Franchise / Marvel Cinematic Universe

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"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 or MCUnote  is a combined setting produced by Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Studios. It was distributed by Paramount and Universal from 2008-2011, followed by Disney from 2012 on, with Sony co-producing some of their films from 2016 onward. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, the setting has grown to include numerous film adaptations of Marvel's many comic book properties, with a main focus on The Avengers and their various members.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.

Virtually every Marvel property is being considered in some capacity, with more scripts being written than could ever be used. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, claimed in 2014 that they have MCU films planned out until 2028.note 

It has become the highest-grossing franchise in cinematic history (a record that is unlikely to ever be disputed), and its wild success has caused a ripple effect, with nearly every studio looking to build similar interconnected universes, or at least better develop the intellectual properties that they already have.

You can vote for your favorite film here.
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    Films 
Released films taking place in this setting (US release dates - please note that some movies were released elsewhere before this):

Films officially in development:

  • Phase Four
    • Untitled Spider-Man sequel #1 (July 5, 2019) note 
    • TBA (May 1, 2020)
    • TBA (July 10, 2020)
    • TBA (November 6, 2020)

  • Planned Installments:
    • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (2020) note 
    • Untitled Spider-Man sequel #2 (TBA) note 
    • Untitled Doctor Strange sequel (TBA) note 

    TV Shows 
ABC series:
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (September 2013 — presentnote )
  • Agent Carter (January 2015 — March 2016)
  • Inhumans (September 2017 note )
  • Untitled John Ridley-helmed project (TBA)

Netflix series:

Freeform series:

Hulu series:
  • Runaways (November 21, 2017; in development)

    One-Shot Shorts 

    Comic book tie-ins 
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.
  • 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: Black Widow Strikes - While tracking down Ten Rings operations, Natasha faces a woman who wants the title of "Black Widow" for herself.
  • Iron Man 3 Prelude - War Machine fights the Ten Rings organization during the Chitauri invasion of New York.
  • 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.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude - A set of short stories focusing on: Nebula's childhood and relationships with Thanos, Gamora, and Korath; Rocket Raccoon and Groot pulling a heist; and how the Collector hired Gamora to get the Orb.
  • 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. (Not yet collected)
  • 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.
  • Ant-Man Prelude - During the Cold War, SHIELD wants the Ant-Man suit for a mission behind the Berlin Wall. But Hank Pym doesn't trust anyone else with his tech, so he volunteers for the mission himself.
    • Scott Lang: Small Time - The story of how Scott Lang landed in jail.
  • Jessica Jones - A prequel comic that serves as Jessica's first canonical appearance in the MCU; features Daredevil in a guest-starring role. (Not yet collected)
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude - Flashbacks show how Bucky Barnes and Brock Rumlow dealt with the fallout of the events of Winter Soldier.note 
  • Captain America: Road to War - Set between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, as Captain America and Black Widow lead the new team of Avengers (War Machine, Falcon, Vision, and Scarlet Witch) into battle against Ultimo. (Not yet collected)
  • Doctor Strange Prelude - The collection contains two comics by this title: The print comic shows the Masters of the Mystic Arts at their usual business keeping magical artifacts out of the wrong hands, and the digital comic presents Kaecilius' history and how he came to turn against the Ancient One.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Prelude
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude

     Video Game Tie-Ins 
  • Iron Man - An adaptation of the first movie, Tony Stark tracks down the criminal enterprises that are using his weapons for fear and profit.
  • The Incredible Hulk - In this Wide Open Sandbox adaptation of the film, the Hulk attempts to foil the evil plots of the Enclave organization while trying to avoid being captured by the military.
  • Iron Man 2 - Set shortly after the events of Iron Man 2, Iron Man & War Machine team up with SHIELD to stop AIM's attempts at perfecting the Ultimo program.
  • Thor: God of Thunder: Set before the events of Thor, the God of Thunder is manipulated by Loki into unleashing the powerful Mangog.
  • Captain America: Super Soldier: Captain America infiltrates enemy lines and tries to foil HYDRA's plans to recreate the Super Soldier Serum and unearth an ancient weapon.
  • Iron Man 3: An Endless Running Game set after the events of Iron Man 3, Iron Man must deal with the remnants of AIM.
  • Thor: The Dark World: A mobile Hack and Slash adaptation of the movie, Thor must protect the Nine Realms from Malekith and his army of Dark Elves.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A Hack and Slash set during Steve's service under SHIELD, Captain America must defend his country from the villainous Serpent Society.
  • LEGO Marvel's Avengers: A LEGO Adaptation Game that depicts the events from Captain America: The First Avenger to Avengers: Age of Ultron in a tongue-in-cheek way, along with appearances by numerous lesser-known Marvel characters who have yet to appear in the films. And lots of Stan Lee.

     Theme Park Attractions 

     Other Tie-Ins 
  • WHIH World News - A series of various fictional Fox News-Expy news segments reporting (often in the worst possible light) the actions of the various characters in the MCU. One batch of videos was released in the run-up to Ant-Man, and a second was released for Civil War. The ones relating to Ant-Man were included on that movie's Blu-ray.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot - A six-part web series spin-off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., starring Elena Rodriguez (Yo-Yo).
  • "Guardians Inferno" - A disco remix of the Guardians of the Galaxy theme heard on the GotG Vol. 2 end credits and Awesome Mix, Vol. 2, with a music video later included on the movie's home media releases.


Tropes present across the cinematic universe:

Warning! Late Arrival Spoilers through Phase Two may be unmarked!

