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Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki
For alternate versions of the Chitauri Invasion, see the Chitauri Invasion's Event Hub

"The Chitauri grow restless."
"Let them gird themselves. I will lead them in the glorious battle."
"Battle? Against the meager might of Earth?"
"Glorious, not lengthy. If your force is as formidable as you claim."
The Other and Loki[src]

The Chitauri Invasion was one of the first wars between humanity and extraterrestrials. The invasion was primarily perpetrated by the exiled Asgardian prince Loki, who intended to subjugate and conquer Earth with an army of Chitauri for Thanos in exchange for the Tesseract.

In response to Loki's first attack at one of their facilities, the espionage agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. responded by reactivating the Avengers Initiative. They were able to assemble the team to capture Loki in Germany, but he was later able to escape captivity, and assemble a portal to launch the invasion. The Avengers worked together to fight off the Chitauri army at the Battle of New York, where the Avengers prevailed and defeated Loki, who was escorted back to Asgard to face punishment for his crimes.

The impact left behind was great, as the Invasion brought to light the existence of extraterrestrials to the public eye. With New York City being the hypocenter of the invasion, the city underwent a massive clean-up and reconstruction effort, during which Chitauri technology found its way to the black market. The Avengers' victory cemented them as heroes and saviors of humanity, although their actions would stir debate over the regulation of super-powered individuals, and whether or not they should be held accountable.



"S.H.I.E.L.D. is just as guilty of the same thing – experimentation without thought of consequence! Your search for an unlimited power source brought an alien invasion."
Franklin Hall to Phil Coulson[src]

In the 1940s, Steve Rogers stopped Red Skull from using the Tesseract to destroy several major cities, sinking Red Skull's plane, the Valkyrie, into the Arctic. While searching for Rogers, Howard Stark found the Tesseract instead, and recovered it for the Strategic Scientific Reserve.[4] Stark brought the Tesseract to S.H.I.E.L.D., and they started Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., studying the Tesseract. The experiments were initially led by Mar-Vell, who was hoping to find a safe home for the Skrulls. However, Mar-Vell was killed, and the Tesseract would not be recovered until years later, by Carol Danvers. S.H.I.E.L.D. then resumed Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and the study of the Tesseract after Goose coughed it up.[5]

A fight between Thor and Loki in Asgard resulted in the destruction of the Bifrost Bridge, as well as a small town.[6] This caused a temporal anomaly that swallowed up Loki, teleporting him to a region of space virtually unknown to the Asgardians. Here, he met Thanos. Through interrogation, Thanos learned of the history regarding Loki's people, but the mention of the Tesseract was what truly piqued his interest. The Tesseract was, in fact, one of the Infinity Stones, a collection of powerful objects that Thanos had been seeking in a mad quest to wipe out half of all life in the cosmos in an attempt to create a measure of universal balance. Seeing a chance for greatness, Loki brokered a deal with Thanos, offering to give him the Tesseract, which was being studied by S.H.I.E.L.D. on Earth, in exchange for an army to conquer Earth. Initially skeptical, Thanos agreed and granted Loki leadership over the Chitauri, a powerful, technologically advanced alien race.

Over the course of the following year, Loki planned out his invasion, controlling scientist Erik Selvig from afar and using him as a vessel to study Earth and the threat its inhabitants may pose. In the year 2012, Selvig's experiments awakened the Tesseract, alerting Thanos to its location and causing him to send Loki to retrieve it, giving him a Scepter. The scepter contained another Infinity Stone that had the ability to control the minds of others, and would aid Loki greatly in his mission. Then, through manipulation of cosmic energy, Thanos teleported Loki to Earth.[1]

The Beginning of the War

Nick Fury shoots at Loki

"Coulson, get back to base. This is a Level 7. As of right now, we are at war."
Nick Fury to Phil Coulson[src]

At Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., a remote research facility where the Tesseract was being held, the Tesseract began spiking large quantities of energy, forcing S.H.I.E.L.D. to evacuate the facility. Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., arrived at the facility with his second-in-command, Maria Hill. Phil Coulson explained the situation to them, but before anything could be done, the Tesseract opened a portal from which Loki emerged. Using the Scepter, Loki took control of Erik Selvig and Hawkeye, who aided him in stealing the Tesseract and escaping the facility. Shortly thereafter, the facility was obliterated by unstable energy left behind from the portal.[1]

Assembling the Avengers

Nick Fury argues with Gideon Malick about his plan

"We're running the world's greatest covert security network and you're gonna leave the fate of the human race to a handful of freaks."
"I'm not leaving anything to anyone. We need a response team."
Gideon Malick and Nick Fury[src]

In response to the attack, Nick Fury reactivated the Avengers Initiative, which was shut down a year prior due to lack of global crisis. Agent Natasha Romanoff recruited Dr. Bruce Banner in India, while Agent Phil Coulson visited Tony Stark and requested that he review Erik Selvig's research. Fury himself approached Steve Rogers with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract from Loki; Rogers was familiar with the Tesseract as it played a vital role in his World War II exploits. Romanoff, Coulson, Rogers, and Banner all met the following day on the Helicarrier moments before it went airborne. Dr. Banner was escorted to his lab after a brief meeting with Fury; Banner had been consulted to trace the gamma signature that the Tesseract radiated. After spending some time tracking the whereabouts of the Tesseract on the Helicarrier, a man of Loki's description was located in Stuttgart, Germany.[1]

Capturing Loki

The Avengers call a truce with Thor

"Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard and he is my brother."
"He killed eighty people in two days."
"He's adopted."
Thor and Black Widow[src]

Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers, as the Black Widow and Captain America respectively, traveled to Stuttgart to apprehend Loki, who, with the aid of the mind-controlled Hawkeye, was stealing iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract and demanding worship from a crowd of terrorized civilians. Loki and Rogers battled briefly, but their bout was interrupted by Iron Man, whose appearance prompted Loki's surrender. While the group was transporting Loki to the Helicarrier, Thor suddenly appeared, having been transported to Earth by Odin,[7] and attempted to free Loki and convince him to return to Asgard. After a confrontation with Iron Man and Captain America, Thor agreed to work with the humans and accompanied them to imprison Loki on the Helicarrier.

Loki threatens Black Widow from inside his cell

After Loki was put into the cell originally intended for the Hulk, Thor revealed to the team that Loki planned on using the Tesseract to open a portal that would unleash the Chitauri upon Earth, commencing a planetary takeover. Suspicious of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s true intentions regarding the Tesseract, Stark had his AI assistant, J.A.R.V.I.S., hack into the agency's database. Rogers was less than thrilled at Stark's behavior, but found himself equally suspicious and investigated himself. The two eventually uncovered Phase 2, a top secret program dedicated to building weapons powered by the Tesseract's energy. While all of this was going on, Romanoff spoke one-on-one with Loki, and eventually discovered that he planned on using the Hulk as a means of escaping the Helicarrier.[1]

Loki's Escape

Hawkeye prepares to attack the Helicarrier

"You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk about peace and you kill cause it's fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did."
Nick Fury to Loki[src]

After all of these things came to light, the Avengers became divided over how to deal with Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. planned to harness the Tesseract's power to develop weapons of mass destruction. Nick Fury admitted that the battle of Puente Antiguo made S.H.I.E.L.D. aware of other extraterrestrial races that may threaten Earth. Weapons developed from the Tesseract would form a means of deterrence. As the group argued, Hawkeye and Loki’s possessed agents attacked the Helicarrier, disabling its engines. As Iron Man and Captain America attempted to restart the damaged engines, Bruce Banner transformed into the Hulk, despite Natasha Romanoff's efforts to calm him, and ran among inside the ship, soon battling Thor.

