A Beginner’s Guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, also known by many as the MCU, has gone on to become one of the biggest film franchises of all time and become something of a cultural phenomenon in the eleven years of its existence, making people care and interest in comic book characters like before on the big screen.

With 23 movies so far and Avengers: Endgame being one of the two most commercially successful films of all time, it’s easy to be amazed by the MCU and perhaps view it as a little bit daunting to tap into it. Here we’re going to tell you all you need to know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe before you get started:

What is the MCU?

Unlike pretty much every other film franchise before it, the MCU is not just one series of movies, but rather a combination of many. This is what has become its main trait throughout the years: the possibility of seeing of all of Marvel’s finest heroes interacting with one another in multiple movies with an overarching plot.

The MCU has been viewed by many as the starting point of the trend of cinematic universes in the industry, with multiple companies and brands following suit afterwards due to their success.

This franchise has also branched out beyond just films, with multiple TV shows going on in the same shared universe.

How it started?

Contrary to popular belief, the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t start with the kind of impact and power that it now enjoys–if we go back to 2008, when the MCU started, we could see that this was a pretty risky bet and it paid off wonderfully.

The MCU began with the first Iron Man movie, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and it was widely considered a huge risk because, at the time, this character wasn’t very known to the large public, but thanks to a great job adapting the source material of Tony’s origin and a brilliant performance by Downey Jr., Iron Man was a major hit in 2008 and it paved the way for the next MCU movie, The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, which had a secret ending (another major trend in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) showing Tony Stark and also teasing upcoming events.

While these movies were commercially successful and they were followed by the likes of Captain America: The First Avenger with Chris Evans as Steve Rodgers and Thor starring Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder, the movies were mostly enjoyed by the people that were familiar with the source material because these characters weren’t that known compared to what they would be later on.

But after the release of Iron Man 2, this would all change with the massive pay off that was, at the time, the first Avengers movie in 2012.

The 2012 film was a big moment for the industry: it was not only the moment where Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk (now with Bruce Banner played by Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) got together for the first time in a live action adaptation, but also the first time multiple film series crossover the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe did and this started the rise of the MCU as the biggest movie franchise of the current day.

What constitutes the MCU?

If you haven’t watched any MCU movie until this point, these are all the franchises that are part of this shared universe so far:

  • Iron Man. The series that started it all with Robert Downey Jr. at the helm, the Iron Man movies started back in 2008 and the story of millionaire playboy Tony Stark became one of the main focal points of the Marvel Cinematic Universe during its first 23 movies period, encapsulated as The Infinity Saga.
  • Captain America. Started in 2011 with The First Avenger and he is the other main character of The Infinity Saga, playing a major role in all of the Avengers movies along with Iron Man.
  • Also began in 2011 with Chris Hemsworth, back then an unknown actor, as the God of Thunder and it has been an instrumental part of the landscape, often balancing between the more down to earth and fantastic elements of the franchise.
  • Even though Edward Norton’s 2008 Incredible Hulk movie was instrumental to kick start the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, who has been the current Bruce Banner since the first Avengers film in 2012, and hasn’t gotten any other film so far, mostly due to the fact that the character’s rights belong to Universal.
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy. So far two film franchises that started in 2014 with the likes of Starlord, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora and Groot, five of Marvel’s most unknown characters, has become one of the most important parts of the MCU because it has further expanded the cosmic landscape and helped to present the main villain of the first 22 movies, Thanos (played by Josh Brolin).
  • Ant-Man. It started in 2015, as a way to end the second phase of the MCU, with Paul Rudd playing rehabilitated thief Scott Lang, who takes the mantle of Ant-Man from scientific Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). He would go on to have a sequel in 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp.
  • Doctor Strange. Much like a few other cases on this list, it only has one movie so far, but is poised to have others in the upcoming years. Released in 2016, Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a narcissist who finds a new role in his life as the Sorcerer of the Mystic Arts and guardian of the Time Stone, which is strongly related to the overarching plot of the MCU.
  • Spider-Man. Even though the character belongs to Sony, he was borrowed to Disney for the MCU and was recast as Tom Holland. Spider-Man already had a movie in 2017, Homecoming, and in a few months he’s going to have a sequel, Far From Home.
  • Black Panther. The first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to win an Oscar, Black Panther deals with the title character’s struggle to rise to power in the futuristic African city of Wakanda and all the different challenges that come with it.
  • Captain Marvel. The latest series to be part of this shared universe and released in 2019, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is an air force pilot that is captured by the alien race known as the Kree and she is brainwashed and genetically manipulated to fight by their site, but she would recover her memories and decide her own destiny.

