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Quiz Monkey
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Marvel

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Basics
The Avengers
Iron Man
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Thor
Captain America
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy

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The 'Marvel Cinematic Universe'

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a cinema phenomenon, with a worldwide gross of over $7 billion. This puts it second only to Harry Potter in the list of highest-grossing film franchises – above James Bond and Tolkien's Middle-Earth.

And yet, in my experience, it's comparatively rarely mentioned in quizzes. It certainly comes up less frequently than the three other franchises mentioned above – less frequently, in fact, than several other less-successful franchises. The only explanation I can suggest for this is that to be perfectly frank, there is very little crossover between the type of people who do quizzes and the type of people who go to see Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Basics

The agency that the Avengers work for (originally Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division; changed in 1991 to Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) Click to show or hide the answer

To date (June 2015) there have been eleven films. Since 2011, each year has generally seen the release of two films – and this pattern is scheduled to continue until at least 2019, the next release being Ant-Man in July 2015. The first ten films were:

Title DirectorReleased
Iron ManJon Favreau2008
The Incredible HulkLouis Leterrier2008
Iron Man 2Jon Favreau2010
ThorKenneth Branagh2011
Captain America: The First Avenger Joe Johnston 2011
(Marvel's) The AvengersJoss Whedon 2012
Iron Man 3Shane Black2013
Thor: The Dark WorldAlan Taylor2013
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Anthony and Joe Russo 2014
Guardians of the GalaxyJames Gunn2014
Avengers: Age of Ultron Joss Whedon2015

The Avengers (2012)

Up to May 2015, The Avengers had grossed just over $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third highest grossing film of all time – after Avatar and Titanic.

It was the last film in what has been called Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, and as it brought together most of the main characters from the previous five films it would seem to be a good place to start looking at the cast list:

Tony Stark / Iron Man – a self-proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist, with an electromechanical suit of armor of his own invention Click to show or hide the answer
Steve Rogers / Captain America – a World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum and frozen in suspended animation before waking up in the modern world Click to show or hide the answer
Dr. Bruce Banner / (The Incredible) Hulk – a genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. (Note that in the 2008 film featuring Hulk – see below – Banner was played by Edward Norton) Click to show or hide the answer
Thor – The crown prince of Asgard, based on the deity of the same name from Norse mythology Click to show or hide the answer
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow – a highly trained spy working for SHIELD Click to show or hide the answer
Clint Barton / Hawkeye – a master archer working as an agent for SHIELD Click to show or hide the answer
Loki – Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis, based on the deity of the same name from Norse mythology Click to show or hide the answer
Phil Coulson – an agent of SHIELD who oversees many of the division's field operations Click to show or hide the answer
Dr. Erik Selvig – an astrophysicist and a friend of Thor under Loki's control Click to show or hide the answer
Nick Fury – the director of SHIELD, who was revealed in previous films to be coordinating the "Avengers Initiative" Click to show or hide the answer
Maria Hill – a high-ranking agent of SHIELD, who works closely with Nick Fury Click to show or hide the answer
Virginia 'Pepper' Potts – Tony Stark's love interest Click to show or hide the answer

The remaining sections look at the other nine films in chronological order.

Iron Man (2008)

Obadiah Stane / The Iron Monger – Stark's business second-in-command Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

There was a previous Hulk film, entitled simply Hulk. Released in 2003, it was directed by Ang Lee and starred Eric Bana as Dr. Bruce Banner. It received a mixed reception from critics but was a commercial success – grossing almost a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide, although it did cost more than half of that amount to make.

Notable facts about the 2008 film:

Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk Click to show or hide the answer
Voice of Hulk (also played him in the television series, 1977-82) Click to show or hide the answer
Betty Ross – a cellular biologist, and Banner's love interest Click to show or hide the answer
General Thaddeus E. 'Thunderbolt' Ross – Betty's arrogant father, who has dedicated himself to capturing the Hulk Click to show or hide the answer
Major Emil Blonsky / The Abomination: a Russian-born UK Royal Marines Commando, injected with various serums by General Ross to transform into a monster more powerful than the Hulk himself Click to show or hide the answer

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Lt. Col. James 'Rhodey' Rhodes – an officer in the US Air Force, and a close personal friend of Tony Stark Click to show or hide the answer
Ivan Vanko – a Russian physicist and ex-convict who builds his own weapon to exact vengeance on the Stark family Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Thor (2011)

