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MCU recap: A complete rundown of every Marvel movie up until Spider-Man: Far From Home

Phase 3

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

(Image credit: Marvel)

The incident at Sokovia has led the world to distrust the Avengers. After a mission goes wrong in Lagos and several Wakandan humanitarian workers get accidentally killed by Wanda Maximoff, the world’s governments decide it’s not a good idea to let enhanced humans run free without supervision. Iron Man agrees they should be made accountable. Captain America believes they should be free,

Meanwhile, Helmut Zemo finds and kills one of the people who brainwashed Bucky, stealing the notebook with the words that will trigger his brainwashing again. 

When the Avengers and the United Nations are at a conference in Vienna to sign the Sokovia Accord (which will give the UN control over the Avengers), a huge explosion supposedly set off by the brainwashed Bucky kills T’Challa’s father, the King of Wakanda. T’Challa vows that he’ll kill Bucky. Wanting to save his friend, Steve finds out that Bucky is hiding in Bucharest and travels with Sam Wilson (Falcon) to find him. A chase ensues as T’Challa and the security forces get to Bucky, but, before Steve can get his old buddy safely away, James Rhodes (War Machine) and the international police track them down and arrest all of them. 

Bucky is put in a secure container and taken with Steve, Sam, and T’Challa to a government facility. Wanda is kept at the Avengers headquarters by Vision. Unknown to them, Zemo gains access to the facility, too, by impersonating a psychiatrist, and gains control over Bucky by reading the words from the notebook. Under his instructions Bucky wreaks havoc. 

Steve gets his friend safely away and discovers that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and plans to wake up five more winter soldiers from an old Hydra base, who are currently in cryogenic stasis. Steve decides that they can’t wait for international approval and gets Sam, Wanda, Clint Barton (Hawkeye), and Scott Lang (Antman) on his side. When they attempt to head off to the Hydra base first, they find Tony is already there with his own team: Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Vision, James, T’Challa, and Peter Parker (Spider-man). The two groups fight, but Natasha ends up switching sides and helps Steve and Bucky escape on a jet. In their attempt to stop the jet, War Machine ends up getting shot in the back, paralysing his legs. Those fighting on Steve’s side who did not manage to escape get imprisoned for going against the Sokovia Accord. 

Bucky and Cap make there way to the Hydra base and find Zemo. Stark's also made it to the base. They do not initially fight, but Zemo reveals that Bucky, brainwashed by Hydra, killed Stark's parents. Tony fights both Steve and Bucky in his rage, destroying Bucky’s robotic arm. Steve manages to break Tony’s armour and flees with Bucky, leaving his shield behind. Outside the facility, Zemo attempts suicide, but is stopped by T’Challa.

Once the dust has settled, Tony provides War Machine with a high-tech brace for his leg, and Steve frees his allies from the government’s high-security prison. Bucky retreats to Wakanda where he has asylum, and is put into cryogenic sleep to wait until Shuri finds a cure for his brainwashing. 

Things you need to remember:

  • Thor and Bruce Banner are still missing
  • Bucky is waiting for his brainwashing to be cured in Wakanda
  • The Avengers have split: on Captain America’s side is Falcon, Antman, Wanda, Bucky, and Hawkeye. On Tony Stark’s side is Spider-man, Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther, and War Machine
  • Steve's side are now in hiding from Tony Stark and the United Nations

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Stephen Strange is a brilliant, but arrogant neurosurgeon who gets into a car accident, which almost completely cripples his hands, effectively ending his career. Trying to find a cure, Strange is told by a former paraplegic to go to Kamar-Taj, where he meets Mordo and the Ancient One, both powerful sorcerers who can manipulate the world around them and travel to other dimensions. Strange is skeptical at first, but the Ancient One demonstrates her power and then reluctantly agrees to teach Strange at the behest of Mordo.  

Strange studies under the Ancient One and Mordo, and from ancient books in the library guarded by master Wong. He learns that the Earth is guarded from threats from other dimensions by three Sanctums in New York, London, and Hong Kong (all connected and accessed through portals from Kamar-Taj) which are in turn guarded by three sorcerers. Strange has a knack for sorcery and progresses quickly, even learning how to bend time with the Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong catch him and warn him against messing with the natural law. 

