The Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU note is a combined setting and media franchise produced by Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Studios. It was distributed by Paramount and Universal from 2008 to 2011, followed by Disney from 2012 to the present after Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment, with Sony Pictures 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. and the terrorist organization HYDRA as common elements that tie the different films together.
Kevin Feige, who previously did work on a number of Marvel movies prior to the start of this setting, serves as the president of Marvel Studios and has produced every single film. Feige claimed in 2014 that they have MCU films planned out until 2028,note and it was stated in 2017 that the plans following the fourth Avengers movie will involve another story arc made up of well over a dozen movies. As such, virtually every Marvel property is being considered in some capacity, with more scripts being written than could ever be used.
Grossing more than $25 billion globally across 27 movies, the MCU has become the highest-grossing franchise in cinematic history (a record that is unlikely to ever be disputed — not even by Star Wars, which holds a distant second place at over $10 billion), 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 into blockbusters. One such attempt, Sony's Spider-Man Universe, was itself built off of the groundwork laid by MCU films Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and is part of the MCU's larger multiverse by means of occasional crossovers. This, of course, started from an initial partnership with Marvel to reboot the Spider-Man IP through the MCU, an agreement that began in time for Phase Three of the setting.
With Disney's $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox and their entertainment assets (which include the licenses to use characters tied to the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Silver Surfer, and Deadpool brands, among many others that were connected to those IPs but have not yet appeared on film), virtually every Marvel character that has ever appeared on the pages of one of their comic books can theoretically appear within the setting, and even after over ten years of hits, the MCU shows no signs of slowing down. Marvel has even amped up the rate at which they produce films in order to keep up with demand, and Marvel Studios expanded development to the small screen as they began working on multiple television series for Disney+; these new shows utilize characters from the setting and build up story elements that carry into the next wave of movies.
The mentioned release dates are the US ones — please note that some movies were released elsewhere before this.
Starting with a series of mostly self-contained origin stories (and one sequel) in Phase One, Marvel's ambitions soared higher with the breakout success of The Avengers, which united the casts of the five previous installments. The first-ever superhero team-up film of its kind also set the stage for a long-term narrative with the brief introduction of Thanos, the Mad Titan, who would serve as the Greater-Scope Villain and eventual Big Bad of this set of movies.
Phase Two would see the proper introduction of the Infinity Stones in the sequels to the previous movies, revealing that some of the MacGuffins seen in previous films secretly housed objects of immeasurable power. Furthermore, the largely Earth-based format of storytelling was shaken up with a greater exploration of the Marvel Cosmic elements previously glimpsed at in The Avengers. At this time, Marvel stepped outside of their relative comfort zone to explore more unknown franchises as the setting expanded.
Finally, Phase Three managed to introduce an abundance of new characters and provide closure to many of the story arcs that began in previous movies, ultimately culminating in two Avengers stories that fully united the entire setting for the first time ever. Along the way, Marvel were able to introduce the Spider-Man IP into the setting with cooperation from Sony Pictures (who own that film license) in an unprecedented agreement.
- Phase One (20082012, six movies)
- Iron Man (May 2, 2008): The one that started it all. When Tony Stark, veritable rock star in the world of weapons manufacturing and technology, escapes imprisonment from the Ten Rings terrorist group, this newly changed man shuts down his entire weapons division and dons the Iron Man suit to right his wrongs, changing the entire world in the process.
- The Incredible Hulk (June 13, 2008): Bruce Banner is a man on the run. Once a brilliant scientist, his failure in recreating a Super Soldier serum from the 1940's resulted in the birth of an extremely violent and indestructible alter-ego, the Hulk. However, Thaddeus Ross, his old government benefactor, only sees a weapon and will stop at nothing to reclaim it.
- Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010): Tony Stark's ego has grown something fierce since announcing that he is Iron Man. Throwing lavish parties and organizing massive expos, he's living like a man with nothing to lose. But a smarmy rival, a mysterious foe with a powerful grudge, and Nick Fury remind him of who he is and what his legacy means.
- Thor (May 6, 2011): When prideful and vain Prince Thor Odinson of Asgard, the God of Thunder, is exiled to Midgard (Earth) after nearly starting a war with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, he grows close to Dr. Jane Foster and learns compassion and humility. All the while his brother Loki, the God of Mischief, schemes to claim the throne of Asgard from their father Odin.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011): World War II is coming to a close, but the Nazi deep-science division HYDRA is still a problem. Steve Rogers is chosen to become the Allied Powers' first-ever Super Soldier, and together with Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos, Captain America fights to save the world from the ambitions of HYDRA's insane leader, Johann Schmidt / The Red Skull.
- The Avengers (May 4, 2012): Loki has returned with a vengeance and an alien army in tow, declaring war on Earth with the intent to bring the powerful Tesseract to his mysterious benefactor. To stop this threat, Nick Fury assembles the greatest heroes Earth will ever have: Tony Stark / Iron Man, Steve Rogers / Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner / The Hulk, Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, and Clint Barton / Hawkeye.