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    Tropes A - B 
  • Action Girl: There are so many that it's more difficult to find the female characters who aren't action capable. 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 because it brings all the superheroes of Phase 1 together. Naturally, such a team requires a suitable threat to counter.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Most of the elements are taken from the main Marvel Universe from comic books, but it may also include elements from alternate universes from the comics. For example, Nick Fury is similar to the one from Ultimate Marvel, and Tony Stark sports a goatee like in Heroes Reborn.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Various cases; see the trope page.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Very common given that the storylines and versions of characters of the most recent comics have been used as the basis of the overall storyline the movies.
    • The Avengers has both Black Widow and Hawkeye as original members, even though both characters joined later rosters.
    • The adventures of Henry Pym as Ant-Man are relegated to flashbacks. The protagonist of the film is Scott Lang, who becomes the new Ant-Man right off the bat.
    • Ultron is the main villain of the sequel. In comics canon Henry Pym creates Ultron, but in the movie universe Stark creates Ultron before Pym is even introduced.
    • The first team of the Guardians of the Galaxy in comic books is ignored, and the films go directly to the modern one. Vol. 2 does establish that the original team did once exist, but like with Ant-Man their adventures have been relegated to offscreen references.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Iron Patriot for Iron Man 3, who in the comics was Norman Osborn and in the film is Col. Rhodes (the comics briefly changed to match the movie).
    • Hope van Dyne, the villainous Red Queen in the Marvel Comics 2 universe, while estranged and distant from her father Hank is on his side against Darren Cross. She eventually takes up her mother's mantle of The Wasp, as well.
    • Garthan Saal from Guardians of the Galaxy. In the comics he went insane and became the villainous Supernova. In the movie, while he remains a bit of a Jerk Ass, he ultimately stays on the good side and pulls a Heroic Sacrifice during the event which lead to his insanity in the comics.
    • Mordo goes from being one of Doctor Strange's arch-enemies to one of his strongest allies. Subverted as he was always destined for a Face–Heel Turn; he was specifically placed on the side of good at first in order to have more character depth as a Fallen Hero.
    • Davos has the same deal as Mordo, an Iron Fist enemy adapted as his best friend. And, like Mordo, subverted when he becomes an enemy later.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Many powerful relics in the Marvel universe like the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract, the gem on Vision's head, and the Eye of Agamotto all turn out to be Infinity Stones.
  • 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.
    • 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 (in the comics the British S.H.I.E.L.D. division, here more like the spec ops branch of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
    • 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.
    • Yellowjacket is a super-identity used by the villainous Darren Cross here, when it was one of Hank Pym's heroic identities in the comics (albeit the one he was using at the time he infamously punched his wife, which is probably exactly why this happened).
  • Adapted Out:
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp were not included in the first roster of Avengers, despite being founding members of the team in comics. Likewise, Hank had no hand in Ultron's creation.
    • Avengers: Infinity War will be based on the comic book The Infinity Gauntlet. However, James Gunn has already clarified that Adam Warlock, a protagonist of the comic, will not take part in that film.
    • Many characters from Marvel Comics, licenced to other studios, are Exiled from Continuity. As a result, adaptions of storylines that include a character that is off-limits are rewritten to avoid it. For example, Jean Grey does not appear in the conflict between Jessica Jones and Kilgrave, Ultron is made of Vibranium instead of Adamantium (granted some of his bodies in the comics were made of an alloy of the two metals), Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch had a father who is not Magneto, etc.
  • Advertising by Association: It's pretty common for Marvel Studios movies to have the tag line "From the studio that brought you The Avengers".
  • 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 The First Avenger. The Smithsonian exhibit in 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 is played by 70-year old Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movie. Going in the other direction, Scott Lang's daughter Cassie was nine when she was introduced and is 14 in the present comics, but is much younger in the 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.
    • There's Eric Koenig and his "brothers". In the comics, Koenig is a veteran of World War II and would have to at least be in his 80's, while in the show, he and his brothers are played by 46-year-old Patton Oswalt.
    • 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. The same applies to other classic Guardians-turned-veteran Ravagers in Vol. 2.
    • Played with for Peter Parker and Jessica Jones. In the comics, they were in high school together, but Jessica wasn't introduced until they were both several years older. The MCU is staying true to the ages each one was at their respective debuts, meaning Jessica is now several years older than Peter.
    • Aunt May is normally in her 70s, but Marisa Tomei (who is 51, and has aged quite well) plays her.
    • The Owl, who is usually middle-aged in the comics, played by Bob Gunton in Daredevil, who is 70. This has led to a popular theory that the son he mentions a few times will become the MCU Owl.
    • In the comics, both Nick Fury and Black Widow were around during World War II, but are Older Than They Look thanks to the Infinity Formula. The movies indicate they're roughly the same age as their actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, with Winter Soldier explicitly giving Black Widow's birth date as 1984.
  • 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. Some people began to see him as a hero after the events of The Avengers, but his rampage in Age of Ultron seems to have ruined that.
    • 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.
    • This appears to be a running theme going into Phase Three, as public fear and mistrust of superhumans has appeared in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seasons 3 and 4, Ant-Man, Jessica Jones, Civil War, and Luke Cage; though in Cage's case he gets at least as much public support as he does fear.
  • 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. (Of 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.
    • The Doctor Strange tie-in comics feature some major nuances to Kaecilius' backstory that the movie barely hints at.
  • All There in the Stinger: A staple of movies, all of which have stingers, though not all of them are significant plot-wise. The ones that are are as follows:
    • Iron Man has Nick Fury showing up to talk to Tony about the Avengers Initiative.
    • Iron Man 2 has Coulson locating Mjölnir in the New Mexico desert.
    • Thor had Selvig showing interest in the Tesseract, with a little push from Loki.
    • The Avengers: the first stinger gives us our first look at Thanos. (starting here, they tend to have two stingers, one party-way into the credits with a significant occurrence, and another more humorous or throw-away one at the very end.)
    • Thor: The Dark World: The Aether being delivered to the Collector, with it and the Tesseract revealed to be Infinity Stones.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The first one we find out HYDRA has Loki's staff as well as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and the second one shows Bucky starting to piece together who he used to be.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Thanos saying, "Fine, I'll do it myself!" as he takes the Infinity Gauntlet.
    • Ant-Man: The first one shows Hank Pym showing his daughter the upgraded Wasp costume. The second shows Cap, Bucky, and Falcon, discussing the Civil War with Falcon mentioning that he knows a possible ally who could help them (Scott). The second scene was actually used in Civil War.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Bucky is placed back in cryo-freeze and T'Challa stands ready to defend Wakanda from foreign intervention.
    • Doctor Strange: Stephen Strange questions Thor about Loki's activities on Earth before agreeing to help them look for Odin. In the second, Karl Mordo completes his Face–Heel Turn, declaring that the corruption he witnessed resulted from there being too many magic users on the planet and begins to steal magic from those he deems unworthy.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Various examples; see the trope page.
  • Alternate Continuity: The movies differ a lot from their comic counterparts and in some cases outright change things, so it's best to think of them as a separate story line, or alternate universe, than comic-to-movie adaptations. 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 back story.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • The Ice Giants from Thor are not this trope. In fact, part of Thor's character development is learning that they are not evil monsters that he can kill without a care. Their king even tries to talk him out of doing something rash.
    • The Dark Elves from Dark World are all soldiers seeking to destroy all of "light" existence, so they are indeed this trope.
    • The Kree are seen as this in the entire galaxy with most of them being belligerent warmongers and zealots who seek to either destroy or conquer other planets and generally have very poor relations with the rest of the galaxy.
  • 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.
    • The "Phase One" of the Defenders shows were released over the course of a little more than two years, but take place in a span under two. They're also likely to be set some time before their releases; the first season of Daredevil is said to take place two years after The Avengers, when the premiere dates of the two are much closer to three years apart. The lack of links to the wider MCU beyond referencing "the incident" (The Avengers Battle of New York) means that they can take place just about anywhere in or after Phase Two without causing continuity problems.
    • Phase Three starts mixing things up again, with Guardians Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming taking place mere months after prior films (Guardians Vol. 1 and Civil War, respectively) and therefore before other films that were released earlier. Doctor Strange further complicates things, as it takes place over several months and Civil War and Spider-Man occur during that time. Captain Marvel is a full-on Prequel set in the 90s.
  • An Arm and a Leg: A motif in Phase Two - every movie has a character lose an arm or part of one. It's a Running Gag in tribute to The Empire Strikes Back.
    • Iron Man 3: Aldrich has an arm cut off by Tony, but regenerates it thanks to Extremis.
    • Thor: The Dark World: Loki cuts off Thor's hand, but it's actually an illusion. In addition, Malekith's defeat by Portal Cut starts with him losing both his arms.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The Winter Soldier lost his arm before the movie, having it replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Gamora chops off both of Groot's arms in their initial confrontation (they grow back) and during the prison break, Rocket has Star-Lord steal a prisoner's prosthetic leg, later revealing that he only had him do it because he thought it would be funny. Later on, Nebula removes her own robot hand near the climax in order to escape the battle.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Ultron cuts off Klaue's arm after the latter compares him to Tony Stark.
    • Even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets in on the fun in season 2, with two characters getting their hands cut off to save them from Diviner petrification: Izzy in the season premiere and Coulson in the season finale.
  • 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, among others, a talking raccoon, a Gentle Giant tree creature who can only say five words to express himself, and a warrior with zero understanding of metaphors. 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 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.
  • Antagonist Title: Or subtitle, in the cases of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Seems to be common among the MCU's higher-tier cosmic characters, with the Asgardians and Kree especially favoring melee weapons. Aside from Thor's Mjölnir and Ronan's Universal Weapon, cool swords are also quite common, and several characters use knives. Partially justified by the fact that the characters who prefer such weapons are physically vastly superhuman and many are Blood Knights or from Proud Warrior Races. Averted almost almost entirely with the squishier characters.
  • 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. Coulson is quite insistent that they are not "Agents of Nothing".
  • Avengers Assemble: Phase One was basically this trope spread out long-term. Four of the founding Avengers were introduced in solo movies (with Black Widow and Hawkeye guest-starring), and the stories were mostly self-contained but for the common thread of SHIELD. Then The Avengers brought them all together.
  • 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'". Played with when 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.
    • The Avengers Tower as seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron has a statue displayed prominently at the front of the building built in honour of the many examples of this trope during the events of The Avengers.
  • 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: Zigzagged. New York City is the most common setting, but unlike the comics is far from the only place where things happen. The only movies to feature major scenes in NYC are The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man: Homecoming; and even then all those movies (barring Spider-Man) spend most of their time elsewhere. Parts of Iron Man 2 and Age of Ultron are also set in NYC, if not on the stereotypical city streets like the others (they're in Flushing Meadows Park and Avengers Tower, respectively). The first season of Agent Carter and the various Defenders shows play it straight, being mostly confined to New York; though the Netflix shows' Darker and Edgier take makes it the Big Rotten Apple.
  • Big Bad: Being part of a superhero franchise, most of the films have a main antagonist for the hero to fight; the MCU even has its own subpage.
  • Big Good:
    • Nick Fury is the Big Good to both the Avengers (individually and assembled) and S.H.I.E.L.D. If any member of either group absolutely needs his help (even if they don't necessarily want it), he'll be there.
    • The Nova Corps serves this role in Guardians of the Galaxy because they are Space Police.
    • Whoever holds the title of Sorcerer Supreme is this in regards to mystical matters. During Doctor Strange, it's the Ancient One.
  • Big Rotten Apple: The Netflix series, where true to the comics Daredevil and Jessica Jones are set in the Manhattan neighborhood Hell's Kitchen (which ironically has been more and more gentrified since the 90s, to the point Marvel had to film in parts of New York that still resemble the Wretched Hive days).
  • Bittersweet Ending: Common across most of the movies and TV shows; see individual work pages.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The Defenders shows display a great deal more blood than any MCU movie. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has also shifted in this direction after moving to a Safe Harbor timeslot in Season 4.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Agent Phil Coulson was a Canon Foreigner who debuted as a minor character in the first Iron Man film. His role expanded further in Iron Man 2 and Thor, and starred in a couple of the Marvel One-Shots that solidified his reputation as a Badass Normal. This led to a major role in The Avengers culminating in a Heroic Sacrifice. The outcry at his demise was just what the studio was hoping for, leading Phil to come Back from the Dead to be the star of the MCU's first TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
    • Unlike Coulson, Peggy Carter was from the comics, created to be a Temporary Love Interest for Captain America during World War II... but she debuted in The '60s, long after Cap's wartime comics were over, and defrosted Cap got together with her younger relative, Sharon. As a result, she'd rarely been anything more than a Satellite Character to Steve and Sharon in the comics. Since 99% of Captain America: The First Avenger takes place during the war, she had a much bigger role in that film than she ever did in the comics. This led to her starring in one of the Marvel One-Shots set shortly after the war, where she fought not just the bad guys, but the institutionalized sexism of the time. The popularity of that short led to her starring in her own TV show, Agent Carter. She went from being a Satellite Love Interest in the comics to the first female lead in the MCU. It's worth noting that the filmmakers have tried to use Peggy in every single (Earth-bound) Phase Two movie after The First Avenger. Joss Whedon wrote a scene for her in The Avengers, and she has cameos in The Winter Soldier, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. This character has seriously resonated with her audience.
    • While Iron Man was already fairly popular, his movie was the catalyst which rocketed him to Batman/Spider-Man levels of popularity.
    • In the wake of their 2014 movie, the Guardians of the Galaxy are quickly went from a group of B or C-listers to becoming one of Marvel's most popular teams.
    • Cap's popularity exploded after Winter Soldier, to the point that the marketing department moved him (and Chris Evans' name) front and center for Age of Ultron promotional material (though this meant that Evans went from second to fourth in the film's credits). Not bad for someone whose appearance in the first Avengers film official poster is in the background behind Iron Man and Thor.
    • Claire Temple, originally little more than a love interest for Luke Cage in the comics, has essentially become the equivalent of Coulson for the Netflix shows, having become a Composite Character with Night Nurse and appearing in them all as New York's go-to superhero hospital.
  • Breakout Villain:
    • Loki has 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. He was finally killed midway through Season 3, and even then his actor stayed on for a while longer thanks to the corpse being claimed by a body-snatcher. And he came back again for an extended arc in Season 4.
  • Briefer Than They Think: Samuel L. Jackson's role as Nick Fury is one of the more famous roles in the MCU as he has appeared in many of the movies and in a few episodes of Agents of SHIELD. Despite this, he is usually a One-Scene Wonder, appearing in a single scene, some of which, are The Stinger for those films. He likely only has about one hour of screentime spread out throughout Phase 1 and 2.
  • The Bus Came Back: After appearing as a main character in the whole Iron Man trilogy, as well as a cameo in The Avengers, Pepper Pots was absent for Age of Ultron and Civil War. The latter film specified that she and Tony Stark had "taken a break" due to Tony's insistence on continuing developing Iron Man suits. She returned for a cameo toward the end of Spider-Man Homecoming, where she and Tony get engaged.

