As we buckle in for the forthcoming premiere of Avengers: Endgame, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of: after all, we're talking about 21 movies over about a decade. It's the perfect time to look back over the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and go over everything fans should have in mind before scanning that ticket, ordering some popcorn, and settling in for Marvel's cinematic event of the year. A quick word of warning: spoilers for Captain Marvel ahead!
One consistent thread throughout many of the MCU's films before Infinity War has been the impending approach of Thanos. We saw elements of the Mad Titan all the way back in the first Avengers movie, when we caught a shot of his grinning face in the mid-credits scene. He played a role in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise as well and reappeared at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron when he donned an Infinity Gauntlet.
Infinity War brought Thanos crashing into the primary narrative, as the big purple one traipsed around the galaxy, gathering up the Infinity Stones. He already had the Power Stone when the film began, and his encounter with Thor and the surviving Asgardians in Infinity War's opening moments left him with the Tesseract, which hid the Space Stone. He proceeded from there to get the Reality Stone on Knowhere, the Soul Stone on Vormir after sacrificing Gamora, and the Time Stone after Doctor Strange surrendered it to him on Titan. Last but not least, he headed to Wakanda, where he plucked the Mind Stone out of Vision's forehead, completed his gauntlet, and snapped his fingers, wiping out half of the life in the universe in what has been dubbed "the Decimation."
Over time, the Avengers lineup has come to include characters like War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, and Spider-Man, but it all started with the Big Six. As The Avengers played out, a nucleus of heroes slowly came together, including Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, Black Widow, and Captain America. 2016's Civil War saw the group split, with Cap, Hawkeye, and Black Widow heading off into exile in the aftermath.
While almost everyone was involved in Infinity War, the heroes weren't fully unified throughout the film. But as savvy fans quickly realized, as the dust from the Decimation settled, not one of the original Avengers had been dusted. Half of the universe's population may be gone, but it sure is convenient that all six of the original Avengers survived the dusting… isn't it? Make sure you continue to watch this before you see Avengers: Endgame!