All of these MCU films are connected and they often conclude in multiple Avengers movies, such as the first one (2012), Age of Ultron (2015), Infinity War (2018) and Endgame (2019).

As always, for more on the MCU, visit our MCU timeline.

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Arrowverse

The Marvel Cinematic Universe represented many breakthroughs in terms of commercial success and cultural impact, but it also provided a new dimension to storytelling by adapting the crossover nature of comic books to the big screen and Warner paid attention to it by creating its own version of it through TV, the Arrowverse.

The shared universe of the Arrowverse has gone on to become a commercial success and one of the most consistent offerings by Warner and CW, where the various shows are airing. While Marvel was the first company to do it with a film franchise, DC was the first ones to do it with a live-action TV series.

How it started?

The name Arrowverse comes from the series that started it all, Arrow, in 2012 and the crossover nature of the shared universe began when the Flash showed up in the show and in 2014 he got his own series, often interacting with the different characters and franchises that have been developed in CW throughout the years, even going as far as having special episodes to the crossovers itself.

One of the main events that happened in the Arrowverse was the inclusion of Supergirl in 2015, whose TV show was airing on CBS. And after a bit of negotiation, she became part of this universe and has become a pivotal element of it. The Arrowverse is also poised to have another new show in 2019, Batwoman, that is bound to take the place of Arrow after the latter ends this year.

What constitutes the Arrowverse?

As we have said before, the Arrowverse is a combination of multiple shows in a shared universe and now we’re going to tell you about all the different shows that constitute said shared universe:

  • Arrow. The show that started the Arrowverse in 2012, the story is about millionaire playboy Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell), who came to his city after spending many years in a island where he learned multiple fighting skills and decides to take on crime as the vigilante known as Green Arrow. While the show has various characters from the Green Arrow comic books, it also introduces several other properties from the DC universe, such as Deathstroke (mostly associated with the Teen Titans) or Ra’s and Talia Al Ghul (mostly linked with Batman).

Arrow is not only the longest running show of the entire Arrowverse by lasting eight seasons and being the first one to kick start this shared universe, but one could argue that Oliver Queen is the main character throughout the seven years run of the Arrowverse.

  • The Flash. It started in 2014 and it was the first attempt from Arrowverse to create a spinoff series, this time featuring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, who fights crime in Central City as the speedster the Flash and tries to find a way to take his father out of prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Out of all the different series of this particular franchise, The Flash has been the one show that has extracted a lot more content from the source material and the one that has stayed true to it the most, which has been one of the main reasons of this show becoming a fan favorite throughout the existence of the Arrowverse.

  • Supergirl. Not only is Supergirl the third and one of the biggest introductions to become part of the Arrowverse, but also the first female led series of the bunch. Starting in 2015, Supergirl is about Kara Zor-El, a girl from Krypton who is adopted on Earth when she was 13-years old and becomes the protector of National City as she got older, often fighting against multiple threats more linked to her brother, Kal-El, also known as Superman (who shows up in a couple of episodes of the series and crossovers of the Arrowverse, played by Tyler Hoechlin).
  • Legends of Tomorrow. One of the most peculiar proposals of the Arrowverse and one that started in 2016, Legends of Tomorrow is about Time Master Rip Hunter who goes on a mission to stop terrible events from happening by gathering a team consisting of The Atom, Captain Cold, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, White Canary and Heat Wave.

The next seasons would feature occultist John Constantine, who is played by Matt Ryan after his show was cancelled, despite being very well-received from a critical point of view. This is a pretty interesting detail because it was one of the first times that a show that wasn’t ever mentioned as part of the Arrowverse joined it, with Matt Ryan’s Constantine also showing up in Arrow, thus becoming another piece of the large puzzle that is this shared universe.

