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 and Universal from 2008-2011, followed by Disney from 2012 on, with Sony co-producing some of their films starting in 2017. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, the setting has grown to include numerous film adaptations of most 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:

Marvel One-Shot Shorts:

    TV Shows 
Television shows taking place in this setting:

    Comic book tie-ins 
Comic books taking place in this setting:note 
  • 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.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Fury Files - A two-part comic which details Nick Fury's first meeting with Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
  • Nick Fury: Spies Like Us
  • 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, and the growing friction between him and the military.
    • Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - 3 digital comics involving Fury, Coulson, and Black Widow dealing with Iron Man, including how Black Widow established her "Natalie Rushman" cover.
    • Captain America: First Vengeance - An Interquel for The First Avenger, detailing backstories 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, leading up to The Avengers.
  • The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes: While tracking down Ten Rings operations, Natasha faces a woman who wants the title of "Black Widow" for herself.
  • The Avengers Initiative: A thief tries to steal Nick Fury's assessment of its of prospective Avenger Initiative members.
    • Captain America and Thor: Avengers Cap and the Howling Commandos raid a HYDRA base only to find a monster inside; Thor and Loki try to rescue Fandral the Dashing from the Dark Elves.note 
  • Iron Man 3 Prelude - mini-series showing War Machine fighting the Ten Rings organization during the Chitauri invasion of New York.
  • Iron Man: Coming of the Melter - one-shot Iron Man 3 prequel, featuring Iron Man and War Machine facing classic Silver Age villain "the Melter". (Not collected)
  • 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: Captain America, Black Widow, and Brock Rumlow try to stop a terrorist cell.
  • Captain America: Homecoming: A prequel focusing on Captain America and Black Widow protecting a scientist from mercenaries between the events of The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude - short stories focusing on: Nebula's childhood and relationships with Thanos, Gamora, and Korath; Rocket Raccoon and Groot pulling a heist; How the Collector hired 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 Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, focusing on Avengers hunting down HYDRA.
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron Prelude - This Scepter'd Isle: Prequel set before the Captain America: The Winter Soldier Stinger, focusing on Loki's scepter and how Wanda and Pietro Maximoff gained superpowers.

Virtually every Marvel property is being considered for this franchise in some capacity, with more scripts being written than could ever be used. Samuel L. Jackson (who plays Nick Fury) signed an unprecedented nine-movie deal with Marvel Studios - and is looking to sign up for plenty more - 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.

You can vote for your favorite film here.

Tropes present across the cinematic universe:

    Tropes A - B 
  • Action Girl: Gets to the point where it's more difficult to find the female characters who aren't this. A full list of examples can be found below.
  • Actionized Sequel: The Avengers was designed to be one as the finale to Phase I from the beginning.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Takes elements from both the classic 616 universe and the Ultimate one. For example, The Avengers are formed by S.H.I.E.L.D. like the Ultimate version, to battle Loki like the 616 version.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Iron Patriot for Iron Man 3, who in the comics was Norman Osborn and in the film is Col. Rhodes (the comics have since changed to match the movie).
    • Garthaan Saul in Guardians of the Galaxy, who is a Nova Corps officer in the film and a supervillain in the comics.
    • "The Doctor", known in the comics as Mister Hyde, is still a villain in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; but one driven by love for his family and has the sense to feel ashamed of some of the darker actions he takes when he loses control.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A good few cases from Phase 2:
    • Aldrich Killian was a humble scientist in the comics who killed himself out of guilt over selling Extremist to terrorists. Here, he's the one behind the terrorists using Extremis, and he's stolen the Mandarin's mantle for his own purposes.
    • Kurse was a manipulated Anti-Villain who eventually repented and became the guardian of Asgardian children in the comics. In the films, he's Malekith's loyal dragon, is responsible for leading the attack that lead to Frigga's death and Odin's Despair Event Horizon and is willing to end all life in the universe.
    • Also from Thor: The Dark World: Among The Marauders, there is a Giant Mook called Berserker, a specific unit composed of unknown members of a large, rock-like alien species. It looks much like Korg, a heroic gladiator in the comics who was Thor's first foe then later an ally of the Hulk.
    • Thanks to the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been corrupted, many characters who were heroes are now members of HYDRA. This includes Alexander Pierce (who was one of Fury's comrades in the comics), Jasper Sitwell (a loyal and optimistic S.H.I.E.L.D. agent), John Garrett (a colleague of Widow's), and the entirety of STRIKE (essentially the British S.H.I.E.L.D. division).
    • In the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, Yondu is a member of the year-3000 team and a straight hero. In the movie, he's an Anti-Hero at best; a Jerk Ass who has to be talked into heroic actions with promises of monetary reward.
