark World had 16 actors billed in the end credits, while Captain America: The Winter Soldier had 18 actors billed. Time will tell if Age of Ultron will manage to top either of those.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The Avengers films act as this. The announced Defenders miniseries will do the same for the TV shows aired on Netflix.
- Meta Origin: The films change the Hulk's origin so that the accident that created him was caused by an attempt to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum.
- Thor: The Dark World reveals that the Tesseract is one of the Infinity Stones. In the comics, the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gems are completely unconnected. The Aether from that movie is considered another "Infinity Stone", as is the Orb - or rather, what's in the Orb - from Guardians of the Galaxy.
- The supplementary materials for Captain America: The Winter Soldier heavily suggest that Sam Wilson's EXO-7 Falcon suit was designed by Stark Industries, presumably incorporating similar technology to what is found in the Iron Man armors.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. eventually reveals that Coulson survived from being stabbed by Loki using an Avengers Initiative contingency plan to resurrect a dead Avenger.
- Military Superhero: Captain America, the Falcon, and War Machine / Iron Patriot. Presumably Captain Marvel as well, as her comics counterpart is an Air Force Colonel.
- Monochrome Casting: a frequent complaint, even from many fans of the MCU, is the abundance of White Male Leads. If the list above stays accurate, Marvel will have 11 different moviesnote starring one or more white men named "Chris" before they have a non-white or female lead. This had become even more pronounced when initial Phase 3 movie announcements only showed Doctor Strange and Ant-Man as new properties, while many were hoping for more diverse characters like Black Panther, Carol Danvers or Black Widow (though the Phase Three announcement has allayed some of these criticisms). Guardians of the Galaxy also took some flack for not including Phyla-Vell and Moondragon, who are not only women, but non-heterosexual as well. Mantis, the lone non-white human member of the team, was also omitted.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Both averted and played straight. Captain America uses his classic red, white and blue color scheme (albeit with a more armored look and the buccaneer boots and head wings removed), but Hawkeye wears an Ultimate-style leather outfit instead of his iconic purple costume. The HYDRA soldiers also have black body armor instead of their green and yellow costumes from the comics.
- Cap dons a much more muted color scheme in The Winter Soldier, harkening to his comic counterpart's time as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director where he wore a similar outfit. Approaching the climax of the movie he breaks into the Smithsonian Museum to steal his World War II outfit, since his S.H.I.E.L.D. outfit is now stuck with them and he's on the lam, allowing him to go back to a more vibrant color scheme.
- Thor's armor is a mix of black, gun metal gray, and a red cape typically. While his comic book equivalent at one point wore an outfit that was blue with gold trim, in more recent years he's had a similar color scheme so the movies just follow with that.
- Iron Man has for the most part stayed consistent (since the color scheme is fairly iconic to the character), always wearing red on some piece of armor and typically with a splash of gold somewhere too. In fact War Machine's armor started off with a gun metal gray and then was upgraded to a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme in 3.
- The Falcon wears combat fatigues with gunmetal wings like his Ultimate version rather than the red-and-white tights of the original.
- Black Widow and Black Panther (according to concept art) wear black, but of course they do so in the comics as well.
- Myth Arc: The presence of Thanos and the Infinity Stones is building to an adaptation of The Infinity Gauntlet.
- Mythology Gag: Bound to be several considering their comic book origins. A few in particular come to mind:
- Tony considers making the Mk III armor completely gold, but then decides it's "a little ostentatious" before throwing the red in.
- A student being interviewed about the Hulk's rampage is named Jack McGee after the reporter from the 70s TV series. His friend is named Jim Wilson, The Falcon's nephew and an old side character from the comics.
- A billboard in New Mexico advertises a "Journey Into Mystery," the title of the series Thor debuted in.
- Agent Coulson gets gas from Roxxon Oil in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer."
- A second-season episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. refers to a computer hacker informant named Microchip.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
- While all four of the main heroes made big splashes, the coming of Thor made Earth aware of intelligent life on other worlds and made S.H.I.E.L.D. and the WCS realize how technologically outmatched Earth is.
Aldrich Killian: Ever since the big dude with the hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety's had its day.