- Phase Two (20132015, six movies)
- Iron Man 3 (May 3, 2013): The Ten Rings have returned, and in one of their bombings, have injured Happy Hogan, Tony's former bodyguard and friend. A vengeful Tony declares war on their leader, the Mandarin, but severely underestimates his foe and finds himself alone, his suit damaged, and on the run.
- Thor: The Dark World (November 8, 2013): After Jane becomes infected with the mysterious Aether, the Dark Elves awaken, intending to use its power to plunge the universe back to the darkness it once was. In order to save Jane and stop the Elves' leader, Malekith, Thor must rely on the single most untrustworthy being alive: Loki.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014): A conspiracy is afoot. After S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury is seemingly killed by the elusive assassin known as the Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff, along with their new ally Sam Wilson / The Falcon, question the very organization they serve when it starts gunning for them in response.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014): The Galactic Empire of the Kree have signed a peace treaty with their mortal enemies, the Nova Corps. But the Kree zealot Ronan is none too happy, making an agreement with the Mad Titan Thanos to destroy the Nova Corps.' home planet of Xandar in exchange for an artifact known as "the Orb". A rag-tag group of criminals - rogue space pirate Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Thanos's personal assassin Gamora, the bounty hunter duo of Rocket and Groot, and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax - get involved in the hunt for the Orb, and eventually find the good in themselves to finally give a shit and save Xandar and her people.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1, 2015): Tony is worried. After his traumatic experience in The Avengers, the constant thought of another alien invasion horrifies him. To prepare the Earth for future threats, he and Bruce Banner use Loki's scepter to create a sentient AI, Ultron, with the directive of bringing peace to the world. Unfortunately, Ultron names the Avengers his enemies in this directive, proceeding to form an alliance with the powerful and vengeful Maximoff twins—Wanda and Pietro—with the objective of saving the world... or destroying it.
- Ant-Man (July 17, 2015): Professional thief Scott Lang has finally been released from prison, and aims to give up the life of breaking into places and stealing shit. However, brilliant scientist Dr. Hank Pym, the former superhero Ant-Man, has different plans. His successor, Darren Cross, has gone down the deep end and intends to weaponize the Pym Particle, capable of shrinking any object or person down to any size. To stop him, Hank and his daughter Hope rope Scott into becoming the new Ant-Man with a clear and simple objective: break into a place and steal some shit.
- Phase Three (20162019, eleven movies)
- Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016): Following a horrific incident in Lagos involving Wanda Maximoff, the Avengers begin to break apart when Thaddeus Ross presents them with an ultimatum in the form of the Sokovia Accords: accept UN oversight, or retire as superheroes. Tony, guilty over the creation of Ultron, urges them to sign the accords while Steve, skeptical of government oversight following the S.H.I.E.L.D. conspiracy, refuses to do so, leading to a split in the group. When the Winter Soldier resurfaces, differences in opinion turn to outright hostility within the Avengers, a situation that Helmut Zemo, a Sokovian ex-colonel seeking vengeance against the team, is all too eager to exploit.
- Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016): After brilliant and arrogant surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange horrifically injures his hands in a car accident, he finds his career effectively over. In his desperation, he finds himself in Kamar-Taj, home of the Masters of the Mystic Arts. Despite coming at first only to heal his hands, Strange finds he has an even greater affinity for sorcery than science, which ultimately gets put to the test with the arrival of Master Kaecilius, his zealots, and their dread master.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5, 2017): With their criminal records expunged, the Guardians find newfound success as heroes-for-hire in the galaxy. But after capturing Gamora's resentful sister Nebula and making enemies of their latest clients, the comically narcissistic Sovereign, they find themselves rescued by the Celestial Ego, who claims to be Peter's long-lost father. Meanwhile, as The Ravagers are hired by the Sovereign to track down the Guardians, Yondu Udonta starts to reflect on his past actions.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7, 2017): Peter Parker / Spider-Man made one hell of an impression on Tony Stark during the events of Civil War, but he still wants to prove himself a worthy Avenger to his mentor and hero. When arms dealer Adrian Toomes / The Vulture begins selling alien-based weaponry, he finally sees his chance. note
- Thor: Ragnarok (November 3, 2017): When Hela, Goddess of Death and Odin's firstborn, is released from her prison, Thor and Loki find themselves whisked away to the junkyard planet of Sakaar, ruled by the zany and insane Grandmaster. The Grandmaster will offer Thor his freedom, but only if he participates in the gladiatorial "Contest of Champions" and fights his strongest gladiator... the Hulk! But time is running out, as Hela's bloody reign quickly races towards the chance to expand across the universe.
- Black Panther (February 16, 2018): After King T'Chaka of Wakanda was killed by Helmut Zemo's bomb during Civil War, his son T'Challa now bears the mantle of king and warrior as the Black Panther, and must prove himself worthy to his family and his people. When Wakanda's greatest enemy, the arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, resurfaces with new ally Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, the young king finds himself tested to his limits.