  • Adapted Out: Mixed with Pragmatic Adaptation, but thanks to the order the films were made, certain characters had to be left out. Notably, Ant-Man and The Wasp were omitted as founding members of the Avengers. Hardcore fans were upset. Most either didn't care, didn't know, or thought the film was better off for it.
    • The announcement of an Ant-Man movie has fixed this, though not without controversy, since Ant Man is an incredible base breaker while Wasp, who is almost always a fan favorite, was announced as not only not being in the film, but that she would be dead and Hank Pym would be an old man training the new Ant-Man.
  • Age Lift: A number of characters have had their ages changed from the comics, usually for pragmatic reasons.
    • Steve Rogers' year of birth in the comics is usually circa 1922, Depending on the Writer, making him about 20 years old at the start of WWII and 23 by the time he's frozen. The movies push it back to 1918, so that he's about 24 at the start of the film and 26 or 27 by the end.
    • Bucky Barnes, a Robin-style Kid Hero in the comics, is depicted as a twenty-something soldier in Captain America: The First Avenger. The Smithsonian exhibit in Captain America: The Winter Soldier lists his birth year as 1916 or 1917 in different places, while a deleted scene from The Avengers has it as 1922 in his SSR file. So either he's a year or two older than Steve or (like their comic book counterparts) four years younger, but in both cases, he's depicted as an adult rather than a Kid Sidekick.
    • Alexander Pierce, who was in his 30's-40's at the oldest in the comics, is played by 76-year old Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • Hank Pym is a contemporary of characters like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in the comics, but will be played by 70-year old Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movie.
    • Donnie Gill is an adult criminal in the comics, but is played by 17-year old Dylan Minnette in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He's also explicitly stated to be no older than 18 in the actual series.
    • While not as noticeable due to being Older Than He Looks, Hawkeye is played by 43-year-old Jeremy Renner, while in the comics, he's generally depicted as being rather young, at least compared to characters like Steve, who he generally looks up to as an older brother or father figure. Given Chris Evans is ten years younger than Renner, it makes this kinda ironic in retrospect.
    • The comics version of Yondu is in his prime, but the Guardians movie portrays him as a grumpy old man.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The movie franchise as a whole plays with this:
    • Averted with Iron Man and Thor, who are celebrities and have ways of attracting every woman within their radius (except for during Thor's original exile to Earth, when he was seen as insane and probably homeless - but still hot).
    • The Hulk generally gets as much hate and fear as his status as a giant rampaging monster would logically warrant. Though the ending of The Avengers shows that some people now see him as a hero.
    • As for Captain America, he struggled to gain respect even after becoming the pinnacle of human perfection. While things changed for him, he now has to struggle as a Fish out of Temporal Water.
  • All There in the Manual: Some details that the movies neglect to explain are addressed in the comics or One-Shots:
    • The Security Measures comic gives a reason why Coulson kept using S.H.I.E.L.D.'s full name in Iron Man 1 instead of the acronym: Fury had apparently always used the full name, so Coulson thought Fury preferred it that way. Fury, for his part, was annoyed to find there was a perfectly good acronym he had been unaware of all this time. (Or course, it would also be in Coulson's character to intentionally try to screw with Stark for some reason, so take your pick.)
    • The Stinger from the end of The Incredible Hulk (which was otherwise Left Hanging) is resolved in The Consultant.
    • Samuel Sterns' fate from The Incredible Hulk is revealed in Fury's Big Week.
    • War Machine's absence during The Avengers is explained in Iron Man 3 Prelude. The book also shows where he got his new armor from, as well as what happened to the bulkier suit he wore in Iron Man 2.
    • How exactly the Asgardians learned that Loki was still alive and working for a mysterious cosmic benefactor is revealed in Thor: The Dark World Prelude.
  • A Mythology Is True: The Thor film series established that the gods of Norse myths were actually Ancient Astronauts, who met the vikings and were worshipped as gods. All Myths Are True at the Marvel comics, such as the Greek gods as well (and Hercules is a regular character), but so far the only mention of other mythologies in the Cinematic Universe came when Skye pitched the idea in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • Alternate Continuity: The movies differ a lot from their comic counterparts and in some cases out right change things, so its best to think of them as a separate story line, or alternate universe, then actual comic-to-movie adaptations. That said; they are close enough to their comics, with plenty of references and cameos only they will get, that comic fans will have plenty to enjoy about them, while regular fans will also be able to enjoy the movies without knowing all the backstory.
