Following orders from Arnim Zola, who somehow made the jump from cowardly little weasel to super-villain with enough charisma to command a death cult, Hydra operatives find a still-living Bucky Barnes. They remove his left arm and replace it with a super-cool robot arm, then they brainwash him into being a super assassin and put him in cryostasis so they can use him later, but not too often, because he’s expensive, and doesn’t mix well with others–like saffron, only less likely to share names with a stripper.
The last entry should have probably gone into the previous section.
Howard Stark and the newly formed SHIELD find the Tesseract in the Arctic ocean but fail to locate the giant, wing-shaped bomber containing the cryogenically-preserved Steve Austin Rogers.
Dr. Henry Pym develops a process for shrinking and growing things while ignoring mass, physics, and the square-cube law. This is sure to be a benefit for everyone.
Howard Stark gets married and has a kid who’s even smarter, snarkier, and less sincere than he is. He also becomes even more insanely rich by using his vast intellect and unimaginable resources to solve hunger, pollution, and the looming energy crisis. Just kidding, he makes a lot of weapons and partners up with a guy named Obadiah who looks like the Dude but talks like Rooster Cogburn. This partnership will surely benefit everyone.
The Pentagon Papers and Watergate Scandal trigger a period of intense scrutiny of the Federal Government, revealing such abominations as the Tuskegee Experiment, Project MK Ultra, and the New Coke Marketing Conspiracy, but somehow failing to reveal that fully half of an agency with military powers and access to advanced weaponry is staffed by adherents to a murderous death cult that worships a psychotic, life-sucking colony creature.
The Kree go to war with the Skrulls, a galaxy-spanning empire of lizard-like beings that have the unique ability to take on any shape they see. The Kree are definitely the bad guys, here, because there’s no way the Skrulls could use their ability for evil.
Dr. David Banner, working on a new version of Stanley Tucci’s super-soldier serum (cf Part 2), injects his infant son, Bruce, with the serum, because he’s an awful father, then he murders his wife in front of his son. Despite this, and the traumas inherent in the foster system, Bruce grows up well-adjusted in every way.
Physicist Anton Vanko raises his son on apocryphal tales of how he provided Stark with all of his ideas but they were stolen from him. There’s no way this harmless bit of hyperbole can have consequences.
1980-ish to 2000
Ego wraps up his Dissemination and Insemination Tour by stopping at planet Earth and having a whirlwind romance while disguised as a CGI Kurt Russell. He begins to have feelings for his baby momma, so plants incurable cancer in her head and hits the road.
Henry Pym, tired of SHIELD and Stark pressuring him to industrialize his size-changing technology, quits his job and goes into business for himself. He also starts doing covert operations as the size-changing Ant-Man, bringing his wife along, code-named Wasp.
Bucky, brainwashed and using the code-name, The Winter Soldier, kills Howard Stark and his wife. Despite a surprising amount of camera footage–from multiple angles–for an isolated country road, this crime goes unnoticed and is ruled an unfortunate auto accident.
The Kree win the Kree-Skrull War and embark on a policy of genocide, as one does. A Kree doctor named Mar-Vel defects, steals some technology, and hides a small group of Skrull refugees aboard a huge warship in earth orbit while she gets a job building Tesseract-powered sub-orbital jets for the US Air Force.
On the day his mother dies of the Ego-induced brain cancer, Peter Quill is kidnapped by aliens. He is never heard from again.
Hank Pym’s wife, Janet van Dyne (she kept her last name for professional reasons), goes sub-atomic during a mission. She is presumed dead and never seen again.
A Kree strike force, led by young Dumbledore, discovers Mar-Vel and murders her while trying to steal the Tesseract. Her pilot, US Air Force Captain Carol Danvers touches the Tesseract and absorbs some of its power, then passes out. She is kidnapped by the Kree and renamed Vers, because that is what the piece of her broken dogtag says and the Kree are unfamiliar with the concept of incomplete data.
Thanos murders a planet and adopts a girl child after making her watch her mother die, then raises her to be the most efficient assassin in galactic history. This works out so well, he does it a second time, only with physical and psychological abuse and lots of needless limb replacement surgery.
Tony Stark, continuing his father’s tradition of never taking anything seriously, blows off a brilliant young scientist who has some remarkable ideas that might get the super-soldier program (of course that’s still a thing) back on track.
Bruce Banner, begins working on the super-soldier program because it will surely have benefits for everyone and not be used solely for making super-soldiers.
Captain Danvers returns to Earth in pursuit of a Skrull agent. Believing herself to be a Kree warrior, she powers through a wealth of misgivings and flashbacks to secure her objective. Once she’s done that, she realizes she is not, in fact, a Kree, and that the Kree are kind of assholes. Hilarious hijinx ensue.
Having assisted Captain Danvers during her recent trip to Earth, SHIELD Agent, Nick Fury, starts thinking super-heroes are kind of awesome and begins the SHIELD program, the Avengers Initiative.
Under pressure from his military sponsors, Bruce Banner tests his version of the super-soldier serum on himself and adds a dose of Gamma radiation because if he doesn’t use the particle accelerator it won’t be in his budget next year. It’s a good thing Banner is so well-adjusted; who knows what kind of hulking rage-monster would have resulted if he had anger and impulse-control issues.
