The Marvel Cinematic Universe explained

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SPOILER ALERT! This article contains details of the plots of some Marvel films, including recent releases.

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Image caption Why so serious? Perhaps the Avengers: Endgame cast are getting theirs heads round the ins and outs of the MCU

Marvel sequel Avengers: Endgame hits UK cinemas on 25 April and is widely expected to be the biggest release of 2019.

The film will be the 22nd entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began with 2008’s Iron Man.

If you want to watch Endgame, but feel daunted by the sheer size of the MCU, never fear!

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

The Marvel Cinematic Universe – or MCU for short – is the shared place where all 22 films featuring the comic book characters are set.

Each tells its own distinct story but also connects with other films in the MCU, to tell an overarching tale. It’s a technique Marvel Comics pioneer Stan Lee also used in his comics.

The MCU is the most successful film franchise of all time, making more than $18.2bn (£13.7bn) to date.

What order should I watch the films in?

We suggest you watch the films in chronological order, rather than the order in which the films were released.

Handily, in the book Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years, Marvel released an official MCU timeline to help you do just that.

We’ve added the films released since that book came out and voila, here is a handy diagram to help you organise your Marvel viewing!

Just one geeky note on the diagram. Technically the main events of Ant-Man and the Wasp happen before Infinity War, but we suggest you watch it afterwards to fully appreciate the post-credits scenes, which takes place later.

Why did Marvel start with these characters?

In 2007, Marvel was recovering from bankruptcy and had sold off the film rights to some of the company’s most popular characters like the X-Men and Spider-Man.

Marvel still owned the superheroes who form the core Avengers team – Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Captain America – so used the early MCU films to introduce these heroes.

Marvel then brought these characters together for the crossover film Avengers Assemble. You can see a list of all the current members of The Avengers here.

The crossover was planned from the very beginning.

The first MCU film released, Iron Man, included a post-credits scene in which Samuel L Jackson’s super spy Nick Fury gives the first mention of the Avengers.

I don’t have time to watch all the films! What can I skip?

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Image caption Make like Thanos and halve the size of the MCU

Endgame is the finale of a series of 22 films.

But, don’t worry, you don’t need to watch every single one to be fully prepared.

Here are the 10 films you could skip and still understand the basics of Endgame.

  • The Incredible Hulk – you’ll learn all you need to know about the key characters here in Avengers Assemble
  • Thor – ditto
  • Thor: The Dark World – you don’t need to see this to get the gist of Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Iron Man 2 – Scarlett Johansson fans may not want to skip this one, as it marks her entry into the MCU
  • Iron Man 3 – Robert Downey Jr is always watchable, but skipping this won’t leave you confused
  • Ant-Man – Scott Lang and his superpowers get introduced all over again in Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange – all you really need to know is this film introduces the Time Stone.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 – there’s some nice character development here, but it won’t give you new information on the final battle
  • Black Panther – we hesitate to suggest you skip this Oscar-winning film, as it’s one of the MCU’s best, but other than introducing Wakanda as a location, you’ll get most of the relevant information about the characters introduced here in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War
  • Captain Marvel – again, watch this if you can but if you’re pushed for time, all you really need to know is that Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) got her powers from the Space Stone (aka the Tesseract) and she’s going to be important to the final battle in Endgame. Also, the man who put together the Avengers – Nick Fury – lost his eye to an alien disguised as a cat.

What’s so important about Avengers: Endgame?

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Media captionWatch the Avengers: Endgame trailer

Marvel’s plans for its films are structured in phases, with each one ending with an Avengers crossover movie.

Avengers Assemble spelt the end of Phase One, and Age of Ultron brought Phase Two to a close.

Endgame not only ends Phase 3 but also wraps up the series of 22 films that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is now calling The Infinity Saga.

The new title for the first three phases of the MCU references their overarching story, which sees the gathering of the Infinity Stones (six powerful gems that grant their owner great power) and the war against the mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin). You can read a complete guide to the Infinity Stones here.

Endgame will see the remaining Avengers try and rescue everyone, after villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) got hold of all the Infinity Stones and wiped out half of all living things with a snap of his fingers in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War.

You can see a complete list of everyone who died here.

All bets are off as to who makes it to the finish line in Endgame, as it also coincides with the end of the contracts of some of the biggest Marvel stars.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Could Avengers: Endgame be the end of the road for Chris Evan’s Captain America?

It’s been widely reported that Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man) have come to the end of their contracts.

There’s also been speculation that their Marvel co-stars Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romonova/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk) have also reached the end of their tenure at the studio.

Though a solo Black Widow film is reported to be in the works, it could be a prequel, so there is no guarantee Johansson’s character survives.

One thing is for sure though – whatever happens, it will take time for Endgame’s story to unfold.