  • Anachronic Order: In Phase One, The Incredible Hulk takes place sometime during Iron Man 2 (a news report of Hulk's rampage appears at IM2's end), and during Thor, (the first half of which is occurring concurrently with the second half of Iron Man 2 — the overlap ending when Coulson arrives in New Mexico, and a freak thunderstorm is mentioned in Hulk). The overlap is confirmed in Fury's Big Week, which follows Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye during the events of all three films.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: After nine consecutive films focusing on the Avengers, either as a team or individually, the tenth entry into the Cinematic Universe is Guardians of the Galaxy, a Space Opera about a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits which includes a talking raccoon. Voiced by Bradley Cooper. Guardians of the Galaxy also has the distinction of being the first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to be based on the creations of writers and artists other than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The original comic was created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan.
    • Same goes for the announcement of the Netflix shows, which will focus on street-level superheroes operating out of New York City. This is in especially sharp contrast to the previous MCU show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is light on superheroes and tends to feature a lot of globetrotting.
  • Artifact Title: Increasingly becoming this as TV shows (as well as short films and comic book tie-ins) start to be included within the franchise, thus not making it exclusively Cinematic. On the other hand, film is still the primary medium.
    • In-universe, this becomes a Discussed Trope after the Re Tool midway through Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Team Coulson are left wondering whether they can really call themselves "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." any more, after S.H.I.E.L.D. falls to HYDRA.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Earth is now Crazy-Prepared to defend itself by the time of the Avengers. Unfortunately, this draws unwanted attention.
  • Badass Normal: Despite the MCU being understandably superhero-heavy, this comes up surprisingly often:
    • Iron Man 3 has Tony and Rhodey unable to use their armor for much of the film, allowing them to demonstrate that they both (but especially Rhodey) have this in spades.
    • Nick Fury has no superpowers, but still manages to run rings around anyone and everyone who does. Maria Hill gets this treatment later, too.
    • Black Widow and Hawkeye are not innately super-powered, just very agile and highly capable fighters, though some of the tech they use to enhance their skills might mean they still qualify.
    • Peter Jason Quill is also this in Guardians of the Galaxy, relying on nothing more than a blaster, his guile, and his crack piloting skills. It's revealed at the end of the movie that he's not completely "Terran", which allowed him to hold the Infinity Stone longer than anyone prior, and may give him other innate abilities.
    • The whole premise of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that none of the main characters have superhuman powers, but frequently have to work with those who do. Early trailers for the show even used the tag-line "Not all heroes are 'super'". Though Skye eventually gains superpowers.
    • Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos qualify in Captain America: The First Avenger; being able to keep up with Cap and the Red Skull. In other works they're still just as badass, but disqualified from this trope on the technicality that there aren't any non-normals around to compare to.
  • Bad Present: As always, Captain America uses shades of this.
    Captain America: When I went under, the world was at war. When I woke, they said we won. They didn't say what we lost.
    • It becomes more nuanced in Winter Soldier when he admits that the food is better in the present, and that medical advances and the internet have made things much better.
  • Big Applesauce:
    • Deliberately averted (which is notable, considering how much the mainstream Marvel Universe uses it). Though Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner apparently live in New York City (and even then, films with the Hulk open with Bruce having gone into hiding abroad), their solo movies take place all over the world, with The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and the The Avengers being the only movies in the canon to feature big action scenes in the city. By contrast, Tony Stark's main residence is in Los Angeles (where he lived for a few years in the comics of the Eighties) and his adventures have taken him to Afghanistan in the first film, Monaco in the second, and Tennessee and Miami in the third; the portions of Thor set on Earth take place entirely in New Mexico in the first movie and London in the second; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. globetrots everywhere and recurring locations are labelled "Classified"; Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes place in Washington D.C.; Guardians of the Galaxy isn't even on Earth to begin with; and Ant-Man takes place in San Francisco.
    • Played straight by the Netflix series and Agent Carter because they're about smaller scale street level heroes that happen to be in New York.
  • Big Bad: Being part of a superhero franchise, most of the films have a main antagonist for the hero to fight.
    • Obadiah Stane aka The Iron Monger for Iron Man.
    • Emil Blonsky aka The Abomination stole this role from Thunderbolt Ross in The Incredible Hulk.
    • Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2.
    • Johann Schmidt aka The Red Skull for Captain America: The First Avenger.
    • Loki for Thor—he becomes The Heavy in The Avengers.
    • The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Turns out the Mandarin we see in the trailers is the Mouth of Sauron for the true villain: Aldrich Killian.
    • Malekith the Accursed in Thor: The Dark World.
    • Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
      • Season 1: The Clairvoyant aka John Garrett.
      • The first half of Season 2 has Daniel Whitehall. A man only known as "the Doctor" is set up as a second one, especially when he allies himself with Whitehall and seems to form a Big Bad Duumvirate; but he proves to be more of an Anti-Villain who in reality loathes Whitehall and has no quarrel with S.H.I.E.L.D. (maybe with Coulson personally over his Parental Substitute relationship with Skye, but not S.H.I.E.L.D.).
