Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has bloomed from one weird movie about a drunk building a supercar robot thing into one of the most profitable franchises of all-time, encompassing movies, TV shows, cartoons, theme park attractions and comic books*. But it all started with Phase One:

(*Yes, the series is based on comics, but there’s also MCU-specific comics like Nick Fury’s Big Week that we write about despite absolutely no human being ever actually caring that much about them.)

Following Iron Man’s notorious revelation, and Nick Fury’s thematic stop-by, Phase One was released – Thor, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk movie we all tend to forget, and Captain America: The First Avenger, proof that there could be more than one good movie in Phase One – before all building to the capstone:

The Avengers. If you saw it in theaters, odds are you remember the insane hype of the film; despite it looking almost quaint now (what, a handful of Avengers team up to take down Loki? What is this, eight different scenes in Thor: Ragnarok?), the film blew up the box office and led to 80 more years of Marvel.

Now that Phase Four is fully in swing, the last episode of Moon Knight releasing soon, and both Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder on their way, it’s time to look back at the phases that led us here… and all the ways they pointed to the future.

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