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The Ultimate Marvel Film Guide: 2010-2014

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The Ultimate Marvel Film Guide:
1998-2004 | 2005-2009 | 2010-2014

By 2010 it was apparent that, while well-made film adaptations of a Marvel comic were extremely profitable, films that failed to capture the interest of an audience could prove very costly flops. Marvel Studios, now owned by Disney, continued their ambitious plans to make two films a year, alternating as much as possible between reusing existing characters and introducing new ones to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe that tied them all together. These films also began a plan to introduce six powerful devices called the Infinity Stones as a common theme to many of their films. It was revealed that these stones, when combined, would give the holder infinite power, although only four of the stones would appear in films made before 2015.

Marvel continued their heated rivalry with 20th Century Fox, who held onto the X-Men film rights and rebooted the series with a prequel that enabled them to cast younger actors. Columbia Pictures too recast the film series they still had the rights to, Spider-Man, while also making a sequel to Ghost Rider.

Yet while the big studios battled it out amongst each other, the first film out was Kick-Ass, an independent UK/US production inspired by a comic from Marvel's Icon Comics division.

Kick-Ass (2010)

DirectorMatthew Vaughn
StudioMarv Films
PlotA nerdy 16-year-old boy, Dave Lizewski, dreams of being a superhero. After buying a wetsuit he adopts the name 'Kick-Ass', but his first attempt to fight crime leads to his being badly beaten up, attracting the sympathy of a girl he fancies, who believes he is gay. Meanwhile a father, Damon 'Big Daddy' Macready teaches his 11-year-old daughter 'Hit-Girl' to be a crime-fighting vigilante in order to help him get revenge on crime boss Frank D'Amico. Macready blames D'Amico for his wife's death and for framing him. With his daughter, he starts hunting D'Amico's goons. When D'Amico learns that his men are being killed by someone dressing as a superhero, he wrongly believes Kick-Ass to be behind it. Full of good intentions, will Kick-Ass's threat to kick baddies' bottoms deter hardened criminals who stab him in the stomach, bash his balls in with a baseball bat, cover him in petrol and point a bazooka at his head, or is he out of his depth?
Length117 minutes
Setting21st Century New York
Characters
  • David 'Dave' Lizewski aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson)
    • Abilities: He uses his nerdy enthusiasm and SCUBA-diving wetsuit to fight crime.
  • Mindy Macready aka Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)
    • Abilities: A highly-trained expert in martial arts and weaponry who is an 11-year-old girl.
  • Damon Macready aka Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage)
    • Abilities: wears a Batman-esque suit and trains his daughter to be a crime-fighter.
  • Chris D'Amico aka Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)
    • Abilities: Impersonates a superhero and has a big, red car.
  • Katie Deauxma, Dave's love interest (Lyndsy Fonesca)
  • Frank D'Amico, gangster boss and Chris's father (Mark Strong)
  • Marty Eisenberg & Todd Haynes, Dave's friends (Clark Duke & Evan Peters)
Related Films
  • Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
CameosA large billboard of Claudia Schiffer, the director's wife
Stan Lee CameoMan watching the news

An enjoyable, irreverent but also quite violent take on the superhero films. Though not one of Marvel's main characters, the Kick-Ass comic series was published by Icon Comics, a division of Marvel which allowed high-profile writers to retain ownership of characters that they created. Matthew Vaughan's company MARV Films co-produced the 15-rated film with Lions Gate Entertainment. Nicolas Cage had previously played Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider films, and played the character of Big Daddy in the style of Adam West's Batman. Aaron Johnson would later play Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) while his co-star Evan Peters would play Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Futures Past.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

DirectorJon Favreau
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotRussian scientist Ivan Vanko, whose father had worked with Tony Stark's father, creates his own miniature arc reactor like the one that powers Tony Stark's Iron Man suit. Stark, whose body is being fatally poisoned by the palladium in the arc reactor that keeps him alive, is under pressure (particularly from rival arms manufacturer Justin Hammer) to sell the government his Iron Man suit design. Vanko attacks Stark and is arrested but freed by Hammer, who wants him to design a range of armoured suits. Vanko, though, has his own idea. After Stark gets drunk, his friend Rhodey confiscates one of his suits. Stark is sternly talked to by Nick Fury and given footage of his father dating from the 1974 Stark Expo, which contains a secret message.
Length125 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: 21st Century, especially California and Monaco
Characters
  • Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr)
    • Powers: Invented an iron suit that can fly
  • Lt Colonel James 'Rhodey' Rhodes aka War Machine (Don Cheadle)
    • Equipment: Takes one of Stark's flying iron suits, modified by Justin Hammer.
  • 'Natalie Rushman' aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)
    • Abilities: Highly-trained spy and assassin posing as Stark's assistant.
  • Peppa Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke)
    • Abilities: Invents his own powered suit, complete with whips, and robotic drones.
  • Justin Hammer, weapons manufacturer (Sam Rockwell)
  • Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD (Samuel L Jackson)
  • Phil Coulson, SHIELD agent (Clark Gregg)
  • Christine Everhart, a reporter (Leslie Bibb)
  • Howard Stark, Tony's father (seen in old footage) (John Slattery)
  • JARVIS, Stark's AI programme (Paul Bettany)
  • Happy Hogan, Stark's bodyguard (Jon Favreau)
  • Senator Stern, US Senator prosecuting Stark to get his suit (Gary Shandling)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Stan Lee CameoAs himself, mistaken for Larry King
Post-Credits SceneYes, discovery of Thor's hammer

The first Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel and the third film set in that Universe, but the first released since the Walt Disney Company had purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4¼ billion nine months earlier in August 2009. However director Jon Favreau enjoyed much less freedom when making this film compared to Iron Man, which led to his decision not to direct Iron Man 3.