    • Two Leviathan agents make a Big Bad Duumvirate in Agent Carter: a "Black Widow" operative and Doctor Fennhoff aka Doctor Faustus.
    • Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Bigger Bad:
    • Thanos in the first and third Avengers movies and Guardians of the Galaxy, and by extension the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • The Ten Rings in the Iron Man films, who are present in 1 and 3 and Word of God says they played a small part in 2's events. And according to All Hail The King, the Ten Rings from 3 are impostors and the real organization, including their leader the Mandarin, is still out there.
    • HYDRA the organization, independent of any leader. "Cut off one head, two more will take its place." They're primarily in the Captain America films and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but have had an effect on Iron Man as well since they're the ones who killed Tony's parents.
  • Big Good: Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. At least until Winter Soldier reduces it to just Nick Fury. Both Tony Stark and the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. are attempting to fill the void left by the original S.H.I.E.L.D.'s dismantling, but the new S.H.I.E.L.D. is a shadow of its former self and we already know that Tony's headed for failure with Ultron.
    • The Nova Corps serves this role in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Bittersweet Ending: So far, six movies and the TV series have this...
    • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce defeats the Abomination and saves both Betty and General Ross. But in the process, he becomes a fugitive living somewhere in British Columbia, away from his loved one. And Dr. Sterns is on his way to become Leader soon.
    • Thor: Thor stops his adopted brother Loki from destroying Jotunheim and makes amends with his father, but Loki falls off the bridge, and with the Bifröst gone, he remains separated from Jane until she can find a way to be reunited with him. Also, Loki is alive and well, about to grab ahold of the Cosmic Cube and become one of the major antagonists in The Avengers.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve stops the Red Skull from obliterating the U.S. using the Cosmic Cube's power but he goes missing for 70 years. When he wakes up, he finds himself in modern times, with Peggy and everyone else presumably long gone or at least very old. His first reaction upon realizing that? "I had a date."
    • The Avengers has a more mild version of this: The day is saved and the world is celebrating the victory, but the fact remains that many people died during the fight in Manhattan, and the team is at least temporarily disbanding, partially so that they and S.H.I.E.L.D. won't have to deal with all of the political and legal questions surrounding the incident. All of this is small potatoes, though, to the big thing that makes this bittersweet, although they don't know it yet: Thanos has become interested in Earth.
    • Thor: The Dark World: Thor stops Malekith from destroying the universe and the Dark Elves are eliminated once and for all, and Thor chooses to return to Midgard and be with Jane for good rather than taking his father's throne in Asgard. But, Frigga died at Malekith's hands and, unbeknownst to Thor, Loki has once again usurped Asgard's throne after faking his Heroic Sacrifice, with Odin's fate unknown.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Project Insight is stopped, but S.H.I.E.L.D. is dissolved due to HYDRA's internal corruption of the organisation coming to light; Nick Fury continues to fake his death following every S.H.I.E.L.D. secret being leaked onto the internet, and goes underground to combat HYDRA. Black Widow's past is out in the open, but she faces no charges for her past crimes and goes away to form a new identity. The Winter Soldier saves Captain America from drowning, but remains amnesiac and begins looking to find out the answers to his former life as Bucky Barnes, with Cap and Falcon setting out to track him down.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season One: All sixnote  protagonists survive the final face-off with Garrett, who is thoroughly killed, while Ward is captured and sent off to the punishment he wholly deserves. Ace Peterson is freed from his kidnappers, in turn freeing his father Mike from HYDRA's control, along with the other super-soldiers, press-ganged support workers and their kidnapped families. Fury appoints Coulson as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., giving him and his team a new base of operations from which to rebuild the organisation from the ground up, this time without HYDRA's malign influence. However, Mike can't face his son after the terrible things he had to do under Garrett's control, and instead lets the boy leave with his sister while he becomes The Atoner; Raina and Quinn are still at large with the Gravitonium, and furthermore seem to be setting out to unleash whatever hidden "darkness" Skye has inherited from her monstrous parents; Fitz is in a coma and may have suffered permanent brain damage after pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to save Simmons; and Coulson himself is beginning to display the same mysterious visions and obsessive behaviours that Garrett did after the T.A.H.I.T.I. serum sent him off the deep end.
  • Breakout Character: So far, there've been two:
  • Breakout Villain:
    • Loki, having played a major part in three movies when most other villains don't even survive their films. Hiddleston even made an appearance as him in-character during Marvel's Comic-Con panel in 2013, which proves plenty of humans would gladly let him take over the planet. This led to him getting his own solo comic series, and upgraded to a much larger presence in the overall Marvel universe.
