Lucy Bauer and her husband, Joseph Bauer find the Darkhold in the basement of the home's former owner and open it. When Lucy touches it, she discovers that she can read the text in English while Joseph can read it in German.
Phil Coulson tries to convince Nick Fury that Project T.A.H.I.T.I. must be shut down because of horrific side effects the drugs have on test subjects, which can only be mitigated by erasing the victim's memory. Despite his concerns, Project T.A.H.I.T.I. was not shut down.
As part of a training exercise, Hawkeye disguises himself as a spy and breaks into the Helicarrier to trick the Black Widow into thinking he is stealing information about the Avengers Initiative. After the exercise, Nick Fury tells them the Initiative will only be put into action when the world needs the team most.
Black Widow is sent to a mission in Moscow, Russia, where she searches for missing Stark Industries technology. Disguised as Tatiana Sokolova, she works at a night club. While she tries to interrogate Mikhail Fjodorov, one of the world's most successful illegal arms dealers, Fjodorov is killed by an unknown woman. Romanoff is forced to leave the club, fighting several security men in the process. After she returns to a hotel, she is attacked by a team of masked mercenaries, but she defeats them and receives a SIM card to reach the mysterious woman she saw in the night club.
Later, in the very early hours of the morning, Black Widow talks to the woman named Sofia, and learns that she is a "fan" and wants to take over the name "Black Widow". Romanoff agrees to meet with Sofia and breaks all her contacts with S.H.I.E.L.D.
A few days later, Romanoff confronts Sofia in a sport hall in Sochi, where she is defeated and almost drowned but she is saved at the last moment by Phil Coulson, who is following a pair of goons working for the arms dealer General Starodoub. Coulson gives Romanoff the necessary equipment to infiltrate the yacht belonging to Yuri Klementiev, one of General Starodoub's business partners, where she meets Sofia again, an encounter which costs them the life of agent Gennady Markov.
Phil Coulson discovers that Sofia's employer is the billionaire Richard Frampton, Romanoff infiltrates his headquarters in Vladivostok. She discovers that Frampton works for the Ten Rings terrorist organization and that he has made a Jericho missile that will explode near the border between Russia and North Korea, greatly destabilizing the world peace. Romanoff infiltrates the launching area and destroys the missile. Both Frampton and Sofia are killed in the explosion.
The car flips and sends Reyes flying through the air, as he prays to anyone to keep his brother safe. Reyes is killed on impacting the ground and Gabe loses control of his legs. However, Johnny Blaze, Ghost Rider, contacts Robbie's soul and asks if he wants Gabe to live, in which Reyes responds yes. Soon after, Blaze pulls Gabe to safety and revives Reyes by transforming him into the next Ghost Rider.
The next day, Eli Morrow beats Joseph into a coma but also he questions him on where the Darkhold is. When Hugo, Frederick and Vincent show up Morrow uses the Quantum Particle Generator to transform them into spiritual entities and contains every one of them on different boxes.
In Russia, in the local evening, Natasha Romanoff is extracting information from Georgi Luchkov while letting him believe he is interrogating her. Phil Coulson calls one of Luchkov's henchmen and orders him to give Romanoff the phone or S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fighter jets will destroy the entire city block.
Coulson tells Romanoff that she is needed, and while she is reluctant to leave her current mission, she agrees when Coulson mentions Barton has been compromised.
In New York City, Steve Rogers sits in his new apartment looking through S.H.I.E.L.D. files. One of the files lists Peggy Carter's current phone number, and Rogers prepares to call her, but eventually decides not to.
Rogers (donning his new Captain America costume) and Romanoff travel to Stuttgart in a Quinjet to confront Loki, who is acting as a distraction as Hawkeye steals iridium to stabilize the Tesseract.
Captain America fights him in the street, but the unexpected arrival of Iron Man prompts Loki to surrender.
On the way back to the Helicarrier, the Quinjet is ambushed by Thor, who takes Loki and tries to reason with him.
Iron Man pursues and fights Thor in a forest, but Captain America breaks up the fight and Thor agrees for Loki to be taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.
In the early hours of morning, Natasha Romanoff interrogates Loki in his cell, but he refuses to give in. However, in a moment of cruelty towards her, Loki accidentally lets slip that he is interested in Banner, and Romanoff realizes he intends to use the Hulk to escape.
Meanwhile, Rogers finds several HYDRA weapons and uniforms from the 1940s in crates in the weapons room he had just discovered.
Black Widow frees Hawkeye of his mind-control by knocking him out. Thor distracts the Hulk, while Fury and Maria Hill hold off the other mind-controlled agents. The Hulk jumps out of the Helicarrier to attack a hovering F-35 jet, but ends up falling from the sky and crashing into an abandoned warehouse on the ground below.
Thor tries to stop Loki from escaping, but gets trapped in Loki's cell and ejected from the ship, landing in a field. Phil Coulson confronts Loki, armed with a weapon made from the Destroyer's parts, but Loki stabs him to death with his scepter.