It’s the longest entry in the MCU so far, clocking in at three hours and two minutes. That’s the same length as the first instalment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, An Unexpected Journey (2012).

What’s the future of the MCU?

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Image caption Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), probably reacting to rumours that one of the core Avengers team might not make it through Endgame alive

We can expect a major shake-up of the MCU, in the wake of Endgame.

Phase Four begins with the release of Spider-Man: Far from Home on July 5 2019.

According to producer Amy Pascal, the film “will start a few minutes after Avengers 4 wraps as a story”.

Tom Holland’s Spidey was one of many heroes wiped out in Thanos’s Snap in Infinity War, but given his starring role in this film, we can expect he’ll be alive and well before the Endgame credits roll.

New films involving other supposedly dead characters have also been confirmed for Phase Four.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange will return for a sequel at “some point in the future”.

Chadwick Boseman is also likely to recover from his disintegration in time for Black Panther 2.

We also know a third Guardians of the Galaxy film has been confirmed, after Disney re-hired director James Gunn, but we don’t know which Guardians will return for it. At the end of Infinity War, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket and Karen Gillan’s Nebula were the only survivors from that franchise.

Feige has also hinted that Phase Four could include a solo sequel for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel.

Also in development are new films involving super-powered beings called the Eternals, and martial artist superhero Shang-Chi.

Which Marvel characters aren’t in the MCU?

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Image caption Dark Phoenix, which stars Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner, is likely to be the last time the X-Men appear outside the MCU

You might be confused about why some Marvel characters appear in films that don’t connect to the MCU.

The reason for this is actually simple.

Long before Marvel Studios existed, Marvel Entertainment had sold the rights to some of its characters to other filmmakers.

Spider-Man was sold to Sony. The studio made a Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, and soon afterwards rebooted the franchise less successfully with Andrew Garfield as the webslinger.

However, Sony and Marvel have now agreed a partnership that allows Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to appear in MCU films, while Sony retains the rights to the character.

Sony also owned the rights to Ghost Rider, and made two films about him starring Nicolas Cage, until the rights reverted back to Marvel in 2013.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nicolas Cage, possibly hoping some strategically placed Ghost Rider branding might inspire Marvel bosses to greenlight a new film

The Fantastic Four series and the X-Men were sold to 20th Century Fox, though Marvel Studios expect to regain the rights to both properties this year due to a merger between Disney and Fox. The merger means Marvel could introduce these characters into the MCU in future films.

Fox also made the Deadpool movies, starring Ryan Reynolds, which sit firmly outside the MCU.

It’s not clear what the future holds for this franchise, as the foul-mouthed, pansexual superhero is certainly not the most family friendly character.

However, the Deadpool films were a commercial success and star Ryan Reynolds has hinted on social media that he’d like there to be a future for the character with Disney.

Fox also owned the rights to Daredevil, in 2003 producing a film starring Ben Affleck, and the 2005 spin-off film Elektra, before the rights reverted back to Marvel.

Universal’s Hulk films and New Line Cinema’s Blade Films were also the result of deals struck before the rights to those characters reverted back to Marvel, and don’t belong within the MCU.

I’ve seen all the MCU films. What else can I watch?

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Image caption Clark Gregg looks very pleased that his character got resurrected, so he can keep cashing those Marvel cheques

Don’t worry. There are plenty of TV shows set in the MCU to keep you going.

  • Agent Carter – follow the adventures of Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter as she reprises her role from the MCU films in this series, which ran from 2015-16.
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – the show that proves Avengers Assemble wasn’t the end for Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
  • Inhumans – this show ran on the US network ABC for one series. It centred around the Inhumans – an alien race with superpowers that gets in contact with Earth.
  • Runaways – this show, based on the comics of the same name, is on streaming service Hulu. It follows six teenagers who discover their parents are villains.
  • Cloak and Dagger – this series about a romance between two super-powered teenagers is on the ABC-owned Freeform network. It’s based on characters who first appeared in the Spectacular Spider-Man Comics.
  • The Netflix Marvel TV showsMarvel’s deal with Netflix has now come to an end but you can still enjoy the edgy adventures of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Punisher on the streaming service. Ensemble show The Defenders is a real highlight. Though ostensibly set in the MCU, these shows have a darker tone and don’t directly connect with any of the films.

If you’ve now become a die-hard fan, and really want to immerse yourself in the MCU, Digital Spy has put together a complete chronological timeline of all the films and TV shows.

You could also watch the original Marvel movie – notorious 80s flop Howard the Duck.

The feathered superhero will soon be starring in one of four Marvel Television animated series for adults, so consider this essential research.