    Tropes C - F 
  • 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.).
    • 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 The 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 Vulture), is on the chopping block because of it. Ultimately, any connection between the settings was rendered moot once Marvel Studios decided to reboot the franchise in a way that better suited the setting.
  • Canon Foreigner: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson, and most of the human supporting cast in the Thor and Ant-Man franchises. For Thor, this includes Jane's associates Dr. Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis, Richard and Ian. Ant-Man features Paxton, the husband of Scott Lang's ex, as well as Luis, Kurt and Dave, Scott's prison friends who assist him in his heist. All the members of the lead cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season are also original to the cinematic universe. Subverted with Skye, who is eventually revealed to be the comics character Daisy Johnson AKA Quake.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Agent Coulson made his comics debut in the Battle Scars miniseries, which came right before the Avengers movie. The rest of the Season One cast of Agents of SHIELD were added in S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) (Agents May, Fitz and Simmons at launch, Grant Ward after a retitle to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). The exception is Skye, who didn't carry over into the comics since she was already there; she's Daisy Johnson.
    • Thor's Dr. Selvig was added to the comics universe in Avengers Standoff.
    • Sometimes when the movie version of a character is sufficiently different enough from the comics, the comics will bring over the new version with a connection to the original. These include the JARVIS AI (modeled on the human character), Nick Fury (son of the original Fury), Yondu (distant ancestor to the year-3000 Yondu), and Wasp (daughter of Pym and step-daughter of the original Wasp).
  • Celebrity Paradox: The sheer number of actors involved with MCU at some point or another makes it almost impossible to include a pop-culture reference without invoking this trope in relation to someone. Examples can be found on its own subpage.
  • City of Adventure: A massive chunk of the MCU takes place in New York City, and virtually the entire Netflix catalog of shows takes place in one neighborhood: Hell's Kitchen. The sole exception is Luke Cage, which simply goes to a different NYC neighborhood of Harlem.
  • Civvie Spandex: 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 (though both outfits do have comic roots) and the Vulture's design is similarly militaristic, 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. Even when "actual" magic is introduced in multiple places in Phase Three, it's Scientifically Understandable Sorcery involving interdimensional energies.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't 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, Guardians, and Doctor Strange movies, technically don't even have codenames. A full list can be found on its own page.
    • Parodied with Star-Lord, who insists on a codename even as everyone around him constantly lampshades how silly he sounds.
    • The Ant-Man trailers had characters similarly riffing on how "Ant-Man" is hard to take seriously, but these bits don't appear in the movie.
  • Comic-Book Time: Totally averted, the timeline is identical with the theatrical releases of each individual film (other than some Anachronic Order in Phases One and Three, 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 real change and development, in contrast to the 616-verse.
  • Composite Character: Among various examples across the franchise, there's a notable inanimate example: as we learn in The Dark World, the Tesseract is not only the comics' Cosmic Cube, but also one of the Infinity Stones. In Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange, the same treatment is applied to The Vision's Solar Gem and the Eye of Agamotto, which are the Mind and Time Stones, respectively.
  • Continuity Lockout: This has naturally become an increasing possibility as the franchise goes on, though pains are typically taken to keep each character's series largely watchable on their own beyond the odd Continuity Nod. Civil War is the first place where it really comes into play, as Hawkeye and Ant-Man show up midway through with little-to-no introduction and audiences are expected to already know who they are.
  • Continuity 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 The Winter Soldier impacted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. very hard, since the former resulted in S.H.I.E.L.D. 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 involving the release of the Terrigen Mists, and ties into the then-announced Inhumans movie.
    • It's subtly implied that Tony's father created the designs for the original arc reactor based on his studies of the Tesseract, which he had a chance to study once it was captured from HYDRA.
    • Saint Agnes Orphanage in New York, where both Skye and Matt Murdock lived for a time (though likely not the same time).
  • Continuity Porn: The Avengers is naturally this with references made to the past five films that preceded it! Phase Two has shades of this as well with Tony having PTSD-like flashbacks in Iron Man 3 to his Heroic Sacrifice in Avengers, 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 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 MCU generally ignores any and all previous adaptations of the characters it uses.
  • Cool Car:
    • The Red Skull's coupe from The First Avenger. Gaze upon the HYRDAmobile and despair!
    • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson has Lola. Not only is it a red '62 corvette, but it can also fly...just don't touch Lola. Later, in Season 4, we're introduced to the Hellcharger, a '69 Dodge Charger. That's pretty cool on its own, but this one has Hellfire spewing out of it.
  • Corrupt Politician: The United States government seems to be full of them. Vice President Rodriguez allies with A.I.M. to assassinate the president. Secretary of Defense Alexander Pierce is also the leader of HYDRA and plans to assassinate, among thousands of others, the president and the Avengers in order to subjugate the world. Senator Stern of Pennsylvania is also an agent of HYDRA. Senator Christian Ward of Massachusetts is an Abusive Parent. Senator Randolph Cherryh of New York is a member of Wilson Fisk’s crime ring. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross previously attempted to capture Bruce Banner in order to weaponize the Hulk, and has no compunctions about imprisoning a number of the Avengers. Councilwoman Mariah Dillard of Harlem, New York has deals with her cousin Cornell Stokes and his crime ring. Senator Ellen Nadeer of New York has ties to a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group out of a shared hatred of Inhumans.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Each movie has either this, or an Artistic Title sequence.
  • Creator Cameo: As is standard procedure for Marvel productions, Stan Lee always makes a cameo (even in the TV shows, though in both Defenders shows so far it's only a background photo). 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. Walt Simonson, perhaps the best-known writer of the comic, also appears in Thor.
  • Crisis Crossover: The Avengers for the movies; The Defenders for the Netflix series.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Netflix shows take a far grittier and down-to-earth tone than any other entry in the MCU.
    • Daredevil greatly plays up Matt's Anti-Hero traits, emphasizing the Black and Gray Morality of the series. At times it feels more like a Criminal Procedural with a definite Film Noir influence, and the violence is relentlessly brutal and horrific. The creators stated that along with the comics, the biggest influence was The Wire.
    • Jessica Jones goes even darker, with Kilgrave's Compelling Voice power explicitly compared to rape (and sometimes used for literal rape).
    • Luke Cage not only expands on the frustrations of cops dealing with superpowered threats, but season one has the darkest ending of the Netflix shows, with the criminals largely escaping with their crimes and Cage sent off to jail for breaking out of jail, in spite of his innocence in all other crimes being proven.
    • Even if you don't take into account the Netflix shows, the Captain America films are a bit heavier than other films in the MCU, with their sociopolitical commentary and exploration of the effect superheroes can have on a world stage. Winter Soldier and Civil War in particular are seen as thought-provoking by fans and critics.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marvel likes dry humor.
    • Tony Stark, 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.
    • Ultron in Age of Ultron, inherited directly from Tony Stark. Steve Rogers visibly groans when Stark and Ultron trade snark.
    • This seems to be Foggy Nelson's natural state of being. He drops it only when things get really serious. Mostly.
    • Jessica Jones thrives off of this trope.
    Malcolm: You use sarcasm to distance people.
    Jessica: And yet, you're still here.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Nick Fury's many roles in the comics so far has been given to three different characters: Himself (Director of SHIELD, morally grey overseer of superhero activity, Maria Hill's boss), Coulson (also Director of SHIELD, Daisy Johnson's surrogate father figure and the overseer of the Secret Warriors, fights a personal war against HYDRA), and Peggy Carter (leader of the Howling Commandos and drinking buddy of Dum Dum Dugan, secret agent following War who eventually co-founds SHIELD).
    • From the Secret Warriors comic, we have JT Slade's role which seems to have been split into three characters over in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Grant Ward (romantically linked to Daisy Johnson, The Mole who betrays her team, eventually killed by her father figure), Lincoln Campbell (superpowered member of the Secret Warriors, doesn't actually like working as a spy, and as above, romantically linked to Daisy Johnson), and James (has fire-based powers and the character's first name (possibly full name) and codename).
    • With Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four not available on account of rights issues, his and the group's role in the Marvel Universe is divided between multiple characters. Tony Stark by and large takes over Reed's role as the main scientific genius of the MCU. In the comics, before the movies at least, he was a brilliant engineer and inventor but Reed was acknowledged in general as the superior scientist, especially in theoretical physics. In the MCU, Tony is able to become an expert in astrophysics overnight as in The Avengers and where young Peter Parker in the 616 Continuity was a Hero-Worshipper of Reed Richards and wanted to join the first family, here he's one for Stark and wants to join the Avengers.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy likewise takes on the function of the Fantastic Four in the sense that they are a team of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who often fight and bicker while having crazy adventures, and whose stories serve as a gateway to the weirder and more esoteric parts of the Marvel Universe. Their stories have the same aesop of the Fantastic Four, namely the importance of family.
