Avengers assemble! Audiences have followed the building of the superhero team since 2008 when “Iron Man” jumpstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now the latest entry, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” is set to change the course of the story once again. Ahead of the latest movie premiere, the group now includes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
When we last saw the superhero team together, New York had been saved from a terrifying invasion from an alien race known as the Chitauri. Thor’s trickster brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), opened a portal into space to begin the invasion when the Avengers reconvened to defeat him. Iron Man flew a nuclear bomb meant for Manhattan into the Chitauri mothership as Black Widow helped close the portal with Loki’s scepter. With the Tesseract -- the Infinity Stone responsible for the wormhole -- saved and Loki beaten to a pulp by the Hulk, the Avengers went their separate ways for three more films: “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: Winter Solider.”
Here’s what everyone was up to since we last saw them in “The Avengers”:
Iron Man: Tony Stark was the first Avenger to follow up the dramatic alien invasion of New York. In his third Marvel movie, Stark had to defeat the terrorist Mandarin and evil scientist Dr. Killian from taking over the United States and killing his wife, Pepper Potts. Stark also had to face his own post-traumatic stress if he wanted to save the world again.
Thor: Back on Asgard, Thor was forced to team up with his brother Loki in order to fight the Dark Elves, who were seeking to destroy the nine realms (including Earth) when they would became vulnerable in a rare astrological event known as the Convergence. By the end of “Thor: The Dark World,” the second Infinity Stone the Dark Elves were after, the Aether, was given to the Collector (Benecio Del Toro) for safe keeping.
Captain America: In perhaps one of the most intriguing chapters in the cinematic Avengers saga, “Captain America: Winter Solider” reteams Capt. Rogers and Black Widow Agent Romanoff as they discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Hydra since WWII. Capt.’s best friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), returns as the Hydra experimented Winter Soldier.
Black Widow: Back with Captain America in the wake of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s demise, Agent Romanoff played an integral part in collecting intel for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and exposing Hydra to the public. The talented assassin also stepped in to capture Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), the high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. official and Hydra double agent.
The Hulk: Bruce Banner has been keeping a low profile since his green one-man wrecking crew helped save the day in “The Avengers.” He does make a brief cameo in “Iron Man 3” as a bored listener to Stark’s story of heroics against the Mandarin.
Hawkeye: The archer with a seemingly endless supply of arrows has also kept a low profile since the last Avengers reunion. Watch out for more about Clint Barton’s secret background to be revealed in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Thanos: At the end of “The Avengers,” Thanos made his first cameo appearance. The big bad appeared in “Guardians of the Galaxy” as Gamora’s (Zoe Saldana) father and Ronan the Accuser’s (Lee Pace) boss. Ronan’s failure to collect the Infinity Stone will probably not be assuaged anytime soon, as the two-part “Infinity War” movies is scheduled for release in 2018 and 2019.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is out in theaters May 1, 2015.