This film marks Don Cheadle's first appearance as Rhodey, the character originally played by Terrence Howard. This followed disagreements over Howard's wage and reports that he had been difficult to work with in Iron Man. Ivan Vanko was based on villains Whiplash and Crimson Dynamo; however, he is not known by either of those names in the film. Tony Stark's father Howard Stark is very closely based on Walt Disney, and his model of the Stark 1974 Expo is based on models of Disney's EPCOT as well as the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Thor (2011)

DirectorSir Kenneth Branagh
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotCenturies after Odin, king of Asgard, defeated the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, Thor invades the Frost Giants' homeland, seeking revenge after they interrupted a ceremony that would have resulted in his being named king. Angry, Odin strips Thor of his powers and banishes him to Earth. Although his hammer, Mjolnir, is also sent to Earth, Thor is now unable to even lift it. The hammer can now only be wielded by someone worthy of gaining Thor's former powers. Shortly after, Odin collapses, leaving trickster god Loki to rule Asgard in his stead. On Earth, Thor encounters Jane who is leading a team of scientists studying wormholes, but their work is interrupted by SHIELD. Thor's friends ask him to return to Asgard and challenge Loki, while Loki sends a powerful automaton called the Destroyer to Earth to kill Thor, not caring about the humans caught in the crossfire.
Length114 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: Asgard, Jotunheim and New Mexico, America
Characters
  • Thor, prince of Asgard (Chris Hemsworth)
    • Powers: Immortal, until stripped of his power he wields Mjolnir the hammer which will always return to him when thrown and allows him to fly.
  • Jane Foster, scientist and Thor's love interest (Natalie Portman)
  • Odin, King of Asgard and father of Thor (Sir Anthony Hopkins)
    • Powers: All-powerful immortal king.
  • Loki, prince of Asgard and Thor's adopted brother (Tom Hiddleston)
    • Powers: Manipulative, he can hypnotise and create illusions.
  • Phil Coulson, agent of SHIELD (Clark Gregg)
  • Heimdall, guardian of the Bifröst Bridge (Idris Elba)
    • Powers: All-seeing and hearing, he guards the only way into Asgard.
  • Erick Selvig, astrophysicist and Jane's mentor (Stellan Skarsgård)
  • The Warriors Three, Thor's best friends:
    1. Volstagg (Ray Stevenson)
    2. Hogun (Tadanobu Asano)
    3. Frandal (Josh Dallas)
  • Sif, strong female Asgardian warrior and one of Thor's best friends (Jaimie Alexander)
  • Darcy Lewis, Jane's intern assistant (Kat Dennings)
  • Frigga, Queen of Asgard (Rene Russo)
  • Laufey, King of the Frost Giants (Colm Feore)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) &c.
Cameos
  • Writer J Michael Straczynski as van driver
  • Nick Fury, director of SHIELD (Samuel L Jackson)
  • Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
Stan Lee CameoVan driver trying to tow Thor's hammer
Post-Credits SceneYes, Nick Fury has discovered a glowing box.
Infinity StoneThe Blue Infinity Stone is in the box.

The Marvel film with the most Shakespearean feel, having a Shakespearean director and Shakespearean actors in predominant roles, including Sir Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba. Ray Stevenson had previously played Nick Castle in Punisher: War Zone (2008). Writer J Michael Straczynski is best known for creating Babylon 5 and writing 92 of the 110 45-minute episodes, including a record 59 consecutive ones.

X-Men: First Class (2011)

DirectorMatthew Vaughn
Studio20th Century Fox
PlotErik Lensherr, a mutant with power to control metal, seeks revenge on the Nazi scientist who murdered his mother in an effort to learn about his power. The scientist is himself a mutant and, 20 years later, plans to bring about a nuclear war. A young Charles Xavier, working with the CIA, assembles a team of mutants, including Lensherr, to stop him.
Length132 minutes
Setting1944 Poland & America, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
X-Men & Mutants
  • Charles Xavier aka Professor X (James McAvoy)
    • Powers: Telepathy
  • Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender)
    • Powers: Ability to manipulate metal objects using magnetism
  • Raven Darkholme aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)
    • Powers: Can shapeshift to impersonate anyone else, also incredibly agile
  • Dr Hank McCoy aka Beast (Nicholas Hoult)
    • Powers: Speed, gymnastic ability and ape-like feet, later blue, animal appearance.
  • Alex Summers aka Havok (Lucas Till)
    • Powers: Can produce energy blasts.
  • Sean Cassidy aka Banshee (Caleb Landry Jones)
    • Powers: Creates ultrasonic screams which can shatter glass, be used as sonar and, as sonic waves, enable him to fly.
  • Armando Munoz aka Darwin (Edi Gathegi)
    • Powers: Can rapidly evolve gills or turn his skin rock-hard
Hellfire Club
  • Dr Klaus Schmidt aka Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon)
    • Powers: Can absorb and release energy, including nuclear energy.
  • Emma Frost (January Jones)
    • Powers: Telepathy and the ability to turn her skin into diamond
  • Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz)
    • Powers: Has dragonfly-like wings and can spit fire.
  • Azazel (Jason Flemyng)
    • Powers: Teleportation. Has a tail
  • Janos Quested aka Riptide (Alex Gonzalez)
    • Powers: Can create whirlwinds
Humans
  • Moira MacTaggert, CIA Agent (Rose Byrne)
Related Films
  • X-Men (2000)
  • X-Men 2 (2003)
  • X-Men III: The Last Stand (2006)
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • The Wolverine (2013)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  • Deadpool (2016)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Logan (2017)
Cameos
  • Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)
  • Raven Darkholme aka Mystique (Rebecca Romijn)