    • Tony Stark's butler Jarvis was split into two; the JARVIS AI assists Tony in the Iron Man movies while Edwin Jarvis is a regular human butler who serves Howard Stark in Agent Carter.
    • According to Iron Man 3 and All Hail the King, there are at least three people calling themselves the Mandarin. The first was a warrior-king whose influence dates back to the Middle Ages. In the present, Aldrich Killian assumes the identity of the Mandarin, and then has actor Trevor Slattery pretend to be the Mandarin and take credit for the Extremis explosions.
    • Hawkeye also has some traits split off into another character, with Lance Hunter in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. getting his relationship with Mockingbird and being even more of a rebellious snarker than the movie Hawkeye is.
    • The Netflix series were originally written to involve Night Nurse as someone who gave medical aid to superheroes, but then the movies called dibs on the character. So the Netflix shows instead used Claire Temple and had her act like Night Nurse, while Doctor Strange included the comics' Night Nurse Christine Palmer as one of Strange's medical associates.
  • Dénouement Episode: Ant-Man is this to Phase 2, respectively. It comes immediately after a flagship Avengers film, but features a lesser-known character in a comparatively smaller-stakes situation.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • This frequently happens to Tony Stark, and it just as frequently comes back to bite him. Things he didn't consider the consequences of include effectively shutting down his company when he saw terrorists with his weapons, his reckless actions when he was dying by palladium poisoning, arranging for the government to handle Chitauri cleanup (with no regard to those already doing the job), dabbling in artificial intelligence, bringing a kid to help fight Captain America, preparing to announce said kid as the newest Avenger and not having a backup plan in case he said "no"...
    • Danny Rand also has an alarming tendency to charge into situations without considering the consequences. The other Defenders even have to take him prisoner at one point before he goes off and does something stupid again.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows the fallout from actions taken in one of the movies: 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. That doesn't even go into the fact that there's more than one faction of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents claiming to be the true successor to the organization while being severely at odds with one another.
  • 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 as "gifted" or "enhanced". A specific type of powered people, who had latent potential for powers that has since been unlocked, are "Inhuman".
  • Disney Death: There's usually been at least one fakeout death per movie.
    • Iron Man: Iron Man.
    • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner.
    • Thor: Thor and later Loki.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: Bucky, as revealed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • The Avengers: Agent Phil Coulson, as revealed in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Iron Man.
    • Iron Man 3: Pepper Potts.
    • Thor: The Dark World: Loki, again.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Nick Fury.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot.
    • Both played with and averted in Age of Ultron, as J.A.R.V.I.S. is reborn as The Vision and Quicksilver is Killed Off for Real.
    • Ant-Man: Downplayed. Hank Pym is shot, but it's soon shown that it's not immediately serious as long as he gets medical attention quickly.
    • Captain America: Civil War: Also downplayed with Rhodey after being accidentally shot down by Vision. He's in a bad way, but F.R.I.D.A.Y. determines he's still alive almost immediately.
    • Doctor Strange: Played with. Wong flat-out dies, but Strange uses time magic to hit the Reset Button on the battle. Other deaths, including the Ancient One's, stick.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Averted with Yondu Udonta, who dies for real.
  • The Dragon: Many of the supporting villains play this role to the main villain including:
    • Emil Blonsky spends most of The Incredible Hulk as General Ross' right hand man before going mad with power.
    • Ivan Vanko is hired to be this to Justin Hammer, but he ends up being a Dragon with an Agenda.
    • The Other is Thanos' representative and acts as his go-between for lower ranking villains like Loki and the Chitauri.
    • Wesley's job title is likely "Administrative Assistant" for Kingpin Wilson Fisk because he is always at the man's side, translating, giving advice or fixing his bowtie.
    • Shades acts as an aide to multiple crime lords in Luke Cage; officially he works for Diamondback but was assigned to assist Cottonmouth and he gives some help to Mariah Dillard as well.
    • In The Defenders, Elektra becomes the Dragon to Alexandra. And ultimately, kills her and takes over the Hand.
  • Drunk with Power: The nature of power and who is fit to wield it has been one of the consistent questions throughout the MCU movies. This applies even to the good guys: The Winter Soldier points just how powerful and all-seeing SHIELD is becoming. Sure, as it turns out, SHIELD has been thoroughly infiltrated by HYDRA, but as other characters point out, Nick Fury's obsession with secrecy and crafting SHIELD into an all-powerful agency shielded from oversight by outside entities, however well-intentioned, greatly aided HYDRA's efforts.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Often done to hype a future movie: Nick Fury in Iron Man, Thor's hammer in Iron Man 2, Hawkeye and the Tesseract in Thor, Thanos in The Avengers and Age of Ultron, The Collector in Thor: The Dark World, Baron von Strucker, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch - plus a Name Drop for Doctor Strange - in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Ulysses Klaue along with mentions of Wakanda in Age of Ultron. Black Panther and Spider-Man are also slated to have supporting roles in Civil War before they get their own movies.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did this to a place, name-dropping the Triskelion several months before it appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There's also an appearance and name drop of the Kree.
  • 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, like 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 deliberately fail to get his approval for the Abomination at the end of The Incredible Hulk.
    • On top of that, you can now be forgiven for not remembering Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel Rhodes.
  • 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 (Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Punisher, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Blade...), they slowly realized they still had the rights to most of the various characters who formed The Avengers.
  • Event Title:
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron - The age being the titular Ultron's Evil Plan.
    • Captain America: Civil War - The civil war refers to The Team being divided over the Super Registration Act.
    • Spider-Man: Homecoming - Part of the film takes place during the high school Homecoming dance of the eponymous hero. Ironically, Peter ditches Homecoming to pursue the Vulture.
  • Evil Counterpart: Many of the heroes go up against people that have similar powers but are evil! Examples include Iron Man and Iron Monger, Hulk and Abomination, Captain America and both Red Skull and Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and Yellowjacket, and Doctor Strange and Kaecilius and Mordo in future films.
    • Iron Man is also opposed by Justin Hammer who is his Evil Counterpart in business rather than superpowers; Loki is this to Thor as gods.
    • The Defenders portrays the "Black Sky" (Elektra) as one to the Iron Fist, as both are Human Weapons meant to destroy the faction the other belongs to.
  • Expanded Universe: The TV shows largely have this status with the movies. The movies never explicitly acknowledge anything that happens in the shows, while shows often use and reference the events of the movies.
  • 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.
    • Phases Two and onward have largely averted this, with events occurring in roughly the same time span that the movies are released. However, in cases where a later film's plot is directly related to or affected by a previous film this trope still applies. Spider-Man: Homecoming takes place just a few months after Captain America: Civil War despite being released over a year later. Similarly, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 takes place several months after Guardians of the Galaxy despite being released two and half years later. The untitled second Spider-Man movie begins mere minutes after Avengers: Infinity War but comes out over a year later.
    • The Netflix shows are a downplayed example. The events of the shows take place over several (sometimes overlapping) periods of a few weeks each. So shows released months apart (for example, Daredevil Season 2 and Luke Cage Season 1) can have events happening at the same time. The Defenders is a more straightforward example, with the whole series taking place in just a few days.
  • Fanservice: The franchise tends to find excuses to portray its male heroes shirtless at least once a film. Ironically, Black Widow, whose powers arguably include "being sexy", is possibly the least sexualized Avenger, doubly so given that her actress is generally accepted as being one of the most attractive women in the world.
  • Flat Character:
    • A common criticism of Phases One and Two is that their villains are often underdeveloped, with the exception of Loki who is given almost as much screen time as Thor. The Defenders shows are other major exceptions since they focus on their villains as much as the heroes. Doctor Strange attempted to avert this with Mordo, deliberately developing his character before turning him villainous for future films. Kevin Feige as much as admitted it while promoting Guardians Vol. 2, saying that the movies tell the heroes' stories and the villains are means to that end; though in retrospect he was being a Lying Creator at the time.note  Phase Three, on the whole, has averted this with more fleshed-out villains.
    • Agent 13 usually gets called out for being this due to how Out of Focus her character has been in the two latter Captain America movies that she's appeared in. As a result, some find that her romance with Steve Rogers in Civil War doesn't come off all that natural.
  • 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.
    • 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 an Inhumans movie was even announced and five before its original planned release date.
    • Age of Ultron briefly visits Africa and introduces Ulysses Klaue, heralding the Black Panther, while Thor's visions warn of something terrible befalling Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok.
    • Doctor Strange features an appearance by Tina Minoru, wielding The Staff of One, hinting at her daughter Nico's involvement in the planned Runaways adaptation.