- Avengers: Infinity War (April 27, 2018): With all his allies having failed him, the Mad Titan Thanos at long last decides to personally pursue the Infinity Stones, determined to bring balance to the universe by killing off half of all sentient lifeforms. In order to even stand a chance, the Avengers must ally themselves with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and the armies of Wakanda. But with the team still divided both physically and ideologically, even that may not be enough to stop Thanos as he sets out to accomplish his goal.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018): Since he allied himself with Steve Rogers during the Avengers' Civil War, Scott Lang is now under house arrest, with Hank Pym livid that he would use his technology so recklessly. But when they discover that Scott may have an unusual "quantum entanglement" with Janet van Dyne, Hank's wife and Hope's mother long thought lost to the Quantum Realm, they must rely on him once again, even as black market dealer Sonny Burch and the mysterious Ghost repeatedly try to steal their technology.
- Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019): Set in 1995, amnesiac Kree hero Vers crash lands on Earth and must ally herself with newly-minted S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury to capture a group of shapeshifting Skrulls, enemies of the Kree Empire. But not all is as it seems: Vers discovers a connection and history she has with Earth, and begins to question who the true evil is in this cosmic war.
- Avengers: Endgame (April 26, 2019): Five years after the events of Infinity War devastated the world, hope is found in the unlikeliest of people: Scott Lang, thought to be dead, emerges from the Quantum Realm. While five years passed for everyone else, only five hours passed for him — leading our heroes to hypothesize that they can use the Quantum Realm to reverse the damage that was done by Thanos. With Steve and Tony reconciling and the Avengers newly re-assembled, they undertake their greatest challenge yet: the Time Heist, a plan that must succeed if they are to save the universe, whatever it takes.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2, 2019): With the Avengers having defeated Thanos, the world is finally getting back on track. Peter Parker and his friends try to enjoy their overseas school trip when it gets hijacked by Nick Fury, needing Peter's help to stop the powerful Elementals from destroying the planet. Thankfully, he's not on his own, teaming up with interdimensional superhero Quentin Beck / Mysterio.note
- Canceled Projects:
- Nick Fury (20082012)note
- War Machine (???)note
- Runaways (20132015)note
- Inhumans (2014-2016)note
A major innovation of this era is that the Phases no longer consist strictly of theatrical movies, and now include shows on the Disney+ streaming service. As a result, this greatly increases the amount of connected MCU entries and the content at any given time, with the batch's first year alone having 9 major releases (5 series and 4 films) as opposed to the usual 2-3. For instance, the full Phase Four slate alone is longer than the entirety of The Infinity Saga, thanks to the addition of multiple shows lasting much longer than the standard runtime of a Marvel movie.
At the launch of Disney+, Marvel outlined their plans for their first wave of shows with the short documentary Marvel Studios: Expanding the Universe. The documentary emphasized that unlike prior Marvel TV efforts — where links between the shows and the films were usually pretty one-sided if they even occurred at all — these Disney+ shows are integrated with the movies and with each other, with characters introduced on the shows appearing in the movies and vice-versa. Each show listed here is marked with a "+".
Behind the scenes, the first phase of this saga was noteworthy for hitting two speed-bumps before it even began. The first was the fact that Phase Four was set to debut in 2020. Unfortunately, that year was also when the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the entire world into quarantine... and let's just say that there's a reason why 2020 was the first year since 2009 that there wasn't a single mainline MCU installment. The other one was the unexpected and untimely passing of one of the franchise's key players: Chadwick Boseman, the Black Panther himself. Given that Boseman's performance was already iconic when he passed away, Marvel opted to not recast T'Challa as they did with other characters in the past, effectively writing T'Challa out of the MCU. Now, the Black Panther sub-franchise will focus on the supporting characters of Wakanda, rather than the king himself — although it remains to be seen if another character will become Black Panther, given the nature of its ceremonial title.
The September 2019 deal with Sony regarding the Spider-Man IP stipulates that, in addition to a third film in his standalone film series, the character will appear in one other Marvel Studios film, after which a new deal will need to be negotiated. However, in the lead-up to the 2021 release of the third film, Sony announced plans for a second trilogy of Spider-Man films set in the MCU. At the same time, Sony is said to have plans to utilize Tom Holland's take on the character in their own Marvel movies. So far, Sony has not formally announced any plans for Holland in that setting, but they have showcased that characters that they've introduced in the MCU are fair game.
- Phase Four (20212022, seven films, eight series, and two holiday specials)
- WandaVision + (January 15 - March 5, 2021): As the world continues to rebuild after the final defeat of Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, Wanda Maximoff and the mysteriously-returned Vision finally settle down and begin to enjoy their ideal suburban lives in the town of Westview. However, not everything is as it appears. For some reason, everything suspiciously resembles classic American sitcoms, and it becomes increasingly clear that there is something quite off about Westview. Not helping matters is the organization known as S.W.O.R.D. trying to meddle with Wanda's newfound life.
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier + note (March 19 - April 23, 2021): When the super-soldier serum resurfaces in the hands of the terrorist group the Flag-Smashers, Sam Wilson / The Falcon, chosen by Steve to succeed him as Captain America, and Bucky Barnes / The Winter Soldier, team up to stop them, which soon forces them to make an alliance with one of the most dangerous men in the world: the man who disassembled the Avengers, Helmut Zemo. As the three uneasy allies battle the Flag-Smashers, they must also contend with the government's own appointed successor to Captain America, John Walker.
