Also, WARNING: I WILL be going into detail and specific plot points from such films as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger so if you do not want any of these movies spoiled for you, stop reading, watch the movies, and then come back and see how close to home I hit.
Ready? Let's get started!
Why start with Captain America? Here's the deal. This movie takes place in the 1940s. 60 years more or less before the events of Iron Man.
Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. The Red Skull getting a hold of the Tesseract, also known as The Cosmic Cube, (which is a MAJOR source of power in the Marvel Universe) from a church with artwork dedicated to Odin. We get a brief glimpse at the world tree which shows the unifying branches of the Nine Realms. The Red Skull is intent on using the Tesseract as his means for taking over the world with no intent to pass it over to Hitler who has other Nazis "Digging up the desert for trinkets."* Meanwhile, Steve Rogers, 90 pound weakling, is desperate to get into the military because he wants to help defend his country following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
When his friend Bucky Barnes gets in but Rogers does not, they attend a worlds fair expo where they see Howard Stark, father of Tony Stark use early Repulsor Technology for an early form of flying car. (They also see the original Human Torch who has no bearing in the story but possibly could in a Cap sequel!**)
Rogers shows that he has the heart for military service and with the help of Dr. Erskine, he gets inducted into the Army. When inducted, Rogers meets Stark, who assists Erskine in injecting Rogers with the Super Soldier Serum and also helps Rogers obtain a shield made of a very rare element known as vibranium. In doing so, Rogers becomes Captain America and has several adventures in which he faces off with and eventually defeats the Red Skull and Rogers winds up frozen in the Arctic. During this mission, the Tesseract is lost in the Arctic but later recovered by Stark who continued searching for Rogers.
FLASH FORWARD 60 YEARS OR SO...
The film is bookended by Steve Rogers being recovered and thawed out. He wakes up in a facility run by S.H.I.E.L.D. where he escapes and finds that he has been awakened in modern day New York. Rogers is approached by Col. Nick Fury to work with him to help bring in a new age of heroes, thus creating the Avengers Initiative and becoming the first to get recruited and making Captain America the First Avenger.
Stark also continues tinkering with the suit and refines it to be capable of sustained flight and a lighter design, utilizing the now improved repulsor technology invented by Howard Stark. In the background, we see a new version of Captain America's shield, presumably a prototype of a new version that was being worked on by Howard Stark prior to his death. With the new suit, Tony becomes Iron Man and proceeds to return to the Middle East and take out a group of the Ten Rings terrorists who are menacing a small town. Tony returns to the states to find that his business partner Obadiah Stane is the one responsible for the attempt on his life and has now created a suit of his own based loosely on the designs of the original Iron Man suit and has become the Iron Monger. The two fight with Iron Man emerging as the victor.
Stark is visited by Agent Coulson who comes up with a cover story in an attempt to cover up the identity of Iron Man. However, Tony, loving the idea of being a superhero reveals that he is in fact, Iron Man, sending the media into a frenzy. Later on, Tony returns home to find that his seciruty system JARVIS has been compromised and he is visited by Col. Nick Fury who not only reveals to Tony that he is not the only superhero around but also wants him to join the Avengers Initiative.
With me so far? Okay, here is where things tend to overlap somewhat so bear with me. This should pay off in the end!
SIX MONTHS LATER.....
IRON MAN 2****
Tony is also given a temporary antidote to cure the palladium poisoning and also access to information about a new element that could potentially help him keep the poisoning away permanently. Agent Coulson is assigned to babysit Stark and assists him in building the machine to synthesize the unnamed new element by wedging the presumed prototype of Captain America's shield under part of the synthesizing machine. Coulson, having been reassigned to New Mexico.
Three things happen here. There is the short film "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer." This is the first of two short films that were included in the blu ray releases of Thor and Captain America. This particular short film is on the one for Captain America. This particular one is more of a quick character moment with Agent Coulson and just how much looks can be deceiving and how little you want to mess with him! It's a fun little beat and worth tracking down.
The second thing taking place is the campus battle between the Hulk and the forces of General Ross and Emil Blonsky. More on that in a moment. The Incredible Hulk movie begins to run more or less concurrent with Iron Man 2. At the end of Iron Man 2, Tony visits S.H.I.E.L.D. for his evaluation results and we see the news reports in the background about the fight. Also, on a slightly unrelated note, we see a map with several "hot spots" as it were where metahuman activity is presumably taking place. Tony is told that Iron Man is a worthy candidate to be part of the Avengers, BUT Tony Stark is NOT. However, Tony is asked to be a consultant for the Initiative. This comes into play in a moment.
The third thing taking place is the early events in Thor, as the post credits scene in Iron Man 2 has us return to Agent Coulson and coming across Thor's hammer Mjolnir. More on that later because we have to talk about the next film....
