Summer may be wrapping up, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still ramping up for 2017. Case in point:
The Defenders, whose first season drops on Netflix this Friday, combining the powers of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. Not only will you probably need to have seen some of their respective individual shows, Defenders may also require knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large, so we’ve put together a helpful who’s who and where’s what of the heroes of the MCU!
Along with Iron Fist, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones, Cage will be forming the superhero team Defenders for eight episodes, before going solo again for his second season.
Elektra, Kingpin, The Punisher…all the classic villains and allies associated with Daredevil have had face time with the man, with their pop culture stock going up in the aftermath. After his turn with Defenders, expect to see Matt Murdock in a yet-to-be-dated third season.
Filming for Season 2 began right after the Defenders shoot concluded, though a premiere date is still unannounced.
Having survived the antics of the Hand and the drubbing of TV critics, Danny Rand appears next in The Defenders.
Spider-Man After assisting #TeamStark in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man got his own starring role in the MCU with Homecoming. He wasn’t able quite able to graduate to Avengers level, but was able to fend off the machinations of Michael Keaton’s birdman over New York.
Over the course of the MCU, Tony Stark has lost his company, his house, his babe, and now a fight against ol’ Steve Rogers. At least he still has…Aunt May? After Spider-Man: Homecoming, expect to see him in Avengers: Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy
The MCU’s best mama’s boy, Star-Lord, finally got to meet his pops: Ego, the Living Planet. The family reunion didn’t go quite as planned, and in the aftermath Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Baby Groot, and Drax continue on, hurtling towards Infinity War.
Cap defeated Iron Man in fisticuffs, while symbolically leaving the shield papa Stark made behind. See him again next year in Avengers: Infinity War, though we got a cheesy PSA from him in Homecoming.
Thor jetted back to the realm of Asgard to investigate what set Age of Ultron into motion, and later recruited Doctor Strange for assistance. He gets a new movie (and haircut!) with Thor: Ragnarok later this year.
Bruce Banner went into exile after the Sokovia battle in Ultron, where he’ll have a co-starring role in Ragnarok.
With his origin story successfully launched, the hard-bargainin’ Stephen Strange will have a yet-to-be-disclosed role with Hulk and Thor in Ragnarok.
Though initially on Stark’s side for mandatory superhero registration, Natasha Romanoff has a change of hair, allowing Captain America to move on before going into hiding with the Avengers largely disassembled.
Pulled out of semi-retirement for Civil War, Clint Barton probably bounced back afterwards to his isolated homestead before answering the call for Avengers: Infinity War.
Helping lead the latest incarnation of the Avengers wasn’t enough to keep him out of Marvel’s mega-maximum prison after the fight in Civil War, which Captain helpfully broke him out of by the movie’s end.
Like Falcon, imprisoned after the big brawl in Civil War.
After a quick assist (and one giant transformation), Scott Lang is free to return to his own series, where his new flame will don the superhero suit in Ant-Man and the Wasp, out July 6, 2018.
After wrecking a German airport and stopping Baron Zemo from killing himself, Black Panther is heading back to Wakanda to claim the throne in his 2018 solo outing.
War Machine James Rhodes got plenty of his bones broken and was re-learning to walk when last we saw him at the end of Captain America: Civil War.
With years of brainwashing still leaving him unstable, Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier voluntarily went back to cryogenic sleep until a cure can be found.
Like his broham Ghost Rider, Frank Castle is also back in the MCU, where he crushed it in the second season of Daredevil. He gets his own Netflix show later this year.
Cloak and Dagger
Tandy Bowen and Tyrone Johnson are teenage lovers with superpowers (one can shoot light dagger beams, the other can shroud things in darkness) in this 10-episode Freeform show set to premiere early next year.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Life-Model Decoys (or LMD, perfect replicants of humans) are running around and key S.H.I.E.L.D. players are currently trapped in the Framework, a collective neural network. Quake, an Inhuman and former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, is attempting to set everyone free.
The Inhuman Royal Family, a race of superpowered folks, will get their own 8-episode limited series on ABC starting late December.
Freed from the clutches of Lionsgate, Ghost Rider put in a multi-episode appearance earlier this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..