In preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, I did a marathon of the previous Marvel Studios films. It was interesting seeing how there’s so many tidbits, call backs and foreshadowing along the way. Some were probably happy accidents, but a lot were the work of a concentrated effort to tell one long very rewarding story. That’s enough build up though. Check out how the first 18 Marvel Studios films are connected to Avengers: Infinity War. And if I missed any, drop a comment and let me know.
Pepper mentions Stark speaking at MIT’s commencement. Tony has a great affinity for the school as he would later go on to establish The September Foundation, a program to fund schools and young prodigies in their education.
When he returns back from three months in captivity, Stark holds a press conference. One of the first things he mentions is he never got to say goodbye to his father. This seemingly random throwaway line is played up later in Captain America: Civil War where Tony introduces a virtual reality device where he says goodbye to his father.
Continuing with the Civil War link, at this same press conference, Stark says he is shutting down his weapons manufacturing immediately after witnessing firsthand the lost lives. Stark shows he needs up close and personal examples before making drastic decisions. And his overall struggle with coping with death. He’s ready to sign the Sokovia Accords after hearing about a young college student who gets killed while the Avengers battled Ultron. This proves a major sticking point with his closest ally, Captain America, who through his experience in World War II, isn’t nearly as rattled at people dying around him.
General Ross reveals he tried to create a squad of super soldiers like Steve Rogers. After witnessing the destructive power of The Hulk, Ross now wants to control super powered people. While at first he succeeds, the Sokovia Accords provides him with the instrument in which he finally gets what he’s always wanted — a squad of super powered heroes at his disposal. At least until Thanos arrives.
It probably was no coincidence that the streamlined Avengers’ actual super solider — Col. Rhodes — is the one to signal the end of The Avengers following the Accords.
Agent Coulson is puzzled why Stark would have Captain America’s shield as that was his childhood hero. This also reveals the deep admiration Howard Stark had for his wartime ally Rogers.
Again while Stark would behave in ways to make it seem like he didn’t care about his father, his actions prove otherwise. He establishes the Stark Expo in his father’s memory.
Sen. Stern provides the first example of Hydra’s long formulating plans to win the superhero arms race. His first action is to try and seize control of Stark’s armor. This follows the Hydra pattern of trying to seizing the Avengers’ Big Three’s power. Red Skull wants a power rumored from Odin, Pierce has control of a Captain America style assassin and Stern is gunning for Stark’s armor.
Erik Selvig mentions a colleague who was gamma radiation pioneer who SHIELD tracked down and he was never heard from again. This falls in line with Black Widow’s comments to Banner that SHIELD has kept some interested parties away from him while maintaining their distance.
Shield immediately responded to Mjolnir’s landing, which foreshadows Nick Fury’s constant vigil for super powered individuals from beyond the stars. He’d lost his first great ally in Carol Danvers, who was Fury’s inspiration to start the Avengers in the first place. Thor’s hammer in essence accelerated Fury’s plans to form a team to defend Earth in Captain Marvel’s absence. And also helps explain why he’s so eager to tap into The Tesseract. Fury was never invested in weaponizing The Tesseract. Perhaps he sought Selvig’s assistance in reaching out to Carol Danvers?
Thor goes out for drinks with Selvig and they have boilermakers, the same drink Doctor Strange conjurers up for Thor when he visits the Sanctum.
At the movies, Steve stands up to a bully completely unmoved by the sight of death all around him in the newsreels. Steve ends up confronting that bully in the alley when no one else would say anything.
Steve tells Nick Fury that SHIELD should never have recovered the Tesseract, but if it hadn’t there would be no force to repel Thanos in place. Ironically for all of his efforts to get the team assembled, all Fury had to do was activate the Tesseract.
The first words of the film are The Tesseract has awakened. This was the Infinity Stone that Thanos entrusted Loki to retrieve from Earth and it’s the first one we see Thanos get in Infinity War.
Captain America calls Stark out for not being a team player and wanting all the glory for himself. Six years later, Stark would repeat a similar team-first sentiment to Doctor Strange when Thanos arrives.
Infinity War shows a successful Thanos invasion plan as the Chitauri wipe out Gamora’s home planet and culls the population in half. He laid out a similar game plan for Earth, but did not expect a fighting force capable of standing up to him.
Thanos smiles upon learning that to challenge the Avengers is to court death itself. This could be a nod to the comic book character’s infatuation with Death the character. But it could also be Thanos thinking the Avengers battling various threats would lead to a pared down population, befitting his vision. Gauging by the mass loss of life in New York, Washington, D.C. and Sokovia, that viewpoint wasn’t necessarily wrong. In this context, this puts Thanos’ line of doing it himself in Avengers: Age of Ultron in greater perspective. Earth’s population isn’t being cut down in half fast enough for him.
Tony Stark is easily bored and distracted, but he’s fascinated with like-minded inventors. Of the founding members of the Avengers, he most easily relates and connects with Bruce Banner.
And like any inventor, he’s constantly thinking of the upgrades, which is why he spends most of the first film needling Banner and convincing him to tap into his most advanced form. This bond further develops in Iron Man 3 as Stark relays his fears and concerns to his associate. And the two collaborate to build Ultron and then Vision to stop him.
In speaking to Odin at the end of the film, Thor says he’d rather be a good man than a great king — nearly the same phrasing T’Chaka told T’Challa in Black Panther.
The Asgardians are aware of the power of the Infinity Stones and know the wisdom in keeping them separated. But while they are familiar with their might, not even Odin and his allies have kept a diligent eye on them. Ironically that oversight would lead to half of the Asgardians being killed by Thanos as he begins assembling the Infinity Stones.
On the run from Hydra/SHIELD, Captain America and Black Widow turn to the only person they can trust to stay alive — Sam Wilson. This bond in the face of their greatest betrayal forges a strong alliance between the three as they become the core of the New Avengers.
When the Sokovia Accords threatens to unravel the Avengers, Black Widow stays true to her closest connection and sides with Cap and Falcon. Together, the three outlaw Avengers continue their mission of protecting the planet while keeping in close contact with the Scarlet Witch.