This is the first film in a reboot in the X-Men series, with a completely different cast apart from the cameos. The character Moria MacTaggert had previously briefly appeared as a doctor in X-Men: The Last Stand played by Olivia Williams; she is now a CIA agent.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

DirectorJoe Johnston
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotDuring the Second World War, after being constantly rejected for serving his country, Steve Rogers agrees to take part in a 'super-soldier' experiment conducted by Dr Erskine, similar to one that Nazi war criminal Schmidt had undergone. Erskine is assassinated soon after injecting Rogers, who has been relegated to dressing up as 'Captain America' to promote war bonds, but later takes the opportunity to fight the Nazis when his best friend, Bucky Barnes, is missing in action. Yet what is Schmidt, now known as the 'Red Skull', up to? Can the powerful alien device called the Tesseract really destroy the world?
Length124 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: Second World War, especially America and Germany, and 21st Century Arctic
Characters
  • Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans)
    • Powers: A World War II super-soldier enhanced by a medical serum. He has a vibranium shield.
  • Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones)
  • Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull, Hitler's head of Weaponry and commander of Hydra (Hugo Weaving)
    • Powers: Has taken the super soldier serum that increases his strength, but with side effects
  • Peggy Carter, British officer with Strategic Scientific Reserve (Hayley Atwell)
  • James 'Bucky' Barnes, Roger's best friend and squad member (Sebastian Stan)
  • Howard Stark, weapons inventor (Dominic Cooper)
  • Dr Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci)
  • Arnim Zola, Nazi biochemist (Toby Jones)
  • Connie, Bucky's date (Jenna Coleman)
  • Lorraine, sultry seductress (Natalie Dormer)
Related Films All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
CameosNick Fury Director of SHIELD (Samuel L Jackson)
Stan Lee CameoA general
Post-Credits SceneYes, essentially a trailer for Avengers Assemble
Infinity StoneThe Tesseract is the Blue Infinity Stone

Chris Evans is the fourth actor to play Captain America in a live-action adaptation, following Dick Purcell in a 1944 serial, two television movies starring Reb Brown in 1979 and Matt Salinger in a 1990 version which had a limited cinematic release. Joe Johnston had previously directed Second World War superhero film The Rocketeer (1991), which has numerous similarities with this film. The 1944 Captain America serial is referred to, as is the use of superheroes to sell war bonds1. Peggy Carter, a character introduced here, would later gain her own spin-off series, Marvel's Agent Carter, which ran for two series (2015-16).

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

DirectorMark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
StudioColumbia Pictures
PlotMoreau, played by Idris Elba, asks Johnny Blaze to find and rescue Danny, a child who is the son of the Devil. The Devil plans to take possession of Danny's body in order to reign on Earth. Elba disappears for a long 40 minutes while Blaze fights with a corrupt chap called Carrigan a lot, but returns in order to lead Blaze, Danny and his mother to a bunch of monks and the promise of salvation.
Length95 minutes
SettingEastern Europe and Turkey, 21st Century
Characters
  • Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage)
    • Powers: He is possessed by a demon that feeds on the souls of the evil.
  • Ray Carrigan, mercenary drug dealer and Nadya's former boyfriend (Johnny Whitworth)
    • Powers: Anything he touches dies and/or decays, except a Twinkie.
  • Roarke aka The Devil (Ciarán Hinds)
    • Powers: Can make demonic deals, but when he uses his powers on Earth his body burns up
  • Danny, a young boy who is the Devil's half-human son (Fergus Riordan)
    • Powers: Has the same power as his father but with a body that won't burn
  • Nadya, described as 'the Devil's baby-mama', mother of Danny (Violante Placido)
  • Moreau, Frenchman dedicated to protecting Danny (Idris Elba)
  • Methodius, a senior monk (Christopher Lambert)
  • Benedict, a senior monk (Anthony Head)
Related Films
  • Ghost Rider (2007)

Not so much a sequel to the first Ghost Rider film as a reboot. There are many differences from the first film; both the Ghost Rider and his bike's appearance have changed, the Devil has changed actor and name, and Blaze is now revealed to have deliberately signed the contract that made him the Ghost Rider rather than having inadvertently bled a bit on it. Despite a budget half that of the first film the CGI has improved, but the plot has really gone downhill. Idris Elba out-acts everyone else, but doesn't appear enough for the film to be enjoyable, leading to it being nominated for 'Worst Sequel' and Nicolas Cage as 'Worst Actor' at the Golden Raspberry Awards. Elba had previously appeared in Thor. The plot was written by David S Goyer who also wrote the Blade films, which may explain why humans who are whipped by the Ghost Rider turn into ash in the same way that staked vampires do in the Blade trilogy.

This was the second and last film to date (2018) to be released under the banner of Marvel Knights rather than Marvel. As Columbia held the film rights to the character of Ghost Rider they were allowed creative freedom to make the film, but as Ghost Rider is a Marvel character, Marvel were entitled to be credited in the opening credits despite having no actual involvement in making the film. They decided their credit would be to 'Marvel Knights', the label reserved for more violent films following Punisher: War Zone (2008).