Disney has also announced plans for several new Marvel TV series, including one based on Thor’s adopted brother Loki, on their new streaming service, Disney+, so there’ll be plenty more Marvel content to watch in future.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47623536

Saturday Night Live: K pop stars BTS drown out host Emma Stone

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A cold opening without Donald Trump felt like the dawn of a new era and the show that followed worked hard for its hits

We open on MSNBCs Lockup: Now that the Mueller report turned out to be a big fat zero, were back to prison shows. A trio of hardened criminals share a cell with Aunt Becky herself, Laurie Loughlin (Kate McKinnon), who has acclimated surprisingly well.

You think prison is hard, Ive done 68 Hallmark movies, she says. Ive lost all sense of reality.

Shes joined by celebrity lawyer Michael Avanetti (Pete Davidson); the scourge of the cleaning staff at the Ecuadorian embassy and actual, dactual James Bond supervillain Julian Assange (a bearded and bewigged Michael Keaton); and Takeshi69 (Melissa Villaseor), whos incarcerated for regular stuff like assault. Theres no actual arc to the sketch, but at least its a break from the tired Trump material the cold opens usually center around.

Emma Stone hosts for a fourth time. Even though SNL traditionally rolls out the red carpet for five-timers, she suspects the cast is planning something special. Theyre not. She guilts McKinnon and Keenan Thompson into singing an impromptu song Oh, Emma she hosts! set to the tune of No Woman, No Cry and later they blindfold her while cast members impersonate celebrity guest stars. Eventually, they hand her a denim jacket, the number four lazily spray-painted on the back.

In Dorm Room Posters, Davidson plays a college student stressing out about a history essay. He falls asleep, prompting a dream where the people on his posters a tatted-up white rapper, the characters from a Black Panther-like superhero movie, a model from Maxim Magazines 50 Hottest Girls from Rural Areas and a pro wrestler give him a rundown of the importance of history. Stone goes all the way to 11 with her squeaky-voiced bimbo, but there are long stretches of laugh-free awkwardness.

Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl)

Nothing like a good split screen. #SNL pic.twitter.com/K4MwyU6kGz

April 14, 2019

The cast of The View Whoopi Goldberg (Leslie Jones, spot-on), human mother and conservative daughter Abby Huntsman (Cecily Strong), Joy Behar (McKinnon), Ana Navarro (Villaseor, also on point), and Princess of Arizona Meghan McCain (Aidy Bryant) debate Trumps immigration policy, devolving into a fight between militant liberal Baher and facile idiot McCain. They eventually welcome former co-host and leading anti-vaxxer Jennie McCarthy (Stone), who spouts anti-science nonsense to the bafflement of her peers save for McCain, who argues on her behalf out of bad faith. The sketch ends just as it starts to get going.

Hobby Enthusiasts is a music video in which Villasenor raps to an uninterested Stone about her hobbies, which include self-portraits, sewing, knitting, cooking for one and smelling my books! Eventually, Stone joins in to rap about her toy train obsession.

Ladies Room is another musical number, an 80s dance tune from a trio of glamorous, big-haired singers (Stone, Strong and Jones). Theyve confused a Limited Express fitting room for the ladies room at Club Vortex, much to the horror of the stores manager (a Jerry Curl-sporting Thompson) whose pronouncement of the word toilet is the funniest part of the bit.

The first K-Pop group to appear on SNL, BTS performs their hit Boy with Luv as screaming fans threatens to drown them out.

Weekend Update starts with a rundown of Assanges very public arrest. It was so satisfying seeing an internet troll getting dragged into the sunlight, says Colin Jost, who plays a clip of Donald Trump claiming he doesnt know anything WikiLeaks before rolling a montage of the presidents praise for it, pointing out that Trump is more obsessed with WikiLeaks than this audience is with BTS.

With Spring Break around the corner, Michael Che introduces Carrie Krum, the awkward pre-teen travel expert played by Bryant. She recommends vacationers head to Boise, Idaho, where she spent her most recent vacation, and her grammys cul-de-sac. The bubbly, easily excitable character seems to connect especially well with the BTS fans in the crowd.

Next they bring on Nico and Brie, the hashtag-obsessed Instagram couple played by Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner. There to give couples advice on picnicking in time for warm weather, they start bickering. Its a solid send-up of social media hucksters, but also insufferable by design, to be fair.

Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl)

Prince Harry’s making a splendid video for the royal baby. #SNL pic.twitter.com/clyqTJlIFs

April 14, 2019

Royal Baby Shower has the ginger of Windsor, Prince Harry, recording the event for his child. He introduces friends and family, including a furiously jealous Kate Middleton, an obnoxious James Corden and The Queen herself, who welcomes her great-grandchild with all her heart, despite the fact the baby will be half-American, which makes you half-traitor. Theres no real payoff and none of the jokes earn more than a chuckle.

