If you’re committed to the Marvel Movie Marathon that began the first week of January, you just finished watching ANT-MAN last week, thus concluding the MCU’s Phase 2 of films. Let’s look at the top 8 things we learned in Phase 2 as it relates to the upcoming INFINITY WAR!

1. Collect All 6!

Audiences meet the Collector at the end of THOR: THE DARK WORLD. In the film’s post-credits scene, we see Lady Sif and Volstagg in the Collector’s strange and massive collection. They’re there to meet with the Collector to give him the Aether, the powerful substance that the film’s villain Malekith wants to use to cover the universe in darkness. As they give it to the Collector, he asks why they don’t just keep it secure in Odin’s own vault, to which Volstagg replies:

“The Tesseract is already on Asgard. It is not wise to keep two Infinity Stones so close together.”

The reason this statement is so important is that it serves as the first official confirmation not only that the Cosmic Cube from the first AVENGERS film is an Infinity Stone, but the Aether as well. This scene goes further to also confirm that there are six Infinity Stones in total as the Collector notes that he has “one down…five to go.”

Any Marvel Comics fan worth his/her salt will tell you that it’s not hard to put this scene and the Thanos post-credits scene from AVENGERS together to figure out that Thanos will be looking for the Stones sooner or later to craft his signature Infinity Gauntlet.

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2. Hydra, Bucky, and the Twins… (Sounds like a Band)

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER doesn’t do much to connect to the overall Infinity War plot, save for a few things. One of them is the addition of Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier into the present, adding him as an adversary in this film and later ally to Cap later on in CIVIL WAR and soon, INFINITY WAR.

However, the most notable connective tissue comes yet again from the film’s post-credits scene. In it, Baron von Strucker gets his first on-screen appearance leading a sect of Hydra. Due to Captain America uncovering their corruption of SHIELD, Hydra agents are scrambling to pack, going underground and off the grid.

Amidst the work, a doctor speaks with Strucker about the recent development, saying that it’s all over. Strucker counters by saying that SHIELD and Hydra are two sides of the same coin that no longer serve as currency. As they walk, they pass by Loki’s staff, given to him by Thanos in AVENGERS. It appears as though Hydra came to possess it via their infiltration of SHIELD and have been conducting experiments with it. Strucker then speaks about their two test subjects.

“The Twins…sooner or later they will meet the Twins. It’s not a world of spies anymore, not even a world of heroes. This is the Age of Miracles, doctor…There’s nothing more horrifying.”

The Twins he’s referring to are none other than Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. They are seen locked in cells, having just received their powers. The implication is made that it was Thanos’ staff that gave them powers. This scene not only reveals the power that Thanos possesses but adds two more characters in Phase 2 and the MCU overall.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

3. Thanos Still Having Trouble With The Hired Help

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY contains several elements from Phase 2 that directly lead to INFINITY WAR. The plot focuses on a ragtag group of criminals and thieves coming together to save the galaxy from one Ronan the Accuser, an Alien Kree leader gone rogue. The driving force can be found in the Orb, an ancient object found by Starlord at the film’s start. He wants to sell it for cash, ignorant to the powerful beings who desire it for its true nature.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

One such powerful being is the previously mentioned Ronan. He wants the Orb at the request of Thanos, the Mad Titan. In return for its delivery, Thanos agrees to help Ronan destroy Xandar, the sworn enemy of the Kree. When Thanos’ daughter Gamora forms her own plans for the Orb, Thanos requests Ronan’s presence. Ronan’s anger with Gamora’s betrayal causes him to demand that Thanos take their dealing more seriously. Thanos, seated on his throne, finally turns to face Ronan. He delivers an incredibly intimidating response to Ronan’s impetuous remarks:

“The only matter I do not take seriously boy…is you. Your politics bore me! You’re demeanor is that of a pouty child and apparently you alienated my favorite daughter Gamora. I shall honor our agreement, Kree, if you bring me the Orb. But return to me again empty-handed and I will bathe the starways in your blood.”

Ronan leaves and once he obtains the Orb, contacts Thanos. Thanos orders that he bring him the Orb, but Ronan refuses, having learned the Orb is actually an Infinity Stone. He absorbs the Stone himself. Fueled by its power, he tells Thanos that after he destroys Xandar, he will then destroy him. Thanos ends their communication, once again having another agent fail him.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

4. Infinity Stones 101

After Gamora and Starlord break out of prison with Rocket, Groot, and Drax, they travel to Knowhere to sell the Orb to the Collector. While they are there amidst his collection, he reveals that the Orb is an Infinity Stone, specifically the Power Stone. He then goes on to share the context and history of what the Stones are and how they manifested:

“Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these six were forged into concentrated ingots: Infinity Stones. These Stones, it seems, can only be brandished by beings on extraordinary strength.”

