Marvel's The Avengers: Then and Now
It has been 10 years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began with the premiere of Iron Man. The heroes of these films have come a long way in that time, especially the original members of The Avengers. As we prepare to watch them all work together in their greatest battle yet against Thanos, it's worth taking a look back to see just how far they've come. We've assembled a list of all the original Avengers and franchise-heading superheroes to compare their first appearance with their current status for Avengers: Infinity War.
Some of these changes are startling. We think you'll agree that the MCU has grown a lot in 10 years and it will be a lot of fun to see what else changes when the new movie debuts later this month.
Portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.
First MCU Appearance: Iron Man
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, and Spider-Man: Homecoming
Then: Tony Stark grew a lot over the course of his first film, transforming himself from an arms dealer to a (relatively) peaceful protector of the innocent. He positioned Iron Man as the modern world's first superhero and was approached by Nick Fury to help found the Avengers.
Now: Iron Man currently leads the Avengers, having resumed his role in the armor after briefly abandoning it. He has located the team in upstate New York and works to groom and train new superheroes like Spider-Man. Tony has also continued to lead Stark Industries alongside his longtime girlfriend Pepper Potts.prevnext
Portrayed by Ed Norton and Mark Ruffalo
First MCU Appearance: The Incredible Hulk
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Thor: Ragnarok
Then: The Hulk was initially portrayed by Ed Norton in his prototypical role as a gamma-irradiated scientist on the run from the military. While he helped fight worse monsters in his debut, Hulk remained an outsider just as he began the film.
Now: Things began to change when Mark Ruffalo took over the role. Hulk joined the Avengers and became a celebrated international hero. He helped defeat both Loki and Ultron before fleeing to outer space. He was reunited with Thor on Sakaar and is currently traveling back to Earth with his fellow Avenger.prevnext
Portrayed by Scarlett Johansson
First MCU Appearance: Iron Man 2
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War
Then: Black Widow began her career in the Marvel movies as an undercover agent assigned by Nick Fury to look out for Tony Stark. She revealed her impressive skill set at the end of Iron Man 2 and returned to work at Fury's side.
Now: Black Widow has remained loyal to both her government contacts in Nick Fury and Iron Man, as well as her friends like Captain America and Hawkeye. While she sided with Iron Man in the Civil War, she has proven willing to work with both sides. Throughout her career she has remained a consummate spy, remaining flexible to change in all of its forms.prevnext
Portrayed by Chris Hemsworth
First MCU Appearance: Thor
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok
Then: In Thor's debut he grew from a "vain, greedy, cruel boy" to someone who valued the lives of everyone around him and respected the incredible responsibilities of power. By the end of Thor he had found both love and a welcome return to Asgard.
Now: Since that first film Thor has lost his parents, his girlfriend, his hammer, an eyeball, and all of Asgard. It has been an exceptionally brutal path that has left the God of Thunder with his brother Loki and a few close companions traveling with the refugees of Asgard through space. Things were just starting to look better until they encountered Thanos' flagship to unknown results...prevnext
Portrayed by Jeremy Renner
First MCU Appearance: Thor
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War
Then: When Hawkeye first appeared in Thor he was a very talented archer and loyal operative to Nick Fury, but not a superhero or public figure.
Now: In the course of the Marvel movies so far, Hawkeye has become an Avenger and fought alongside the world's greatest superheroes on multiple missions. It seems that his time in the spotlight has come to an end though as he fled the Avengers as a fugitive alongside Captain America and might be seeking to retire with his family on their farm.prevnext
Portrayed by Chris Evans
First MCU Appearance: Captain America: The First Avenger
Subsequent MCU Appearances: The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man: Homecoming
Then: Captain America began his career in the midst of World War II. He gained powers and an arch-nemesis in his initial appearance before becoming trapped in a block of ice only to be reawoken in the 21st Century.
Now: A lot has changed since Cap emerged from the ice. In addition to making many new allies, he also found and saved his old friend Bucky from Hydra brainwashing. He has gone from being the leader of the Avengers to a fugitive on the run from government-controlled superheroes with his own band of rogue individuals. He has also lost the star on his chest and shield as a result of this break.prevnext
Guardians of the Galaxy
First MCU Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Then: In their first appearance the Guardians grew from a team of misfits into a found family. They rose from criminal pasts, sharing a lineup photo together, in order to become galactic heroes.
Now: Now in their most recent appearance the Guardians have saved the galaxy again. Together they are much closer as a family and fighting unit. They have also added two new members in a new offshoot of Groot and Mantis.prevnext
Portrayed by Paul Rudd
First MCU Appearance: Ant-Man
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Captain America: Civil War
Then: In his first film Scott Lang grew from a well-intentioned, but ineffective thief to a superhero capable of protecting his own family and being a force for good in the world.
Now: Since his debut, Ant-Man has discovered new abilities, learning he can be giant as well as small. He also became a fugitive once again when he chose to side with Captain America during the events of Captain America: Civil War. Even more changes are right around the corner as he looks to gain new allies and enemies in Ant-Man and The Wasp later this year.prevnext
Portrayed by Chadwick Boseman
First MCU Appearance: Captain America: Civil War
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Black Panther
Then: T'Challa's first appearance revealed an assured prince already fully in control of his powers and aware of his place in the world. The big shake up from that debut was the assassination of his father King T'Chaka, of course.
Now: In the wake of his father's death, T'Challa has assumed the throne of Wakanda and pulled many allies like his tech-savvy sister Shuri and the deadly General Okoye closer to him. He has also chosen to open Wakanda's resources and history to the rest of the world, vastly expanding his influence on Earth.prevnext
Portrayed by Tom Holland
First MCU Appearance: Captain America: Civil War
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Spider-Man: Homecoming
Then: Spider-Man's first appearance during the central battle of Captain America: Civil War showed a young hero who was clearly out of his depth alongside other Avengers. He seemed to be as interested in autographs as the mission at hand.
Now: Peter Parker has come a long way in his solo film and is much more assured in his own vision for the future. He refused a spot on the Avengers in order to continue growing and developing his own skills after fighting his first super-villain and realizing many of his early mistakes.prevnext
Portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch
First MCU Appearance: Doctor Strange
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Thor: Ragnarok
Then: In his initial film Doctor Strange grew a great deal, evolving from a self-obsessed doctor to a devoted master of the mystic arts and Sorcerer Supreme. Strange had fully assumed that title along with its many responsibilities and powers by the end of his debut.
Now: Strange has only appeared once more since his debut, conversing with Thor and trapping Loki in an endless freefall. That display shows both a great deal of power and much more confidence in his new role as Earth's Sorcerer Supreme.prevnext
Portrayed by Josh Brolin
First MCU Appearance: Avengers
Subsequent MCU Appearances: Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Then: In his very first appearance Thanos was little more than a sly grin during the credits. Audiences with no knowledge of the comics were aware that he was behind Loki's plan to conquer Earth and enjoyed the idea of "courting death", but little else.
Now: Compared to that first scene, Thanos has come a very long way. He has now been defined as a genocidal tyrant who tortured his adopted daughters, Gamora and Nebula, to make them better killers. He is currently questing for the six Infinity Stones and has given up on using outside powers and manipulation to get what he wants, choosing instead to find them himself.prev