Sorcerer Kaecilius - the Ancient One’s former student - seeks to unleash Dormammu of the Dark Dimension on the world, believing that everyone will live forever because time doesn’t exist in the Dark Dimension. To bring Dormammu to our world, Kaecilius must destroy all the Sanctums. Strange battles Kaecilius in New York, but the villain and his zealots escape. Strange, who now has command of the Cloak of Levitation, has to go get patched up by his ex-girlfriend and fellow doctor Christine Palmer.

Mordo and the Ancient One arrive and Strange reveals that he knows the Ancient One draws power from the Dark Dimension. Mordo is upset because the Ancient One always told him that was forbidden. Kaecilius and his followers attack the New York Sanctum again and this time the Ancient One is mortally wounded. Strange and Mordo rush to the Hong Kong Sanctum to find it already destroyed, Wong dead, and Dormammu breaking through. Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to turn back time to before the attack. Rather than fight Kaecilius, though, Strange travels into the Dark Dimension and traps himself and Dormammu in a never-ending five second loop and annoys the big bad into giving up. Dormammu takes Kaecilius leaves the Earth and, in return, Strange breaks the loop.

Mordo thinks Strange is just as bad as the Ancient One for winning by breaking the natural law and walks off. Strange returns the Eye of Agamotto to Kamar-Taj where Wong reveals it contains an Infinity Stone. Strange becomes the protector of the New York Sanctum. Later, we see Strange helping Thor find his father Odin, so he and his troublesome brother Loki will leave Earth. Meanwhile, Mordo steals power from the former paraplegic who sent Strange to Kamar-Taj, crippling him once again and declaring that the Earth has "too many sorcerers".

Things you need to remember:

  • Both Doctor Strange and Master Wong are powerful sorcerers
  • Mordo thinks all the sorcerers are corrupt
  • The Eye of Agamotto contains the Time Infinity Stone
  • Thor and Loki are back on Earth looking for Odin

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

The Guardians of the Galaxy, now guns for hire, protect some valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster for the Sovereign race in exchange for Gamora's sister Nebula. However, after their mission, Rocket steals some of the batteries and the Sovereign’s leader, Ayesha, attacks their ship the Milano. The Guardians are saved by a mysterious figure, who reveals himself to be Quill’s Dad, Ego. He invites them to join him on his home planet and Quill, Gamora, and Drax agree, while Rocket and Groot remain behind to fix the ship and guard Nebula. 

Ayesha hires Yondu and his crew to capture the Guardians. They find Rocket, but when Yondu hesitates to go after Quill his subordinate Taserface leads a mutiny. Nebula leaves to find and kill Gamora while Yondu and Rocket bond in the ship's prison. Groot and Kraglin help Rocket and Yondu escape and they destroy the ship, but not before Taserface has a chance to warn the Sovereign.

Meanwhile, Ego reveals to Quill that he’s a god-like celestial being who created his home world by forming matter around his consciousness. Ego is the planet. He then created a humanoid guise to travel the universe and eventually met and fell in love with Quill’s mum, Meredith. When she died, he sent Yondu and his crew to get Quill, but they never arrived back. Ego had been looking for him every since. He teaches Quill to manipulate celestial power and the pair start to bond. 

Nebula arrives and tries to kill Gamora, but they come to an uneasy alliance when they discover a cave full of skeletal remains. Ego reveals to Quill that he planted seedlings on thousands of worlds and can now terraform them into new extensions of himself, but they can only be activated by two celestial beings, so he impregnated countless females from different planets and alien races to and create a celestial offspring. He hired Yondu to collect all the children and when each of them failed to acquire any celestial power he killed them. Then he gave Quill’s mum the brain tumour. Unsurprisingly, Quill doesn’t take all of this very well, but Ego manipulates him into activating the seedlings, and what comes out begins to consume lots of different worlds, including Earth. 

Quill fights back and goes to find his friends. Mantis, Ego's empath servant, has grown close to Drax and warns him of Ego’s plan. He tells Gamora and Nebula just before Rocket, Yondu, Groot, and Kraglin to arrive, followed by the Sovereign's army. While under fire, the reunited Guardians find Ego's brain at the planet's core and destroy it. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill, who realises that the reason Yondu kept him all those years to protect him from Ego. Nebula decides to go and kill Thanos. 

Kraglin inherits Yondu's telekinetic arrow and fin, Groot becomes a teenager, and Ayesha creates an artificial being called Adam with which she plans to destroy the Guardians. 

