Your Roadmap to the Pre-Civil War Marvel Cinematic Universe

Captain America: Civil War hits US screens this Friday. It is the thirteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, valued at nearly ten billion dollars . It is also the culmination of a story between Iron Man and Captain America that spans nearly a decade of narrative. Here’s how to catch up before showdown.

The road to civil war in movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe – or MCU for short – is a vast, interconnected universe where each new film influences the others. The beauty of this format is that we see longer and more complex narratives than usual in superhero movies. Civil War isn’t just the third Captain America film. It is the culmination of a feud between billionaire industrialist Tony Stark and WWII super-soldier Steve Rogers, which so far spans seven films . The roots of this conflict go back to the first MCU film, 2008’s Iron Man . You can even see hints of their rivalry in 2012 ‘s The Avengers .

As with comics, Marvel builds its cinematic universe around a series of separate franchises that sometimes come together for larger events. In terms of continuity, the stories happen in roughly the same order in which they were released. For example, the first Avengers movie, released in 2012, runs between Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 (2013). A notable exception to this rule is Captain America: The First Avenger , which takes place almost entirely in retrospect, although by the end of the film it catches up with the mainstream of the larger franchise. If you ever wonder what order to watch Marvel movies in, check the release date.

Marvel also loosely divides the MCU into sections, which it calls phases. You can think of them as seasons of a TV show, where each Avengers movie is a kind of “finale” of phase (although Ant-Man was seen as the epilogue for phase 2). Here are all twelve films in the MCU, in release order, and by extension, their suggested viewing order. If you just want to catch up with the Civil War, we’ve highlighted the hottest films in bold:

Phase 1

Phase 2

As you can see, you don’t have to watch the entire MCU to catch up with the Civil War. Thor, Hulk and Guardians of the Galaxy won’t even appear in the movie. Although Ant-Man will appear, he is not particularly critical of the plot. It also highlights the biggest benefit of the MCU storytelling method. You can follow the characters you like, ignore the ones you don’t like, and they will all exist in a world larger than any character can stand on their own.

You may have noticed that another major Civil War character isn’t on this list: Spider-Man ! Technically, Sony owns all of the Spider-Man films made so far, just as Fox owns the X-Men and the Fantastic Four , neither of which are part of the MCU itself. The good news is, you don’t have to watch the previous five Spider-Man films (from two separate episodes) to catch up on the Civil War. The Spider-Man we’ll see in this movie is brand new. Sony and Marvel have agreed on a deal to split the character. After being featured in Cap’s film this week, he will also be appearing in his own solo performance, Spider-Man: Homecoming, in 2017. Moreover, now that this Spider is part of the MCU, he can communicate with other MCU characters. like Tony Stark , who will appear in Homecoming next year.

ABC and Netflix series

In between films, Marvel satisfies our appetites with an almost irresistible stream of TV shows. Wondering what happened to SHIELD after it crashed in Winter Soldier? SHIELD agents are covering you. Wondering how the New Yorkers lived after the alien army destroyed this place? Daredevil and Jessica Jones plunge into the chaos of Hell’s Kitchen. The shows don’t have to be watched to understand the films, but they are great for the avid fans who want more out of the world. Here are the shows you can watch right now, in order of their original release date:

  • Agents of SHIELD (2013): The first and longest running Marvel show, Agents of SHIELD follows Agent Coulson and his team after the events of The Avengers . Of all the shows, this has the most overlap with films, although that says little. In particular, he showed how SHIELD collapsed after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier . He also explores areas that the films have not yet touched, such as the mutant-like non-human society. The show is broadcast on ABC, owned by Disney, Marvel’s parent company. You can watch the first two seasons on Netflix or follow the latest episodes on Hulu . While this show has had its ups and downs (it’s still an ABC show, after all), it has improved over time and is a gold mine for loyal fans.
  • Agent Carter (January 2015): Every year SHIELD agents take a short break for a couple of months during the holidays. Agent Carter fills this gap. For two seasons, the series followed Captain America’s associate and agent Peggy Carter, who almost fell in love with him after the events of World War II. The show takes place entirely in the 1940s, so you can safely watch it out of line without missing out on any of the films. SHIELD Agents sometimes borrow plot elements from the show, though, so if you enjoy tracking down Easter eggs and connections, the two go well together. Both seasons of the show can be viewed on ABC Go .
  • Daredevil (April 2015): After the events of The Avengers, when aliens invaded, New York was half destroyed, leaving a lot of chaos in its wake. Marvel used this as a stage for their street heroes in Hell’s Kitchen. This Netflix show chronicles how blind lawyer Matt Murdoch became Daredevil, a crime-fighting vigilante who is trying to help rebuild his city and fight the corruption that has earned the city’s plight. Since this show is on Netflix, the show takes on a much more adult-oriented theme than movies or ABC shows, with more violent violence, sexual content and themes. So far, there are two seasons of the series, both fully available on Netflix.
  • Jessica Jones (November 2015) : Like Daredevil, this Netflix show features street superman and private investigator Jessica Jones as she attempts to uncover and stop a mind-controlling threat from her past. While it has yet to cross over with any other Marvel property – in fact, it may be one of the most isolated stories in the MCU – both Jessica Jones and Daredevil lead to an Avengers-style crossover called The Defenders . This will also include the upcoming Netflix shows Luke Cage and Iron Fist , both of which are due out this year.

While movies are fairly easy to follow, TV shows in the MCU can quickly get overwhelming. In addition to the shows listed here, Marvel is also considering a spin-off for SHIELD agents called Marvel’s Most Wanted , a show featuring Cloak and Dagger from Freeform (formerly ABC Family), and the company has ordered an additional Punisher product from Daredevil. which may or may not play in the big Netflix Defenders crossover.

If this all sounds too complicated to keep up with just watching a movie, don’t worry. TV shows are hardly mentioned in the films. If you’ve missed every show, you’ll still be fine with films.

You can also enjoy each individual show individually – for example, you don’t have to watch Daredevil to understand Jessica Jones – but any shows that use a network like ABC or Netflix will likely have some kind of crossover. which is fun to dive in if you go for broke.

The future of the MCU

Everything we’ve mentioned up to this point is out now, but half the fun of the MCU is the anticipation of what’s to come. Marvel is great atpredicting future events . The civil war hasn’t started yet, but you can already watch teasers for AutumnDoctor Strange andLuke Cage , as well as check out the installed photos for the Guardians of the Galaxy. 2 ( potential spoilers ) and Iron Fist . If you want to get into the hype, it’s helpful to have some kind of roadmap that the Marvel world moves on.

Captain America: Civil War will kick off Marvel’s Phase 3, but we already know what films will be out in the next few years, including but not limited to:

Phase 3

In addition to these films, there will also be new seasons of existing TV shows like Agents of SHIELD and new Netflix series like Luke Cage and Iron Fist , as well as many additional comics and more. The rabbit hole can be as deep as you want. If all you care about is movies, you can wait for the trailer and tune in when it comes out. But if you want to get hung up on the little things every day between films, Marvel will help you. Just remember to stay after the loans.

Marvel Comics One Shots and Sidebars

If you are the casual fan who is simply interested in movies and maybe a small TV, stop here. We’re going to dive into deep knowledge that you really don’t need to care about. For everyone else, Marvel loves to create more little treats for the fans. Marvel One Shots are short films (usually no more than ten minutes or so) that come as a bonus to DVD movie releases. They usually either fill in minor gaps or explore another corner of the MCU for fun. There are currently five Marvel One Shots:

The One Shots have grown in popularity over the years, but fans can try these fun little things. Marvel also releases comics for each movie ahead of their release. They exist separately from the regular comic book universe and are technically canon in the MCU. There are two categories of related comics: prologues and adaptations. Prologues fill in some minor story gaps or set the stage for films, while adaptations depict the same story in films, except in comic form. Neither is strictly necessary to understand the plot, but they often clarify some things that are only implied by the films.

For example, the comic ” Captain America: Civil War Prelude” converts Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier into a condensed form. This is a handy shortcut if you haven’t watched the movies and want to catch up before the movie, or if you’re a fan of the comic format. You can also read Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Prelude Infinite Comic, which, in addition to its very long and confusing title, fills in some of the details of what the cast was up to between Age of Ultron and Civil War.


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