- As of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. was corrupted by HYDRA from its conception. HYDRA is still out there in some fashion, and Phil Coulson is tasked with rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Official Couple: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts from the end of Iron Man 2 onward. They are also the Official Couple in The Avengers.
- Thor and Jane Foster become one at the end of Thor: The Dark World, when Thor decides to stay on Earth with Jane rather than return to Asgard.
- One Steve Limit: Averted, unsurprisingly, as this franchise has Loads and Loads of Characters. Notably, Tony Stark's mother and Nick Fury's right-hand woman are both named Maria.
- Also Howard Stark and Howard the Duck.
- Confusingly, Agents Of SHIELD has two characters named Agent Mack: the first a one-off character who appears in Season 1, the second a new member of Team Coulson introduced in Season 2.
- On a meta level, the franchise features Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pratt. The first two appear in the Avengers movies together. As of Guardians of the Galaxy, 6 out of 10 Marvel films have starred blonde white guys named Chris. Presumably someone at Disney is starting a collection.
- Phlebotinum du Jour: The MCU tends to draw from a few specific categories:
- Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Captain America and the Super Serum which made him who he is has been coveted ever since World War II, and partially reproduced in modern times. However, as its effects are personality-based, Cap is more or less unique. Cap himself, The Hulk, The Red Skull, the Abomination, and the Winter Soldier are all byproducts of this form of phlebotinum. Iron Man 3 introduces an unrelated one, Extremis.
- I Love Nuclear Power: While radiation does come up with other heroes, it's mainly exclusive to the Hulk franchise as its unique shtick.
- Imported Alien Phlebotinum:
- The Infinity Stones manage to qualify as this even in settings that are alien to begin with. Besides the movies where they directly appear, it's also implied that Iron Man's Arc Reactor was reverse-engineered from the Tesseract by Howard Stark.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has ongoing plots related to the alien Kree civilization.
- Asgardian and Chitauri objects have also popped up on Earth occasionally.
- Season One of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. combines multiple Phlebotinum sources in Centipede's formula: alien (possibly Chitauri) tech, gamma radiation, knock-off super soldier serum and Extremis. And then they throw in cybernetics as well to make Deathlok.
- Product Placement:
- All three Iron Man films contain plugs for Audi cars. The first movie also has a very blatant scene where Tony munches on a sandwich from Burger King.
- The first Thor movie has some lingering shots of the local 7-Eleven during the Destroyer's rampage. Darcy also bemoans how the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents confiscated her iPod.
- The Avengers is littered with plugs for Acura, and a Bank of America sign can clearly be seen during the Battle of New York.
- Iron Man 3 has some very blatant plugs for Sun Oracle, Verizon FiOS, and the Chinese electronics brand TCL. The special Chinese cut contains some additional shilling for Yili milk and the Zoomlion corporation.
- Thor: The Dark World, a lot of it taking place in London, features real products from the United Kingdom such as Shreddies, and a child throws a discarded Vimto can into a portal.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Cap riding a new Harley-Davidson and Black Widow driving a 2014 C7 Corvette. Both vehicles received some pretty heavy Winter Soldier-themed promotion in the lead-up to the film's release.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had some product placement for Lexus.
- Race Lift: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, who was originally white in the comics. However, this is largely based on Fury's Ultimate Marvel incarnation, who was based on Jackson in the first place.
- In Thor, the Norse God Heimdall is played by Idris Elba, an Afro-British actor.
- Hogun in the Thor comics seems to be Mongolian (with possibly some white ancestry thrown in), and is played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano in the films.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (who is a blonde white guy in the comics) is played by bald Latino actor Maximiliano Hernández.
- Daisy Johnson/Quake is Anglo in the comics, but is half-Chinese in Agents Of SHIELD.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- S.H.I.E.L.D., especially its director Nick Fury. Or not so much, given Winter Soldier's reveal, though Fury still qualifies.
- At the galactic level, the Nova Corps. When they get a message that a madman with a superweapon is on his way and an Army of Thieves and Whores intends to help stop him, they're willing to listen.
- Running Gag:
Tropes S -Y