The Underlying Story Arc Of The Disney Marvel Movies

WARNING: If you haven't seen any of the Marvel movies, or if you're behind in your viewing, there may be storyline spoilers for you in this post.

The world of comic books is all about continuity; a hero does this thing in his book which in turn may affect several other books over the course of months or even years moving forward. Though there has always been a certain level of continuity required in the movie industry, it hasn't really ever had as much detail.

The current Marvel movie-verse has taken that comic book universe idea and run with it by inter-connecting each and every one of the of the movies underlying them with both obvious and subtle story arches. To accomplish these stories and retain continuity, Marvel devised three phases to not only introduce their heroes but also begin building a massive storyline which will cover multiple movies over the course of several phases. Phase 1 began on May 2nd, 2008 with the official release of Iron Man.

In order of release, Phase 1 looked as follows:

  • Iron Man - May 2nd, 2008
  • The Incredible Hulk - June 13th, 2008
  • Iron Man II - May 7th, 2010
  • Thor - May 6th, 2011
  • Captain America: The First Avenger - June 22, 2011
  • Marvel's The Avengers - May 4th, 2012

Each one of these movies introduced an important hero to the eventual Avengers movie in 2012, but they also introduced a much more subtle storyline in the Tesseract (Possible Spoilers ahead).

First Seen in Thor, the Tesseract is an electric blue cube that was used by the Frost Giants in their bid for supremacy against the Asgardians. When the giants were defeated by Odin, the cube was locked away for an indeterminate amount of time until it shows up in WWII Europe and is taken by the Red Skull in his attempt to take over the world. As Captain America battles the Red Skull, the Tesseract drops from the plane and is then picked up by Tony Stark's father who after doing his own research on the cube the gives it to S.H.E.I.L.D for safe keeping where Loki will eventually steel it from in the Avengers. The Tesseract is then returned to Asgard for safe keeping. But what is the Tesseract? As it turns out, the Tesseract is one of the five gems from a storyline created in the Marvel comics known as the Infinity Gauntlet.

With the end of the first Avengers movie, Phase 1 also ended. With Phase 2, the story continues and another gem appears. With only 5 movies in Phase two, the storyline of the infinity gems has developed a little faster.

Here is the current list of Phase 2 movies:

  • Iron Man III - May 3th, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World - November 8th, 2013
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier - April 4th, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy - August 1st, 2014
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron - May 1st, 2015

In Thor: The Dark World, the second infinity gem is the Aether; A red, amorphous mass that is used by the Dark Elf King Maliketh to try to take over the nine realms. Another introduction from the Infinity Gauntlet storyline comes at the end of Thor: The Dark World in the individual known as the Collector. While not every movie introduces another piece of this story, each movie builds on the history being created by the last. The next movie in Phase 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes the continuity to the next level as the events promise to change the movie world with what happens in this film. The actions and consequences of Winter Soldier will not only affect the movies coming after it but will also affect the TV shows developed. We don't yet know what these changes will be but they are rumored to be massive in scope.

If you would like to get a little more information on the Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity Gems, The Collector or any Marvel heroes, villains, or how the storylines interconnect then you should check out They have a great database with all the Marvel information you could need. And on TV next Tuesday March 18th 8/7c, ABC will be airing a special titled Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe.

Did you realize that there was an overlying arc to all the Marvel Movies? We would love to know is who is your favorite Marvel character, whether it's in one of the movies or in the comics, tell us about them in a comment below!

Thanks so much to Erik H. for this great guest post. Erik is a long time comic book fan and will be reporting on the Marvel Universe for us, as well as keeping track of the galactic goings on of Star Wars. Look for more of his articles in the coming months.

Dino wrote on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 18:01:

Dino's picture

I don't believe the tesseract and the Casket of the Frost Giants is the same thing. I think you may need to do some fact checking there.

Aside from that, nice article

ErikH wrote on Wed, 03/12/2014 - 20:01:

Hi Dino, good catch. You are correct that the Casket and the Tesseract are not the same thing, however the glowing blue thing inside the Casket is in fact the Tesseract. If you go back to the beginning of the first Thor movie you can see that the king of the frost giants is wielding a glowing cube of incredible power which looks a lot like Tesseract.

Lynne wrote on Sun, 03/23/2014 - 15:29:

Lynne's picture

There are 6 Infinity Stones, so 4 more that we've yet to see will be introduced before the 3rd Avengers movie. Love all the inter-locking stories :)

LeroyCrece wrote on Thu, 09/06/2018 - 18:50:

LeroyCrece's picture

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