- Loki + (Season 1: June 9 - July 14, 2021): After his unintended escape during the Avengers' Time Heist, Loki is arrested by the Time Variance Authority (TVA for short) for violations against the Sacred Timeline. Threatened to be deleted from reality, Loki joins forces with TVA agent Mobius as they hunt down a rogue variant of himself determined to upend the timeline as we know it. However, it's soon made apparent that things are not what they seem, and Loki finds himself asking: what is it that makes a Loki a Loki?
- Black Widow note (July 9, 2021): Set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, Natasha Romanoff is still on the run after the civil war against the Avengers. However, after a plea for help by her "sister" from Russia, Yelena Belova, Natasha and Yelena set out to destroy the Red Room — with the help of fellow family members Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian and Melina Vostokoff — and liberate their fellow Black Widows from the control of General Dreykov and his enigmatic enforcer, the fearless Taskmaster.
- What If...? + (Season 1: August 11 - October 6, 2021): In the Multiverse, one singular choice can change everything. What if Peggy Carter became the world's first super-soldier instead of Steve Rogers? Or what if a young boy named T'Challa was picked up by the Ravagers instead of Peter Quill? With Uatu the Watcher as a guide, the Multiverse of endless possibilities is explored in full as events in the MCU are changed in ways that alter the game completely.
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (September 3, 2021): The Ten Rings is an organization spanning throughout history, led by a ruthless warlord named Wenwu, better known as the Mandarin. Ten years ago, Wenwu's son and intended heir, Shang-Chi, escaped his father's organization and lived his life in San Francisco with his friend, Katy. However, as the Ten Rings resurface to try and bring him back into his destined place as the Mandarin's successor, Shang-Chi must finally confront not only his checkered past, but his true destiny.
- Eternals (November 5, 2021): For over 7,000 years, an ancient group of aliens known as the Eternals have been watching over mankind, helping them progress and protecting them from an evil force known as the Deviants. But centuries after their apparent defeat, the Deviants have returned in the present day. With the Avengers seemingly disassembled following the events of Endgame, and only seven days to stop the resurgent threat before an event known as "the Emergence" happens, the ten Eternals must unite once more to protect the planet—and the people that they lived amongst for all these years.
- Hawkeye + (November 24 - December 22, 2021): With the events of Avengers: Endgame behind him, Clint Barton / Hawkeye prepares to celebrate Christmas with his loving family. What could possibly go wrong? He gets the answer when some enemies he made during the Blip as the vigilante Ronin catch up to him. Teaming up with a 22-year-old fangirl of his, Kate Bishop, Hawkeye must now face his time as Ronin head-on... and hopefully, get back home for Christmas.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17, 2021): Ever since the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker's life has been upended in ways he never imagined. Thanks to the actions of Mysterio, Peter is framed for his crimes—and even worse, his identity is outed to the whole world. With his life now in utter shambles, Peter heads to the only person who could help him undo the damage Mysterio has done: Doctor Strange. However, after Peter accidentally causes Strange to botch the spell that can undo Mysterio's actions, it results in a journey to save the Multiverse from falling apart. A journey with some rather familiar adversaries... note
- Moon Knight + (March 30 - May 4, 2022): Steven Grant is not okay. Living alone in London, Steven suffers from a sleeping disorder that makes him unable to tell real life from dreams. That, and he suffers from hallucinations, making him fearful that a skeletal bird-man is stalking him. But when he gets a phone call referring to him as Marc Spector, Steven begins to learn that his dreams may be reality after all. Now, he must become the Moon Knight, champion of Khonshu, the Egyptian God of the Moon, to take down a fanatic cult and its leader Arthur Harrow—and fully embrace the chaos within.
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022): After waking from a nightmare, Doctor Strange meets a teenage girl named America Chavez who has the power to open portals to other dimensions. After being thrown into another world, Strange and Chavez must travel the Multiverse together to confront an old friend-turned-adversary, one who seeks to steal Chavez's powers and use them in a dangerous plot that may threaten all realities.
- Ms. Marvel + (June 8, 2022 - July 13, 2022): Kamala Khan is not your ordinary teenager. She's always in her own flights of fancy, whether it be gushing over boys she really likes or gushing over the Avengers — especially Captain Marvel. But when Kamala finds a mysterious bracelet that gives her superpowers of her own, it puts her in league with her idols. However, with new powers comes new dangers, and Kamala must grapple with the responsibilities of balancing her normal day-to-day life with saving her world as Ms. Marvel — the newest superhero on the block.
- Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8, 2022): After spending some time traveling the universe with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor decides to retire from superheroics and become a man of peace. However, he's soon forced back into action to stop the extinction of all gods at the hands of Gorr the God Butcher. But he's not alone, as he's joined by not only his allies Valkyrie and Korg, but also an unexpected ally who's gained the power of his reassembled hammer Mjölnir - his former girlfriend Jane Foster.
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law + (August 18, 2022 - October 13, 2022): Jennifer Walters is stressed out, balancing a demanding job as a superhuman defense lawyer with her fledgling social life. Things only get more complicated when she gets in a car accident with her cousin, Bruce Banner, and gets a dose of his blood. And guess what? She gets his powers too, transforming her into the sensational She-Hulk. Now she has to find a way to deal with the unwanted attention while grappling with the superpowers and confidence her new form gives her, as she becomes the face of a superhero-focused law firm and deals with all kinds of out-of-the-ordinary legal cases.
