Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two

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Phase Two
Marvel Cinematic Universe - Phase Two.jpg
Packaging for the "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two Collection" Blu-ray box set
Produced byKevin Feige
Based onCharacters published
by Marvel Comics
StarringSee below
Production
company
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
2013–2015
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
BudgetTotal (6 films):
$1.179 billion
Box officeTotal (6 films):
$5.269 billion

Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a series of American superhero films produced by Marvel Studios based on characters that appear in publications by Marvel Comics. The phase began in 2013 with the release of Iron Man 3 and concluded in 2015 with the release of Ant-Man. It includes the crossover film Avengers: Age of Ultron, also released in 2015. Kevin Feige produced every film in the phase. The six films of the phase grossed over $5.269 billion at the global box office along with generally positive critical and public reception.

Chris Evans appeared the most in the phase, starring or making cameo appearances in four of the Phase Two films. Marvel Studios created two more short films for their Marvel One-Shots program to expand the MCU, while each of the feature films received tie-in comic books. Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier also received video game tie-ins, while Lego Marvel's Avengers was also released, which adapted the storyline of multiple films of the franchise. Phase Two, along with Phase One and Phase Three, make up The Infinity Saga.

Development[edit]

Films[edit]

Film[1] U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer
Iron Man 3 May 3, 2013 Shane Black[2] Drew Pearce and Shane Black[2][3] Kevin Feige
Thor: The Dark World November 8, 2013 Alan Taylor[4] Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely[5]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier April 4, 2014 Anthony and Joe Russo[6] Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely[7]
Guardians of the Galaxy August 1, 2014 James Gunn[8] James Gunn and Nicole Perlman[9]
Avengers: Age of Ultron May 1, 2015 Joss Whedon[10]
Ant-Man July 17, 2015 Peyton Reed[11] Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd[12]

Iron Man 3 (2013)[edit]

Kevin Feige has produced every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tony Stark faces a powerful enemy, the Mandarin, who attacks and destroys his mansion. Left to his own devices and battling posttraumatic stress disorder, Stark struggles to get to the bottom of a series of mysterious explosions.[13]

In late 2010, Marvel and Disney announced that they were developing a third Iron Man film.[14] In February 2011, Marvel hired Shane Black to direct Iron Man 3.[15] Black co-wrote the film's script with Drew Pearce.[2][3] Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, and Don Cheadle reprised their roles from 2010's Iron Man 2, while Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley joined the cast as Aldrich Killian and Trevor Slattery, respectively.[16] Filming began in May 2012, in North Carolina.[17] Additional filming took place in southern Florida,[18] China,[19] and Los Angeles.[20] Iron Man 3 premiered at Le Grand Rex in Paris, France on April 14, 2013 and at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California on April 24.[21][22] The film was released internationally on April 25,[23] and in the United States on May 3.[14]

The film is set in December 2012,[24] after the events of 2012's The Avengers.[25] In the film, Tony Stark experiences PTSD-like symptoms following the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Black explained, "that's an anxiety response to feeling inferior to the Avengers, but also to being humbled by sights he cannot possibly begin to understand or reconcile with the realities he's used to... There's a line in the movie about 'ever since that big guy with the hammer fell out of the sky, the rules have changed'. That's what we're dealing with here."[26] Bruce Banner appears in a post-credits scene, with Mark Ruffalo reprising the role. About the scene, Ruffalo said "They were about to wrap the movie and I saw Robert [Downey, Jr.] at the Academy Awards... and he said, 'What do you think about coming and doing a day?' I said, 'Are you kidding me? Bang, let's do it!' We sort of spitballed that scene, then I came in and we shot for a couple of hours and laughed."[27]

Thor: The Dark World (2013)[edit]

Thor reunites with astrophysicist Jane Foster as a series of portals, linking worlds at random, begin to appear. He discovers that Malekith and his army of Dark Elves have returned after thousands of years, and they seek a powerful weapon known as the Aether. Thor must join forces with his now-imprisoned brother Loki to stop them.[5]

