Marvel Cinematic Universe Recap – Phase 3

Marvel Cinematic Universe Recap – Phase 3

Holy smokes, y’all.  Go see Infinity War, like, yesterday.  In case you haven’t, here are the final recaps of the MCU.  The Phase 3 films include Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther.  All of these movies are extremely important in the ramp up to Infinity War.  I’d strongly suggest watching all of them if you haven’t, but if you don’t have the time, I’ve got your back.

Captain America: Civil War

After the events of Age of Ultron, General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross calls the Avengers together to present the Sokovia Accords, an international peace treaty that outlaws independent superheroes; instead, all heroes must report to the United Nations.  Iron Man signs the Accords, but Captain America refuses. As the UN ratifies the Accords, Winter Soldier allegedly assassinates King T’Chaka of Wakanda. New king T’Challa vows to bring Bucky to Wakandan justice. Captain America recruits several allies to prove Bucky’s innocence.  Ultimately, Cap, Stark, Bucky, and T’Challa all discover that the real assassin was a Sokovian soldier named Helmut Zemo. However, Zemo reveals that Bucky killed Howard & Maria Stark, ending Cap and Tony’s friendship as well as the Avengers. Cap and Bucky escape to Wakanda, where Bucky goes into cryogenic stasis under T’Challa’s protection.  Falcon goes on the run with Cap.

Major plot points

  • First appearances of T’Challa/Black Panther, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, King T’Chaka, & Aunt May Parker.  Sets up for both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
  • Spider-Man receives technologically enhanced Spider suit from Tony Stark. Sets up for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
  • Culmination of the Cap/Stark rivalry and the Sokovia Accords story, both of which first started in The Avengers
  • Rhodey paralyzed from the waist down; Stark builds him cybernetic exoskeletons that grant him the ability to walk again
  • Dissolution of the Avengers as a team
  • First demonstration of Ant-Man’s giant growth capability
  • First appearance of Wakanda; sets up for Black Panther.

Doctor Strange

Billionaire, genius, playboy, neurosurgeon Stephen Strange gets into a car accident that wrecks the use of his hands.  He exhausts his wealth to fix them and turns to Eastern medicine. In his travels, Strange meets The Ancient One and Karl Mordo, two sorcerers that take Strange in and teach him magic as a means of spiritual and physical healing.  Strange becomes a master of the mystic arts and learns self-sacrifice when he uses the Time Stone (channeled through a medallion he inherited from The Ancient One) to lock an extradimensional entity called Dormammu from invading Earth.  Mordo becomes disillusioned when he discovers that The Ancient One used dark magic to prolong her own life, and goes rogue. Strange becomes the new Sorcerer Supreme after The Ancient One dies.

Major plot points

  • Fifth known Infinity Stone revealed (Time Stone).  Currently wielded by Doctor Strange in the Eye of Agamotto.
  • First appearance of Stephen Strange, Wong, The Ancient One, Dormammu, and Karl Mordo.
  • The establishment that the MCU is a multiverse of alternate dimensions and realities.
  • Thor requests Strange’s help to find Odin, setting up Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Mordo leaves the Sanctum, setting up for potential Doctor Strange sequel
  • Death of The Ancient One
  • Strange bargains with Dormammu instead of defeating him.  First Marvel villain to not escape, die, or go to prison at the end of the movie.  Sets up potential Doctor Strange sequel.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

The Guardians defend the planet Sovereign from invasion and earn custody of Sovereign prisoner Nebula for their efforts.  However, The Sovereign discover that Rocket also stole from them and pursue the Milano. Ego facilitates the Guardians’ escape and claims to be Star-Lord’s father.  Quill, Gamora, & Drax go to Ego’s planet to discover the truth of Quill’s lineage, while Rocket and Groot stay with the crashed Milano only to be betrayed by Nebula and kidnapped by Yondu and the Ravagers.  Quill discovers that he is Ego’s son and half-Celestial, but Ego plans to partner with Quill to remake the universe in Ego’s image. The Ravagers commit mutiny against Yondu, so he partners with Rocket & Groot to escape and find Quill.  Quill ultimately discovers that Ego is responsible for his mother’s death and rebels against his father. Yondu sacrifices himself to save Quill as Ego dies and blows up his own planet.

Major plot points

  • The first appearance of Mantis; she becomes the newest member of the Guardians.
  • Death of Yondu Udonta, completing the Star-Lord vs the Ravagers storyline that was started in Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • First appearance of a Celestial in Ego. We first saw the hollowed out skull of a Celestial in Guardians of the Galaxy as the space outpost Knowhere.
  • Resolution of the Gamora vs Nebula storyline from Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Reveal that Star-Lord is half Celestial.
  • First appearance of The Sovereign and the first mention of their creation Adam Warlock

Spider-Man: Homecoming

After the Battle of New York, the Dept of Damage Control, in partnership with Tony Stark, abruptly seizes control of all salvage and repair work relating to the Chitauri invasion.  This puts Adrian Toomes’ contracting company out of business, and he decides to use the Chitauri salvage already collected to forge weapons and become an arms dealer. 5 years later, Peter Parker discovers the illegal arms ring and attempts to take it down it himself despite Iron Man’s orders to stay away.  Stark takes the advanced Spider suit away, but Parker manages to expose the arms ring and thwart an attack on a DODC vessel by himself without any help from the Avengers. Stark gives the enhanced suit back to Peter and offers him a spot on The Avengers. However, Parker declines.

