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The Five: Marvel Post-Credit Scenes That Led to 'The Avengers'

It started with a cameo, a blink-and-you-missed it appearance that came at the end of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. In fact, if you left the theater immediately after the 2008 superhero adventure, there’s a very good chance that you missed it. 
Four years later, it has grown into a can’t-miss extravaganza, the largest endeavor made by Marvel Studios and a massive way to launch the season of summer blockbusters for 2012. 
I’m talking, of course, about The Avengers, a movie you’ve heard about nonstop for at least a year, which you’ll finally be able to see starting Friday, May 4. (In the U.S., at least. Overseas, the movie’s already playing select markets and has earned a whopping $178.4M, according to BoxOfficeMojo.) As you no doubt know, Joss Whedon’s film draws together a string of superheroes who’ve fought in their own films so they can unite to combat a new foe who is threatening our planet.   
But how did we get here? As fans know, the Marvel “origin” movies that helped introduce such heroes as Iron Man, Captain America and Thor also teased “the Avengers initiative,” an effort by S.H.I.E.L.D. to hire these super-powered individuals just in case we needed them. And the process began in 2008, when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) reached out to Tony Stark to see if Iron Man would be interested in lending a hand:

Ironically, Robert Downey Jr. would turn up later that year at the end of Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk with a similar mission. Here, Tony Stark appears briefed on the Avengers initiative, and wants to help General Ross (William Hurt) with his “unusual problem” by mentioning that they are putting a team together. Universal Studios has blocked every clip of this cool scene, but you get a snippet of it in this vintage Hulk TV spot.

Iron Man 2 followed, with Tony Stark wading deeper into the S.H.I.E.L.D. pool by hiring Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) – aka Black Widow – and learning about the history of the shadowy government agency. Needless to say, at the end of Iron Man 2’s credits, things grew a little more celestial with the introduction of a famous hammer. 

That led to Thor, which brought audiences to Asgard as it introduced both the God of Thunder and his wicked step-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who plays a major part in Whedon’s The Avengers. Also, we get our first look at the the glowing blue cube known as the Tesseract, and learn how Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) factors into Whedon’s upcoming film.

Finally, the prequels concluded with Captain America: The First Avenger, Joe Johnston’s period thriller that introduced the hero, then was tasked with figuring out how to bring the WWII character into the 21st century. Let’s let the clip explain:

Which essentially brings us to The Avengers, where these heroes – who’ve fought so valiantly on their own – will see if their combined force is enough to prevent the end of our planet. Is there a scene at the end of Whedon’s blockbuster teasing the further adventures of this unprecedented group? Don’t let us spoil it for you. Just stick around and see for yourself. Avengers, assemble!
Follow along on Twitter @Sean_OConnell and @Fandango for more news, trailer and clips throughout the week and be sure to Like us on Facebook!  
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