    Tropes G - R 
  • Genre-Busting: As described under Follow the Leader on the Trivia page, 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. Every time it seems like one of their upcoming films will flop for whatever reason, they still find financial success, and the critical success is steadily increasing too.
  • Genre Roulette: Though collectively under the "superhero" and Science Fiction genres, each hero's movies skew towards their own genre:
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • Thanos is involved in the first and third Avengers movies and Guardians of the Galaxy. He is more powerful and more dangerous than the Big Bad of the films (Loki and Ronan, respectively) but he does not take direct action. By extension, he is this for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe given the scale of his villainy (galaxy wide).
    • The Ten Rings in the Iron Man films are present in 1 and 3 (though the Ten Rings from 3 are revealed to be impostors). A deleted scene from 2 shows the Ten Rings helping Whiplash get to Monaco. They are a big threat and provide support to the Big Bad (Iron Monger and Whiplash) but they are not directly involved.
    • 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. (They also appear in Ant-Man, but only to establish Darren Cross' villainy by his association with them.) Agents later reveals that HYDRA is just the most modern incarnation of a much older Ancient Conspiracy, making them an even greater evil than we first thought. However, they've taken sustained losses since their exposure and were supposedly wiped out shortly before Civil War. Even so, their Villainous Legacy lives on.
    • The Hand in the Defenders shows. While they haven't directly appeared in Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (that we know of), Daredevil and Iron Fist show that they've wormed their way into several corporate, governmental, and criminal positions in New York, they're quietly working behind the scenes to set up something big, and both heroes were trained specifically to fight them.
      • Within that group, Madame Gao. Never the main villain of any show, but often comes off as more cunning and menacing than the one who is. They also have a tendency to make clean getaways where other villains get killed.
    • Dormammu in Doctor Strange. While Kaecilius is set up as the big bad who seeks to draw mystical energy from the Dark Dimension to achieve eternal life, Dormammu uses him and his zealots to open a gateway allowing him to consume our dimension and subject whatever remains to unending suffering.
  • 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. Ego similarly downplays his power when asked if he's a god, though he does say that he'll admit to be a "small-g" god when he's feeling boastful. Subverted when Ego does claim godhood by the end of the film. Instead, it's Peter who rejects being one.
  • 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!
    • Noted by Banner himself in Age of Ultron. "Is this a code green?"
  • 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.
  • Hallway Fight: Every season of the Netflix shows feature at least one of these, sometimes two.
  • 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 at Stark's expo (doubles as a Mythology Gag and Actor Allusion).
    • Rhodey as War Machine is doing his own heroing separate from the Avengers. He has stories that are loved by civilians (but the Avengers don't find them impressive).
    • Hank Pym and Janet Pym Nee Van Dyne spent up to twenty years fighting Soviets during the Cold War as Ant-Man and Wasp but the audience only sees brief snippets of these missions.
    • In Guardians Vol. 2, we find that the '70s comic incarnation of the Guardians were active as a Ravager crew in the actual '70s, and the team reunites to start going adventuring again at the end.
  • Humans Are Warriors: After repelling the Chitauri invasion, even their leader admits fighting them is "to court death." Unfortunately, this is exactly what Thanos wants, being a literal Death Seeker in the sense that he is in love with Mistress Death and seeks her favor.
  • Hyperlink Story: The film franchise is set to come together for the Infinity Wars.
  • 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", or when ABC does the same thing and advertises "ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
  • 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 has no connection to the Amazing continuity (although Marvel initially considered it).
  • Job Title: Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Doctor Strange, Captain America: First Avenger, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Technically, any film/show that has their superhero/team name in the title counts since being a hero is their job, but the ones listed above have the eponymous characters' actual profession(s) in the title.
  • 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.
    • On a smaller scale example, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron began as nobodies living in a war-torn Eastern European country before getting enhanced by Loki's scepter and then receiving a Dare to Be Badass speech from Hawkeye.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: A surprising number of the action scenes in the shared universe have the heroes fighting each other:
    • It began in The Avengers where a Mêlée à Trois broke out between Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor in their first meeting, and then later between Hulk, Black Widow and Thor. Hulk and Thor continue their Headbutting Heroes dynamic during the Chitauri invasion where the Green Giant punches Thor out for no reason. The upcoming Thor Ragnarok will also feature a gladiator match between these two.
    • When Scarlet Witch possessed the team in South Africa, she turned the team against one another leading Hulk to go on another rampage with Iron Man summoning the Hulkbuster armor (that Bruce Banner made with him). Then Captain America and his team try and stop Iron-Man from summoning the Vision only for Thor to show up.
    • Even Ant-Man had a fight between Scott Lang and The Falcon. While the follow-up, Captain America Civil War entirely revolved around Good Versus Good action sequences and the end result of the dysfunctional dynamic is the entire Avengers breaking up.
  • Lighter and Softer: The MCU movies were and are still considered to be this in comparison to previous and concurrent non-Disney Marvel properties like the the X-Men film series or even Darker and Edgier R-rated adaptations like The Punisher (2004), the Blade Trilogy, Deadpool, or Logan due to having less violence, gore, bad language and sexuality.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Of Marvel's super hero comics, with certain films focusing on specific stories (for example, Captain America: Civil War adapts the Civil War Crisis Crossover).
  • 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 S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and Loki), plus minor characters. And Age of Ultron has 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. (Although Age of Ultron manage to top either of those with 20 actors billed in the main credits sequence. This was amplified by several of these having very few lines and/or only appearing in fear nightmares, but they are important in the overall franchise.)
  • MacGuffin Turned Human: The Vision is, in a sense, one of the Infinity Stones given physical form by a roundabout process.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: The Infinity Stones gradually took on their own subplot between the various films, being responsible for the events of multiple films or fueling the strange powers and Mad Science of the individual Big Bad, leading into Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Malignant Plot Tumor: The Infinity Stones have been slowly growing in importance as time goes on, to come to a head in Phase Three.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The Avengers films act as this. The Defenders miniseries does the same for the TV shows aired on Netflix.
  • Mayfly–December Friendship:
    • While it is never mentioned, unlike his Mayfly–December Romance with Jane Foster, Thor will eventually outlive (most of) his fellow Avengers.
    • At the other end of the scale, Rocket quips that his lifespan is likely to be shorter than other species' in Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • Played with in the case of Vision, who's simultaneously the youngest Avenger and potentially ageless, hence likely to outlive even Thor.
  • Mega Corp.: The Roxxon Corporation, a massive conglomerate with interests in multiple industries. It is also deeply corrupt and has had its fingers in criminal and nefarious plots for decades, from helping engineer the Great Depression in the 1920s to being a front company for the Hand in the 2010s. Even with the general separation between the films and the different TV subdivisions, it's one of the few elements that's crept into every arm of the franchise; including the Iron Man films, Agent Carter, Daredevil, and Cloak and Dagger.
  • 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, similar to the "Ultimate" comic line.
    • 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. Loki's scepter has also been stated to be connected to the Tesseract, later revealed to contain the Mind Gem in Age of Ultron. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch's powers have also been tied to this origin, having come from the scepter; as do the origins of Ultron and the Vision, granted sentience by the Mind Gem's power. Doctor Strange is also tied to the Infinity Stones, as the Eye of Agamotto holds the Time Stone.
    • 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 SHIELD ties together several superhumans' powers as coming from being Inhuman. Subverted with Jeffrey Mace, who was first presented as an Inhuman, but a later plot twist reveals that his powers actually come from a source resembling the one from the comics.
    • The Defenders shows tie the Hand, and by proxy Daredevil, together with the history of the Iron Fist.
  • Military Superhero: Captain America, the Falcon, War Machine, and Captain Marvel. Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the original Ant-Man are variants as they are/were secret agents.
  • Mole in Charge:
    • This was a great problem for Daredevil. He can not count with the police in his fight against the mafia overlord Wilson Fisk, because Fisk already have dozens of loyal cops within the force.
    • It is also the big reveal in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Hydra has infiltrated SHIELD, and most of their members are double agents in disguise.
  • Monochrome Casting:
    • A frequent complaint, even from many fans of the MCU, is the abundance of White Male Leads. Marvel released 17 films before they had one with 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, Captain Marvel, or Black Widow. Guardians of the Galaxy also took some flack for not including Mantis, Phyla-Vell, and/or Moondragon; who are all not only women but twofers as well: Mantis is Asian (or rather, an Asian-like alien) and the latter two are non-heterosexual. Things have been getting better, as Black Panther and Captain Marvel got their own movies in Phase Three, the Wasp is being promoted to the title credits of the Ant-Man sequel, Mantis joined the Guardians in Vol. 2, and Feige has unofficially committed to doing a Black Widow movie eventually.
    • Semi-averted with Agents of SHIELD, which starred Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet (who's Chinese-American) from day one. However, the series didn't get an African-American lead until B.J. Britt joined halfway through the first season. Furthering averting this is the introduction of Mack in the second season.
    • Averted with the Defenders shows, as only two of the four main protagonists are white men.
    • Zigzagged with Luke Cage and Black Panther. They add some extra diversity to the overall franchise, but on their own they're monochrome in the sense that the casts are almost all black.
    • Averted in an amusing way in Guardians of the Galaxy; Drax's and Mantis' skin tones were changed from the comics so the team wouldn't have three green people on it (Gamora being the third).
  • Mood Whiplash: Marathoning the various entries in the franchise can definitely lead to it with some properties having vastly different tones. Just try to comprehend that the Guardians of the Galaxy are blasting around the other end of the universe while Daredevil is beating the tar out of a guy who raped his own daughter.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Generally averted; the heroes that wear black are generally the ones that already did so in the comics to begin with: Black Widow, Black Panther, War Machine (barring his "Iron Patriot" paintjob in Iron Man 3), the Punisher, and Ghost Rider.
    • The Falcon is one of the heroes to play the trope relatively straight. His comics costume features red-and-white tights, but in The Winter Soldier he draws on his Ultimate version that has metal wings over civilian clothes. Later movies skew closer to the mainstream comics, but it's still red and white on a black bodysuit.
    • Daredevil splits the difference: his first homemade suit is based on Frank Miller's black redesign of his outfit, but at the end of the first season he gets a more professional-looking red one. He even calls the first one "A work in progress". In the second season, Elektra's red comics outfit is exchanged for black with red accents, but it's then averted when she gets the red outfit in The Defenders.
  • The Multiverse: Multiple dimensions have been seen in the MCU. Doctor Strange explains that magic involves manipulating energies from other worlds like these:
    • The Nine Realms that Asgard oversees. The ones seen or referenced in the MCU so far include Asgard itself, Midgard (Earth's dimension), Jotunheim the ice world, Svartalfheim the "Dark World", Vanaheim (Hogun's homeworld), and Hel the realm of the dead.
    • The Quantum Realm, reached by shrinking smaller than an atom.
    • The Mirror Dimension, which reflects the main universe but can't affect it. Sorcerers use it as a training ground and prison.
    • The Dark Dimension, a realm without time under the control of Dormammu.
    • K'un L'un, home to monks who practice Supernatural Martial Arts.
    • The Hell-dimension that Ghost Rider and the Darkhold originate from (which may or may not be the same as the Norse Hel, or a Hell-dimension referenced in a separate earlier episode of Agents).
  • Myth Arc: It has quite a few working simultaneously, either by Adaptation Origin Connection or Cerebus Retcon:
    • Like Ultimate Marvel, The Hulk's origin is rooted in an attempt at recreating the same super soldier experiment that transformed Steve Rogers into Captain America. It was also the origin of both the Red Skull, and the Winter Soldier.
    • The other Myth Arc is the formation of SHIELD and the resurrection of HYDRA inside SHIELD, which provides the background for Howard Stark's estrangement from his son Tony, as well as provide the cause for his and his wife's death at the hands of a brainwashed Bucky Barnes. HYDRA also provides the background in Ant-Man and Civil War and provides the origins for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
    • The biggest myth-arc is the Infinity Stones and Thanos' quest to find it to form The Infinity Gauntlet. McGuffin such as the Tesseract (the Cosmic Cube from the Comics), the Aether, the Orb are all revealed to be infnity gems, while the Mind Gem provides the origins for both Ulton and Vision, and is currently lodged into the skull of the latter, and the Eye of Agamotto is revealed to be the Time Gem.
    • The invasion of New York by the Chitauri and the Destructive Saviour tendencies of The Avengers likewise forms the Myth Arc of Marvel's TV Shows, such as Daredevil (where the destructive of Manhattan allows Wilson Fisk to build a criminal empire in the rubble) and Spider-Man Homecoming.
  • Mythology Gag: Bound to be several considering their comic book origins. Details can be found on the individual works pages.
  • 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 there have been very few mentions of other mythologies: Skye pitched the idea of other pantheons being real in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Thor dismissed Greek mythology as mere myths in an Age of Ultron deleted scene.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: See Its own page
  • Not Wearing Tights: The general aesthetic of the Defenders shows, in comparison to the movies. All the superhero spectacle is downplayed, and few characters (like Daredevil and Diamondback) have any sort of traditional aspects like a costume (which they only get at the end of their respective seasons). Both suits even get some comments thrown their way for it; Diamondback is described as a "pimp stormtrooper" and Jessica Jones snarks at Daredevil's costume a couple times in The Defenders.
  • 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 WSC 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.
    • Age of Ultron ends with the dissolution of the existing Avengers and formation of a new team consisting of Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, and The Vision.