Major plot points

  • First appearance of Adrian Toomes/Vulture, Mac Gargan, Michelle “MJ” Jones, Betty Brant, Ned Leeds, Eugene “Flash” Thompson, Herman Schulz/Shocker, Phineas Mason, and Aaron Davis.
    • Though Homecoming invoked the initials “MJ”, it is still unclear at this point if Michelle will replace Mary-Jane Watson as Spider-Man’s paramour.
    • Popular theory at the time of this publication is that Mac Gargan becomes Scorpion in the next Spider-Man movie.
    • Betty Brant and Ned Leeds are Peter’s classmates in the film, but in the comics both are reporters for the Daily Bugle where Peter is a photographer.
    • Ned Leeds also is one of the people to become the villain Hobgoblin.
    • Since Marvel and Sony are partners and a Venom movie starring Tom Hardy is on the horizon, it’s possible that we may see Flash Thompson become Agent Venom.
    • In comics, Phineas Mason is the villain Tinkerer.
  • Potential allusion to the Sinister Six in the mid-credits scene.
    • Supported by the fact that Vulture, Shocker, and Mac Gargan (future Scorpion), three members of the Sinister Six, already appeared in Homecoming.
  • First references to Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man, delivered by Aaron Davis, Morales’ uncle and supervillain Prowler in the comics.
    • Theatrical release – “I don’t want these guns on the streets. I’ve got a nephew in who lives here.”
    • Deleted scene from DVD/Blu-Ray – “I’m sorry Miles, I’m not gonna make it.”
  • May Parker discovers that Peter is Spider-Man.

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor learns that fire giant Surtur is a major force in the prophecy of Ragnarok, foretelling the destruction of Asgard.  After he defeats Surtur, Thor returns to Asgard and exposes Loki’s charade of living as Odin. The brothers go to Earth and find Odin in his final moments.  He warns his sons that the arrival of their sister Hela, goddess of death, starts the Ragnarok prophecy. Hela returns to Asgard where she seizes the throne, and banishes Thor to distant planet Sakaar.  Thor competes in a gladiator arena to win his freedom.  He finds allies in fellow gladiator Hulk and ex-Valkyrie Brunhilde, and they all escape Sakaar for Asgard. Thor and Loki revive Surtur to kill Hela, but the demon destroys Asgard as well.  The surviving Asgardians pile onto a spaceship to seek refuge on Earth, but Thanos intercepts the vessel.

Major plot points

  • First appearance of Valkyrie/Scrapper 142/Brunnhilde.
  • Loki steals the Tesseract from Odin’s vault before Ragnarok.  Sets up Infinity War.
  • Asgard is entirely destroyed; the few Asgardian survivors left sail towards Earth. Potentially sets up the Broxton, Oklahoma/Asgard on Earth storyline from comics.
  • Thor officially becomes King of Asgard
  • Thor loses his right eye and Mjolnir is destroyed. Sets up a side plot in Infinity War.
  • Death of Odin
  • First appearance of Bruce Banner/Hulk since Age of Ultron
  • Thor gains full control of his powers, and basically goes into the Avatar State, except with lightning.

Black Panther

Prince T’Challa ascends to the throne of Wakanda after Helmut Zemo assassinated the previous king T’Chaka.  His first order of business is to track down the wanted thief and murderer Ulysses Klaue and bring him to Wakanda for trial.  American ex-Marine Erik “Killmonger’ Stephens rescues Klaue, but shortly thereafter kills him and demands an audience with T’Challa as a reward.  Stephens reveals that he is T’Challa’s cousin, and successfully defeats T’Challa in ritual combat, thereby seizing the Wakandan throne. Stephens orders Wakandan weapons to be sent all over the world to liberate all people of African descent from white oppressors.  T’Challa joins forces with his rival Wakandan tribe and stages a successful revolution against Stephens, who allows himself to die rather than live as a Wakandan prisoner.

Major plot points

  • Culmination of the King T’Chaka assassination storyline first started in Civil War
  • First appearance of Princess Shuri, Queen Ramonda, General Okoye, Wakandan spy Nakia, and Erik “Killmonger” Stephens
  • Revelation that Wakanda is flush with vibranium (hinted at in Age of Ultron) and is more technologically advanced than any other nation in the world
  • First appearance of the Ancestral Plane, resting place for all deceased Wakandan monarchs’ spirits
  • Destruction of the heart-shaped herb garden, the source of the Black Panther’s power. The implication that T’Challa will be the final Black Panther.
  • T’Challa establishes positive relations with the rival Jabari tribe, the first Black Panther to do so in centuries
  • Wakanda opens its borders and shares its technology with the rest of the world.  Will very likely affect the greater Marvel universe
  • The establishment that Shuri is a technological genius on the level of Tony Stark.
    • Behind the scenes: popular rumor is that Shuri will become the new Iron Man when Robert Downey Jr’s contract expires

And that’s finally a wrap, folks.  Links to previous recaps are here and here.  Let me know if I missed anything, and if you haven’t seen Infinity War yet, what on earth on you waiting for?  Go see it.

Dante is the resident comic book savant of The Geek Embassy.  He’s been reading comics for as long as he can remember, and now that he’s a librarian he gets to advocate for comics in libraries and get paid for it.  He’s also a tabletop gaming fan, especially those that involve cards, with favorites including Sentinels of the Multiverse, Magic: The Gathering, Bang!, Smash Up, Star Realms, and 7 Wonders.  Dante is a library professional at Portland Community College in Hillsboro, OR.

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