A sequel to 2011's Thor was first announced in June of that year, with Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as Thor.[28] Tom Hiddleston confirmed he would return as Loki in September,[29] and Alan Taylor signed on to direct the film in December.[4] The film's title was announced as Thor: The Dark World in July 2012 at the San Diego Comic-Con International,[30] and Christopher Eccleston was cast as Malekith a month later.[31] Production started in September 2012 in Bourne Wood, Surrey, with additional filming taking place in Iceland and London.[32][33] The film premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on October 22, 2013.[34] It was internationally released on October 30, 2013 and on November 8, 2013 in the United States.[35]

The film is set one year after the events of The Avengers.[36] Chris Evans briefly makes a cameo appearance in the film as Captain America when Loki shapeshifts into him while mocking Thor.[37] Hiddleston wore the Captain America costume while standing in for Evans, before Evans came to shoot the scene. Hiddleston said, "I did an impression of Loki in the Captain America costume, and then they showed Chris [Evans] my performance on tape. It's him doing an impression of me doing an impression of him. And it's brilliant."[37] James Gunn, the director of Guardians of the Galaxy, directed the mid-credits scene that featured the Collector, played by Benicio del Toro. Asked about shooting the scene, Gunn said, "I got the script that morning, and I did it in two hours at the end of a day of second unit shooting [for Guardians of the Galaxy]."[38]

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)[edit]

Steve Rogers, now working with S.H.I.E.L.D., teams up with Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow and Sam Wilson / Falcon to expose a deep conspiracy which involves a mysterious assassin known only as the Winter Soldier.[39]

A sequel to 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger was announced in April 2012.[40] Anthony and Joe Russo were hired to direct in June,[6] and in July it was officially titled Captain America: The Winter Soldier.[30] Evans and Samuel L. Jackson were set to reprise their respective roles as Captain America and Nick Fury,[6] and Scarlett Johansson would again play the Black Widow.[41] Sebastian Stan, who portrayed Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger, returned as the Winter Soldier.[42] Production started in April 2013 in Manhattan Beach, California, and filming also took place in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio.[43][44] The film premiered in Los Angeles on March 13, 2014.[45] Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released internationally on March 26[46] and in the United States on April 4.[40]

The film is set two years after the events of The Avengers.[25] Stephen Strange, the alter-ego of the Marvel superhero Doctor Strange, is mentioned by name in the film by the character Jasper Sitwell.[47] A remodeled Stark Tower from The Avengers, now known as Avengers Tower, also makes an appearance in the film.[48] The Avengers director Joss Whedon directed a post-credits scene featuring Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), List (Henry Goodman), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron.[49][50] The revelation in the film that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Hydra informed the final six episodes of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a television series set in the MCU.[51][52]

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)[edit]

Peter Quill / Star-Lord and a group of misfits, including Gamora, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer and Groot, fight to keep a powerful orb from the clutches of the villainous Ronan.[53][54][55]

Nicole Perlman began writing a screenplay in 2009.[56] Marvel Studios announced it was developing a Guardians of the Galaxy film in July 2012.[30] The film is directed by James Gunn, based on his and Perlman's screenplay.[8] In February 2013, Chris Pratt was cast in the lead role, as Peter Quill / Star-Lord.[57] The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and in London from July to October 2013,[58] and post-production work was completed on July 7, 2014.[59] The film premiered on July 21, 2014 in Hollywood.[60] Guardians of the Galaxy was released in the United Kingdom on July 31, 2014,[61] and in the United States on August 1.[30]

The film is set in 2014.[62] Josh Brolin provides the voice and performance capture for Thanos,[63] the supervillain who appeared in The Avengers mid-credits scene. Gunn noted that the film would be connected to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.[64] Several other objects of significance appear in the Collector's museum, including a Chitauri from The Avengers and a Dark Elf from Thor: The Dark World, among other characters. About their appearances Gunn said, "There's a lot of stuff in the Collector's Museum. And for me, it was mostly just really fun. As a Marvel fan, giving the actual fans something that they can freeze frame on their Blu-Ray at home and just kind of pick out everything that's in there. So there are, I mean, seriously all those boxes have something interesting in them, so it's pretty fun."[65] Ronan's race, the Kree, were first introduced in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "T.A.H.I.T.I.".[66][67]