  • The most recent inclusion to the Arrowverse and one that is poised to take Arrow’s place in this shared universe, Batwoman is about Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Kate Kane (played by Ruby Rose), who takes over the mantle of the Bat and decides to protect Gotham from criminals while she struggles with her own personal demons and problems.

A trailer of the Batwoman TV series has already been released and it seems that Bruce Wayne has disappeared from Gotham, which is going to force Kate to take the role of protector of the city.

Crossovers have become an instrumental element of the Arrowverse, with many different threats and storylines involving all the characters that we have mentioned so far, plus a few Elseworlds episodes, based on DC Comics’ category of alternative timelines stories, where they allow themselves to experiment, which is quite likely the first shared universe to do so in the entertainment industry.

While the Arrowverse doesn’t have the cultural impact and success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has been quite beneficial to further expand DC’s brand throughout the world and to showcase TV entertainment through a very different scope and with very different approaches, which is something that can have a much important impact as the years go by in this industry.

For more, visit out Arrowverse timeline.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Halo

When you think of a first-person shooter game, the first ones to pop up in your mind are likely the Halo games. And for a good reason; this series of games has become one of the most popular first-person shooter games, and they have inspired several novels, comic books, and even some animated short films.

The story of Halo has captivated many with its interesting lore (or people just like to fight aliens and each other, which is pretty fun). And let’s not forget the absolutely gorgeous music that comes with it. (Seriously, I have a Pandora station that just plays the soundtrack music from the Halo games.)

But to someone looking to take the plunge in the Halo realm might be a little intimidated by all the content. There is quite a bit of lore now behind the games, so it can hard for a newcomer to know just what they’re getting into. So, here’s a beginner’s guide to Halo to help you out as you join our fight in protecting humanity.

History

If we’re looking at the history of the games, Halo was first released in 2001, and it definitely changed things for first-person shooter games. Since then, with each game, the graphics, mechanics, and designs have only gotten better. (I’m not even the biggest fan of first-person shooter games, and I like Halo. That says a lot about the games.) The most recent games have been Halo 5: Guardians, and Halo Wars 2. Halo Wars was actually pretty interesting since it set up the game in real-time strategy instead of the usual first-person shooter style.

If we’re looking at the story, it mostly follows Master Chief John-117 and his A.I. Cortana. These two go about fighting off the Covenant, an alien race that’s sworn to destroy all of humanity as they deem them heretics. Besides fighting the Covenant, Master Chief also has to destroy the Halo Rings, devices that are capable of destroying all life in the galaxy.

Throughout the games, you’re generally focused on fighting off the various aliens that seem determined to kill you, and you’re also set on destroying anything that could threaten humanity or even all life.

The theme of the games is often just struggling to survive. This is a war that is very one-sided, and unfortunately, you’re often on the losing side, but all you can do is keep fighting. Sometimes you’re facing the Covenant, sometimes it’s the Flood, and sometimes it’s even your own A.I. The moves you take are often desperate and it’s usually a miracle that you survive and emerge triumphant.

Where to Start

Since there are quite a few different types of media that Halo is in, where to start depends on what you want to do and what form of medium you prefer.

If you want to just jump into the games, start at the very beginning with the first Halo game. If the older graphics annoy you, you’re in luck: the latest collection, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, has remastered the four games.

If you’re looking into learning more about the story, there are quite a few great books to get started with. You could start with Halo: The Flood, since it gives you a good novelization of the first game and the story. It mostly follows the events of the first game, even having some of the iconic dialogue, but it also gives you scenes you wouldn’t have in the game.

If you want to start at the very beginning of the story, take a look at the book Halo: The Fall of Reach. This book gives you some background on Master Chief and how the civil wars in the 26th century lead to his own creation.

If you’re feeling more in the mood for a comic book, start with the first graphic novel, The Halo Graphic Novel. It gives you a few stories within the world of Halo, and it’s pretty good for people new to the franchise. Another option is to start with Halo: Fall of Reach, which is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel.