Things you need to remember:

  • Yondu is dead
  • Nebula has gone to kill Thanos
  • Groot is growing up
  • The Sovereigns hate the Guardians
  • Star Lord is half Celestial

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up New York after the events of The Avengers, but his operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control, a partnership between Tony Stark and the US government. Angry at losing business, he decides to keep some of the alien technology he was supposed to be scrapping and use it to make and sell advanced weaponry. 

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker returns to Queens to await another call for help from Tony Stark. Consumed with becoming a fully fledged member of the Avengers, Parker focuses on his crime-fighting activities, neglecting his studies and friends. One night, after stopping an ATM robbery, he returns home where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity as Spider-Man. On another night, he tries to stop some of Toomes’s lackeys from selling alien weapons, but Toomes shows up wearing some flying, Vulture-like armour and drops him into a lake. He has to be rescued by Iron Man, who reveals that he’s been tracking the suit and warns him to stay away from Toomes.

On his way home, Peter finds part of one of the weapons and he and Ned study it, removing its power core. Toomes sends two of his associates to find it and they trace it to Peter's high school, but are unable to locate the weapon. Peter manages to put a tracking device on one of them, which leads him to Maryland. Peter and Ned disable the tracker in the Spidey suit and unlock some advanced features Peter never knew about, including his own AI companion, which he names Karen

After a school trip gone slightly array at the Washington Monument, Peter captures a criminal, who is planning a weapons exchange on the Staten Ferry, However, the police are already there and a malfunctioning weapon tears the Ferry in two. Toomes escapes while Peter scrambles to save everyone on board. In the end, Iron Man has to save the day.

Disappointed that Peter didn’t listen to him, Stark takes his Spidey suit away. In trouble with his Aunt May and school, Peter returns to normal life and eventually asks his crush, Liz, to Homecoming, but on the night of the dance, discovers that Toomes is her father. Toomes realises Peter is Spider-Man and warns him to stay away. Peter, however, realises that Toomes plans to hijack a DDC plane carrying loads of valuable alien objects from Avengers Tower to the new headquarters, and leaves the dance to follow him. He dons his old Spidey suit and fights Toomes. 

Eventually, Peter saves save the day and even protects Toomes when his malfunctioning Vulture suit explodes. Toomes is arrested and Liz moves away. Peter turns Tony down when he asks him to join the Avengers full time and tries to give him a cool new Spidey suit. Tony does give Peter back his original suit, though, and Peter tries it on in his room just as his Aunt May walks in. Meanwhile, in prison, another criminal approaches Toomes saying there’s a rumour going around that he knows Spider-Man’s true identity, which Toomes denies.

Things you need to remember:

  • Peter's Spidey suit features Karen
  • Spider-Man does not want to be part of The Avengers
  • The Vulture knows Spider-Man's true identity
  • And so does Aunt May

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Thor has been travelling the universe looking for the Infinity Stones (without much luck) and gets captured by Surtur, who tells him that Odin is no longer on Asgard. The flaming monster also says that, when he uses the Eternal Flame, he will bring about Ragnarok, the destruction of worlds. Thor defeats Surtur and takes his crown back to Asgard, where he discovers that Loki is posing as his father. Thor forces Loki to reveal himself. They travel to Earth to find him. 

With the help of Doctor Strange, the brothers find their Dad in Norway, but he is dying and warns them that, after he’s gone, their sister Hela - the goddess of Death - will try and take over Asgard. He dies and Hela appears, having been released from her prison. When Thor and Loki refuse to kneel she destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and the pair try to escape using the Bifröst bridge, but she hitches a ride and pushes them out into spacebefore arriving at Asgard. Once in Asgard, Hela destroys its army and uses the Eternal Flame to resurrect the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris. Heimdall steals the sword that controls the Bifröst preventing Hela from unleashing her army on other worlds, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Meanwhile, Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He’s promptly captured by a slave trader designated Scrapper 142 and sold to the ruler of Sakaar, The Grandmaster, who wants him to fight his champion in a gladiator-style battle. Thor discovers that Loki arrived on Sakaar some time ago and has ingratiated himself with the Grandmaster, but won’t help Thor escape. 