He then shows them images of the stones, such as the Aether and Tesseract. He then focuses on the Orb, the Power Stone, and shows them its ability to consume and destroy whole planets.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The group decides to keep the stone out of Ronan’s hands. When Ronan does get the Stone from them, they band together to stop him and save Xandar, serving a cause that’s bigger than themselves. When they defeat him, The Stone is locked away with the Nova Corps on Xandar and the group of unlikely heroes becomes the Guardians of the Galaxy.

This film is probably the most crucial in Phase 2 as it relates to INFINITY WAR. It creates the foundations not only for Thanos’ character, but also his goals with the Stones, and the origins and power of the Stones themselves.

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5. The Mind Stone

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is the last film in Phase 2 to have significant connective ties to Thanos and INFINITY WAR. A big one is its introduction of the Mind Stone. The Avengers recover Loki’s staff from Hydra at the film’s beginning. Taking it back to Avengers Tower, Tony and Bruce discover that Hydra was using the staff not only to experiment on humans but with artificial intelligence as well.

After running their own tests, Tony and Bruce inadvertently create Ultron, a completely independent and advanced AI. Ultron determines that the best way to protect the world is with the Avengers extinction. He attacks the Avengers and then escapes with the staff to Sokovia, forming an alliance with the Twins against the Avengers.

In the midst of his plan to reboot the world, Ultron desires to create a new body for himself. He breaks open the staff, revealing the Infinity Stone inside: The Mind Stone. He puts it in the head of his new body, but the Avengers take the body before he can upload himself into it. Tony and Bruce insert Tony’s AI Jarvis into it, Thor zaps it with lightning, and BAM! The Vision is formed. After Ultron’s defeat, the Avengers determine that the best place for the Stone is right on Vision’s forehead, which is where its been since.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

6. And Speaking of Visions…

In AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON, Scarlet Witch uses her powers to affect the minds of the Avengers. The most interesting of which happen to Tony and Thor and provide some intriguing elements for the future.

Tony’s vision provides some pretty scary implications for the future. Tony has always believed since the first AVENGERS film that an even bigger threat from space is inevitable. It’s why he wants to create Ultron, seeing its potential to be a “suit of armor around the world.” When Scarlet Witch messes with his mind, he sees himself and the Avengers in space:

The Chitauri are headed for the Earth, and all of the Avengers, aside from him, lie dead. He looks at their bodies in horror when Captain America grabs him, saying that he could have said them if only he had done more.

What’s truly scary is that this could be a definite possibility: The Avengers might not be able to save the world or themselves if Thanos obtains all of the Stones

7. Thor Goes on a Mission

Thor’s vision is pretty simple but reveals much about INFINITY WAR. In his vision, he sees himself killing Asgard with his lightning. Heimdall tells him that he will send them all to Hel. This in and of itself is pretty scary as well, due to the fact that THOR: RAGNAROK ends with Thanos directly in front of Thor and what’s left of Asgard.

Thor also sees the Infinity Stones, comprising themselves and forming onto a cloud shaped like the Infinity Gauntlet. Through this vision, Thor learns that someone has been pulling the strings, as more than a few Infinity Stones have been popping up recently. He leaves Earth to see if he can find out who that may be.

8. Thanos Decides to be Proactive and Self-Reliant

The post-credits scene in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON shows Thanos putting on the Infinity Gauntlet. As he puts it on, he declares:

“Fine…I’ll do it myself.”

This tells us that Thanos is done enlisting the help of others. It’s time to be front and center and show his power and motivations for the universe to witness. It means that his plans to gather the Stones will be coming to fruition very soon, which we’ll see in INFINITY WAR.

Phase 2
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts on Phase 2

Phase 2 does a great job of fleshing out the MCU’s overarching plot. It establishes what the Stones are, who wants them and gives audiences an idea of the kind of character Thanos is. It also shows the MCU’s heroes beginning to suspect the greater machinations at work, which will all come to head this April.

As we’ve just finished Phase 2 with ANT-MAN, and enter Phase 3 with CIVIL WAR, let’s appreciate our heroes for as much as can because who knows? We might not have them for much longer.

The Mad Titan is coming to balance the universe…

INFINITY WAR releases in theaters on April 27th. Get your tickets now!

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