Marvel have since regained the full rights to Ghost Rider, who went on to appear in Series 4 of television series Marvel's Agents of Shield (2013+).

Avengers Assemble (2012)

DirectorJoss Whedon
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotThe leader of an alien race called the Chitauri promises Loki power if he agrees to retrieve the Tesseract, a powerful alien device that can create wormholes, from Earth. Loki uses his sceptre to brainwash those studying it so that he can retrieve it. The Avengers assemble and capture him, taking him aboard a helicarrier. Loki escapes and opens a wormhole above New York to allow the alien fleet to come to Earth. Can the Avengers stop arguing among themselves long enough to save the day?
Length143 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: 21st Century Earth, especially New York
Characters
  • Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr)
    • Powers: Has a flying suit of armour of his own invention.
  • Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans)
    • Powers: A previously-frozen World War II super-soldier enhanced by a medical serum. He has a vibranium shield.
  • Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
    • Powers: Turns into a superhuman green monster when angry.
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
    • Powers: Crown Prince of Asgard, wields Mjolnir the hammer that will always return to him when thrown and stay still when left.
  • Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
    • Abilities: Highly-trained spy and assassin.
  • Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner)
    • Abilities: Highly-skilled archer
  • Loki (Tom Hiddleston)
    • Powers: Thor's brother, he uses a sceptre to brainwash others
  • Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD (Samuel L Jackson)
  • Phil Coulson, agent of SHIELD (Clark Gregg)
  • Maria Hill, agent of SHIELD (Cobie Smulders)
  • Erick Selvig, astrophysicist (Stellan Skarsgård)
  • Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries (Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • JARVIS, Tony Stark's computer (Paul Bettany)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe
Stan Lee CameoIn a news report
Cameos
  • The Other, Thanos' vizier (Alexis Denisof)
  • Unnamed baddy, later revealed to be Thanos (Damion Poitier)
  • World Security Council members (Powers Boothe as Gideon Malick, Jenny Agutter as Councilwoman Hawley)
  • Policeman (Enver Gjokaj, who is in Agent Carter)
  • Agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández)
Post-Credits SceneTwo, both mid-credits and post-credits
Infinity StoneThe Tesseract is the Blue (Space) Infinity Stone and Loki's sceptre contains the Yellow (Mind) Stone

Also known as The Avengers and Marvel's Avengers Assemble, it does not feature John Steed or Emma Peel. This film was the culmination of Phase One of the Marvel cinematic universe, unifying all the main characters introduced in Marvel's films to date against a common foe. Bruce Banner had been recast since The Incredible Hulk, being played by Mark Ruffalo rather than Edward Norton, as Norton had strongly disagreed with Marvel over the script and final cut of the earlier film. Like most other female figures from previous films, Gwyneth Paltrow had not been expected to appear in another film but Robert Downey Jr insisted that she have a role. On release, Avengers Assemble became the third most successful film of all time, after Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997).

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

DirectorMarc Webb
StudioColumbia Pictures
PlotAs a young child, Peter Parker was left with his uncle and aunt after his parents fled from their home, never to be seen again. As a teenager, Parker is often bullied by Flash and fancies a girl in his class, Gwen Stacy. When he learns his father had worked with Dr Curt Connors on cross-species genetics at a company called Oscorp he sneaks in, but is bitten by a genetically modified spider. This gives him spiderlike abilities. He befriends the one-armed Dr Connors and helps him develop a serum, based on lizard DNA, intended to allow humans to regrow missing limbs. When his uncle wrestles a robber with a gun and dies, Peter decides to become a vigilante and track the killer down, wearing a mask to protect his identity but soon becoming a hero. Meanwhile Connors is fired and tries the serum on himself, turning into an insane giant lizard who plans to turn everyone in New York into giant lizards too.
Length136 minutes
SettingNew York City, early 21st Century
Characters
  • Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield, Max Charles young Peter)
    • Powers: Super-reflexes and gymnastic ability, including being able to climb walls and hang upside-down.
  • Dr Curt Connors aka The Lizard (Rhys Ifans)
    • Powers: Is transformed into a strong, giant lizard who can heal quickly.
  • Gwendolyn 'Gwen' Stacy, Parker's classmate and intern at Oscorp (Emma Stone)
  • Captain George Stacy, Police Captain and Gwen's father (Denis Leary)
  • Uncle Ben Parker (Martin Sheen)
  • Aunt May Parker (Sally Field)
  • Dr Rajit Ratha, Oscorp executive (Irrfan Khan)
  • Flash Thompson, school bully (Chris Zylka)
  • Richard and Mary Parker, Peter's parents (Campbell Scott & Embeth Davidtz)
Related Films
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Cameo
  • Michael Papajohn plays Alfred, having also been in Spider-Man (2002)
Stan Lee Cameo
  • School librarian
Mid-Credits SceneYes

Although a fourth film in the Spider-Man series (2002-2007) starring Tobey Maguire had been widely expected, following a disagreement with director Sam Raimi Columbia Pictures instead decided to reboot the series with a whole new cast and director, the appropriately named Marc Webb. This was released in time for Spider-Man's 50th anniversary.