Thor goes to fight the Grandmaster’s champion and it’s the Hulk! However, Bruce Banner is nowhere to be found in the monster's brain, and Thor gets defeated. Thor wakes up in Hulk’s room and tries to convince him to help him escape and save Asgard. The Hulk isn’t having any of it at first, but eventually persuades Scrapper 142 to hear Thor out. It turns out that 142 is actually an Asgardian and used to be a member of the Valkyrie - an elite female fighting force - but she’s faced Hela before and has no desire to do so again. Eventually, Thor escapes without their help and heads to the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows and is transformed back into Bruce Banner when he accidentally plays a recording of Natasha Romanoff.

he Grandmaster thinks Thor has captured his champion and orders everyone to find them. The Valkyrie decides to join Thor and captures Loki to prove her good will. Not wanting to be left behind, Loki helps the group steal a ship they can escape on. Surprise, surprise Loki eventually tries to betray them all, but Thor sees it coming and leaves his brother behind, escaping Sakaar with Bruce and Valkyrie. 

They arrive just in time to see Hela and her forces attempting to kill everyone and steal back the Bifröst sword. Bruce transforms into the Hulk and fights Hela’s giant wolf while Thor and Valkyrie try to defeat her army of resurrected warriors. Loki arrives in a really big ship (along with a couple of other gladiators from Sakaar) and helps all the Asgardian civilians get on board. Thor loses an eye while fighting Hela and realises only Ragnarok can stop her, so he tells Loki to go put Surtur's crown in the Eternal Flame. On the way Loki steals the Tesseract from the vault.

Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, killing Hela, while everyone else escapes. Thor is crowned King and decides to take his people to Earth, but they are intercepted by an even larger spacecraft.

Things you need to remember:

  • Asgard is no more and its people are refugees
  • Mjolnir has been destroyed
  • Thor has short hair and only one eye now
  • Loki has the Tesseract
  • Thor is king of Asgard

Black Panther (2018)

Wakanda is a hidden country that houses a lot of Vibranium. They are technologically advanced, but the world believes them to be a third-world country.  

Back in the ‘90s, T’Challa’s dad King T’Chaka sent his brother N’Jobu undercover to scout out America. Unfortunately, N’Jobu quickly becomes disillusioned with Wakanda’s isolationist policy and starts to smuggle Vibranium to America. T’Chaka attempts to arrest N'Jobu, but accidentally kills him while he resists arrest. To prevent civil war from breaking out in Wakanda, the King covers up his death. 

In the present day, T’Challa returns home after the events of Captain America: Civil War, accompanied by Okoye, the general of his army, and his ex-girlfriend and Wakandan spy Nakia. Reunited with his mother Ramonda and his technological-genius sister Shuri, T'Challa takes over as king.

International criminal Ulysses Klaue and Erik Stevens get their hands on a Vibranium artefact. It doesn’t take long for Okoye to hear about this, so T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye make their way to a casino in South Korea to intercept the Vibranium and catch Klaue. Unexpectedly, the organisation buying the Vibranium is none other than the CIA, represented by Everett K. Ross. Things quickly go south and a car chase ensues, but T’Challa catches Klaue, who ends up being rescued by Erik. While T’Challa is fighting him he notices a Vibranium ring hung around Erik’s neck, which looks a lot like his own royal ring. T’Challa later discovers the truth about Erik, the son of N’Jobu who became a professional killer nicknamed Killmonger. 

Meanwhile, Killmonger murders Klaue and presents his body to the Wakandan council to gain an audience with the tribal elders. He reveals his lineage and challenges T’Challa to ritual combat for the Wakandan throne. Killmonger beats T’Challa, ingesting the heart-shaped herb to claim the mantle of Black Panther. Killmonger commands his Wakandan forces to send Vibranium weapons to their spies around the world and plans to rule it using the advanced technology. 

Nakia and co. flee to the Jabari tribe in the mountains (Okoye remains in Wakanda, citing her loyalty to the throne - no matter who sits upon it) and plead to M’Baku to seize the throne from Killmonger. M’Baku hesitates then leads the four refugees to a near-death T’Challa. 

T’Challa and his four allies return to Wakanda after failing to convince M’Baku to join the fight against Killmonger. The imposter King immediately orders his armies to attack T’Challa and his forces are split. Realising T’Challa is alive, Okoye turns on Killmonger and her royal guard attack his forces, as does Shuri and Nakia. While in Shuri’s lab, Ross remotely pilots a jet and shoots down the carriers taking Vibranium weapons to America before they leave Wakanda. Just when it looks like T’Challa’s side is losing, M’Baku turns up with his forces. Killmonger and T’Challa fight in the Vibranium mines, with T’Challa emerging victorious. 