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)[edit]

Joss Whedon, writer and director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron

Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye must work together as the Avengers to defeat Ultron, a technological enemy bent on human extinction, while encountering the powerful twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, as well as the new entity Vision.[68][69]

A sequel to The Avengers was announced by Disney in May 2012, shortly after the first film's release.[70] In August 2012, Joss Whedon was signed to return as writer and director.[10] In June 2013, Downey signed a deal to reprise the role of Iron Man for the second and third Avengers films.[71] On July 20, 2013, at San Diego Comic-Con International, Whedon announced that the subtitle of the film would be Age of Ultron.[72] In August 2013, James Spader was announced to portray Ultron.[73] Second unit filming began on February 11, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa.[74][75] Principal photography began in March 2014 at Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England,[71][76] with additional footage filmed at Fort Bard and various other locations in the Aosta Valley region of Italy,[77] and Seoul, South Korea.[78] Filming was completed on August 6, 2014.[79] Avengers: Age of Ultron had its world premiere in Los Angeles on April 13, 2015,[80] and was released internationally beginning April 22,[81] and on May 1 in the United States.[82]

The film confirms that the gem in Loki's scepter is an Infinity Stone, specifically the Mind Stone, and Brolin reappears as Thanos in the mid-credits scene wielding an Infinity Gauntlet.[83] It also features references to Vibranium and Wakanda, both connections to Black Panther, introducing both to the universe ahead of Black Panther's solo film. Additionally, Andy Serkis portrays Ulysses Klaue in the film, traditionally a Black Panther antagonist, and would subsequently appear in Black Panther.[84]

Ant-Man (2015)[edit]

Thief Scott Lang must aid his mentor Dr. Hank Pym in safeguarding the mystery of the Ant-Man technology, which allows its user to decrease in size but increase in strength, from various menaces and plot a heist to defend the Earth.[11]

Ant-Man is directed by Peyton Reed with a screenplay written by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd, from a story by Wright & Cornish, that includes both Scott Lang and Hank Pym.[11][12] Edgar Wright was initially slated to direct and write the film, but left the project in May 2014 due to creative differences.[85][86] In January 2013, Feige stated that Ant-Man would be the first film in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[87] However, in October 2014, it was revealed that the film would be the last film of Phase Two.[88] Pre-production started in October 2013,[89] and principal photography took place from August to December 2014,[90] in San Francisco,[91] Fayette County, Georgia at Pinewood Atlanta,[92] and Downtown Atlanta.[93] In December 2013, Rudd was cast as Ant-Man,[94] followed in January 2014 with the casting of Michael Douglas as Pym and the confirmation of Rudd as Lang.[95] Ant-Man had its world premiere in Los Angeles on June 29, 2015,[96] and was released in France on July 14,[97] and in the United States on July 17.[98]

The film is set several months after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.[99] Scott Lang attempts to infiltrate the new Avengers headquarters in Upstate New York featured in Age of Ultron, and confronts Sam Wilson / Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie. McKay and Rudd decided to add Falcon to Ant-Man after watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier.[100] The Russo brothers filmed the post-credit scene, which was footage from 2016's Captain America: Civil War,[101][102] and features Mackie as Falcon, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier.[103]

Timeline[edit]

Unlike Phase One, Phase Two was set in relatively real time in order to simplify the timeline of the MCU.[104] Each film was set roughly in real time relating to The Avengers (2012). Iron Man 3 is set around six months later during Christmas,[24][25] Thor: The Dark World is set one year later,[36] and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is two years after.[25] Guardians of the Galaxy is set explicitly in 2014.[62] Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man ended the Phase in 2015 and several months passed between the films in-universe as in real life.[99]

Recurring cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)

This section shows characters who have appeared in multiple films within Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and have appeared in the billing block for at least one film.