    • As of Captain America: Civil War, only Iron Man and the Vision remain at the Avengers compound, with War Machine also there but grieveously injured. Captain America, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Falcon, and Scarlet Witch are all fugitives from the United Nations; Winter Soldier (also a fugitive, but that's long been the case) is in cryostasis in Wakanda, inviting a war on Black Panther's people if discovered; and Black Widow has gone on the run apart from all her old comrades.
  • Official Couple:
    • Tony Stark and Pepper Potts from the end of Iron Man 2 onward.
      Tony: (paraphrased) Do you still have that engagement ring [for Pepper]?
    • Surprisingly, one of the healthiest and most stable romantic relationships out there belongs to Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Mariana in Daredevil.
    • In Age of Ultron, Hawkeye reveals that he has been married for years.
    • In Agents of SHIELD, Fitz and Simmons.
  • One Degree of Separation:
    • Invoked by Nick Fury, who makes it a point to be that one degree. Of course, it is literally his job to track down and keep tabs on the most powerful/dangerous superpowered individuals.
    • Despite living in one of the largest and most anonymous cities in the world, all the Defenders seem to have the same circle of acquaintances, although except for Luke and Jessica they themselves have never met each other.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, unsurprisingly, as this franchise has Loads and Loads of Characters.
    • Major examples include Maria Stark and Maria Hill, Howard Stark and Howard the Duck, Peter Quill and Peter Parker (and Pietro Maximoff, if you consider that "Pietro" is the Italian form of Peter), Anthony "Tony" Stark and "Antony" the ant, Hope Van Dyne, Hope Schlottman and Hope Mackenzie, Steve Rogers and Stephen Strange, Grant Ward and Ward Meachum, and Karen Page and Karen the AI on Spider-Man's suit.
    • Iron Man's best friend is James Rhodes, while Captain America's is James Buchanan Barnes, though they go by "Rhodey" and "Bucky" respectively. (And The First Avenger includes James "Jim" Morita, James Montgomery "Monty" Falsworth, and Jacques—that is, James—Dernier. James seems to be a popular boy's name in the MCU.)
    • 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.
    • Two separate minor-but-notable S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have both been given the name "Cameron Klein". One was in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a Project TAHITI test subject; the other was in Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron as a Helicarrier technician.
    • Played straight with Scott Lang's ex-wife who's name was changed to Maggie rather than share her name with the more prominent Agent Peggy Carter.
    • There are three different unrelated characters (two of whom we see family members of) with the last name Thompson in three different TV shows: Hank Thompson (real name Agent Cameron Klein) in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Jack Thompson in Agent Carter, and Kevin Thompson AKA Kilgrave in Jessica Jones.
    • Two characters exist with the surname Ross: Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, who debuted in The Incredible Hulk, and Everett K. Ross; both appear in Captain America: Civil War.
    • On a meta level, the franchise features Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pratt. Evans and Hemsworth appear in the Avengers movies together and Evans and Pratt were involved in a Super Bowl bet that involved them visiting children's hospitals in costume. As of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 9 out of 15 Marvel films have starred blonde white guys named Chris. Presumably someone at Disney is starting a collection.
    • In another meta example, actor Benedict Wong has a very unique name and yet shares it with both his Doctor Strange co-star Benedict Cumberbatch and his own character, Wong.
  • Origins Episode: Many of the movies and shows cover the heroes' origins. Averted with Spider-Man: Homecoming, which only had a couple lines referencing his origin instead of being a retread of ground covered both by the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man Series.
  • 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 super-soldier project. Iron Man 3 introduces an unrelated one, Extremis; Jessica Jones involves another super-soldier program as a subplot; and Luke Cage's backstory involves biological experiments as well. Although Spider-Man's origin hasn't been detailed, it's likely to be this kind as well as most modern adaptations are.
    • 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.
      • The Vulture and Shocker use advanced technology, though not all of it is alien in origin.
      • In The Defenders, the secret behind the Hand's resurrection process is revealed to be dragon bone.
    • The Pym Particles are of the "completely redefine the laws of physics" variety.
    • As of Phase Three, magic and the paranormal is starting to be introduced, though Sufficiently Analyzed Magic is present, grouping all magics under energies from other dimensions where things work differently. Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange, and Iron Fist are three such heroes with these powers.
    • 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. Season Two introduces another combo Phlebotinum with the Inhumans, which is Imported Alien Genetic Engineering.
  • Plot Coupon: Several are established, and they often make return appearances throughout the MCU. And they're all houses for Infinity Stones, which are Thanos' ultimate goal across the whole franchise.
    • The Tesseract, central to Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. Actually the Space Stone and is currently on Asgard.
    • Loki's Chitauri Scepter, central to The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron (with a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Actually contained the Mind Stone, which is currently the Vision's forehead gem.
    • The Aether, central to Thor: The Dark World. Actually the Reality Stone and in the Collector's possession, though its whereabouts are a bit up in the air after the Power Stone blew his shop up.
    • The Orb, central to Guardians of the Galaxy. Actually the Power Stone and currently in the Nova Corps' possession.
    • The Eye of Agamotto, central to Doctor Strange. Actually contains the Time Stone, held at Kamar-Taj in Nepal.
    • The Soul Stone is still unaccounted for.
  • 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.
    • Age of Ultron continues to place some of the above (Beats, Audi) while adding some more. The tractor in Hawkeye's barn is a vintage John Deere; several Air Korea advertisements appear in the South Korea scenes; Under Armor provides custom "off duty" clothing for most of the Avengers; Quicksilver wears primarily Adidas clothing and shoes with a Hummel jacket.
    • Ant-Man features Scott trying to get a job at Baskin-Robbins and a Thomas the Tank Engine toy features heavily in the climax. Additionally, every major character sports a Samsung smartphone, of which there are many lingering shots (except for the villain, who carries an iPhone in his briefcase. Natch.)
  • Protagonist Title: Majority of the films and shows. The Iron Man film series, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Black Panther.
  • 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 was originally presented as Anglo in the comics, but is half-Chinese in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The comics have since adopted this aspect from the show.
    • Ben Urich, from Daredevil, is Caucasian in the comics but African-American in the series, as is Malcolm from Jessica Jones.
    • Mordo from Doctor Strange is another character that went from Caucasian (specifically Transylvanian) to black, though it's not clear what part of the world he comes from now so he may not be African-American.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie (who is white and blonde in the comics) is played by Tessa Thompson, who is African-American.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: This is the cinematic version of the "heroes with issues". What do you expect?
    • The Avengers: the founding members are a time lost living legend, a billionaire playboy who doesn't work well with others, a brilliant scientist who could level a city if he ever lost control, a Physical God alien with family issues, a former assassin with guilt over her past actions, and a surprisingly well grounded secret agent who uses a bow and arrow. Later members include a pair of severely traumatized twins with super powers and a robot, with allies including a reforming criminal and a high school student with a guilt complex. You would think this is a recipe for disaster, but they have managed to save the world on their own, and together they are virtually unstoppable.
    • The Guardians of the Galaxy: a human abducted as a child and raised by Space Pirates, a former soldier of an intergalactic warlord, a Literal-Minded warrior seeking revenge, a science experiment with a penchant for blowing things up, and a talking plant. Yet they managed to do what the Nova Corps could not: stop Ronan the Accuser, when he had an Infinity Stone.
    • Team Coulson: the founding members are a major Captain America/SHIELD fanboy, a Broken Ace who quit being a field agent to go to a desk job, an anti-social field agent from an abusive home, a civilian hacker who was moved around foster care her whole life, a biochemist who considers dissecting people while they're standing right beside her, and an engineer who is awkward outside the lab and cannot admit his feelings for the aforementioned biochemist. Yet they almost singlehandedly save SHIELD from being destroyed after HYDRA's infiltration was revealed, even when one of their own was a member of HYDRA.
    • The Defenders: a blind lawyer with a massive guilt complex, a severely traumatized alcoholic, a man who was experimented on in prison who still mourns his dead wife, and an orphaned heir to a massive fortune who was raised in an alternate dimension. Yet they're New York City's only hope.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Seen in Spider-Man:
    • Right after Tom Holland was casted as the MCU's Spider-Man, a portion of fans and detractors denounced him as too young for the role, despite Holland was 19 and would play a 15-year-old Peter Parker.
    • Marisa Tomei was cast as aunt May and Despite the actress being 50 at the time of her casting, thus perfectly possible to be an elder aunt to a 15-year-old, the image of an elderly aunt May has became so ingrained in the mind of fans that she too was denounced as too young for the job.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • S.H.I.E.L.D., especially its director Nick Fury, stand above regional politics and screen the World Security Council's extremism. Until we find out that they've been infiltrated by HYDRA, anyway.
    • 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.
    • The Ancient One is willing to bend the rules occasionally as well, though this disillusions some of her followers.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: While the trope naming family isn't in this Marvel continuity, the trope is played with a bit.
    • Tony invokes this in regards to the Iron Man armor since he doesn't want that readily available, but he averts with his arc reactor technology and wants it widespread.
    • Hank also invokes this trope, as he doesn't trust anyone but himself and those he works with in regards to handling the Pym Particle, having been left bitter after S.H.I.E.L..D. tries to duplicate it without his permission.
  • 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."
  • Reset Button: Critics have accused Age of Ultron of being this for the entirety of Phase Two. For example, Iron Man is back to using the Iron Legion and has plenty of new suits. Though Winter Soldier dissolved SHIELD and established an extremely powerful HYDRA, by the end of Age of Ultron, Nick Fury has established a new S.H.I.E.L.D.-esque organization in the form of The Avengers and HYDRA has been knocked right back down several pegs. While it has regressed back to using older Helicarriers, the newer models were only introduced in Phase Two to begin with, so it's still like those earlier events never happened. note 
  • Restricted Expanded Universe: As of yet, the TV shows and other tie-ins have had no major impact on the movie continuity - the closest things have come is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. filled in some non-essential gaps for Age of Ultron. While Marvel is interested in bringing TV elements to the movies, they've given a couple explanations as to why it hasn't really happened yet:
    • Movie audiences haven't necessarily watched the shows and will need to be brought up to speed, which could necessitate an Info Dump that may disrupt the story.
    • TV production is much faster than movie production; either a movie has make a guess at where the shows' plots will be when it releases, or the TV writers could be constrained by what a movie script has already established. (See how Agents of SHIELD was considered to have been held back until the Winter Soldier plot twist hit.)
  • Retcanon: The films have become popular enough to influence the comics that inspired them. Examples include:
    • The Hulk's prominence in the Avengers movie got him added to the roster of the Avengers comic that was being published at the time. Originally, the Hulk quit the Avengers way back in the second issue during the 1960's, and had at best been an infrequent guest star in the ensuing years.
    • Hawkeye was given a black tactical outfit inspired by the one he wore in the Avengers movie, which ironically enough, was already based on his Ultimate Marvel design.
    • For a brief period, the Secret Avengers comic had Rhodey adopt the Iron Patriot identity in order to match up with Iron Man 3.
    • Daisy Johnson/Quake was white in the original comics, and her powers came from her father. After Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made her half-Chinese and established that she got her powers from her Inhuman mother, the comics imported both of those aspects to her backstory.
    • Tony Stark's friendship with Bruce Banner was made canon in the comics as well, even though the characters were originally bitter rivals. This seems to be a case of Depending on the Writer, though.
    • Ever since Guardians of the Galaxy came out, the comics and every adaptation has featured the five Guardians used in the film near-exclusively.
    • When Sam Wilson became the new Captain America, he was given a new costume that incorporated a pair of red goggles, similar to the ones he wears in the movies.
    • Darren Cross was a minor Starter Villain in the comics, and instead of having the power to change size, he was basically a very ugly, pink version of the Hulk. The Ant-Man movie got him resurrected, and Nick Spencer eventually gave him shrinking abilities and a suit of Yellowjacket armor, just like he has in the film.
    • Jessica Jones and Trish Walker formed such a duo that the next Patsy Walker series had to include them teaming up. However, the comics did not incorporate the show's revelation that Jessica is Trish's adopted sister.
    • Black Mariah's real name, Mariah Dillard, was created for the Luke Cage TV show, before being made canon in David F. Walker's Power Man and Iron Fist series.
  • 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 (and in Civil War, vice-versa).
    • 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." in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 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 were there on merc duty once, and Edwin Jarvis met his wife there during the war.
    • References to Pulp Fiction: Nick Fury's fake grave in The Winter Soldier has "Ezekiel 25:17 - The path of the righteous man..." inscribed on it (an Actor Allusion to Samuel L. Jackson), a Season 2 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. opens with a restaurant scene almost identical to the opening scene of the film, and the Daredevil episode "Cut Man" has Jack Murdock being told to "go down in the fifth" in a flashback. In the final episode of Daredevil season 1, Wilson Fisk realizes that he has misunderstood his role in his favorite biblical story, much like Jules Winfield's realization in the final act of the film.
    • Every Phase Two movie involves someone losing an arm or hand at some point; see An Arm and a Leg above. Kevin Feige considers it an The Empire Strikes Back reference. This is rarely played for humor though.
    • Each of the Netflix series has included car doors being misused in a variety of ways:
      • Daredevil: Wilson Fisk uses a car door to crush Anatoly's head into a fine paste.
      • Jessica Jones: Jessica rips a car door off of a police car to use as a makeshift shield against a mind-controlled Luke Cage.
      • Luke Cage: Luke uses a car door as a battering ram to break into a building, and later crumples it around a hapless mook.
      • Iron Fist: Ward Meachum deliberately crushes his own hand in a car door in order to get painkillers.
    • An out of universe running gag from the actors when they give interviews are the "Marvel snipers" who will take out the stars if they give away too much information.