    • Ward becomes this in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Word of God hints that the original plan was to kill him off in the Season 1 finale, but because he was more popular as a villain than he was as a hero, and because the writers were having so much fun with his character, he was given a reprieve.

    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. Black Panther and Spider-Man are also slated to make cameos before they get their own movies.
    • 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. and Agent Carter). 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: Zig-zagged depending on the character; some have their codenames in widespread use, others only get a few token nods. Some characters, mainly in the Thor and Guardians movies, technically don't even have codenames.
    • Parodied with Star-Lord, who insists on a codename even as everyone around him constantly lampshades how silly he sounds.
  • 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 S.H.I.E.L.D. 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 Daredevil TV show ignores the events of the Fox Daredevil movie. Sony also appears to be abandoning The Amazing Spider-Man Series so that the MCU's Spider-Man will have no connection to it.
  • 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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two films weren't quite made to share a universe in the same way that the other entries have been once they proved successful, so a few things stand out, most notably SHIELD being treated as a brand new organization in Iron Man. Though the others were mostly subjected to various patch jobs, like a One Shot showing that Tony Stark was sent to General Ross to fail to get his approval for the Abomination at the end of The Incredible Hulk.
  • 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 was doing the same with Spider-Man through The Amazing Spider-Man Series until they struck a deal to join the MCU itself, and DC is looking to turn Man of Steel into the first film in the DC Cinematic Universe. Outside of the realm of superheroes, Universal is rebooting Universal Horror into a series of action-adventure films starting with Dracula Untold and continuing with a re-imagining of The Mummy.
  • 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: Sony made several attempts to tie The Amazing Spider-Man film series (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 offered to allow the character (or at least Peter Parker) to appear in Captain America: Civil War. Ultimately averted, as Spidey in the MCU will have no connection to the Amazing continuity.
  • 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?
    Nick Fury: A promise.
  • 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.
    • Major examples include Maria Stark and Maria Hill (though the former has never appeared onscreen), Howard Stark and Howard the Duck, and Peter Quill and Peter Parker.
    • Confusingly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 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 S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • 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:
    • As with all Marvel productions, Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee being featured in most of the films in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Creator Cameo. And Tony Stark never gets his name right.
    • It's not a good idea for Asgardians like Thor and Loki to boast how powerful they are. They're not even going to finish the sentence. In the commentary on The Avengers, Joss Whedon commented on how he found Norse guys getting knocked out of the frame hilarious.
    • Thor has had his own electric powers used on him twice: Darcy takes him down with a Tazer in Thor, and his lightning attack on Iron Man in The Avengers merely supercharges Stark's suit.
    • Women noticing how incredibly hot Thor is. Or Captain America, at least in the first movie.
    • "Tahiti. It's a magical place." Later subverted.
      Sitwell: "How was Tahiti?"
      Coulson: "It sucked."
    • In the Phase 2 films, a motif is emerging of running gags that eventually turn out to have a dramatic reveal.
      • Black Widow constantly bringing up eligible single women that Steve Rogers could date. One of them turns out to be Sharon Carter, Peggy Carter's niece.
      • Groot saying nothing but "I am Groot" over and over, until his Heroic Sacrifice, when he tells his friends "We are Groot."
      • Peter Quill insisting people call him "Star-Lord", which turns out to be a pet name his deceased mother gave him.
    • Noodle incidents occurring in Budapest. Black Widow and Hawkeye had an assignment there that they remember very differently, Isabelle and her team where there on merc duty once, and Jarvis met his wife there during the war.

    Tropes S -Y 
  • Science Fantasy: Given that it's a full-on superhero universe, this was a given.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Generally trending strongly to the idealistic side.
    • A major part of the conflict in the Avengers' team stems from Steve Rogers' "outdated and irrelevant" idealism clashing head on with Tony Stark's hedonistic and materialistic cynicism. Ironic, considering how Steve and Howard (Tony's father) got-along quite well in World War II. (At one point in The Avengers, Steve says that Tony "isn't the man his father was" to Tony's face. It doesn't go over well.)
    • Lampshaded in the first-season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when Nick Fury appoints Phil Coulson as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. because of his unwavering idealism.
  • Secret Identity:
    • Black Widow and, to a certain extent, Bruce Banner are the only heroes who have them. Widow abandons hers in Winter Soldier.
    • Tony Stark had one for a few hours.
    • Played with in regards to Thor, whose friends make an attempt at disguising him as a Dr. Donald Blake in order to fool S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. It doesn't work.