  • A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
  • An OS indicates the character appears in a One-Shot.
  • C indicates an uncredited cameo role.
  • V indicates a voice-only role.
Character Iron Man 3
(2013)
Thor:
The Dark World

(2013)
Captain America:
The Winter Soldier

(2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy
(2014)
Avengers:
Age of Ultron

(2015)
Ant-Man
(2015)
Bruce Banner
Hulk
Mark RuffaloC[27] Mark Ruffalo[105]
James "Bucky" Barnes
Winter Soldier
Sebastian Stan[106] Sebastian StanC[103]
Peggy CarterOS Hayley Atwell[107] Hayley Atwell[108]
Nick Fury Samuel L. Jackson[109] Samuel L. Jackson[110]
Heimdall Idris Elba[111] Idris Elba[112]
Maria Hill Cobie Smulders[113] Cobie Smulders[114]
Pietro Maximoff
Quicksilver
Aaron Taylor-JohnsonC[115] Aaron Taylor-Johnson[116]
Wanda Maximoff
Scarlet Witch
  Elizabeth OlsenC[115]   Elizabeth Olsen[116]  
James "Rhodey" Rhodes
War Machine
/ Iron Patriot
Don Cheadle[16] Don Cheadle[117][118]
Steve Rogers
Captain America
Chris EvansC[a] Chris Evans[109] Chris Evans[120] Chris EvansC[103]
Natasha Romanoff
Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson[121] Scarlett Johansson[122]
Erik Selvig Stellan Skarsgård[123] Stellan Skarsgård[124]
Tony Stark
Iron Man
OS
Robert Downey Jr.[125] Robert Downey Jr.[71]
Thor Chris Hemsworth[126] Chris Hemsworth[127]
Taneleer Tivan
The Collector
Benicio del ToroC[128] Benicio del Toro[129]
Vision
J.A.R.V.I.S.
Paul BettanyV[16] Paul Bettany[130]
Sam Wilson
Falcon
Anthony Mackie[106] Anthony Mackie[131][132]
  1. ^ Chris Evans makes a cameo appearance in Thor: The Dark World as Loki masquerading as Captain America.[119]

Music[edit]

Film soundtracks[edit]

Title U.S. release date Length Composer(s) Label
Iron Man 3 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) April 30, 2013 1:15:53 Brian Tyler Hollywood Records
Marvel Music
Thor: The Dark World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) November 12, 2013 1:17:11
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) April 1, 2014 1:14:32 Henry Jackman
Guardians of the Galaxy (Original Score) July 29, 2014 1:04:34 Tyler Bates
Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) April 28, 2015 1:17:26 Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman
Ant-Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) July 17, 2015 1:05:20 Christophe Beck

Compilation albums[edit]

Title U.S. release date Length Label
Iron Man 3: Heroes Fall (Music Inspired by the Motion Picture) April 30, 2013 (2013-04-30) 44:36 Hollywood Records
Marvel Music
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) July 29, 2014 (2014-07-29) 44:34

Home media[edit]

Film Digital release DVD/Blu-ray release
Iron Man 3 September 3, 2013 (2013-09-03) September 24, 2013 (2013-09-24)
Thor: The Dark World February 4, 2014 (2014-02-04) February 25, 2014 (2014-02-25)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier August 19, 2014 (2014-08-19) September 9, 2014 (2014-09-09)
Guardians of the Galaxy November 18, 2014 (2014-11-18) December 9, 2014 (2014-12-09)
Avengers: Age of Ultron September 8, 2015 (2015-09-08) October 2, 2015 (2015-10-02)
Ant-Man November 17, 2015 (2015-11-17) December 8, 2015 (2015-12-08)

In July 2015, Marvel announced a 13-disc box set titled "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase Two Collection", for release on December 8, 2015, exclusive to Amazon.com. The box set includes all six of the Phase Two films—Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man—on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and a digital copy, in a replica of the Orb from Guardians of the Galaxy, plus a bonus disc and exclusive memorabilia. Material on the bonus disc includes all of the Marvel One-Shots with commentary, deleted scenes and pre-production creative features for each of the films, featurettes on the making of the post-credit scenes for the films, and first looks at Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.[133][134]

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

The Marvel Cinematic Universe films are the highest-grossing film franchise of all time worldwide, both unadjusted and adjusted-for-inflation, having grossed over $22.5 billion at the global box office, with Phase Two accounting for $5.3 billion of the total. Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron each made over $1 billion, becoming the second and third MCU films to reach the milestone, behind only The Avengers.[135]