Odin raises his two boys using the time-tested method of combining benign neglect and unjustified over-reaction. He repeatedly reminds them that, while they are both being raised to be king, only one of them actually will be king. This cannot possibly go wrong.
Ego continues his campaign of seed planting and hot girl boning, occasionally taking time out to “test” his bastard children, which, inevitably, results in their deaths.
Pre-Hydra continues its policy of pointless evil and occasional underling murder.
Thanos raises an army of psychopaths, murders some planets, somehow takes control of an entire race of colony creatures that depend on continued input from a central base to survive.
Most of human history happens, but it’s not as ‘splodey as it should be for a modern film audience, so meh.
1930-ish to 1940-something
Adolf Hitler hires Hydra because he’s afraid regular Nazis don’t embody enough psychotic evil.
Dr. Stanley Tucci develops a serum to make all of the most prominent aspects of a person jump to the fore. He gives it to Johann Schmidt, a Hydra agent who is even more Hitler-y than Hitler. This, surprisingly, results in Johann becoming a superpowered evil monster with a red skull for a face. Dr. Tucci vows never to make the serum again.
Hydra invades Norway and steals the Tesseract from its secure location in a church behind a relief showing Odin entrusting the Tesseract to the church leaders.
Hydra engages Arnim Zola to use the Tesseract to create weapons.
The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor–you’d think this would be a bigger deal, but it really never comes up again.
Dr. Stanley Tucci decides to tell the US Army about his magic potion because he is caught up in the post-Pearl Harbor enthusiasm to get back at the Japanesekill some Nazis stop Hydra.
Howard Stark uses his money and influence to skip the draft, and, instead, spends the war slouching around Army black sites, amusing himself by making random toys that have very little practical value.
Steve Rogers tries to join the Army and is classified as 4-F. He tries three more times and is remarkably not thrown in jail for attempted fraud. On his final attempt he is noticed by Dr. Stanley Tucci, who believes a scrawny–but scrappy–nobody is just what his project needs to create a supersoldier equal to the horror show he created in Germany.
Rogers is injected with the superserum in a secret test that includes an audience of Senators, their staff, and possibly members of the press, as one does when testing secret weaponized drugs. A Hydra agent posing as a Senator’s aide murders Dr. Tucci, steals the last vial of superserum, and blows up a corner of the lab that didn’t have anyone in it. Rogers pursues the spy who jumps into a one-man sub he’d been storing in a berth in New York Harbor. Rogers catches him but not before he destroys the last vial of superserum and bites a cyanide tooth.
Despite Rogers’ show of heroism and obvious wish to serve, Colonel Tommy Lee Jones turns down Rogers’ request to go to the front. Rogers is recruited by the Senator to appear in films and stage shows to sell War Bonds. Peggy Carter, an agent with the Strategic Science Reserve (SSR), and also somehow Colonel Jones’s ADC is upset by this but is shut down by vague threats from the Colonel.
Hydra develops the Tesseract weapons and decides to fight the war for themselves, winning some early victories and taking a number of prisoners for “testing”. It doesn’t occur to anyone that keeping trained enemy soldiers inside an advanced weapons development and testing facility might not be the best idea.
Rogers, now going by the sobriquet, “Captain America” is booed off the stage at a forward performance. He learns that his best friend, Bucky Barnes, is among the missing, and determines to mount a rescue mission. Agent Carter agrees to help him because of the power of boners. Howard Stark also agrees because it’s a slow Thursday, and he’s got the extra plane.
Rogers single-handedly frees the captured soldiers who, in a move no one could have foreseen, proceed to steal a bunch of advanced weapons and absolutely wreck the facility. Rogers encounters Schmidt, who shows off his Red Skull and is disappointed when Rogers responds with the 1940’s equivalent of “Sucks to be you.”
Rogers returns to Colonel Jones’s camp with the MIAs and stolen weapons, is given a battlefield commission of Captain, and put in charge of ferreting out the rest of Hydra’s bases (since Rogers memorized a map he saw for a few seconds on the wall of the facility). He does this with his commando squad, a surprisingly diverse (for the time) group called the Howling Commandos.
The Howling Commandos attack a Hydra train containing Arnim Zola. Bucky is knocked down a five hundred foot cliff. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
Zola gives the army the location of the last Hydra base, and the Commandos attack it with an entire division at their backs. Too late, however because Schmidt takes off in a flying wing full of piloted bombs set to fly to multiple cities throughout the Atlantic and set off their Tesseract-powered payload. Rogers gets aboard the plane and destroys all of the bombs, but one, before getting distracted by Schmidt monologuing. This is thankfully cut short when Schmidt grabs the Tesseract and is melted in a completely unique fashion and not at all like the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Despite having literally landed a piloted bomb on a moving plane just minutes before, Rogers is unable to pilot the bomber to a safe landing, and chooses, instead, to crash it into the nearby ice shelf. He is presumed dead and never seen again.
Peggy Carter has adventures and flirtations, but never gets over Rogers enough to pull the trigger with anyone. She becomes director of SHIELD, which does not have a corps of “reformed” Hydra agents using SHIELD resources to rebuild the evil organization. That would just be silly.