Road to Endgame: Phase 1

Road to Endgame

Hey guys, Brent here, and I am going to take you on a personal journey to Avengers: Endgame. Each week I will be doing my personal breakdown of each MCU movie by Phases leading up to Avengers: Endgame April 26th. This is not going to be a huge analytical breakdown of each movie or anything. It is more of me just calling out where I was in life and what I remember from seeing the movie for the first time, and some favorite scenes. Just a reflection on those movies and my life. What I liked and thought. Then for the 4th week, I will have what I am looking forward to in Endgame and the MCU. So, this being the first week, we are going to look at Phase 1 of the MCU, which will be Iron Man through Marvel’s Avengers. So let’s get started!

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man 2008 (Marvel)
Iron Man 2008 (Marvel)

First of all, it is crazy to type Iron Man and 2008; it does not feel that long ago! The first entry into the MCU and a classic. There is a lot to love about Iron Man. Iron Man was not a household name and definitely not one of Marvel’s top-tier heroes. Me, personally, most of my knowledge came from the short-lived ’90s cartoon. Robert Downey Jr. is pure magic from when he first shows up on screen. He made Tony Stark into a character we will always remember. Some of my favorite scenes: obviously, Yinsen inspiring Tony in the cave, and the breakout scene. Then when Tony gets the color scheme down and does his first mission against some terrorist. When he first goes to the terrorist camp with the new armor, him blowing up the tank and walking away was classic.

My favorite has to come down to the first ever after-end-credits scene that sets up the MCU. I clearly remember standing up to leave when the credits started rolling, you know, like you used to do after the movies? I distinctly remember my brother saying “wait, I heard there is something after the credits.” We all know the rest is history! Ha, I love looking back on that memory. Just everything was wide open and my first thought was no way they are making an Avengers movie.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk 2008 (Marvel)
The Incredible Hulk 2008 (Marvel)

I think we can all agree, we kind of forget this is a part of the MCU and a movie, right? Not the greatest, but still a lot to love. I am a huge Captain America fan and the super soldier serum plays a big role here. So that kind of endears The Incredible Hulk to me. That fight scene between Hulk and souped-up pre-abomination Emil Blonsky was great. Me personally, being a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and MMA fighter, I loved seeing the famous Rickson Gracie on the big screen. I am pretty sure I was the only one freaking out in the theatre and got some odd looks.

I do remember when this came out on blu-ray you could slow down a deleted scene of Hulk smashing some ice and you could see Cap frozen; that always sticks out in my mind. Even with Tony Stark showing up at the stinger you had this feeling like, yeah, that was cool, and I like the references, but Avengers ain’t happening. Obviously, this was Edward Norton’s one and only appearance as Bruce Banner. It’s still weird that we kind of forget about this movie and all of its MCU connections.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 2010 (Marvel)
Iron Man 2 2010 (Marvel)

I know Iron Man 2 is generally loathed, but I still like it. I really loved Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. Something about his look I just loved, well before he got armored up. That first fight scene on the racetrack was all kinds of fun. Also always loved the War Machine armor design. It always caught my imagination as a kid. Seeing that in action for the first time was a treat! My favorite scene was that really short clip of Tony picking up what looked like a prototype of Captain America’s shield. This was still very early in the MCU and I am a huge Cap fan, so I loved that little easter egg. It also gave us the first appearance of Black Widow and that great Thor teaser with Agent Coulson. I remember having the thought “are they really going to make a Thor movie?” But with Black Widow showing up and them continuing to acknowledge the Hulk and Nick Fury playing a more prominent role? That belief that the Avengers were coming together started to stick in your mind.