The Avengers assemble to prepare for the invasion

After the battle, the Hulk was thrown from the Helicarrier and crashed into a warehouse. During a fight with Hawkeye, Romanoff freed her comrade from Loki's control by delivering a concussive strike to his head. Loki, meanwhile, escaped his cell, trapping Thor inside when he attempted to stop him. Phil Coulson confronted Loki in an attempt to rescue Thor, but Loki stabbed Coulson with the Scepter and left him for dead. After ejecting Thor from the Helicarrier, Loki departed from the ship. Fury attempted to save the expiring Coulson, but was to late as the agent succumbed to his injury and died.[1]

The Invasion

The Chitauri descend upon New York City

"There's no throne. There's no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it's too much for us, but it's all on you. Because if we can't protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we'll avenge it."
Iron Man to Loki[src]

After mourning Phil Coulson's death, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers worked out that Loki would orchestrate the alien invasion at Stark's New York-based home, Stark Tower, as simply defeating them would not be enough for Loki; he needed to overpower them in a public way so as to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Using a Tesseract-powered generator Erik Selvig had built, Loki opened a wormhole to the Chitauri fleet over Manhattan, summoning the invasion. The Avengers rallied in defense of New York, but quickly concluded they would be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri and Leviathans descended. The Avengers kept their ground to hold off the invasion and evacuated civilians while the Hulk pursued Loki and beat him into submission. Natasha Romanoff made her way to Selvig's device, where Selvig, freed of Loki's control, revealed that Loki's scepter could be used to close the portal.

The Avengers assemble for the invasion

In an effort to stop the invasion from spreading outside Manhattan, the World Security Council, attempted to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Despite Maria Hill and Fury's orders to not fire, a rogue jet launched the missile at the city. Iron Man intercepted it and took it through the portal toward the Chitauri Mothership, before running out of power and plummeting back to Earth. He returned to the Earth's atmosphere just as the portal closed. The Chitauri were decimated by the missile destroying the Mothership. The Avengers then apprehended Loki, thus ending the war.[1]


The Tesseract under Asgard's control

"Everything's changing. A little while ago, most people went to bed thinking that the craziest thing in the world was a billionaire in a flying metal suit. Then aliens invaded New York and were beaten back by among others, a giant green monster, a costumed hero from the '40s, and a god."
Maria Hill to Grant Ward[src]

While the war had ended in humanity's favor, the consequences were numerous. News channels following the war confirmed the legitimacy of the extraterrestrial attack and some Americans regarded the Avengers with praise and thanks while others called for their arrests, finding the convenience of their appearance to be suspicious. The conflict also left an emotional toll on various figures, such as Tony Stark and Erik Selvig, the former whose experiences during the battle left him with post traumatic stress disorder,[8] and the latter was left mentally scarred after his time under Loki's control.[9]

The Avengers send Loki and Thor back to Asgard

Regarding Loki, Thor escorted him and the Tesseract back to Asgard to take responsibility for his crimes. He would eventually be incarcerated in Asgard's dungeons by Odin, but would eventually be released by Thor to assist in defeating the Dark Elves. In that conflict, Loki faked his own death so that he could usurp the Asgardian throne from Odin without his brother's knowledge.[9] The Scepter that Loki used during the conflict was believed to have been confiscated by S.H.I.E.L.D.; yet, through HYDRA's moles in S.H.I.E.L.D., it was obtained by Baron Strucker, whose scientists used it to activate the powers of Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.[10]

The extensive repairs cost New York $160 billion, and various pieces of Chitauri technology were picked up by ordinary people and found their way into the black market. These issues, added with the revelation that humanity was not alone in the universe, caused S.H.I.E.L.D. to organize a special team that would deal with other supernatural phenomena. Phil Coulson, who was revived after his death at the hands of Loki, became the leader of the team. The greatest threat faced by his team, a shady organization known as the Centipede Project, a scientific offshoot of HYDRA, used samples of Chitauri tech to create the Centipede formula, which was used to create super soldiers. After various conflicts, the project was brought down by S.H.I.E.L.D. with the demise of their leader, John Garrett, but some of its members managed to escape.[11]

