The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the official collective term for the shared universe of independently-designed, but still interlinking films produced by Marvel Studios, based on comic book properties they owned the film rights to from comic book publishers Marvel Comics. The independent studio has since developed and produced more than a dozen, having been released by bigger film distributors. It has also spawned several other media, such as canon and non-canon comics published by Marvel Comics, short films and television series, the latter of which is handled by Marvel Television and ABC Studios, which has been released on various forms such as cable and the internet. Marvel Studios itself is also looking to produce limited web series on Disney+.
- Main article: List of films
The first film set within the MCU is Iron Man in 2008, directed by Jon Favreau, from a script that was brought together from different writing teams of Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway. It starred Robert Downey Jr. in the title role. The film was a critical and commercial success, which legitimized Marvel Studios and made the idea of cohesive universe between films about entirely different characters and their worlds that more possible. This film and the following five were grouped together as Phase One which ended with goal of The Avengers in 2012, directed by Joss Whedon, from a script by Zak Penn and Whedon.
Marvel Studios then hired Whedon to oversee the following Phase Two from 2013, to make sure they could all work together, with all the different plot threads. The end result was Whedon's directed and written Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015. Phase Three shifted to the pairing of directors Joe Russo & Anthony Russo who began with Captain America: Civil War in 2016, written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. The film expanded the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with new characters such as Black Panther and Spider-Man (the latter of which was integrated from Sony Pictures Releasing, who owned the film rights to the character), who were later given their own films (the latter of which was integrated as a relaunch as Sony Pictures Releasing attempt to let Marvel Studios produce a film based on character who they owned the film rights to). The final film of Phase Three will be Avengers: Endgame in 2019, from the aforementioned director and writer duos. It will be followed the same year by Phase Four with Spider-Man: Far From Home, directed by Jon Watts, from a script by the writing team of Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.
- Main article: Marvel One-Shots
Referred to as Marvel One-Shots, a series of short films to accompany the Blu-ray release of films were produced, currently with five in total. The first two were to highlight and strengthen the audience's relation with the character of Phil Coulson, a small character played by Clark Gregg, introduced in Iron Man, who continued to appear in Iron Man 2, Thor, and ultimately his then final appearance in The Avengers.
- Main article: List of television series
Before the success of The Avengers, ideas for TV series to be aired on the ABC network were forming, most of which did not materialize or moved to another outlet. After the success of The Avengers, ABC sought Marvel Television to produce a television series based on the organization of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Gregg reprising his role as lead Coulson. It was co-created by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss also directed and wrote the pilot.
- Main article: List of comics