In this version, Spider-Man does not create his own webbing but instead uses a natural spider-made cable built into a device he wears on his wrists. His love interest is Gwen Stacy, who had previously appeared in Spider-Man 3 (2007), rather than Mary-Jane Watson. The film attracted some criticism for showing a lot of the same events that Spider-Man had covered only a decade earlier, with many feeling that the film series didn't need a remake so soon. Although it wasn't as successful as the first three Spider-Man films it was considered the world's most successful remake and so a sequel was commissioned.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

DirectorShane Black
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotWhile Tony Stark experiences anxiety attacks caused by his experiences in Avengers Assemble, a terrorist calling himself the Mandarin claims responsibility for a number of mysterious explosions. One of these injures Stark's close friend Happy Hogan, and Stark swears revenge only to become the next target of attack. Presumed dead and without his suits of armour to protect him, can he protect his beloved Peppa and uncover the truth?
Length119 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: 1999 and 2013, predominantly America
Characters
  • Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr)
    • Equipment: Invented an iron suit that can fly
  • Peppa Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow)
    • Powers: Becomes infected with Extremis, an unstable drug that has tremendous healing properties giving invincibility and the ability to regrow limbs, but when rejected results in powerful explosions.
  • Lt Colonel James 'Rhodey' Rhodes aka Iron Patriot2 (Don Cheadle)
    • Equipment: he has one of Stark's flying iron suits.
  • Aldrich Killian, head of Advanced Idea Mechanics and developer of Extremis (Guy Pearce)
    • Powers: Regenerative powers, and can raise his body temperature to melting point and spit fire
  • Trevor Slattery aka the Mandarin, a terrorist leader (Sir Ben Kingsley)
  • Maya Hansen, botanist whose research created Extremis (Rebecca Hansen)
  • Brandt, an Extremis-powered assassin (Stephanie Szostak)
  • Savin, an Extremis-powered assassin (James Badge Dale)
  • Harley Keener, a boy who befriends Stark (Ty Simpkins)
  • JARVIS, Stark's AI programme (Paul Bettany)
  • Happy Hogan, Stark's bodyguard (Jon Favreau)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Cameos
  • Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)
Stan Lee CameoBeauty pageant judge
Post-Credits SceneYes

This is the first film in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film series. In the original storyline the villain was going to be revealed to be Hansen, but Disney disliked the idea of a female villain, fearing it would diminish toy sales, and insisted that a man be behind it all. The film was another huge box office success, becoming the most successful third film of all time. This film was released to coincide with comic book character Iron Man's 50th Anniversary.

The Wolverine (2013)

DirectorJames Mangold
Studio20th Century Fox
PlotLogan, grieving after the loss of Jean Grey, returns to Japan on the dying wish of elderly tycoon Ichiro Yashida, whose life he had saved during the Second World War. After Ichiro dies leaving the Yashida company to his granddaughter, Mariko, Logan finds himself vulnerable to injury for the first time while gangsters try to kidnap her. Logan and Mariko form a close bond while they discover who is behind this.
Length126 minutes
SettingJapan, 1945 & 21st Century
Mutant Characters
  • Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)
    • Powers: Healing and adamantium claws
  • Yukio (Rila Fukushima)
    • Powers: Agility and ability to foresee death
  • Doctor Green aka Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova)
    • Powers: Immunity to poisons, has poisonous forked tongue
Other Characters
  • Mariko Yashida (Tao Okamoto)
  • Ichiro Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi)
  • Shingen Yashida (Hiroyuki Sanada)
  • Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee)
  • Noburo Mori (Brian Tee)
Related Films
  • X-Men (2000)
  • X-Men 2 (2003)
  • X-Men III: The Last Stand (2006)
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  • Deadpool (2016)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  • Logan (2017)
Cameos
  • Jean Grey (Famke Janssen)
  • Professor Charles Xavier aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart)
  • Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen)
Extended VersionUnleashed Edition, six minutes longer
Mid-Credits SceneYes

A film considered to be a second X-Men spin-off, rather than a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was a self-contained story with limited references to the main series. It was more successful and received greater critical acclaim than the first spin-off featuring the character, but is not generally considered to be as good as the main X-Men films.

Kick Ass 2 (2013)

DirectorJeff Wadlow
StudioMarv Films
PlotBored, Dave wishes to return to a life of crime-fighting, particularly after he has learned he has inspired others to become masked vigilantes. Though he persuades Hit-Girl to train him, she is caught fighting crime by her adoptive father and forced to promise to live as a normal 15-year-old girl. Yet Chris D'Amico, seeking revenge, plans to become a supervillain. Calling himself 'The Motherf?!cker' he recruits a costumed band of villains, giving each a more stereotypical, offensive or plain racist epithet than the last. Are girls at school really more evil than murderers? Who will win in a clash between heroes and villains?
Length104 minutes
Setting21st Century New York, four years after Kick-Ass
Heroes & Justice Forever
  • David 'Dave' Lizewski aka Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson3)
    • Abilities: He uses his nerdy enthusiasm and SCUBA-diving wetsuit to fight crime.
  • Mindy Macready aka Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)
    • Abilities: A highly-trained expert in martial arts and weaponry who is a 15-year-old girl in a high school.
  • Marty Eisenberg aka Battle Guy, Dave's friend (Clark Duke)
  • Doctor Gravity (Donald Faison)
  • Sal Bertolinni aka Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey)
  • Miranda Swedlow aka Night-Bitch (Lindy Booth)
Villains
  • Chris D'Amico aka The Motherf?!cker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)
  • Todd Haynes aka Ass-Kicker (Augustus Prew)
  • Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina)
Other Characters
  • Detective Marcus Williams, Hit-Girl's adoptive father (Morris Chestnut)
Related Films
  • Kick-Ass (2010)
Cameos
  • Katie Deauxma, Dave's ex-girlfriend (Lyndsy Fonesca)
  • Comic creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr cameo as superheroes in the final fight.
Post-Credits SceneYes

A very enjoyable film that spoofs and mocks many superhero films, but viewers should be aware that there is very strong, highly offensive language throughout, as well as violence. Many of the cast of the original Kick-Ass were unable to appear, resulting in the recasting of characters including Todd Haynes and Marcus.