- Werewolf by Night + (October 7, 2022): In Marvel Studios' very first Special Presentation, we're introduced to Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone, who are joined by a secret group of monster hunters. Tonight, these hunters will compete in a dangerous hunt within the Bloodstone Castle—the prize being a very powerful relic known as the Bloodstone. And to do that, they must kill a certain monster that was set loose. However, as the hunt continues, a second monster soon emerges: none other than Jack himself.
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11, 2022): The king is dead. Wakanda is rocked by the sudden death of their beloved King T'Challa, leaving them without their legendary defender, the Black Panther. But as Wakanda soon comes under threat from a new enemy from below the waves, Queen Ramonda, Shuri, MBaku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje must pull the country together and fight for its future. But will a new Black Panther arrive to help turn the tide?
- The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special + (November 25, 2022): Ever since the defeat of Thanos, Star-Lord has been in a depressive spiral over the loss of his Gamora and the unknown whereabouts of the new Gamora. However, with Christmas approaching, Mantis and Drax have a plan to help cheer him up and get him in the holiday spirit a plan that involves getting him a gift in the form of the greatest hero on Earth, Kevin Bacon.
- Phase Five (20232024)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (February 17, 2023): Scott Lang has been riding high on success since the Time Heist. Not only that, but he has lots of time to spend with his friends and family. Everything's great... until Scott's daughter, Cassie, decides to create a device that can communicate with the Quantum Realm. The device immediately goes awry, sucking Scott, Cassie, and the Pym family all in. Now in uncharted territory beneath their known universe, the five must navigate their way home while exploring what the Quantum Realm has to offer. However, during their journey, they discover a brand-new threat—whose power and influence even surpasses that of Thanos himself.
- Secret Invasion + (Spring 2023): After spending some time on "vacation" in space, Nick Fury returns to Earth to answer a distress signal coming from his colleague, Maria Hill. As it turns out, there's a group of Skrulls on the planet that needs investigating—and unlike the ones Fury met during his adventures with Captain Marvel, these Skrulls are not on his side. Now, Fury must team up with his allies, including his old friend Talos, to stop this new Skrull faction and whatever they have planned for Earth. But how can Fury stop a group of aliens that can shapeshift into anyone—even people that Fury can trust?
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023): As the Guardians of the Galaxy continue to defend their galaxy and hopefully try to track down Gamora, they're met with a couple of new threats. One of them is Adam Warlock—sent by the Guardians' old enemy, Ayesha, to defeat them as revenge for the Sovereigns' past defeats. The other, more dangerous threat is the mysterious High Evolutionary, a scientist that has ties to Rocket and his dark past. In order to stop both Adam and the High Evolutonary, the Guardians must band together one last time and prove why they're the galaxy's greatest defenders.
- Upcoming projects announced by Marvel:note
- Phase Five (20232024)
- What If...? Season 2 + (Early 2023)
- The Marvels (sequel to both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, and featuring Monica Rambeau as an additional co-lead, July 28, 2023) note
- Echo + (spinoff of Hawkeye, Summer 2023)
- Loki Season 2 + (Summer 2023)
- Ironheart + (follow-up to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, based on Ironheart, Fall 2023) note
- Agatha: Coven of Chaos + (spinoff of WandaVision starring Agatha Harkness, Winter 2023 and/or 2024)
- Daredevil: Born Again + (Sequel Series to Daredevil, Spring 2024)
- Captain America: New World Order (starring Sam Wilson/the (former) Falcon as Captain America, May 3, 2024) note
- Thunderbolts (Based on Thunderbolts, July 26, 2024) note
- Marvel Zombies + (spinoff of What If...? based on Marvel Zombies, TBA 2024) note
- Spider-Man: Freshman Year + (TBA 2024) - An animated series described as a canon prequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, but seemingly diverging from the main MCU's continuitynote
- Phase Six (2024-2026)
- Unknown release window:
- Armor Wars (spinoff of Iron Man based on Armor Wars and starring War Machine)
- What If...? Season 3 +
- Spider-Man: Sophomore Year + (TBA) - (Second season of "Spider-Man: Freshman Year".)
- Untitled Black Panther spinoff series +note
- Second MCU Spider-Man film trilogynote
- Untitled Shang-Chi sequelnote
- Untitled series by Destin Daniel Cretton +note
- Phase Five (20232024)
- Canceled Projects:
- Untitled Star-Lord T'Challa series (spinoff of What If...?) note
So far, most entriesnote have been accompanied by two other companion shows on Disney+: Legends, seven-minute Clip Show shorts recapping the characters' histories in the MCU so far; and Assembled, a series of making-of specials.