Thor (2011)

Thor 2011 (Marvel)
Thor 2011 (Marvel)

The first Thor was surprising for me on how much I liked it. Thor was the character I knew the least about in these original films. Again, this is very early in the MCU, and the whole cast was great and they set it up well. It is still a great fish-out-of-water movie. When Thor breaks the coffee mug “give me another” always cracks me up. They really started setting up S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first Thor movie as well. We also got the first look at Hawkeye, which I was like “oh, we are going all in with this now, huh?” My favorite thing about Thor is it’s the first of the MCU’s introduction into new worlds with Asgard. They slowly start to introduce the audience to the idea of other things happening than just on Earth. Thor also has powers that we hadn’t seen in the MCU and they just balance it all perfectly.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America The First Avenger 2011 (Marvel)
Captain America The First Avenger 2011 (Marvel)

As noted previously, I am a huge Captain America fan, so I was completely hyped for The First Avenger. I have always loved Captain America, even had the VHS tapes of the old ’60s cartoon. You know, “When Captain America Throws his Mighty Shield”. This also happens to be the first MCU movie I and my wife (girlfriend at the time) saw in theatres together, so it holds a special place for me. It is like our ritual now to see them on opening weekend. Firstly, right off the bat, you are like oh yeah, Chris Evans is Captain America, he is perfect for the role. I read Captian America comics in his voice now.

This is also the first “period piece” flashback into earlier times in the MCU. Probably my favorite scenes are Cap standing up to the bullies and Bucky coming to help him, or him jumping on the grenade during basic training. Those, or when he first gets the super soldier serum and chases down the Nazi spies. We also got to see the first Avengers movie trailer. That was an “oh crap this is actually happening” moment. I just remember the movie theatre being super packed and just sitting there thinking “man I can’t believe this many people are watching a Captain America movie”. Little did I know the moneymaker was about to hit!

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Avengers Assemble 2012 (Marvel)
Avengers Assemble 2012 (Marvel)

Oh man, the first Avengers movie, what a ride. I don’t think anybody predicted it would be such a massive success. This was back when you were like “I can’t believe they connected all this and brought it together for one big movie!” It was just such a spectacle to see on screen. So much to love about this film. I remember the theatre just being packed and everyone enjoying every second. From the first real introduction to Hawkeye “I see better from a distance”; to Thor, Cap and Iron Man’s first meeting and classic comic book hero fight: “I have a plan … Attack!”; to, obviously, the big New York fight scene. So many favorite scenes. From the iconic “I am always angry”, to the circle shot; to the various team-ups, notably Iron Man and Cap, recreating some Marvel Ultimate Alliance moves; to Cap calling out orders to all the Avengers; I just sat there with a big goofy grin on my face the whole time. I am pretty sure my girlfriend (now wife) got tired of me tugging on her arm, being like “Oh my gosh… can you believe… look at that!”

We also got two first looks in Avengers. First, Mark Ruffalo became the Bruce Banner for the MCU and made it his own. Marvel made that transition well from Edward Norton. I guess forgetting about The Incredible Hulk paid off. We also got our first look at Thanos, whom we all know comes to play a big role. It was crazy after the Avengers to think “wow they are setting stuff up for the future.” That first Avengers movie was just straight-up comic book delight and I still get the same goofy grin on my face when I re-watch it. Around this time they had all kinds of crazy Avengers merchandise and my girlfriend (wife) threw me a Captain America themed birthday party. You know, like a normal 25-year-old man. I also bought an Avengers lunch box that I still carry to work.

Phase 1 Complete

It is crazy to reflect where my life was during the first phase of the MCU. When Iron Man came out I was a just finishing up my sophomore year in college. Between Iron Man and The Avengers, I started fighting Mixed Martial Arts, had a plethora of jobs and had most of my grandparents pass away. Then I graduated from college got my first and current “real job”. I also started dating my now wife (who also went through some crazy medical stuff) during Phase 1 of the MCU. I went through some crazy changes and just like the MCU I was kind of just forming and becoming my own. Then the next Phase came!

Hope y’all enjoyed the article, and be sure to check in next week as we head into Phase 2 of the MCU: Iron Man 3 through AntMan! If you have any comments on Phase 1 of the MCU let us know in the comments.

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