-- "Avengers: Age of Ultron" opens nationwide in theaters today. But there are 10 Marvel movies prior to "Ultron" that all build up to this epic movie. For the past seven years, Marvel has been building its universe to get to this point. Here's a quick rundown of all the 10 movies prior to this blockbuster, starting with "Iron Man,” which started it all in 2008.
1 - "Iron Man" (2008)
Our Hero -- Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr.
The Villain -- Obadiah Stane, a.k.a. the Iron Monger, played by Jeff Bridges
Our first Marvel universe movie (yes!) starts with Tony Stark in the Middle East, where he is attacked by insurgents using his own weapons against him and then taking him captive. He builds an arc reactor to keep shrapnel from the attack from reaching his heart and killing him. That reactor also has enough energy to power Iron Man’s suit. Becoming a superhero forces him to change his playboy ways and change his company. Now, he "wants to protect the people he put in harm's way." But Stark Industries CEO Obadiah Stane wants his suit for evil and ends up fighting Iron Man to get the technology.
How it ends -- Iron Man prevails, and after Tony Stark tells the world his secret identity, Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, recruits him for the Avengers Initiative.
2 - "The Incredible Hulk" (2008)
Our Hero -- The Hulk, played by Ed Norton (later to be played by Mark Ruffalo)
The Villain -- General Ross, played by William Hurt, and Abomination, played by Tim Roth
The Hulk story is one of the oldest. Bruce Banner was a scientist until he was hit with gamma radiation, which turns him into a green, rage monster when he gets upset. General Ross wants this technology to create super soldiers. Banner just wants to be left alone. Ross eventually gives Roth's character some of this radiation, which turns him into a sort of bad Hulk, also known as Abomination. After Abomination starts destroying the city, Ross changes his tune and now wants Hulk to fight and stop him. Hulk subdues the evil monster and runs away to live far away from people he may hurt or kill.
How it ends -- In the final scene, you see Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, run into Ross at a bar and ask about the Hulk. Basically, he wants to recruit the green monster for the Avengers.
3 - "Iron Man 2" (2010)
The Villains -- Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, played by Mickey Rourke
Iron Man has privatized world peace and is the ultimate anti-terror threat. The government wants his suit, but he refuses. Whiplash comes along and wants to kill Stark because he blames his family for ruining his father's life. He creates a similar suit with whip-like firepower. Meanwhile, Stark is dying slowly from the very energy that powers his suit. Whiplash creates an army for himself while working for one of Stark's rivals. Eventually, Rhodey as War Machine and Iron Man team up and it's up to them to fight Whiplash and take him down. Oh, and in the process Stark figures out a new element to power his suit and save himself from the poison of the old technology.
How it ends -- After Iron Man and War Machine take down Whiplash, we see a HUGE hammer in the middle of the desert -- Thor is coming!
4 - "Thor" (2011)
Our Hero -- Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth
The Villain -- Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston
Loki is intensely jealous of his older brother Thor, who is set to become the next king of Asgard. But after an attack on his home, Thor disobeys his father and is banished to Earth. While on this strange planet, he falls in love and learns humility. Loki also tries to kill him, but Thor regains his power and returns to Asgard to fight and conquer his evil brother. Thor vows to watch over Earth from that point on and Loki falls down to our planet, which he despises, after an incident in the final scene.
How it ends -- Nick Fury recruits a doctor friend of Thor's to work on alien technology: the tesseract. But Loki is lurking in the shadows!
5 - "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011)
Our Hero -- Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, played by Chris Evans
The Villain -- The Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving
It's the 1940s and all Steve Rogers wants to do is enlist and fight the Nazis. But he's too small and fragile. So, the government experiments on him with a super soldier formula and he becomes the Cap! After he is mainly used for propaganda and to encourage support for WWII, he fights back and rescues his friend Bucky Barnes after his unit is captured by Hydra. He eventually meets and faces off against the Red Skull toward the end of the war and thwarts his plan to rule the world. Also, during one of the battles, we see Bucky presumably fall to his death. This will come back into play in the Cap sequel.