    • Steve may have had one as regards the general public - it's never made clear if he was ever known as 'Steve Rogers' during his USO days unless you worked with him. It's absolutely gone in the modern day, though; he even visits a Smithsonian exhibit about himself.
  • Smug Snake: Loki straddles the line between this and Magnificent Bastard. While he's far from incompetent, he is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and ultimately, his arrogance is what leads to his downfall
  • Spy Catsuit: A number of female S.H.I.E.L.D. agents wear them when out on combat ops: Black Widow, Maria Hill, Melinda May, Mockingbird; even Skye gets one in Season 2 of Agents. Hawkeye seems to have a variation of one as well. All of the bridge crew of the helicarrier also wear them, though most other agents don't.
  • State Sec: S.H.I.E.L.D. With it's secret agents, myriad military forces, and various research labs.
  • The Stinger: Most of the movies have had one, so far. The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: The First Avenger are exceptions: The one originally planned for the Hulk (the Tony Stark scene) was edited into the film proper instead, and Captain America's stinger was more like a teaser trailer for the Avengers movie. The Avengers and most Phase Two movies have two stingers; one mid-credits and one afterward.
  • Superhero: *ahem*
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: Stane, Vanko, Killian and his Dragons, Malekith, Kurse, Pierce and Ronan are all dead by the end of their movies, while the Red Skull is a textbook case of Never Found the Body. Averted by Loki who survives all his three appearances so far, Blonsky who is spared from being choked to death by Betty's intervention, Zola who is merely captured by the SSR (but maybe-possibly died years later in Winter Soldier; Brain Uploading is funny that way) and the Winter Soldier and Nebula who manage to get away. Played with by Trevor Slattery, the fake Mandarin, who survived Iron Man 3 but is marked for death by an unseen real Mandarin as of the All Hail the King One-Shot.
    • Generally averted in the TV shows, as big deaths only happen at the end of an arc. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., only Big Bads John Garrett and Daniel Whitehall have been killed. The various Dragons and lesser recurring villains (Ward, Raina, Quinn, Agent 33, and Calvin Zabo) have made it out alive and tend to continue to cause problems for S.H.I.E.L.D. In Agent Carter, Fenhoff is captured, but his meeting with Zola implies he still has a part to play, and Black Widow gets away.
  • Superhero Packing Heat:
    • Captain America. But while Steve knows how to fire a gun and won't hesitate to use on if there's any need to, he still prefers not to as much as possible, preferring to use his shield over his M1911A1.
    • The Falcon plays this straight. With two of them, even!
    • Star-Lord and especially Rocket Raccoon frequently use firearms.
  • Super Soldier: About half of the superhuman origins in this 'verse have their roots in trying to either bioengineer better soldiers or just give them better equipment; most obviously Captain America but also Iron Monger, Hulk, Abomination, the Hammer drones, Red Skull, Extremis soldiers, the "Centipede"/Deathlok project, the Falcon, and the Winter Soldier.
    • The Kursed are these for the Dark Elves. Being super soldiers among a race of super beings, this makes them ridiculously powerful.
  • Super Weight:
    • Type -1: Steve Rogers pre-treatment, Arnim Zola, Trevor Slattery, Fitz post-brain damage.
    • Type 0: Thunderbolt Ross, Howard Stark, Tony Stark, Obadiah Stane, Pepper Potts without Extremis, Jane Foster, Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis, Fitz-Simmons, Skye pre-Terrigenesis, Eric and Billy and Sam Koenig, Rocket Racoon.
    • Type 1: James Rhodes (sans armor), Agent Coulson, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor (as a human), Nick Fury, Maria Hill, the Howling Commandos, SSR soldiers, Emil Blonsky (pre serum), Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, Peggy Carter, Chester Phillips, Heinz Kruger, Grant Ward, Melinda May, Antoine Triplett, Batroc the leaper, Crossbones, Star-Lord.
    • Type 2: Captain America, Red Skull, Emil Blonsky (after serum), anyone armed with HYDRA weaponry, Whiplash (first suit), Chitauri soldiers, Simmons (while infected with the Chitauri virus), Ward and May when handling the Berserker staff, Falcon (with wings), The Winter Soldier, Mike Peterson pre-Deathlok, Gamora, Nebula.
    • Type 3: Iron Man, War Machine, Iron Monger, Whiplash (second suit), Hammeroids, Most Asgardians, Loki (during Thor), Frost Giants, Extremis soldiers, Pepper Potts with Extremis, Aldrich Killian, Malekith without the Aether, both Deathloks: John Garrett and Mike Peterson, Drax the Destroyer, Korath the Pursuer.
    • Type 4: The Hulk, the Abomination, Thor, Odin, Loki (during The Avengers), the Destroyer, Heimdall, The Leviathans, Kurse, Groot, Ronan the Accuser.