Unable to call for back-up because most of the United States Armed Forces is fighting the Chitauri invasion, War Machine manages to defeat the attackers and immediately flies to New York to help Stark.
While the Avengers battle the invading forces, Iron Man grabs the missile and throws it through the portal, destroying the remaining Chitauri fleet. His suit fails and he falls back through the portal as Black Widow closes the portal. Hulk catches Stark to slow his fall, and wakes him from his unconsciousness.
Rogers intercepts the STRIKE team and Jasper Sitwell in an elevator. Once he whispers "Hail HYDRA" to Sitwell, the agent is convinced and gives the crate with the Scepter to Rogers. Following a brief altercation with his past self, who mistook future Captain America for an impersonation by Loki, Rogers goes down to the rendezvous point at the lobby.
At the lobby, the past Avengers minus the Hulk find Alexander Pierce and have an argument with him regarding the Tesseract - the undersecretary thinks it should return to SHIELD custody even if the heroes already arranged its departure to Asgard. Ant-Man enters the miniature Arc Reactor in past Stark's chest and breaks a fuse, making Stark have a brief heart arrest that makes the briefcase with the Tesseract fall down. Future Stark, disguised as a security guard, gets the briefcase.
As Iron Man is walking away, he is hit by a door - slammed by the past Hulk, angry at having to walk down all those flights of stairs - and the briefcase is opened by the impact, making the Tesseract fly away and arrive at Loki's feet. With everyone distracted by past Stark's medical incident, that is fixed only as Thor electrifies the Arc Reactor with Mjølnir, Loki uses the commotion to open a portal with the Cube and teleports away.
Outside the tower, Ant-Man is angry that only one Stone was retrieved, given each member only has enough Pym Particles for one more trip. Iron Man and Captain America eventually think of the one place where both the Tesseract and more Particles would be found: 1970sCamp Lehigh. They give the Scepter for Lang to deliver in the future and head for the past.
A Ten Rings agent reports to the Mandarin about their recent conflict with War Machine. Although their operatives did not manage to capture James Rhodes, they scanned his armor with every possible device, thus obtaining invaluable information about the technology.
Tony Stark and Pepper Potts look at plans for reconstructing the damaged Stark Tower, which has lost the "S", "T", "R", and "K" on the outside from the battle. They choose to repurpose the remaining "A" to stand for the newly formed group, rebranding as "Avengers Tower".
Meanwhile, the Toomes Salvage Company recovers Chitauri technology from the wreckage. They are interrupted when a woman leading a group of officials arrives and tells them that from now on, their Department of Damage Control will be overseeing the cleanup of major events such as this, as sanctioned by Tony Stark and the government. Toomes is angered for having lost his business with no compensation, and punches one official, before being forced to leave the site.
The Other confers with his master about Loki's defeat, the loss of the Tesseract, and Earth's new protectors. He claims attacking Earth again would be an act of suicide. His master, Thanos simply turns and smiles, thinking of things to come.
Heimdall tells Thor that Vanaheim has been attacked. He gives Heimdall the Tesseract so he can repair the Bifrost Bridge. They then spend the next year assembling an army.
Foster is frustrated about spending two years of her life searching for Thor, and gives up her research of the Nine Realms.
Toomes and his crew lament the loss of their company. When they realize they have a lot of equipment left, Toomes convinces them to turn to the black market and make weapons from the technology to sell, noting that the world is changing, and they need to change to match it.
Tony Stark begins making the Iron Legion to keep himself occupied during periods of anxiety following his near-death experience in space.
The final procedure to resurrectPhil Coulson takes place. To restore his former personality, the scientists remove part of his skull to change his memories of the painful process, as Coulson begs them to let him die during the operation.
One of the scientists, Dr. Streiten, realizes how brutal these surgeries are and tells the others they should let Coulson die, but they ignore him. The scientists give Coulson false memories of a grass shack in Tahiti.
Jasper Sitwell is dispatched to stop Pollack and Wise's bank robberies and retrieve the Chitauri weapon. He locates and confronts them at a hotel in South Florida, but Wise attacks him with the weapon. She accidentally drops it, causing it to activate and destroy all of the stolen money.
Sitwell interrogates them, and Wise admits Pollack successfully got the weapon to work. Despite being sent to kill them, Sitwell gives them the chance to join S.H.I.E.L.D. and help restore the other Chitauri technology collected from New York.
To cover up the explosive nature of the Extremis virus, Aldrich Killian hires actor Trevor Slattery to pose as a terrorist leader called the Mandarin, so whenever Extremis causes a patient to explode, the media and government will assume they are suicide bombings.
Slattery gets plastic surgery so he is not recognized when he appears on television as the Mandarin.
Following his return to the modern world as a renowned hero, Steve Rogers is snatched up to be the face of many campaigns. One of these, not long after the Battle of New York, includes a set of videos for students in schools. He records many videos, including a fitness challenge, a video for students in detention, and one on the importance of patience.