How it ends -- Cap goes down in a blaze of glory, landing a ship into frozen ice after taking the Red Skull out. He is found and thawed out 70 years later. In the post-credit scene, Nick Fury approaches Cap about a mission. This is also the tie in to and first scene from 2012's "The Avengers."
6 - "The Avengers" (2012)
Our Heroes -- Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye, a.k.a. Jeremy Renner
The Villain -- Loki
After falling from Asgard, Loki wants Earth for himself. He makes a deal with an unknown superior being to have an army and an alien weapon, the scepter, to take over this world. The Avengers unite, while bickering and fighting with each other at times, and band together to fight Loki and this army. They win and go their separate ways, vowing to protect Earth if needed in the future.
How it ends -- After Loki's loss, we finally see the man who gave him the army to fight the Avengers. It's Thanos, possibly the most powerful, invincible villain in all the Marvel universe! Something big is coming.
7 - "Iron Man 3" (2013)
Our Heroes -- Iron Man and War Machine
The Villain -- The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley, really played (we find out later) by Guy Pearce
After the attack on New York from an alien race, Iron Man is having trouble adjusting back to normal life. Meanwhile, The Mandarin begins threatening Stark. We later find out that Kingsley's character is an actor and not the real villain, while Pearce, a.k.a. Aldrich Killian, is creating super humans. Iron Man has an epic showdown with Pearce and it's Stark's girlfriend, Pepper Potts, who takes Killian down. When it's all said and done, Stark realizes he can't let the suits run his life and destroys them all. He also has surgery to get the shrapnel removed from around his heart.
How it ends -- Stark tells Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk, his story in a therapy-like session. Not a big tie in to the next film.
8 - "Thor: The Dark World" (2013)
Our Hero -- Thor
The Villain -- Malekith the Accursed, played by Christopher Eccleston
Thor's human love, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is cursed with a dark matter called the Aether, which could eventually kill her. Meanwhile Malekith wants the Aether to take over the world (stop if you've heard this before). Thor's imprisoned brother Loki joins Thor against Malekith, and ends up sacrificing himself to save his brother, or so we think. After Loki's apparent death, Thor is able to trick and defeat Malekith by banishing him through a portal that sends him far away. Thor tells his father he doesn't want to be king after the victory and would rather watch over Earth. But it's not his father, but Loki in disguise, who survived.
How it ends -- A link to "Guardians of the Galaxy." We see Thor's friends visit the Collector to give him an infinity stone to hold for safe keeping. We will later find out that Thanos wants these stones for "infinite" power. As the scene ends, the Collector says, "One down, five to go," showing he wants them for himself.
9 - "Captain America: Winter Soldier" (2014)
Our Heroes -- Captain America, Nick Fury, Black Widow and the Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie
The Villains -- Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan, and Alexander Pierce, played by Robert Redford
Alexander Pierce has embedded himself within Nick Fury's SHIELD agency and is one of its leaders, but he really is a leader with Hydra, the evil organization from WWII that battled Captain America in the 1940s. He attempts to kill Fury and Cap and take over the country while running our government. Cap finds out and joins up with Black Widow and the Falcon to battle Hydra. Meanwhile, Cap's old friend, Bucky aka now the Winter Soldier, who was presumed dead after WWII, is back and has been brainwashed to fight for Hydra. The good guys win, but Cap vows to find the Winter Soldier and bring him back to the good side.
How it ends -- We see an underground bunker of villains who have alien weapons and are testing its power. They seem to serve Hydra, but have aspirations of their own. Then we get our first look at Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are locked up in cells in the bunker. They are being tested on as well.
10 - "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)
Our Heroes -- Starlord, played by Chris Pratt; Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana; Drax, played by Dave Bautista; Groot, played by Vin Diesel; Rocket, played by Bradley Cooper
The Villain -- Ronan, played by Lee Pace; Thanos, played by Josh Brolin
Everyone is after one of the infinity stones, which wield immeasurable power. Ronan plans to destroy a planet he has been at war with and eventually gets his hands on one. But the gang bands together and defeats Ronan.
How it ends -- The Collector's home where he keeps his treasures is destroyed and we see Howard the Duck for the first time in 20 years on screen.