Dr. Jane Foster – a scientist, and Thor's love interest Click to show or hide the answer
Heimdall Рthe all-seeing, all-hearing sentry of the bifr̦st bridge Рbased on the deity of the same name from Norse mythology Click to show or hide the answer
Odin – ruler of Asgard, father of Thor and adoptive father of Loki, based on the deity of the same name from Norse mythology Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddlestone as Loki, Stellen Skarsgard as Erik Selvig.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Chester Phillips – the US Army colonel who recruits Steve Rogers to join the secret experiment that creates the super-soldier known as Captain America Click to show or hide the answer
Johann Schmidt / Red Skull – Captain America's nemesis. Adolf Hitler's head of advanced weaponry, whose own plan for world domination involves a magical object known as the Tesseract. Red Skull is the commander of the terrorist organization Hydra Click to show or hide the answer
Peggy Carter – an officer with the Strategic Scientific Reserve, and Captain America's love interest Click to show or hide the answer
Sgt. James Buchanan 'Bucky' Barnes – Steve Rogers' best friend Click to show or hide the answer
Howard Stark – Tony Stark's father Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Aldrich Killian – creator of the Extremis virus and the founder of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), who adopts the mantle of the Mandarin (see below) as his own Click to show or hide the answer
Trevor Slattery – a British actor with substance-abuse problems, hired by Killian to portray the Mandarin (a terrorist persona in jammed television broadcasts, in which he is depicted as a leader of the international terrorist organization The Ten Rings) Click to show or hide the answer
Powered exoskeleton used by 'Rhodey' Rhodes (Don Cheadle) Click to show or hide the answer
Director of the two previous Iron Man films, appears as Harold 'Happy' Hogan – Tony Stark's former bodyguard and chauffeur, now Stark Industries head of security Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Don Cheadle as 'Rhodey' Rhodes / Iron Patriot.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Malekith – ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddlestone as Loki, Stellen Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Natalie Porter as Jane Foster, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Anthony Hopkins as Odin.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier turns out to be (Steve Rogers' best friend, who was captured and experimented upon during WWII) – see above Click to show or hide the answer
Alexander Pierce – a senior leader in SHIELD, a member of the World Security Council and an old comrade of Nick Fury Click to show or hide the answer

Also featured: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Sebastian Stan as 'Bucky' Barnes, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

This film introduced a new cast of characters that had not featured in previous Marvel Universe films. The title characters are a group of extraterrestrial misfits who are fleeing after stealing a powerful artifact, and with whom the central character Peter Quill forms an uneasy alliance.

Peter Quill / Star-Lord – leader of the Guardians, who discovers at the end of the film that he is half human and half alien Click to show or hide the answer

The Guardians have not yet entered the quiz lexicon – not in my experience, anyway – so in order to avoid redundancy I have not listed them here. I do however include a few characters who are played by notable actors:

Rocket Raccoon – a genetically-engineered raccoon who is a bounty hunter and mercenary, as well as a master of weapons and battle tactics Click to show or hide the answer
Groot – a tree-like humanoid and the accomplice of Rocket Raccoon Click to show or hide the answer
Nova Prime Irani Rael – leader of the Nova Corps, whose mission is to protect the citizens of the Nova Empire and keep peace Click to show or hide the answer
Taneleer Tivan / The Collector – an obsessive collector of interstellar fauna, relics and species, operating out of a place in space named Knowhere Click to show or hide the answer

Avengers: Age of Ultron(2015)

This was a sequel to The Avengers (2012) and featured many of the same characters and cast: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner / Hulk, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye, and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill.

It also featured the following new characters:

Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver -  a superhero who can move at superhuman speed Click to show or hide the answer
Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch – twin sister of Pietro / Quicksilver, who can harness magic, hypnosis and telekinesis Click to show or hide the answer
J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) – Tony Stark's Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) system – also in previous films Click to show or hide the answer
Vision – an android superhero created by Ultron Click to show or hide the answer
Sam Wilson / Falcon – a friend of Steve Rogers, trained by the military in aerial combat using a specially designed wing pack Click to show or hide the answer
Ultron – the eponymous AI, repurposed by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner for a pilot peace program, which is overwhelmed with a "god complex" and now wishes to pacify the Earth by eradicating humanity Click to show or hide the answer

Also appearing: Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Erik Selvig, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

© Haydn Thompson 2017