Film U.S. release date Box office gross All-time ranking Budget Ref(s)
U.S. and Canada Other territories Worldwide U.S. and Canada Worldwide
Iron Man 3 May 3, 2013 $409,013,994 $805,797,258 $1,214,811,252 30 19 $178.4 million [136][137]
Thor: The Dark World November 8, 2013 $206,362,140 $438,421,000 $644,783,140 201 139 $152.7 million [138][137]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier April 4, 2014 $259,766,572 $454,654,931 $714,421,503 116 112 $177 million [139][140]
Guardians of the Galaxy August 1, 2014 $333,176,600 $439,600,000 $772,776,600 63 98 $195.9 million [141][142]
Avengers: Age of Ultron May 1, 2015 $459,005,868 $943,800,000 $1,402,805,868 18 10 $365.5 million [143][144]
Ant-Man July 17, 2015 $180,202,163 $339,109,802 $519,311,965 255 205 $109.3 million [145][144]
Total $1,847,527,337 $3,421,382,991 $5,268,910,328 $1.179 billion

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Critical Public
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Iron Man 3 79% (316 reviews)[146] 62 (44 reviews)[147] A[148]
Thor: The Dark World 67% (269 reviews)[149] 54 (44 reviews)[150] A−[148]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier 90% (293 reviews)[151] 70 (48 reviews)[152] A[148]
Guardians of the Galaxy 91% (317 reviews)[153] 76 (53 reviews)[154] A[148]
Avengers: Age of Ultron 75% (355 reviews)[155] 66 (49 reviews)[156] A[148]
Ant-Man 83% (313 reviews)[157] 64 (44 reviews)[158] A[148]
Average 81% 65 A

Tie-in media[edit]

Short films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter Producer Home media release
Agent Carter September 3, 2013 (2013-09-03) (digital)
September 24, 2013 (physical)
Louis D'Esposito[159] Eric Pearson[159] Kevin Feige Iron Man 3
All Hail the King February 4, 2014 (2014-02-04) (digital)
February 25, 2014 (physical)
Drew Pearce[160] Thor: The Dark World

Comic books[edit]

Title Issue(s) Publication date(s) Writer(s) Artist(s)
First published Last published
Marvel's Iron Man 3 Prelude 2 January 2, 2013 (2013-01-02) February 6, 2013 (2013-02-06) Christos N. Gage[161] Steve Kurth[161]
Marvel's Thor: The Dark World Prelude 2 June 5, 2013 (2013-06-05) July 10, 2013 (2013-07-10) Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost[162] Scot Eaton[162] and Ron Lim[163]
Marvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier Infinite Comic 1 January 28, 2014 (2014-01-28) Peter David[164] Rock He-Kim[164]
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic – Dangerous Prey 1 April 1, 2014 (2014-04-01) Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning[165] Andrea Di Vito[165]
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude 2 April 2, 2014 (2014-04-02) May 28, 2014 (2014-05-28) Wellinton Alves[166]
Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude – This Scepter'd Isle 1 February 3, 2015 (2015-02-03) Will Corona Pilgrim
[167][168][169]
Wellinton Alves[168]
Marvel's Ant-Man Prelude 2 February 4, 2015 (2015-02-04) March 4, 2015 (2015-03-04) Miguel Sepulveda[167]
Marvel's Ant-Man – Scott Lang: Small Time 1 March 3, 2015 (2015-03-03) Wellinton Alves and Daniel Govar[169]

Video games[edit]

Title U.S. release date Publisher Developer Platforms
Console / PC Handhelds Mobile
Iron Man 3: The Official Game April 25, 2013 (2013-04-25)[170] Gameloft[170] iOS, Android
Thor: The Dark World – The Official Game October 31, 2013 (2013-10-31)[171] Gameloft[171] iOS, Android
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The Official Game March 27, 2014 (2014-03-27)[172] Gameloft[173] iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Other video games
Lego Marvel's Avengers January 26, 2016 (2016-01-26)[174] Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment TT Games PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita
March 10, 2016 (2016-03-10)[175] Feral Interactive macOS

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