    • Type 5: The Bifrost, Ronan empowered by the Orb, Thanos.
    • Type 6: The Tesseract, the Aether, the Orb, and presumably the other 3 Infinity Stones, The Celestials.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Largely averted. While the various heroes portrayed to date have different rules of engagement, none of them follow the classic super hero idea of never ever using deadly force, nor are they portrayed as being unheroic for doing so.
    • Iron Man is perfectly willing to incinerate terrorists with flamethrowers, blow them away with rockets, put smart bullets between their eyes, pulp them with repulsors, or even just his armored hands. He makes the best weapons on Earth, and you'd better remember that.
    • Thor is quite willing to kill Frost Giants, Chitauri, and Dark Elves, but has not, to date, used lethal force against any humans, managing to take down a whole S.H.I.E.L.D. security team without seriously harming any of them. It's worth noting, though, that all the aliens were armed while he had superpowers, and the humans he fought were unarmed while he was depowered.
    • Captain America blows up, shield strikes and shoots up Nazis real good. He'll drop that to save a buddy.
    • Oddly enough, the Hulk so far is the only hero who restrained himself from using lethal force against a clearly evil opponent - he spared Blonsky at Betty's plea.
    • The Black Widow and Hawkeye are referred to as "master assassins", and Natasha admits that there is a lot of "red in my ledger". Occasionally they've been spotted shooting guards, electrocuting them, or hanging them with wires.
    • While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't explicitly have a no-kill rule, Coulson's team regularly uses "Night-Night"/"ICEr" tranquilizer guns that keep casualties to a minimum. They do still use regular lethal guns fairly frequently, though; as does the cast of Agent Carter.
    • Being criminals, and including an assassin and a rampaging psychopath in their team (Drax), the Guardians of the Galaxy have little reservations about killing- but Peter at least chooses to knock out guards in some places.
  • Technology Marches On: In-universe with the Iron Man suit. In the first film, Stark isn't the most graceful flyer, and assumes an awkward looking pose before liftoff to maximize thrust. In Iron Man 2, when Rhodey "steals" the Mark 2 suit, he assumes the same awkward stance and his flight is noticeably less agile than Stark's Mark 5 and later Mark 6 suit. In The Avengers, Stark is incredible agile, fast, and confident while flying, even to the point of making his malfunctions look good. The weapons also progress similarly: he introduces the wrist-mounted laser in the Mark 6 suit, but it can only be used once before burning out, while the Mark 7 suit has reusable and functionally more powerful lasers (that also draw more power). By the time Iron Man 3 rolls around, Tony had over forty different Iron Man suits, each with specific purposes and unique capabilities. His most recent is one that he can pilot with just a head-piece interface, while doing other things — like working out. He also appears to have upgraded J.A.R.V.I.S. to the point that the AI can pilot multiple suits without Tony's help, though they are not as effective as when Tony is in direct control.
  • Truer To The Text: Captain America: The First Avenger is significantly more faithful to the source material than Captain America (1990) was, to say nothing of the 1979 films starring Reb Brown.
  • Unexpected Character: The series is quite fond of these.
    • Both the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man to the series overall. Did anyone ever expect the flippin' Guardians of the Galaxy (who mostly consist of C-listers and below, none of whom have ever been able to hold down a solo series, and have only existed as a team for about five years), or even Ant-Man for that matter, to get a multi-million dollar movie?
    • There are also some unexpected characters that show up in each more. Nick Fury in Iron Man, Thanos in The Avengers, Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • The same could also be said of the Jessica Jones Netflix series. Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are all fan favorites with decades of history, while Jones is a comparatively recent character.
    • Kevin Feige has this to say:
      Feige: I don't believe in the tiers. I don't believe in A-tier, B-tier, C-tier. It's up to us to make them all A. Because in the comics they are. You have characters that have been around 45-50 years that's an A character. That's an A-frachise and it's our burden to convince the rest of the movie-going public that that's the case.
    • Since the introduction of Skye in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, there were a lot of theories tossed around about which Marvel Comics character she would turn out to be. Daisy Johnson/Quake probably wasn't at the top of most people's lists.
    • Spider-Man was an unexpected addition to the franchise due to the tangled web of legal rights a deal with Sony would necessitate. Nonetheless, Marvel Studios pulled it off.
  • The Unmasqued World: Phase Two seems to have this as a theme, as The Avengers was the big unmasking. Killian mentions that "subtle" is a thing of the past, students eagerly take photos and videos of Thor's fight with Malekith, and Coulson's team regularly deals with supernatural or super-science items that have fallen into the wrong hands. To take it even further, The Winter Soldier ends with Natasha having released every single S.H.I.E.L.D. secret onto the internet. Whatever S.H.I.E.L.D. knew, the whole world knows now.