No matter what media you choose, if you read the novels first or play the games first or even just stick with the graphic novels, you’ll have a good experience. All of the media in Halo tend to enhance each other, so you can’t go wrong.

Trivia

  • Some of the dialogue of the marines in the first game was taken directly from the film Aliens
  • Throughout all the games, we never see Master Chief’s face. Some games tease with ending scenes showing him removing the helmet, putting it on, etc., but his face is never shown
  • Halo was originally going to be a real-time strategy game, but was then reworked to become a first-person shooter
  • Gregorian Monks were used for the vocals in the theme song (which is amazing)
  • Cortana was originally supposed to have an English accent, but they cast American Jen Taylor instead

For more on Halo, visit our Halo timeline page.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Doctor Who

You can’t be British and not love Doctor Who (seriously it’s like an ingrained part of their culture), and even if you’re not British, Doctor Who is a fantastic series that’s full of interesting themes, fun characters, crazy scenarios and endless episodes.

What makes this series so popular is likely the beautiful and thought-provoking themes that come up, as well as the interesting characters. This show will get you attached to people, even if you know they will likely die (and come back. Some people have died multiple times. It’s a thing that happens, just go with it.) This show will tear your heart out and you will enjoy it.

That being said, Doctor Who is definitely one of those shows that can be hard to explain at first. For one thing, the show has gone on for decades and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so there’s so much history behind the show. And the very nature of the show, which includes time travel and different dimensions, means that it’s rather complicated. It’s one of those shows that tends to throw logic out the window, but still acts like everything it’s doing is completely logical.

But let’s dive into a beginner’s look at Doctor Who!

What is Doctor Who?

The basic premise behind the story is of a character called the Doctor. He’s a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, and as such he can travel through time and space with his TARDIS. He also has powers of regeneration, which essentially lets him become reborn as a different person. Much of the show involves him traveling with a companion from Earth and having all sorts of interesting adventures.

What also sets this show apart is its look at the human condition, philosophies surrounding people, and what it means to have a meaningful life. This Doctor isn’t a man out to fight, but a man who appreciates all manner of life and is willing to put his own on the line to protect it. It’s a surprisingly deep and beautiful show, all wrapped up in crazy scenarios and funny characters.

History

This show got started in the 1960s and was originally an educational show where the Doctor traveled to different time periods and taught you about them. As the show progressed, we learned more about The Doctor and got quite a few interesting stories about his past and the people he traveled with.

The concept of the Doctor being able to regenerate and be reborn essentially as a different person came out of a way to continue the show. When the original actor decided he didn’t want to do the show anymore, they had to come up with a way to continue the show, but explain why the main character now had a different face. Hence regeneration. We are now currently on the 13th Doctor, with the latest Doctor actually being a woman, which is pretty cool!

The show did go on a 15-year hiatus (well, it was kind of canceled, but then brought back). The start of the new series, also called the New Who, has a bit more of a modern take on our Doctor. It was kind of a reboot, but not really since they continued with the line of Doctors, starting with the 9th Doctor. While the “New Who” as they call it is a bit more modern, it still calls back to a lot of the classic Doctor Who, including bringing in enemies like the Daleks.

Where to Start?

So where should you start on this crazy show? This kind of depends on whether or not you want to start with the more modern Doctor Who, or go back to the classics. If you want to go back to the beginning, start with the episodes of the very first Doctor. That will take you a long time, since there are literally decades worth of episodes if you go with the Classic Who. (In fact, some of the earlier episodes have been lost, so that may be impossible.) There are DVDs of the Classic Who, so if you’re a purist and want to go to the beginning, start there.

If you’re looking for something a little more modern, start with the 9th Doctor (though be warned, the first few episodes will be rather cheesy. It does get better as you go, I promise.) Some people also recommend starting with the 11th Doctor, since his introduction is a bit less cheesy, but I think starting with 9 is better, since it does a good job of explaining who the Doctor is, and what happened to his people.