Scott Lang is fired from Vistacorp due to inadvertently fixing what he believed was a code mistake that was illegally overcharging customers.
Scott Lang infiltrates the Vistacorp Headquarters to return about four million dollars to the customers who had been defrauded by the company. Lang then breaks into the mansion of his former boss, Geoff Zorick. He steals many of Zorick's belongings and drives Zorick's car into the mansion's pool.
Bruno Horgan, also known as the Melter, attacks Iron Man during a press conference at Stark Tower. After a quick victory, the Melter announces he will be selling his Melter technology to the highest bidder in a few days.
The Iron Legion creates friction between Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Potts. Pepper feels Stark is not paying enough attention to her, but Stark's encounters during the Battle of New York has left him traumatized and he built the Iron Legion with her protection in mind.
J.A.R.V.I.S. follows a flight plan from Stark's investigation into the Mandarin bombings, and the Mark XLII lands in Rose Hill, Tennessee. The armor runs out of power, and the world believes Tony Stark to be dead.
Teaming with Harley Keener, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the "bombings" were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development causes certain subjects to explosively reject it.
After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis' flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin arrive in Tennessee and attack Stark. He kills Brandt, but Savin escapes.
Killian captures Stark and reveals he has also kidnapped Pepper Potts. To gain Stark's aid in fixing Extremis' flaws, Killian injects Pepper with the virus. Hansen has a change of heart about Killian's plans, but he murders her.
Disguised in the Iron Patriot armor, Eric Savin infiltrates Air Force One and detonates an explosive.
Remotely controlling the Mark XLII armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew, but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace them to an impounded oil tanker, the Norco, where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television.
The Vice President Rodriguez (who is secretly working for Killian) will become a puppet leader, following Killian's orders in exchange for Extremis to cure his daughter's disability.
Stark summons the Iron Legion, controlled remotely by J.A.R.V.I.S., to provide air support, and discovers Pepper has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death.
Stark confronts Aldrich Killian, traps him in the Mark XLII and sets it to self-destruct, but it fails to kill him. Pepper, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.
↑ 5.05.1In The Avengers: The Avengers Initiative, Fury's language implies that Steve has already woken, the World Security Council is just unsure if he'll be accustomed enough to join the Avengers. It is therefore set anywhere between October 9, 2011 and April 30, 2012 inclusive. Halfway between these dates would be January 19, 2012. The Iron Man Dubai incident is said to be "recent", placing it around 10 days prior, roughly January 9, 2011.
↑In Ant-Man and the Wasp, several moments are shown from Ava Starr's past at S.H.I.E.L.D.. Hannah John-Kamen was 28.05 at the middle of filming and should not be playing Starr at an age any younger than ⅔ of her actual age, so 18.70, meaning, based on Starr's approximated date of birth (see 1980s references), that the scenes should be after April 26, 2007. One moment appears to say "01-8 Thu", suggesting it is Thursday, January 8, 2009. Evenly distributing between these two dates, the first set of scenes should be approximately September 29, 2007, March 4, 2008, and August 7, 2008, before then January 8, 2009. Then after that, the remaining scenes are between then and the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. on January 12, 2014 (see 2014 references). Evenly distributing again, the remaining scenes should be January 9, 2010, January 11, 2011, January 12, 2012, and January 12, 2013.
↑In Iron Man 3 Prelude, it is shown as beginning a while after Iron Man 2, with the damage from the Expo having been cleared up and Stark Tower having been fully planned, laid its foundations, and several levels into its construction. It then jumps to 2 months later, Mumbai, then 3 months later, Afghanistan, then 2 months later, Sudan, then 3 months later, Hong Kong, and this is shown to be the date of the Battle of New York, May 4, 2012. 3 months back from there would put Sudan around February 2012, 2 months further back would put Afghanistan around December 2011, 3 months further back puts Mumbai around September 2011, and a final 2 months back places the beginning in July 2011. This allows plenty of time, just over a year, for the Expo to be cleared completely and for the planning, foundations, and beginning of construction of Stark Tower. Several months prior to the beginning of the comic, work would have begun on the tower, around December 2011.
↑ 14.014.114.214.3In The Avengers Prelude: Black Widow Strikes it is said, "Note: This story takes place between the events of Iron Man 2 and Marvel's The Avengers". This lines up with what Natasha says in Volume 2, "They're connecting the capital to Sochi on the coast, where the Winter Olympics will be held in two years." This is referring to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which happened from February 7-23, 2014. 2 years prior would put this scene around February 15, 2012, and therefore the comic would revolve around this in February 2012, also lining up with it being set after Iron Man 2 in 2010, before The Avengers in May 2012.
↑In Deals With Our Devils, as the team discuss what could have happened to Fitz and Coulson, it is said, "Impossible things happen all the time. That machine ghosted that Lucy woman." Agent Mackenzie replies, "So what, Coulson and Fitz come back in 5 years, bloody and insane?" The implication from this is that Mackenzie has been told that Bauer spent 5 years in the box, before her release on the reasoned day of March 19, 2017.