While it was initially promised that the series would tie in closely with the films themselves, Marvel Studios splitting from Marvel Entertainment changed any plans that Loeb may have had, with the shows instead opting to cover other corners of the setting that the movies wouldn't touch. Later, Netflix would start slowly canceling all of their shows between late 2018 and early 2019 despite them finding great success. Since the partnership ended, Disney started developing all their new Marvel shows for television channels and streaming platforms that they completely control. Due to their close connections to the movies (being integrated in the "Phases") and the explicit involvement of Marvel Studios, all Disney+ series will be listed under the previous folder.
In October 2019, Kevin Feige received a major promotion allowing him to oversee all of Marvel's television productions, with Jeph Loeb later committing to stepping down after a transition period. This led to the planned Adventure Into Fear sub-franchise being canceled, and the only show produced under the banner, Helstrom, was declared separate from the MCU by its showrunner when it was released in October 2020. Marvel Television was shut down and folded into Marvel Studios in December 2019, with the last aired episode set in the MCU being the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in August 2020.
The current canonicity of these TV shows is unknown; all except Cloak & Dagger are available to stream on Disney+ but are usually labeled "Marvel Legacy" content like other non-MCU works, and are not included in explicitly MCU-focused categories. On the other hand, Avengers: Endgame and a number of Phase Four works have had some TV actors return to reprise their roles in cameo appearances, suggesting that their series may be canon (at least in Broad Strokes). Daredevil was later revived in the MCU's Phase Five with the same lead actors, but it's not clear just how much of the Netflix run remains in canon.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (September 24, 2013 August 12, 2020): Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is dead... or so it seems. Having apparently miraculously survived his fatal injuries from The Avengers, the agent is now heading an elite team of specialists to deal with strange and unknown new threats in this age of superhumans. Which isn't exactly easy, considering how their organization has been effectively dismantled. Consisting of Daisy Johnson, Melinda May, Jemma Simmons, Leopold Fitz, Grant Ward, Barbara "Bobbi" Morse, Lance Hunter, Lincoln Campbell, Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie, Elena Rodriguez, and Deke Shaw, these agents nevertheless continue to protect the world against Nazis, demons, robots, aliens, and robot aliens as they uncover secrets and mysteries spanning universes. The most important of which being: how is Coulson alive? note
- Agent Carter (January 8, 2015 March 1, 2016): One year after the end of World War II, Howard Stark has been framed for selling weapons to enemies of the United States. Peggy Carter, still mourning the apparent death of Steve Rogers and tired of the misogyny of her coworkers, is roped into the situation along with the Stark butler, Edwin Jarvis. What starts out as an attempt to clear Stark's name quickly escalates into a conspiracy involving communist assassins, secret societies, and interdimensional forces, with Peggy stuck in the middle.
- Inhumans (September 29 November 10, 2017note ): In their city on the Moon, the Inhuman Royal Family — the king, Black Bolt; his queen, Medusa; strategist Karnak; military leader Gorgon; Medusa's sister Crystal; aquatic Triton; and Maximus, Black Bolt's brother — live in luxury while the Inhuman working class toil in the mines or work as their servants. When Maximus (who, despite going through Terrigenesis, has no superpowers) exploits this situation to his advantage and attempts a coup, the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family is teleported to Earth, where they find themselves in desperate situations. Can they come together to stop Maximus? Or will this cause the end of Inhuman society?
- Cloak & Dagger (June 7, 2018 May 30, 2019): Tyrone Johnson's brother was killed by a cop. Tandy Bowen's father died in an oil rig accident, for which his superiors posthumously blamed him. After a chance meeting between the two unlocks strange powers, they set out to get justice for their ruined lives, unaware that destiny and the strange mysticism of New Orleans have much bigger roles for them in store.
- Runaways (November 21, 2017 December 13, 2019): Six teens reunite, years after their seventh member died. Unfortunately, in the course of this reconciliation, the teens discover a horrible secret: Their parents are murderers. Deciding to work together in order to stop this cult, the six begin to discover fantastical abilities as they try to find out why their parents joined the PRIDE, whom they serve, and what other dark forces lie in wait.
- Daredevil (April 10, 2015 October 19, 2018): Blinded in an accident that enhanced his other senses as a child, lawyer Matt Murdock takes to the streets as a masked vigilante to deal with criminals the law cannot stop, such as the mysterious Wilson Fisk / The Kingpin, his Dragon Benjamin Poindexter / Bullseye, murderous rival vigilante Frank Castle / The Punisher, and the mystical crime organization known as the Hand. Matthew has trouble reconciling his violent actions with his faith, however, and fears how far he'll go as the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.
- Jessica Jones (November 20, 2015 June 14, 2019): After a freak car crash killed her entire family, Jessica Jones gained superpowers. But any notion of becoming a superhero was dashed after a traumatic encounter with a man who could make people do whatever he wanted, and Jessica now puts her skills to use as a private eye. However, the past doesn't die so easily, as Jessica must confront Kilgrave once again.
- Luke Cage (September 30, 2016 June 22, 2018): Carl Lucas gained invulnerable skin in a prison experiment. Lucas, now going by Luke Cage, must now work with detective Misty Knight and use his powers to protect Harlem from the criminal elements that would infect it, such as local crime lord Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes, his Corrupt Politician cousin Mariah, the powerful arms dealer Diamondback, pragmatic Opportunistic Bastard Shades, and the vengeful Bushmaster.