BTS returns and performs Mic Drop. Then The Actress is a short film in which Stone plays a method actor set to play the woman who gets cheated on in gay porn. She tries to find her character, despite only exist[ing] to get cheated on. A solid mix of satire and crass humor, this is the winner of the night.

The final sketch is Chalmers Reserve, an infomercial for a line of rotgut sold by Trett and Leezan Chalmers, hosts of the reality show The Nastiest Summer Renters in Sag Harbor, which has been cancelled already. They introduce the winemakers, a stereotypical Italian couple who arent actually Italian, who warn viewers not to drink the wine. Despite an abrupt ending, the sketch is enjoyably weird.

Thanks to her natural comic timing, Stone continued her streak as a strong host. But the real stars of the episode were BTS.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/apr/14/saturday-night-live-bts-emma-stone-julian-assange

Cops: YouTube Mom Pepper-Sprayed Fantastic Adventure Kid Stars to Force Them to Perform

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To millions of viewers, the Fantastic Adventures YouTube channel portrayed the perfectalbeit chaoticsuburban Phoenix lifestyle of seven adopted kids.

Dozens of videos, which racked up a quarter of a billion views, featured cute cookie capers or superhero kids taking part in backyard light-saber battles. What the viewers didnt see was an alleged reign of terror taking place off-camera.

The YouTube channels creator, and the familys off-screen momager, was Machelle Hobson, 48, from Maricopa, Arizona. She is now in jail, accused of abusing her seven adopted children if they refused to perform or messed up their scripted lines. Police initially identified her by the last name Hackney but later corrected it to Hobson.

Hobson stands accused of horrific physical abuse that included enforced ice baths, starvation, being locked up, and pepper-sprayed, according to the police complaint outlined by ABC Action News.

One of the children described pepper-spraying their genitals as being the method of abuse favored by Hobson, who covered her own face if she appeared online, according to excerpts from the police report.

I either get beat with a hanger or belt, or a brush, or get pepper-sprayed from head to toe, one of the children told police. Hobson also allegedly forced the childrens heads underwater and locked them in a closet she called the green screen room with no food or water or toilet for days at a time.

The channel, which has grown to almost 800,000 subscribers since the arrest, claimed to feature a perfect family getting into mischief. Were Fantastic Adventures, were a family thats full of unique and special kids! the channel description states. We started making these videos for fun, but fell in love with making them and now do it every week for you guys!

When police came to inspect the home after the report, they found one child in a closet wearing a pull-up style diaper. The door was not locked, according to press reports, but it could have been by the apparatus on the door handle. According to the police report quoted by ABC, Hobson denied the pepper-spray, denied the ice baths, and stated the only forms of punishment she uses is having to stand in the corner, getting spankings, and being grounded.

As of Wednesday evening, the Fantastic Adventures channel was removed from YouTube, and the video site said the channel had been demonetized after the allegations against Hobson became public, according to the Arizona Republic.

Hobson was reported by her adult daughter, who was made to appear on the channel as the pretend mom but who is not accused of abuse, according to local Arizona media reports. Hobsons adult sons, Logan and Ryan, were regularly featured on the channel. They are also in jail, accused of failing to report the abuse.

The ages of the seven adopted children have not been released, but police say most were under the age of 10. During questioning, the children ravenously drank water supplied by police and one refused to eat potato chips for fear that Hobson would smell them on his breath, according to media reports.

For a time, the family collaborated with popular gaming site Extreme Toys TV, according to owners Tawny and Zeb Schnorr in an interview with the AZ Family TV.

The Schnorrs, who also feature their children on their popular channel, said that two of Hobsons adopted kids came to their Scottsdale home just two weeks ago to shoot a video. Im literally sick to my stomach, Tawny Schnoor told AZ Family TV. I mean, its something you hear about but it doesnt hit so close to home.

The last video uploaded on Fantastic Adventures was called Cookie Capture Adventure Mission, and shows three children and an unnamed adult pretending to be their mother. The video description says Elijah wakes up to the smell of cookies, but these arent just any cookies… They are Megans famous chocolate chip cookies!"

The YouTube channel has a disclaimer at the end of every video: These videos are just pretend, so dont try anything you see in them at home, just sit back and enjoy!

The comments had been disabled as of Wednesday. The channel also pointed to Instagram and Facebook pages that were still active Wednesday.

We take safety on YouTube very seriously, a YouTube statement to The Daily Beast said.We work closely with leading child-safety organizations and others in our industry to protect young people. When were made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include suspending monetization, or, upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating channels.

Hobson is in Pinal County Jail, charged withtwo counts of molestation, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment, and five counts of child neglect, police said. Ryan and Logan Hackney are charged with seven counts each of failing to report abuse of a minor.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/star-fantastic-adventures-youtube-kids-allegedly-abused-and-forced-to-perform-for-millions-of-fans-by-mom-machelle-hackney

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