  • The Verse: The MCU is designated Earth-199999 in the overall Marvel Multiverse.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Tony Stark's computers all use big, gesture-controlled holograms.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: The crux of the films' arc-heavy success. Before the MCU, a superhero series focused on one hero and a rotating pick of their traditional rogues gallery. With criss-crossing arcs, continuity nods, and eventually crossovers, the MCU proved the audience can not only handle juggling a vast superhero mythology spanning Loads and Loads of Characters, but embrace it. The fact that every movie has a thread with the others means each film has a level of urgency to see it in order to avoid Continuity Lockout, so even a movie with an obscure comic tie featuring a talking tree and raccoon can outgross a Superman movie (it helps when the movie is widely praised too).
  • Wham Episode:
    • "T.A.H.I.T.I.", the episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that revealed how Phil Coulson was resurrected: with Kree blood.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to HYDRA's corruption of the organisation being made public knowledge, Nick Fury faking his death and going underground in Europe, and the reveal that HYDRA recovered Loki's staff and have begun studying it's power.
      • The subsequent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode that tied into the movie, "Turn, Turn, Turn", applied the movie's big plot twist onto Phil Coulson and his team. Phil's old friend is the Clairvoyant, and Grant Ward is The Mole that works for him.
    • Guardians Of The Galaxy explains the importance of the Infinity Stones, and properly introduces Thanos after his brief appearance in the credits of The Avengers.
    • The final few episodes of the first half of Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Inhumans.
    • Thor: Ragnarok is promised to be a Wham Episode as well.
    • A meta example would be the announcement of Spider-Man officially joining the MCU, which is something that nobody thought would happen while Sony had the character rights. That two major film companies decided to share is quite frankly remarkable.
  • Wham Line: Believe it or not, the biggest ones are delivered in The Stinger:
    • The first one was all the way back in Iron Man. Whilst there had been talk of Marvel wanting to make an Avengers movie at some point, this was the moment that it became a reality.
      Nick Fury: I'm here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.
    • The Avengers has the second big Wham Line of the MCU; not so much for what's being said as who it's said to:
      The Other: To challenge them is to court death... [cue the guy who does this literally]
    • And then Thor: The Dark World reveals the Myth Arc:
      Volstagg: The Tesseract is already on Asgard. It would be unwise to put two Infinity Stones so close together.
      The Collector: One down... five to go...
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Averted. Everyone with gadgets has a good explanation for where they got them. More often than not, these weapons are built by a member of the Stark family or designed by S.H.I.E.L.D.
    Agent Sitwell: Is this one of Stark's?
    Agent Coulson: I don't know. That guy never tells me anything.
  • World of Action Girls: See Action Girl above.
  • World of Badass: The Avengers. Thor warns Nick Fury that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s research on the Tesseract to create a new generation of superweapons is letting extra-dimensional and extra-terrestrial beings know Earth is ready for a higher level of warfare, but Fury points out they felt they had to do it, because Earth is on the precipice of discovering at large they are not alone in the cosmos, and aside from anomalies such as the titular heroes, the rest of the human race is fairly freaked out at learning that, "Not only are we not alone, but we are hopelessly, hilariously, outgunned."
  • World of Ham: From a billionaire superhero who built his suit in a cave with a box of scraps to some major Ham-to-Ham Combat between Norse gods, there's plenty of ham to offer.
  • World of Snark: Practically everyone, but especially Tony who snarks enough to make up for the characters that don't. While not very snarky in Thor, Loki spends much of The Avengers playing catch-up, and takes it Up to Eleven in The Dark World.
    • It's practically a job requirement to become a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. Just for fun, try to find a part in any film where S.H.I.E.L.D. don't take a moment to snark in the face of someone?
    • The final battle against the Clairvoyant in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season deserves note. 90% of it is Coulson and Fury snarking to each other while the Big Bad gives his speech.
      Fury: "You didn't tell me he'd gone this crazy."
      Coulson: "He's really stepped it up a notch."
  • Writing Around Trademarks: As mentioned above, the S.H.I.E.L.D. writers developed the term "Gifted" to compensate for not being allowed to use the term "mutant" thanks to the X-Men movies. The Stinger to The Winter Soldier appears to use "Miracle" this way instead.
    • Similarly, the telepaths and telepathy are never mentioned in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the term Clairvoyant employed instead. And even then, it turns out the the Clairvoyant isn't even a telepath anyway.
  • You Look Familiar: All the characters played by Stan Lee (assuming they're not the same guy.)

Alternative Title(s):

Phil Coulson