- Iron Fist (March 17, 2017 September 7, 2018): Danny Rand, after a plane crash killed his parents, was taken in by the monks of the mystical K'un-Lun and given the chance to earn the powerful Iron Fist. Now he has returned to New York, swearing to reclaim his parents' company and destroy the ancient enemies of K'un-Lun, the Hand. As soon as someone starts taking him seriously.
- The Defenders (August 18, 2017): After a huge earthquake rocks New York, Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Danny Rand unite in order to put a stop to the Hand once and for all.
- The Punisher (November 17, 2017 January 18, 2019): Frank Castle, having avenged his family, has finally retired his bloody crusade of vengeance. At least, he's trying to. After being tracked down by hacker David Lieberman, Frank begins to realize there may be more to what happened to his family then he originally thought. As enemies old and new begin to come out of the woodwork, Frank must pick up his guns once again and continue his war on crime.
Adventure Into Fear planned franchise:note
- Helstrom (October 16, 2020)note
- Untitled series by John Ridley note
- Most Wanted note
- Damage Control note
- Untitled series by Allan Heinberg note
- New Warriors note
- Ghost Rider note
- Marvel One-Shots
- The Consultant: The World Security Council has come up with the wonderfully terrible idea of recruiting Emil Blonsky, the Abomination, into the Avenger Initiative. Realizing it for the awful idea that it is, Nick Fury tasks S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell to brainstorm an idea to keep this from happening. This short was included on the Thor Blu-ray.
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer: Phil Coulson is on his way to investigate Thor's hammer dropping from the sky. Stopping by at a gas station to refuel and buy some mini doughnuts, he ends up stuck in a robbery. This short was included on the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-ray.
- Item 47: In the aftermath of the battle of New York, down-on-their-luck couple Benny and Claire find a working Chitauri rifle, and decide the do the most sensible thing they can: Go on a bank-robbing spree! Unfortunately for them, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Sitwell and Blake are tasked with putting an end to it. This short was included in The Avengers Blu-ray.
- Agent Carter: After the end of World War II, S.S.R. agent Peggy Carter repeatedly finds herself put down by her sexist boss and coworker, relegated to menial office duties. After she receives word of an urgent mission regarding a target named "Zodiac", she finally puts her skills to use and shows the boys how it's done. Was a proof-of-concept that eventually evolved into the Agent Carter ABC series. This short was included in the Iron Man 3 Blu-ray.
- All Hail the King: After finally achieving stardom (...in prison, at least), stage actor and certifiable junkie Trevor Slattery is approached by Jackson Norriss for an interview. Little does Trevor know, the ancient leader of the Ten Rings is not happy in the least that the ham absconded with his identity, and paraded the name of the Mandarin in vain. This short was included on the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray and later released on Disney+.
- Peter's To-Do List: Peter Parker/Spider-Man runs some errands, both civilian and superhero, before embarking on his summer vacation. This short is composed of deleted footage from Spider-Man: Far From Home and was included as a separate feature on that film's Blu-ray and DVD.
- I Am Groot + (August 10, 2022): A series of five shorts that follows Baby Groot's glory days growing up, and getting into trouble, among the stars. Starring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot.
- 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 "Yo-Yo" Rodriguez; set before Season 4 and with a Framing Device set in the middle of that season.
- TheDailyBugle.net: A series of in-universe news videos and articles hosted by J. Jonah Jameson (J. K. Simmons). Initially made to promote the home media release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, and later revived to promote Spider-Man: No Way Home, with Angourie Rice's Betty Brant hosting the site's TikTok account. The YouTube videos (but not TikTok or other articles) were included on their respective movies' Blu-ray releases. The account has since been used to promote the non-MCU film Morbius.
- 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 Prelude: Fury's Big Week - Chronicles the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s perspective, leading up to The Avengers.
- The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes - While tracking down Ten Rings operations, Natasha faces a woman who wants the title of "Black Widow" for herself.
- 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, S.H.I.E.L.D. 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.
- Black Panther Prelude - Prequel set roughly concurrently with the first Iron Man, showing T'Challa's early days as the new Black Panther of Wakanda.
- Avengers: Infinity War Prelude - The first issue is set between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, featuring Captain America, Falcon and Black Widow dealing with the aftermath of having been branded fugitives. In the second, Wong recaps the history of the Infinity Stones for Dr. Strange.
- Captain Marvel Prelude - Shows what Nick Fury and Maria Hill were up to during Phase Three; particularly trying to get Iron Man and Captain America to reconcile after Civil War.
- Black Widow Prelude - Councilwoman Hawley recapping Black Widow's past in the MCU including the events of the movies to Secretary Ross as he prepares to find and arrest her. (Currently the final installment of the "Prelude" series.)
- Eternals: The 500 Year War - Seven-part Webtoon series chronicling six of the Eternals previous conflicts with the Deviants across six different time periods.
- Iron Man (2008)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Thor: God of Thunder (2011)
- Captain America: Super Soldier (2011)
- Iron Man 3: The Official Game (2013)
- Thor: The Dark World - The Official Game (2013)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The Official Game (2014)
- LEGO Marvel's Avengers (2016)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming - Virtual Reality Experience (2017)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home Virtual Reality (2019)
- Avengers: Damage Control (2019) - A VR game that has players testing out prototype suits developed by Shuri using a combination of Stark and Wakandan technology who come up against Ultron.
