In the increasingly crowded field of streaming services, Disney+ has quickly established itself as a major player, with more than 600 new and classic movies and television series set to be available on the platform when it launches November 12.
All of that Disney+ content includes plenty of Pixar and Star Wars films and shows, as well as selections from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Disney has indicated that the amount of Marvel movies on the service will start out small and gradually expand to cover the entire MCU — including several original series that will only be available on Disney+.
If you’re a Marvel movie fan looking to scratch that big-screen superhero itch on Disney+, here’s where you should start.
Sometimes it’s best to start from the beginning. The story of a brilliant playboy industrialist who creates a high-tech suit of armor to battle villains, Iron Man made Robert Downey Jr. the face of the MCU for years to come, and proved that even a C-list superhero could become a global icon with the right people both behind the camera and in front of it. Not only did the film launch one of the greatest franchises in Hollywood history, but it made Marvel movies the new gold standard for superhero cinema. As if that wasn’t enough to make it one of the most important Marvel movies in the franchise, it also laid the foundation for the entire MCU with a brief post-credits scene introducing a little something called the “Avengers Initiative.”
Guardians of the Galaxy
Few films tested Marvel’s ability to transform obscure characters into box-office champions like 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The film — which follows a group of reluctant heroes thrown together to save the universe from a would-be conqueror — relied on an unknown group of characters with few connections to the established MCU. Defying the odds, the movie directed by then-indie filmmaker James Gunn was a massive hit, and turned a gun-happy talking raccoon and a sentient tree only into two of Hollywood’s most popular heroes. (It also turned Parks and Recreation funny guy Chris Pratt into a bona fide action hero.) Not too shabby for a bunch of a-holes (their words, not ours).
Paul Rudd’s debut as Marvel’s size-changing superhero had a troubled road to the screen — the most problematic development of any modern MCU movie, in fact — but the end result was bigger than its somewhat underwhelming (for a Marvel movie) performance at the box office. Rudd plays Scott Lang, a thief with a heart of gold, who’s charged by scientist (and original Ant-Man) Hank Pym to stop his size-changing technology from falling into the wrong hands. Despite its fantastic premise, Ant-Man managed to be one of the most grounded, funny, and genuinely human films in the MCU to date, with a cast led by Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly. Come for the superhero adventure, but stay for actor Michael Peña’s memorable recap scenes.
Marvel’s first female-led solo superhero feature, Captain Marvel proved skeptics (and online trolls) wrong by becoming the first female-led superhero movie to earn more than $1 billion worldwide. As the film’s eponymous hero, actress Brie Larson quickly established herself as one of the most powerful heroes in the entire MCU. What’s truly impressive, however, is that she did so in a surprisingly human story about a strong-willed human soldier recruited to fight in an alien war who finds her own sense of self (and inner strength) after she accidentally crashes on Earth. Captain Marvel makes one of the strongest arguments so far that when it comes to the MCU, the future is indeed female.
The final chapter in Marvel’s massive “Infinity Saga” that began with the aforementioned Iron Man, Avengers: Endgame concluded a story that was 23 movies in the making, pitting nearly every hero (and some villains) in the MCU against the cosmic conqueror Thanos. The film went on to become the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide, and brought an end to the adventures of many of the franchise’s most iconic characters. Although the MCU remains an ongoing, evolving universe, Endgame is one of the biggest touchstones so far in the story Marvel is telling with its films.
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