    Tropes S - Z 
  • Science Fantasy: Thor says that Asgard considers science and magic the same thing. Is it a "Quantum Field Generator" or a "Soul Forge"?
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: Magic is treated as involving alternate laws of physics, rather than breaking them altogether. In Agents of SHIELD, Fitz even works out the mechanics of someone's "supernatural" powers by realizing the Law of Conservation of Mass still applies. The Defenders shows are the only exceptions, being the only works that don't connect the mystical abilities of Iron Fist and the Hand to modern science (or even just Technobabble) in any way, shape, or form. This is justified because none of the characters in The Defenders is a scientist.
  • Serial Escalation: Each phase gets progressively larger and more complex than the last one.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Starting with the episode "A Fractured House" from the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., every single MCU TV show has omitted Avengers Tower, instead keeping the MetLife Building in its original position.
    • Homecoming also stated that the Battle of New York was 8 years before the events of the movie. This causes problems, since it's set shortly after Civil War (in 2016) in which it was stated that the first Iron Man was 8 years ago. Also in Civil War, Ross mentions that the Avengers have been active for four years, in agreement with Agents of SHIELD where Talbot also specifically states that the battle took place in 2012 and not 2009.
  • The Shangri-La: Three of them:
    • Lai Shi (a.k.a. "Afterlife"), a refuge for Inhumans in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    • K'un L'un in Iron Fist.
    • Kamar-Taj in Doctor Strange.note 
  • Shirtless Scene: Male leads often take their shirts off at least once during the movie or season.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. 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. It's 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. Those are fighting words.)
    • 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: Generally averted, as most heroes don't actively try to hide their powers. Daredevil and Spider-Man are two of the few that do.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Ultimate Marvel. Both the MCU and Ultimate Marvel are modern takes of the classic Marvel Comics and some of the MCU's concepts were inspired of the Ultimate Marvel Universe such as a race lifted Nick Fury. However, the MCU takes their characters into a more idealistic approach rather than following the more cynical standards of Ultimate Marvel.
  • 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 its secret agents, myriad military forces, and various research labs fits the trope.
  • 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. (Age of Ultron has one mid-credits instead of post-credits, but it's still a stinger.) Several movies each have two stingers; one mid-credits and one afterward. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has five.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Aside from the Asgardians and other races from the Nine Realms, the Kree were regarded by early Earth peoples as "blue angels". The Celestials and Dormammu are so powerful that it seems even cosmic and magic characters aren't certain whether they're gods or simply powerful beings.
  • Superhero: From the Badass Normal assassins to the guys in powered armor, to the heroic aliens, they fight against evil For Great Justice.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die:
    • Stane, Vanko, Killian and his Dragons, Malekith, Kurse, Pierce, Ronan, Strucker, Ultron, and Ego are all dead by the end of their movies, while the Red Skull is a textbook case of Never Found the Body and if Cross isn't dead then he's certainly suffering a Fate Worse Than Death.
    • Double Subverted by Zola, who was merely captured in The First Avenger but whose digitized form is presumably destroyed in The Winter Soldier.
    • Averted by Loki who has survived all his three appearances so far, Blonsky who was spared from being choked to death by Betty's intervention, Zemo who was merely captured, the Winter Soldier and Nebula who managed to escape, Kaecilius and his Zealots who instead suffered a Fate Worse Than Death, Dormammu who was blackmailed into compliance (and probably can't be killed anyway), Ayesha who survived and has now created Adam Warlock to hunt down the Guardians, and Toomes who is explicitly saved by Spider-Man before being arrested. 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.
    • Zigzagged in the TV shows; sometimes villains are killed off at the climax of an arc, sometimes they aren't.
      • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it's generally played straight with nearly all villains dying eventually. They may get a stay of execution for an extra story arc or two, but sooner or later their actions catch up with them and they're killed. There are only very few exceptions that manage to survive, including Deathlok (was Trapped in Villainy and reformed when he got out), Cal (voluntary Heel–Face Brainwashing), and Quinn (full-on Karma Houdini).
      • Averted in Agent Carter: Dr. Fennhoff is merely captured, Whitney Frost is depowered and committed to an insane asylum, and Black Widow gets away (twice).
      • Played with in Daredevil, where Big Bad Wilson Fisk is sentenced to prison and Madame Gao disappears while minor villains such as Anatoly, Vladimir, Nobu and Leland Owlsley are killed off. Played straight in Season 2; what did you expect from the Punisher?
      • Played Straight in Jessica Jones. Kilgrave was simply too powerful and depraved to leave alive.
      • Luke Cage: Played straight for Cottonmouth, averted for Diamondback, Black Mariah, and Shades.
      • Iron Fist: Harold Meachum dies - permanently, this time - while Bakuto is implied to survive his death and Madame Gao gets away again.
      • The Defenders: Alexandra, Bakuto, and Sowande are definitely permanently killed, while Madame Gao, Murakami, and Elektra face Uncertain Doom. But Matt was in a similar situation and he survived, so Gao, Murakami and Elektra could have survived as well.
  • Superhero Packing Heat:
    • Captain America. But while Steve knows how to fire a gun and won't hesitate to use one if there's any need to, he still prefers not to as much as possible, preferring to use his shield over his M1911A1.
    • The more militarized heroes such as Black Widow and Falcon play this straight. Hawkeye does as well, even if he prefers a more old-school weapon, and War Machine takes it to an extreme with a bunch of guns built into his armor.
    • Star-Lord and especially Rocket Raccoon frequently use firearms.
  • Superhero Paradox: The idea that the presence of superheroes encourages or creates super-threats is touched on in The Avengers and several other Phase Two films. Civil War tackles the issue head-on, as it deals with the fallout of Stark and Banner directly creating a supervillain in Age of Ultron. Vision specifically mentions it as a reason that he is pro-accords.
    • The Netflix shows get hit hard with this trope in general, due to their dark and morally-ambiguous subject matter. The Battle of New York gave way to the rise of corruption and criminal activity in Hell's Kitchen, and the main characters' attempts to fight crime actively make things worse in many ways. For instance, Fisk's and Cottonmouth's criminal syndicates get thrown into chaos, and both specifically begin harming and involving innocent people in their attempts to bring down their enemies. In Daredevil Season 2, Fisk's fall left an Evil Power Vacuum; and characters wonder if Daredevil's heroics opened the door for more hardcore vigilantes like the Punisher. In Jessica Jones, the fact that trying to catch Kilgrave will potentially kill lots of innocents is discussed, but rationalized by the fact that if left to his own devices, Kilgrave will ruin a lot more. In Luke Cage, Mariah Dillard tries to stir up anti-superhuman sentiment and equip the police with more powerful weapons to fight them, but some on the force are concerned since police gear will inevitably find its way into the hands of criminals.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: Has its own page.
  • Superhero Prevalence Stages: Phase One is an early stage, with each hero treated as though they are the only ones of their kind, the villains never win, and the heroes are uncompromising in their morals and convictions. Phase Two is a middle stage, with groups of heroes now forming, along with groups of villains to counter them. Phase Three is the later stage, with heroes now policing one another, villains becoming competent enough to score real and permanent victories, and heroes begin dying or suffering other permanent harm while others compromise their convictions when faced with possible disaster.
  • Super Soldier:
    • About half of the superhuman origins in this 'verse have their roots in trying to make better soldiers and peacekeepers, whether it's by bioengineering (Captain America, Red Skull, Winter Soldier, Hulk, Abomination, Extremis soldiers, Deathlok, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Jessica Jones, Will Simpson), special equipment (Iron Monger, War Machine, Falcon), robotics (the Hammer drones, Deathlok again, the Iron Legion, Ultron, Vision), or just good old-fashioned Training from Hell (the Black Widow program, Iron Fist, the Hand and the Chaste, including Daredevil and Elektra).
    • The Kursed are these for the Dark Elves. Being super soldiers among a race of super beings, this makes them ridiculously powerful. The Inhumans likewise originated as an alien supersoldier project.
  • Super Weight:
    • Fragile Weight: Steve Rogers pre-treatment, Arnim Zola, Trevor Slattery, Fitz post-brain damage, Mrs. Urich, Leland Owlsley, James Rhodes after Civil War.
    • Muggle Weight: Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Ross, Howard Stark, Tony Stark (before Iron Man 3), Obadiah Stane, Pepper Potts without Extremis, Jane Foster, Erik Selvig, Darcy Lewis, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons, Skye pre-Terrigenesis, Eric and Billy and Sam Koenig, Rocket Raccoon, Claire Temple, Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Helen Cho, Hank Pym, Trish Walker (though she's working her way up to Type 1), Everett K. Ross, Baron Zemo, Christine Palmer.
    • Iron Weight: 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), Peggy Carter, Chester Phillips, Heinz Kruger, Grant Ward, Melinda May, Antoine Triplett, Bobbi Morse, Lance Hunter, Alphonso Mackenzie, Batroc the Leaper, Sharon Carter, Crossbones, Falcon (without wings), Star-Lord (without Celestial powers), the Nova Corps, Wilson Fisk, Scott Lang (sans suit,) Hope van Dyne, Hank Pym (with ant communicator), Will Simpson, Diamondback, Colleen Wing.
    • Abnormal Weight: 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, Nebula, Daredevil, Stick, Nobu, the Ravagers, Iron Legion drones, Ultron Mk 1, Jessica Jones, Will Simpson with IGH Super Soldier pills, Black Panther, anyone armed with Judas bullets, Mantis.
    • Super Weight: Iron Man, War Machine, Iron Monger, Whiplash (second suit), Hammeroids, most Asgardians, Loki , Frost Giants, Extremis soldiers, Pepper Potts with Extremis, Aldrich Killian, Malekith without the Aether, both Deathloks: John Garrett and Mike Peterson, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Korath the Pursuer, most starships, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Ultron Prime, Ant-Man (both versions), Wasp, Yellowjacket, Luke Cage, Kilgrave, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange (not using the Eye of Agamotto), Baron Mordo, Wong, Iron Fist, Madame Gao.
    • Hyper Weight: The Hulk, the Abomination, Thor, Odin, the Destroyer, Heimdall, Helicarriers The Leviathans, Skye (post-Terrigenesis), Kurse, Groot, Ronan the Accuser, Star-Lord and the other Guardians with the Orb, Vision, Ultimate Ultron, The Hulkbuster Iron Man Armor, Kilgrave after getting his abilities upgraded, Giant-Man, Doctor Strange (using the Eye of Agamotto), the Ancient One, Kaecilius, Ghost Rider.