The Avengers went their separate ways after the battle, and Nick Fury did them the courtesy of not tracking their whereabouts, feeling that they had contributed much to the human race during the war. He remained confident that they would return if a new world-threatening menace emerged.[1]

Ironically, the next world-threatening force that the Avengers would face stemmed directly from the ruins of the Battle of New York: a computer program that would eventually become Ultron, an advanced artificial intelligence perfected by Stark to be the ultimate peacekeeping force of the human race. Ultron would eventually go rogue and cause even greater harm to the planet than Loki did.[12]

Meanwhile, Thanos, while disappointed with Loki's failure, resumed his hunt for the other Infinity Stones, sending his emissaries out across the galaxy to find them. His search brought him into conflict with another team of individuals, the Guardians of the Galaxy.[13]


Appearances for Battle of New York

In chronological order:


Wars and Conflicts in Earth History
Asgard-Jotunheim War (965 A.D.2010) • Kree-Skrull War (995 A.D.1995) • 500 Year War (10841521) • World War II (19391945) • Johann Fennhoff's Revenge Plot (1946) • Cold War (19471991) • Bruce Banner Manhunt (20052010) • Chitauri Invasion (2012) • Aldrich Killian's War (2012) • Second Dark Elf Conflict (2013) • Centipede Investigation (20132014) • HYDRA Uprising (2014) • Ego's Expansion (Pre-1 A.D.2014) • War on HYDRA (20142015) • Operation Cerberus (2014) • S.H.I.E.L.D. Civil War (20142015) • Ultron Offensive (2015) • War Against the Inhumans (2015) • Chase of Luke Cage (2015) • Inhuman Outbreak (20152016) • Grant Ward's Campaign (20152016) • Frank Castle's War (20152016) • War for New York (2016) • Anti-Inhuman Movement (20162017) • Hive's Campaign (2016) • Avengers Civil War (2016) • Termination of the Red Room (2016) • Erik Killmonger's Campaign (2016) • Adrian Toomes' Weapons Trafficking Operation (20122016) • Rawlins Conspiracy (20152016) • Chase of Quake (20162017) • Attack on the Sanctums (2017) • Terror in New Orleans (2017) • Aida's Uprising (2017) • War for Harlem (2017) • Triad War (2017) • Kingpin's Conspiracy (2017) • War Against PRIDE (20172018) • War Against Jonah (2018) • Morgan le Fay's Campaign (2018) • Schultz Conspiracy (2018) • Jigsaw's Campaign (2018) • Trish Walker's Vigilante Campaign (2018) • Infinity War (2018) • Search for Leo Fitz (20182019) • Sarge's Campaign (2019) • Izel's Campaign (2019) • War Against the Chronicoms (2019) • Ronin's Campaign (20182023) • Time Heist (2023) • Westview Anomaly (2023) • Tiamut's Emergence (2023) • Quest for Ta Lo (2024) • Flag Smashers' Political Ultimatum (2024) • Mafia Cold War (2024) • Quentin Beck's Campaign (2024) • Spider-Man Multiversal Crisis (2024) • Tracksuit Mafia Campaign (2024) • Scarlet Witch's War (2025) • Arthur Harrow's Campaign (2025)
Wars and Conflicts in Asgardian History
First Dark Elf Conflict (2988 B.C.) • Subjugation of the Nine Realms (1st Millennium) • Asgard-Jotunheim War (965 A.D.-2010) • Battle of HarokinWar of the Nine Realms (20112013) • Chitauri Invasion (2012) • Second Dark Elf Conflict (2013) • Ragnarök (2017) • Infinity War (2018) • Battle of Earth (2023)