The film has the unfortunate distinction of being the most pirated film of 2013 which meant that it did not do as well at the box office as had been hoped. This means that the proposed sequel is sadly unlikely to be made.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

DirectorAlan Taylor
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotCenturies ago Bor, father of Odin, defeated Dark Elf Malekith, who threatened to destroy the universe with a powerful weapon called the Aether during a natural phenomenon called the Convergence. The Aether is hidden but rediscovered in the present day by Jane shortly before the next Convergence is due to take place. Infected by it, she is hunted by the surviving Dark Elves who still wish to destroy the universe. After the Dark Elves invade Asgard, the only chance Thor has of saving Jane and the universe is if he trusts his treacherous brother, Loki.
Length112 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: Svartalfheim, home of the Dark Elves, Asgard and 21st Century London
Characters
  • Thor, prince of Asgard (Chris Hemsworth)
    • Powers: Immortal, he wields Mjolnir the hammer which will always return to him when thrown and allows him to fly.
  • Jane Foster, scientist and Thor's love interest (Natalie Portman)
  • Odin, King of Asgard and father of Thor (Sir Anthony Hopkins)
    • Powers: All-powerful immortal king.
  • Loki, prince of Asgard and Thor's adopted brother (Tom Hiddleston)
    • Powers: Manipulative, he can hypnotise and create illusions.
  • Heimdall, guardian of the Bifröst Bridge (Idris Elba)
    • Powers: All-seeing and hearing, he guards the only way into Asgard.
  • Malekith, king of the Dark Elves (Christopher Eccleston)
  • Algrim, Dark Elf (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)
    • Powers: Is transformed by the Aether into Kurse, a giant minotaur-like lava monster.
  • Erick Selvig, astrophysicist and Jane's mentor (Stellan Skarsgård)
  • The Warriors Three, Thor's best friends:
    1. Volstagg (Ray Stevenson)
    2. Hogun (Tadanobu Asano)
    3. Frandal (Zachary Levi)
  • Sif, strong female Asgardian warrior and another of Thor's best friends (Jaimie Alexander)
  • Darcy Lewis, Jane's intern assistant (Kat Dennings)
  • Frigga, Queen of Asgard (Rene Russo)
  • Eir, an Asgardian doctor (Alice Krige)
  • Richard, friend of Jane (Chris O'Dowd)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Thor (2011) etc
Cameos
  • Loki disguises himself as Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans)
  • The Collector (Benicio del Toro)
  • Carina, the Collector's assistant (Ophelia Lovibond)
Stan Lee CameoMental ward patient
Post-Credits SceneTwo, both mid-credits and post-credits
Infinity StoneThe Aether is really the Red (Reality) Infinity Stone

After Kenneth Branagh chose not to return to direct this film, Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor was chosen instead. Josh Dallas, the original actor to play Fandral, was replaced by Zachary Levi due to Dallas' commitment to the television series Once Upon a Time. Christopher Eccleston agreed to play the villain after being attracted by Malekith's backstory, little of which made it into the finished film. The film was made with the intention of being the concluding part in a trilogy concentrating on the relationship between Thor and Loki, following Thor and Avengers Assemble, but both characters went on to appear in Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Sadly, writer Don Payne died shortly after making this film. Events that take place in this film are mentioned in episodes of television series Agents of Shield.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

DirectorsAnthony and Jay Russo
StudioMarvel Studios
Plot Steve Rogers, known as Captain America, works for the international law enforcement agency known as SHIELD, which is headed by Nick Fury who is overseeing Project Insight. This project is the creation of three all-powerful helicarriers, essentially a cross between flying aircraft carriers and horribly beweaponed battleship platforms, to defend Earth in the event of another alien invasion. Yet a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier shoots Fury, and SHIELD turns on Rogers. Trusting only fellow Avenger Natasha Romanoff and new friend Sam Wilson, Rogers discovers that SHIELD has been infiltrated by the evil organisation Hydra, who plan to use Project Insight to create a new world order.
Length130 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: Washington DC and New Jersey
Characters
  • Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans)
    • Powers: A previously-frozen World War II super-soldier enhanced by a medical serum. He has a vibranium shield.
  • Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
    • Abilities: Highly-trained spy and assassin.
  • James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes aka The Winter Soldier, formerly Roger's best friend (Sebastian Stan)
    • Powers: Experimented on during World War II, he became a brainwashed super-soldier and assassin with a robotic arm.
  • Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie)
    • Equipment: A former soldier with a bulletproof flying backpack.
  • Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD (Samuel L Jackson)
  • Maria Hill, agent of SHIELD (Cobie Smulders)
  • Brock Rumlow aka Crossbones, corrupt agent of SHIELD (Frank Grillo)
  • Sharon 'Kate' Carter, agent of SHIELD (Emily VanCamp)
  • Arnim Zola, former Nazi biochemist who has transferred his mind into a computer (Toby Jones)
  • Peggy Carter, Steve Roger's love interest in the 1940s (Hayley Atwell)
  • Alexander Pierce, SHIELD leader and Member of the World Security Council (Robert Redford)
  • Jasper Sitwell, corrupt SHIELD agent (Maximiliano Hernández)
  • Councilwoman Hawley, Member of the World Security Council (Jenny Agutter)
  • Senator Stern, corrupt US senator (Garry Shandling)
Related Films All Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Avengers Assemble (2012)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Also Marvel's Agents of SHIELD television series (2013+)
CameosNumerous, including
  • Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, Hydra scientist (Thomas Kretschmann)
  • Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)
  • Pietro Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)
  • The film includes photographs of Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), Johann Schmidt aka Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper)
Stan Lee CameoMuseum security guard
Post-Credits SceneMid-credits scene introduces the Maximoff twins and post-credits scene shows the Winter Soldier rediscovering his past.
Infinity StoneGlimpsed briefly in mid-credits scene