    • World Weight: The Bifrost, Ronan empowered by the Orb, Thanos.
    • Cosmic Weight: The Tesseract, the Aether, the Orb, the Scepter, the Eye of Agamotto, The Celestials including Ego and Star-Lord briefly, Dormammu.
  • Team Title: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Defenders, New Warriors, and Inhumans.
  • 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. The Mark 42 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. Stark then takes it Up to Eleven with his Hulkbuster armor in Age of Ultron, which is deployed from orbit and includes lots of replacement parts to account for Hulk tearing bits off.
  • There Are No Global Consequences:
    • SHIELD already knew some things, such as the events in New Mexico during Thor, and Iron Man was already a celebrity, but the great unmasking took place in the first The Avengers. There is an alien invasion for all the world to see, Norse gods such as Thor and Loki are real, Captain America is back, there's a superhero group in New York, etc. Yet, the only serious government attempt to manage any of that was with three helicarriers to keep all potential menaces under track (which ended up becoming a menace itself).
    • The third season of Agents of SHIELD shows a number of global consequences, such as Terrigen spreading to cover all the world's oceans (at least) in seventeen months and Inhumans sprouting up all over the place. America created a new agency to deal with them.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Has its own page.
  • To Be Continued: Most movies include the message "[The hero] will return" at the end of the credits.
  • Top God: Odin, King of the Asgardians. Thor was about to be one in the begining of his film, but stayed as a free warrior. Eventually, Loki replaced Odin, in some manner that is still unknown. The Marvel Universe has other similar gods (such as Zeus), but in the Cinematic Universe only the Asgardians seem to exist.
  • Trilogy Creep: Regarding the Phases:
    • Inverted with Phase 1, which was originally meant to go on a while longer before culminating in The Avengers. However, due to the Disney acquisition, plans changed and certain movies (such as Ant-Man) were pushed back, leaving Phase 1 comprised of six films instead of one that encompassed at least seven or eight films.
    • Phase 2 was originally five films long. However, Ant-Man was shifted over from Phase 3 to Phase 2, meaning that Phase 2 comprised six movies.
    • Phase 3 is an interesting case. The original plan was for there to be nine films, but the total was bumped up to ten when Marvel Studios worked out an agreement with Sony Pictures to share the Spider-Man property and add a new movie to the schedule. Then Ant-Man & The Wasp was added to the schedule after Ant-Man did well enough to warrant a sequel, bumping the total up to eleven. Later on, Inhumans was taken off the Phase 3 schedule and eventually cancelled altogether, meaning that the slate would consist of ten films.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Universe: Apart from borrowing a few continuity snippets from the Trope Namer, the Cinematic Universe attempts in several ways to be modernize antiquated elements in its portrayal (though as the films progress the whole thing becomes a lot more like a typical comic book universe, with cosmic artifacts and genocidal robots worming their way in). It also attempts to be more contemporary than The Ultimates which was already a decade old by the time the MCU started. For example:
    • Where the earliest Marvel comics were written in a political climate influenced by World War II or the Cold War, the MCU takes cues from The War on Terror; Iron Man has Tony get abducted in the Middle East rather than southeast Asia, a Mandarin initially similar to Osama who turns out to be a spoof and parody of Islamophobia, and SHIELD agents who evoke Homeland Security as well as fears about NSA/PRISM.
    • Luke Cage was originally influenced by the jive movement and Blaxploitation flicks of the 70s. The MCU series tones the cheesier elements of that flavor way down, and throws a little bit of hip-hop/rap for flavor (although they include plenty of traditional jazz as well).
    • Peter Parker's high school is updated to a modern, ethnically-diverse school for the gifted; Flash is a snobby and arrogant dweeb rather than a jock in a letterman, and 'MJ' (Michelle) has something of a "sullen social activist" streak. The focus also tries to update as much as possible the notion of a Working-Class Hero in a very gentrified New York City with much of the action taking place in Queens and not Manhattan.
    • The Guardians of the Galaxy are likewise elevated from D-List heroes to a central pillar of the Cosmic side of the MCU, with their films providing important Canon Welding between different outer space factions (Celestials, Elders, Thanos, Nova, Ravagers) taking the role that the Fantastic Four would likely have played had Marvel still had their rights.
    • In general though the films do retain most of the mainline elements in characterization and Captain America, Thor and Doctor Strange in particular are more or less similar to their comics origins with very little in the way of modernization, with Stupid Jetpack Hitler, Crystal Spires and Togas and Mage in Manhattan played straight.
  • Understatement: The people of New York City refer to the full-scale alien invasion their city suffered simply as "the incident".
  • 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.
    • The animated series Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) have the same main cast and tone of the films The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, and their events are referenced in Broad Strokes or with some Mythology Gag here and there. However, those animated series are not part of the MCU, and new characters or plot twists may be completely unrelated to the way those characters are depicted in the MCU or the plot of the sequels.
  • 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).
  • Villain Decay:
    • HYDRA. They're a serious threat in The Winter Soldier, but they were dealt a severe blows in The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes Aftershocks & The Team, with their exposure within S.H.I.E.L.D., & the deaths of both their Branch Headsnote  and Council within two years, that by the time of Ant-Man and Civil War, they have degenerated into a generic supervillain terrorist organisation. The organisation was effectively destroyed for good, with their last remaining leader dying shortly afterwards.
    • The Hand. Originally seen as a powerful organisation that have wormed their way into several corporate, governmental, and criminal positions in New York City, the actions of Daredevil, and Danny Rand saw several major blows to the organisation, such as the Final Death of Nobu Yoshiokanote , losing control of Rand Enterprise, & the loss of their remaining Applied Phlebotinum, while their Secret War with the Chaste had started to attract the attention of both the NYPD and other street-level superheroes. Following their apparent defeat at the hands of the Defenders, the organisation appears to be gone for good, with most of their governing council, the Five Fingers either Killed Off for Realnote  or presumed deadnote , while their main front company, Midland Circle Financials, is now destroyed.
  • 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. Also, it shows that Howard the Duck exists in the MCU, so there's that.
    • The final few episodes of the first half of Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Inhumans.
    • 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.
    • Civil War ends with only two healthy Avengers still on duty Iron Man and the Vision, while one is crippled War Machine, and the rest Captain America, Falcon, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow are all fugitives on the run.
    • Thor: Ragnarok is promised to be a Wham Episode as well.
    • Daredevil season one, "Shadows in the Glass": Fisk reveals himself publicly.
    • Daredevil season two, "Guilty as Sin": Stick returns; Elektra works for him. Castle confesses; Fisk returns and is behind it.
    • Jessica Jones season one, "AKA Top Shelf Perverts": Jessica falsely confesses to murder. Kilgrave stops her. Jessica moves in with Kilgrave.
    • Luke Cage season one, "Manifest"" Dillard murders Cottonmouth. Diamondback shoots Luke Cage.
  • 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 [humanity] 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...
  • What Other Galaxies?: The MCU has a complicated relationship with the scale of its universe, but for the most part uses a downplayed and justified version of this trope. In general, no worlds or galaxies outside of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Nine Realms (including Earth) are ever mentioned.
    • The World Tree, Yggdrasil, connects nine disparate and far-removed worlds which happen to all be cosmologically linked and uniquely important. It's never explicitly stated how far apart the Nine Realms are. However, no races not part of the Nine Realms are ever seen visiting any of the Realms (with the exception of Earth), so presumably they're far enough from each other and from other planets as to preclude conventional travel between them.note 
    • Guardians of the Galaxy takes place in the Andromeda Galaxy, not the Milky Way. The sequel reveals that interstellar travel is accomplished through the use of fixed "jump points", explaining why all the action takes place within one galaxy. While travel to the Milky Way is shown to be possible, no inhabited planets except for Earth are ever shown or even mentioned; this may imply that Earth is the only inhabited planet in the Milky Way and that Andromeda is where the civilization is. "Galaxy" and "Universe" are also used interchangeably, with no mention of anything beyond the Local Group.
    • And of course, most of the films are set on Earth.
  • 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.
  • Wolverine Publicity: The Avengers, or, more accurately, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor. They're essentially the Face of the Band of the MCU, and are sometimes used to promote movies or shows starring lesser known characters. This was particularly notable with Ant-Man and Doctor Strange, both of which used recycled footage of the Avengers in TV spots.
  • World of Action Girls: See Action Girl above. The list of ass kicking female characters is very long.
  • 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: To say that snarky exchanges and witty one-liners are commonplace here would be a massive understatement.
  • Wretched Hive: New York became one after "The Incident", particularly Hell's Kitchen and Harlem. The reason for this is that the alien invasion greatly damaged New York, leading to an increase in organized crime.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: As mentioned above, the writers developed the terms "gifted", "miracle", and "enhanced" to compensate for not being allowed to use the term "mutant" thanks to the X-Men movies. In Agents of SHIELD, the Inhumans were used as a substitute: anyone may have dormant Inhuman genes and get them unlocked without warning, revealing unexpected superhuman powers; and also for the Fantastic Racism thing.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One:
    • Averted in the series as a whole in that the heroes in the various film have been able so far to thwart Thanos' schemes of collecting the Infinity Stones through minions to the point where he has to ditch that approach and collect them himself.
    • Played straight in most of the films, where the heroes aren't able to stop the start-up phases to the villain's plan.
    • Averted in Age of Ultron, where the heroes not only stop Ultron's initial plan to put himself in a new, synthetic body with the Mind Stone, but turn it around into a way to defeat him.
    • Also averted in Civil War, where an ex-HYDRA agent is uncooperative with Zemo and forces him to come up with a much more complicated plan to get what he wants.


Alternative Title(s): Phil Coulson

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