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Chronologically, the first Avenger movie(s) would be Hulk (2003) and The Incredible Hulk (2008). Problem being though the first movie was a flop and even though the second movie outperformed the first talks broke down to have Edward Norton reprise the role as Dr. Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo will be portraying him in The Avengers. Avengers Link: Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) approaches General Ross after the credits roll and mentions that a team is being put together.
Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) are next in the roundup. In Iron Man we're first introduced to Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) who spends most of the movie trying to say out the name of the organization he represents ("Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division") and ultimately with Tony Stark meeting Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) after the credits. Iron Man 2 introduces another character central to the Avengers: The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). The link to the next movie comes after the credits with Agent Coulson arriving at an excavation site with a large hammer at the center of a crater.
Thor (2011) brings us the title character (Chris Helmsworth) and the main villain in The Avengers: Loki (Tom Hiddleston). During the course of the movie we have a short scene that involves Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who almost received the order to take down a de-powered (though still quite formidable by human standards) Thor. Thor segues into the next film after the credits where Nick Fury meets with Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and shows him the Cosmic Cube. We also see that Erik is being charmed by Loki.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) is quite brazen with the Avengers tie-in. It makes sense since Captain America is a central member of the Avengers and is for all intents and purposes the group's leader (Tony Stark funds the Avengers and calls many of the shots but is wise enough to surrender to Cap's natural leadership ability). That's all in the comics though. At the end of Captain America, Cap (Chris Evans) is reanimated in our time a full 60 years after World War II ended. The movie makes no mention of the recovery of the Cosmic Cube even though we learn in this movie it was crafted by The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), but we already know SHIELD has it. The after credit clip leads us directly to the Avengers.
All we know for now is that some huge threat circling Loki and the Cosmic Cube requires Earth's Mightiest Heroes to band together for the common good. On May 3rd I intend to find out what that threat is. Yes, I said May 3rd. On St. Thomas, our movies are cycled every Thursday. Even movies scheduled for weekend releases. Bring your Geek Card. I'll be checking at the door.