A film intended to have the tone of a 1970s political thriller, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was another highly successful film that showed Captain America almost fully adapted to the 21st Century. The Winter Soldier was envisioned as an evil mirror-image to Captain America.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

DirectorMarc Webb
StudioColumbia Pictures
PlotWhile trying to learn the truth of what happened to his father, Peter Parker is torn between his feelings for Gwen and wanting to keep her safe. When Harry Osborn's father dies, Harry inherits the business and learns he has a fatal disease. An overlooked electrical engineer has an accident that turns him into Electro, a man capable of creating vast amounts of electricity, who is stopped by Spider-Man. Harry learns that only the venom of the spider that turned Parker into Spider-Man may work as a cure for his disease, but could have unforeseen consequences. After Spider-Man denies him a blood sample to make a cure from, he swears revenge. When Oscorp's board turns on him, Harry frees Electro and uses his rampage to get a sample of spider venom. The venom drives Harry insane and turns him into the Green Goblin. Can Spider-Man defeat them both?
Length142 minutes
Setting21st Century New York
Characters
  • Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield, Max Charles young Peter)
    • Powers: Super-reflexes and gymnastic ability, including being able to climb walls and hang upside-down.
  • Gwendolyn 'Gwen' Stacy, Parker's girlfriend who works at Oscorp (Emma Stone)
  • Max Dillon aka Electro, a genius but overlooked Oscorp engineer (Jamie Foxx)
    • Powers: An accident with electrical cables and electric eels leave him able to control and generate electricity.
  • Harry Osborn aka Green Goblin, Peter's terminally ill best friend and owner of Oscorp (Dane DeHaan)
    • Powers: Injects himself with spider venom to cure his illness, but is mutated into a goblin-like creature. He wears an armoured combat suit and has a flying glider.
  • Aunt May Parker (Sally Field)
  • Donald Menken and Felicia, Oscorp employees (Colm Feore & Felicity Jones)
  • Aleksei Systevich aka The Rhino, Russian mercenary who wears a huge armoured robotic suit (Paul Giamatti)
  • Richard and Mary Parker, Peter's parents (Campbell Scott & Embeth Davidtz)
Sequel To
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Cameos
  • Captain George Stacy (Ghost) (Denis Leary)
Stan Lee CameoMan in crowd at Peter & Stacy's graduation

Known as The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro in New Zealand, this film was widely considered to have too many characters who had little to do, especially villains. For example, the character of Harry Osborn had appeared in each film in the previous Spider-Man trilogy yet has little impact in this film. The Rhino has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance. Though profitable, it was the least successful of the Spider-Man films that had been made and Columbia cancelled their plans for a sequel.

In 2015 Sony, who own Columbia Pictures, announced that they would reboot the Spider-Man series yet again. This would set him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by introducing the character in Captain America: Civil War, made by rival company Marvel Studios owned by Disney, yet still enable Sony to retain the film rights and allow other Marvel Cinematic Universe characters to appear in any films they would make.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

DirectorBryan Singer
Studio20th Century Fox
PlotIn the future, robots called 'Sentinels' hunt and kill all mutants. A group of survivors plan to send the consciousness of Wolverine back in time to 1973 in order to stop the assassination of the Sentinels' inventor, Dr Trask, an act that resulted in their creation.
Length131 minutes
SettingMid 21st Century & 1973 America
Mutants
  • Charles Xavier aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart & James McAvoy)
    • Powers: Telepathy, ability to control other's actions
  • Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen & Michael Fassbender)
    • Powers: Ability to manipulate metal objects using magnetism
  • Logan aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)
    • Powers: Healing, claws and heightened senses.
  • Raven Darkholme aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence)
    • Powers: Can shapeshift to impersonate anyone else, also incredibly agile
  • Ororo Munroe aka Storm (Halle Berry)
    • Powers: Weather manipulation, allowing her to fly
  • Dr Hank McCoy aka Beast (Nicholas Hoult & Kelsey Grammer)
    • Powers: Speed, gymnastic ability and ape-like feet, later blue, animal appearance.
  • Alex Summers aka Havok (Lucas Till)
    • Powers: Can produce energy blasts.
  • Kitty Pryde aka Shadowcat (Ellen Page)
    • Powers: Can 'phase through'4 solid objects and send someone's consciousness back in time.
  • Bobby Drake aka Iceman (Shawn Ashmore)
    • Powers: Can create ice, including ice-sculptures, and reduce the temperature.
  • Marie aka Rogue (Anna Paquin)
    • Powers: Absorbs memories, life force and other mutants' powers through touch.
  • Bishop (Omar Sy)
    • Powers: Can absorb energy and release it in blasts
  • Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters)
    • Powers: Moves at supersonic speed
  • Piotr Rasputin aka Colossus (Daniel Cudmore)
    • Powers: Strength and the ability to make his body metallic.
  • Blink (Fan Bingbing)
    • Powers: Creates portals.
  • Sunspot (Adan Canto)
    • Powers: Uses solar energy to fly and create fire.
  • Warpath (Booboo Stewart)
    • Powers: Strength, agility and reflexes
Other Characters
  • Bolivar Trash (Peter Dinklage)
  • Major William Stryker (Josh Helman)
  • President Nixon (Mark Camacho)
Related Films
  • X-Men (2000)
  • X-Men 2 (2003)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
  • X-Men: First Class (2011)
  • The Wolverine (2013)
  • Deadpool (2016)
  • X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Extended VersionThe Rogue Cut, 17 minutes longer
Cameos
  • Scott Summers aka Cyclops (James Marsden)
  • Dr Jean Grey (Famke Janssen)
  • Toad (Evan Jonigkeit)
Post-Credits SceneYes