Trivia

  • Ridley Scot was originally going to design the Daleks, one of the more famous enemies of The Doctor
  • Douglas Adams wrote several episodes of Doctor Who
  • The show was originally created as a kids’ series
  • More than 100 episodes of the show have been lost due to age
  • The Long scarf Tom Baker wore as the 4th Doctor was created by accident
  • The show employed BBC’s first female-employed producer

No matter where you start with this series, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing adventure through time and space with one of the most interesting characters in Sci-Fi history. So, get your sonic screwdrivers, don’t forget a banana, and come join the Doctor for an adventure of a lifetime!

And if you want more info on the good Doctor, visit our Doctor Who episode order page.

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Ultimate Guide to DC Universe Streaming Platform in 2019

Back in April of 2017, DC Comics announced that they would be releasing a new streaming service exclusively for DC Comics use, and not including other intellectual properties owned by Warner Brothers. It wasn’t until much later that we learned it wasn’t just a streaming service of DC video content, or just a competitor to Marvel Unlimited which catered exclusively to comic book readers. No, DC Universe would do both. Continue reading “Ultimate Guide to DC Universe Streaming Platform in 2019”

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The Beginner’s Guide to the Marvel Multiverse

Marvel has been in the spotlight quite a bit these past few years with its rise of cinematic movies and TV shows.  Heroes like the Avengers, Daredevil, and Spider-Man have gained a lot of attention from both die-hard fans and those casually interested in superheroes. Marvel has also revolutionized superhero movies, and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.

But Marvel’s history goes back much further than just movies. And it has a lot of alternate stories, timelines, and universes. So, we’re going to cover some basics about the Marvel Multiverse. Continue reading “The Beginner’s Guide to the Marvel Multiverse”

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A Beginner’s Guide to Batgirl

Robin hasn’t been Batman’s only sidekick. He’s had quite a few others, and that’s what this post is about! One important alter ego has been the mantle of Batgirl. Like Robin, this identity has been taken up by a few different people.

Here’s a quick look at the different women who took on the mantle of Batgirl and what they brought to the vigilante table. Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Batgirl”

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Robins of Batman

Despite that Batman claims to work alone, he arguably has had the most sidekicks/partners in DC comics, with all of the sidekicks constantly changing names and outfits. It can get a little confusing to remember who is who and when they came along (a lot of people don’t even realize there was more than one Robin). So here’s a quick guide to the different Robins of Batman.

This blog will be focusing specifically on the Robins of Batman. I will do another blog on the Batgirls and other sidekicks Batman has had.

These Robins will be in the order that they appeared (Tentatively, timelines can get a little wonky). Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to the Robins of Batman”

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A Beginner’s Guide to the DC Multiverse

To say that the DC Multiverse is complex would be an understatement. It can be pretty confusing to the first-timer. Even most experts end up debating over continuity and what is considered canon.  So, let’s get started on what you should know about the DC Multiverse! Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to the DC Multiverse”

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A Beginner’s Guide to the Legend of Zelda

a beginner's guide to the legend of zeldaWelcome to a beginner’s guide to the Legend of Zelda. The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that’s spanned decades and charmed gamers of all generations, ages, and backgrounds. It has become one of Nintendo’s most iconic game series, right behind the Mario games. With that comes several games in different styles, gameplay, and consoles.

This series has so many different games. Therefore, someone just coming into the game series may be understandably a little intimidated. So here’s a crash course in Zelda! Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to the Legend of Zelda”

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The Elder Scrolls Explained

Banner art for our The Elder Scrolls Explained post.

Today saw the release of Skyrim: Special Edition, and I know I, like many people, can’t wait to revisit this fantastic world. But Skyrim is only one of many games, though it is perhaps the most critically acclaimed.  The games also have a rich lore that can be intimidating for people who don’t know what they’re getting into. The first time I ever tried to get into an Elder Scrolls game (Oblivion), I was overwhelmed with the scope. So this guide should help people get an idea of what the franchise is all about. I have my Elder Scrolls timeline, but that doesn’t quite do this franchise justice. So to compensate, we present The Elder Scrolls, explained. Continue reading “The Elder Scrolls Explained”

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