- "Shoot To Thrill" - AC/DC song licensed for use in Iron Man 2, its soundtrack, and The Avengers; music video included on the bonus discs of AC/DC's IM2 soundtrack and the movie's Blu-ray/DVD/Digital and DVD/Digital combo packs.
- "Live to Rise" - Soundgarden's end credits song of The Avengers, and first track of the tie-in album Avengers Assemble; music video included on the movie's home media releases.
- "Guardians Inferno" - "David Hasselhoff and The Sneepers"' end credits song of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and last track of Awesome Mix, Vol. 2; music video included on the movie's home media releases.
- "All the Stars" - Kendrick Lamar and SZA's end credits song of Black Panther, and second track of Black Panther: The Album.
- "I Want Your Cray Cray" - The full version of Trish's Old Shame music video from season 2 of Jessica Jones.
- "Save the City"note - A(n intentionally bad) Broadway musical adaptation of the Battle of New York from The Avengers, as seen in Hawkeye.
- X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997) and X-Men 97 (2023) - While not directly connected to the MCU (yet), Marvel Studios is helming the upcoming Revival of the series, and it is heavily Homaged when mutants are referenced (in particular, the series' theme song has already become their MCU Leitmotif).
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994-1998) - This series would also be loosely connected to the MCU due to taking place in the same universe as X-Men: The Animated Series.
- X-Men Film Series (2000-2020) - Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is slated to return in Deadpool 3, with it stated not to conflict with Logan continuity-wise.note The series has also been referenced through Casting Gags in WandaVisionnote and Multiverse of Madness.note
- Deadpool (2016) and Deadpool 2 (2018) - The predecessors to the MCU's Deadpool 3 and spin-offs to the X-Men Film Series. Despite 3 being a direct sequel, Deadpool's status as a Fourth-Wall Observer who would recognize the change in continuities makes it unclear just how much of them will be Retconned to the MCU.
- Spider-Man Trilogy (2002-2007), The Amazing Spider-Man Series (2012-2014), and Sony's Spider-Man Universe (2018-present) - Other film continuities featuring Spider-Man and related characters, which crossed over with the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023) and Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (2024) - The Stinger of the Sony's Universe film Venom has a scene from Into the Spider-Verse with the caption "Elsewhere in the Multiverse". If canon and not just marketing hype, this makes the Spider-Verse series also part of the MCU's Multiverse. The film also crossed over with Spider-Man (1967) by having that version of Spider-Man appear in The Stinger.
- Avengers Assemble (2013-2019) - An animated series serving as a non-canon sequel to The Avengers
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Double Agent (2015) - A Recursive Reality behind-the-scenes Mini Series for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) (2015-2019) - An animated series serving as a non-canon sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy
- Team Thor (2016-2018) - comedic shorts involving Thor: Ragnarok characters and their supposed whereabouts during Phase Three
- Civil War: Team Thor - aired at Comic-Con 2016 before being released online; later included with the digital release of Captain America: Civil War.
- Team Thor: Part 2 - included on the Doctor Strange Blu-ray
- Team Darryl - included on the Thor: Ragnarok Blu-Ray
- Darryl Survived the Snap - posted on Twitter as a birthday video for Chris Hemsworth.
- Marvel Studios: Legends (January 8, 2021 - Present; Clip Show Previously on
recaps for Phase Four works)
- A Fan's Guide to Ms. Marvel (June 1, 2022; a behind-the-scenes preview released in place of Legends episodes for Ms. Marvel)
- Marvel Studios: Assembled (March 12, 2021 - Present; making-of documentaries for Phase Four works)
- Director by Night (November 4, 2022): Standalone making-of special for Werewolf by Night.
- Disney Theme Parks attractions:
- Avengers C.A.M.P.U.S. and Stark Expo (June 4, 2021 (Disney California Adventure); July 20, 2022 (Walt Disney Studios Park); TBA 2023 (Hong Kong Disneyland))
- Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! (Disney California Adventure; May 27, 2017; later incorporated into the C.A.M.P.U.S.)
- W.E.B. of Spider-Man (2021; a comic book miniseries taking place in the C.A.M.P.U.S. universe, based on the ride W.E.B. Slingers)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Epcot; May 27, 2022)
- Avengers: Quantum Encounter (Disney Wish cruise line; 2022)
- Avengers C.A.M.P.U.S. and Stark Expo (June 4, 2021 (Disney California Adventure); July 20, 2022 (Walt Disney Studios Park); TBA 2023 (Hong Kong Disneyland))
- The Good, the Bart, and the Loki (July 7, 2021) - A crossover between Loki and The Simpsons
Tropes present across the cinematic universe:
Warning! Late Arrival Spoilers through Phase Two may be unmarked!
- B to F
- G to R
- S to Z
Nick Fury: They'll come back.
Maria Hill: Are you really sure about that?
Nick Fury: I am.
Maria Hill: Why?
Nick Fury: Because we'll need them to.