Most of the mutants that featured in X-Men: First Class are revealed to have been experimented on and killed by the time this film starts in 1973. There are still a vast number of characters, many of whom have very small roles. While Halle Berry's role as Storm was cut down due to her pregnancy, other previously important characters, such as Havoc, barely feature. Curiously, Quicksilver would be a character claimed not only by 20th Century Fox's X-Men series, but also by Marvel Studios' Avengers universe, in which he would appear played by a different actor in the following year's Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

DirectorJames Gunn
StudioMarvel Studios
PlotImmediately after his mother's death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth by a group of space pirates. 26 years later he steals a mysterious orb from a devastated planet. After reaching Xandar, capital planet of the Nova Empire, he attracts the attention of a pair of bounty hunters: Rocket, a genetically and cybernetically enhanced raccoon-like creature; and Groot, a Humanoid sentient tree. He is also hunted by Gamora, assassin and adopted daughter of Thanos, the most powerful warlord in the universe. Quill, Rocket, Groot and Gamora are all arrested and imprisoned in a gaol spacestation called the Kyln, where Gamora is threatened by a criminal called Drax the Destroyer. Thanos has sent his daughter Nebulu to aid Ronan, a member of the warrior race called the Kree, in his attempt to destroy Xandar. Yet Ronan plans on double-crossing Thanos and using the orb, which is revealed to be one of the Infinity Stones, first to destroy all life on Xandar and then to confront Thanos. The only chance the planet Xandar has is if Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Drax are able to put aside their differences and selfish desires and unite to guard the galaxy.
Length122 minutes
SettingMarvel Cinematic Universe: Earth, 1988 and also outer space, especially planet Xandar, the Kyln prison, and the Knowhere hive of scum and villainy inside a colossal head.
Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, a boy abducted from Earth as a child and raised by alien pirates (Chris Pratt)
  • Gamora, orphan raised by Thanos to be an assassin (Zoe Saldana)
  • Drax the Destroyer, warrior seeking revenge for his family's death (Dave Bautista)
  • Groot, humanoid tree with limited vocabulary (Vin Diesel)
  • Rocket, bounty-hunter raccoon created by a mad scientist (Bradley Cooper)
Other Characters
  • Nebula, Thanos' daughter who is jealous of Gamora (Karen Gillan)
  • Ronan, a Kree warlord who wants to wipe out the Xandarians (Lee Pace)
  • Yondu Udonta, leader of the Ravagers, the pirates who raised Quill (Michael Rooker)
  • Rhomann Dey, a policeman/soldier defending the Nova Empire (John C Reilly)
  • Korath, Kree soldier (Djimon Hounsou)
  • Irani Rael, the Nova Prime - leader of the Nova Corps (Glenn Close)
  • Taneleer Tivan aka The Collector, owner of the galaxy's largest collection of fauna and relics (Benicio del Toro)
  • Thanos, force of evil seeking to conquer the galaxy (Josh Brolin)
  • The Other, Thanos' vizier (Alexis Denisof)
  • Kraglin, Yondu's second-in-command (Sean Gunn)
  • Carina, the Collector's slave (Ophelia Lovibond)
Related FilmsAll Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially:
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
CameosHoward the Duck (voice: Seth Green)
Stan Lee CameoAs a Xandarian man chatting up a much younger woman.
Post-Credits SceneYes
Infinity StoneYes, the orb is the Purple (Power) Stone that can destroy planets. It is revealed that the six stones are singularities that predate the Universe.

The film is largely self-contained compared to other Marvel Cinematic Universe films, although the characters of Thanos (played by a different actor) and his vizier The Other had appeared in Avengers Assemble. The Collector and his slave had been previously introduced in the post-credits scene in Thor: The Dark World. The alien race the Kree are frequently mentioned in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, especially Series Two.

As the character of Quill has a 1980s Walkman, the soundtrack of the film was released on cassette as well as CD and download. This was the first cassette Disney had released since 2003.

This film does not really feature superheroes, but instead comes across as a science-fiction space opera in the tradition of Flash Gordon crossed with The Dirty Dozen.

1Disney characters were also used to promote and sell war bonds.2Previously nicknamed 'War Machine' but renamed as it sounded too aggressive - Iron Patriot met the approval of focus groups.3Aaron Johnson changed his name after marrying Sam Taylor-Wood, whom he met when she directed him in Nowhere Boy.4In the same way that some frequencies of electromagnetic radiation can pass through objects.

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