THE INCREDIBLE HULK*****
General Ross approaches Blonsky and offers him some help in taking down the Hulk in the form of the Super Soldier Serum that was used on Steve Rogers by Dr. Erskine to make him Captain America. Blonsky accepts and is injected with the serum and is able to almost stand toe to toe with the Hulk in the battle on the college campus. However, the Hulk emerges victorious, even with the specialized vehicles with Stark Technology sonic emitters being used to subdue him. Banner escapes and meets with his contact Dr. Samuel Sterns who is trying to help Bruce find a cure for the gamma irradiation. Bruce escapes, and Blonsky tracks him to Sterns' lab and makes Sterns irradiate him Bruce Banner's blood. This combination with the Super Soldier Serum causes Blonsky to become the Abomination.^
The Hulk defeats the Abomination and goes on the run again. The Abomination however is taken into custody. We find this out in the short film on the Thor blu ray, The Consultant, which also sets up why we get Tony Stark showing up in the bar where General Ross is getting drunk. In this short film, we learn that the government was pushing for Blonsky to be used in the Avengers Initiative and is in the custody of General Ross but Agent Coulson is very much against it. He sends in the consultant, Tony Stark to talk to General Ross (as seen in The Incredible Hulk). Stark winds up infuriating General Ross to the point of refusing to release Blonsky to join the Avengers Initiative. I won't spoil much else on this short film because it it pretty funny and you can find it on the Thor blu ray.
The arrogant, headstrong son of Odin, Thor, the god of thunder is banished from his homeland of Asgard when he decides to wage war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. As part of Thor's punishment, Odin takes Thor's hammer, Mjolnir and puts a spell on it, thus preventing Thor from obtaining it until he learns humility and proves his worth. Thor and Mjolnir both crash land in New Mexico, where he is helped by Jane Foster, and her colleague Erik Selvig.^^ Mjolnir however, creates a crater that is immediately descended upon by the locals, and later on S.H.I.E.L.D. with Agent Coulson riding herd on the mission, which links in to Iron Man 2.
Thor finds out where Mjolnir is being held and breaks into the S.H.I.E.L.D compound, with Agent Clint Barton^^^ taking point with his bow and arrows should the attack get out of hand. Thor is captured and questioned by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dr. Selvig^^^^, having come across a book about the Asgardians in a local book store, shows up with a cover story to get Thor out of the compound. Thor bonds with Jane Foster and explains that Earth is one of the nine realms of the Tree of Worlds and how our world is connected with his.
Meanwhile, Loki, the god of mischief and Thor's brother, usurps the throne of Asgard from Odin and discovers that he will never be worthy of the throne as long as Thor is alive. Loki sends the Destroyer, a suit of living armor that is highly destructive to New Mexico where it first encounters Agent Coulson and the other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who think that it is one of Tony Stark's Iron Man suits. Thor redeems himself and is once again reunited with Mjolnir. He defeats the Destroyer armor and returns to Asgard, but not before assuring to Agent Coulson that his services are available to help protect Earth should the services of the Thunder God be needed.
Thor returns to Asgard and battles Loki who is defeated and banished to parts unknown. We get a post credits sequence where Dr. Selvig has been brought in by S.H.I.E.L.D. to inspect an artifact. The artifact in question is the Cosmic Cube. However, we find that Loki has found a way to Earth and is controlling Dr. Selvig and that the fate of the Cosmic Cube is now hanging in the balance, thus setting up Loki as the main villain of The Avengers.
I hope you enjoyed this timeline on the Avengers. This was a lot of fun for me to put together and if I missed anything, please comment here or e-mail me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to your thoughts on the timeline!
*What trinkets exactly? Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark for that story! -Rick
**One of those blink and you miss cameos. Look for the guy in the red suit in a tube. The original Human Torch was not actually human but an android. -Rick G.
***Regarding the Ten Rings...It has long been rumored, that we may eventually get to see the Marvel villain The Mandarin in one of the Iron Man sequels. -Rickmoninoff
****I am going to refrain from the majority of the plot here because there is much that really does not have that much bearing on the Avengers but I will point out the threads that do unify this movie to the others. -The Rick
*****Again, I am only going to touch on the points that tie in to the Avengers because this movie has quite a bit going on. -Geek Mastah Rick
^It is this point that Dr. Sterns gets a cut on his head and the gamma irradiated blood lands on the cut causing his head to grow. This leads to the creation of The Leader, a MAJOR villain for the Hulk in the comics. Here's hoping we get a Hulk 2 where he fights the Leader! -Rockin' Ricky Rialto
^^I know that Kat Dennings' character of Darcy is there as well but she really has nothing to do in the movie so I don't bring her up any further. -Rickman
^^^Clint Barton, of course is better known as Hawkeye in the comics and we will definitely see more of him in The Avengers! -Rick
^^^^Dr. Selvig makes mention at some point about a scientist who dabbled in gamma research and was taken by the government and never heard from again. Making mention of Bruce Banner who by this point has been most likely been detained and turned over to the Avengers Initiative. -Rick Again
Posted by Rick G at 8:00 AM