Nakia then agrees to marry T’Challa and they decide to reveal Wakanda’s technological prowess to the world and share their knowledge and Vibranium. Social outreach centres in America are opened up, headed by Shuri. Meanwhile, Bucky has been recuperating from his brainwashing in Wakanda, but he isn’t completely fixed.

Things to remember:

  • Bucky’s brainwashing is being fixed in Wakanda
  • Wakanda is opening up aid centres in America
  • The world now knows Wakanda is an advanced nation and it’s sharing its technologies
  • Klaue is dead

Avengers: Infinity War

MCU recap

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Thanos is on the hunt for the Infinity Stones. The Mad Titan already has the Power Stone in his possession, having destroyed Xandar, and crashes onto Thor's ship to retrieve the Tesseract. Hulk is beamed back to Earth by Heimdall, who is then killed by Thanos. Thanos also kills Loki and Thor escapes  but is floating in space.

Hulk crashes into the middle of Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum. There, he tells the Sorcerer Supreme that “Thanos is coming.” Strange reacts by bringing Tony Stark  to them. Two of Thanos’s Black Order, Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian, attack New York. This grabs Peter Parker's attention, who swings into action alongside Strange, Iron Man, and Wong (Banner is unable to get the Hulk out). Maw captures Strange and the Time Stone, then takes him away in his spaceship.

Spider-Man and Iron Man sneak onboard. Back on Earth, Bruce picks up the phone and gives Captain America a call.

In Scotland, Vision and Scarlet Witch are still hiding out in the wake of becoming fugitives. Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, two more members of Thanos’ Black Order, attack Vision and attempt to pry the Mind Stone from his head. They fail after a returning Cap, alongside Black Widow and War Machine, stave off the attack. The group head to Wakanda with the intention of keeping Vision safe.

Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress signal and find Thor, who tells the gang that Thanos is coming. The God of Thunder heads to Nidavellir with Groot and Rocket to craft Stormbreaker, a new weapon to take down Thanos, and the rest of the team go to Knowhere to stop Thanos from claiming the Reality Stone.

The Guardians meet Thanos but are too late. He’s already grabbed the Reality Stone. Thanos kidnaps his adopted daughter, Gamora, and heads to Vormir to claim one of the final pieces of the Infinity Stone puzzle: the Soul Stone. The keeper of the Soul Stone, Red Skull, tells Thanos that a sacrifice is required for him to take the Stone. He kills Gamora and makes his way to Titan, where Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and Peter Parker are waiting for him, alongside Star-Lord, Drax, and Mantis.

Doctor Strange uses the Time Stone to see into the future and tells everyone that there’s only a 14 million-to-one chance of stopping Thanos’ evil schemes. With that in mind, the team ambush Thanos and get the upper hand, eventually coming close to removing the Mad Titan’s Infinity Gauntlet. However, Thanos reveals that he killed Gamora, which causes Star-Lord to spiral off into a rage and scupper the plan.

Thanos defeats the team, Doctor Strange hands over the Time Stone to stop Tony’s death, and the purple despot makes his way to Wakanda, where his forces have gathered to gather Vision’s Mind Stone.

Cap, Black Panther, a returning Thor, Bruce in a Hulkbuster, plus the remaining heroes (minus Hawkeye) are eventually overwhelmed when Thanos arrives. Thanos then takes the Mind Stone from Vision.

With the Infinity Gauntlet complete, Thanos has the power of every Infinity Stone course through his veins and snaps his fingers. In the blink of an eye, half of the universe’s population, including Spider-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy on Titan, plus Groot, Black Panther, Falcon, Bucky, and Scarlet Witch, are all dusted away. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are attempting to find Tony Stark when they, too, are dusted. With his last ounce of strength, Fury gets out a pager and contacts Captain Marvel.

Having won, Thanos retires to a farm planet and looks out onto the sunset at a job well done. 

Things to remember:

  • Loki and Gamora are dead 
  • Thanos collects all the Infinity Stones
  • Half of the universe is dusted, including Spider-Man, Black Panther, and more
  • Captain Marvel has been contacted by Nick Fury at the movie’s end

For everything post-Infinity War, head over to the next page