Luckily for those of you that didn’t get to catch up on Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor or Captain America, Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is pretty penetrable and the story is told in such a straightforward way that studying the first five films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe like you have the board exam next week isn’t necessary.

For those of you with only a crude and basic understanding of Marvel properties however, explanation of a few points might help you enjoy and understand the film just a bit better.

The Tesseract is a source of unlimited energy

The Tesseract (also known as The Cosmic Cube to Marvel nerds) is by far the most important object in The Avengers. In the first few moments of the film, the cube is lightly explained via voice-over before it is stolen by Loki. It’s first introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the opening of Captain America when Johan Schmidt (Red Skull) breaks into a village in Norway and steals it from its secret hiding place. He calls it “the jewel of Odin’s treasure room,” a clear reference to the character played by Anthony Hopkins in Thor and the treasure room we end up spending a surprising amount of time in.

Apparently, the cube was left there by “the gods” and contains perpetual power that some would call magic, but Schmidt explains that it’s just science that humans haven’t discovered yet. The same explanation is given by Thor to Jane in Thor to explain the multiple universes that exist (a concept explored in even further detail in The Avengers), so it makes sense that the cube is simply from a different dimension.

Captain America was the result of a WWII super-soldier experiment

This whole “super soldier experiment” thing is a big concept in the Marvel universe. The first experiment was on the Red Skull, who forced brilliant scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine to shoot him up with the serum before it was ready. The serum chemically burned off his skin and enhanced the evil that was already inside of him, turning him into the Red Skull.

After some changes to the serum and after finding the right subject (the skinny and inherently good-hearted Steve Rogers), the experiment was ready, but this time it actually worked. It turned “skinny Steve” Rogers into a super-human worthy of the title of Captain America.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a government/military espionage and security organization

If we remember right from Iron Man, the official acronym stands for the Strategic Homeland Intervention and Enforcement- Logistics Division. S.H.I.E.L.D. made it’s first appearance in Iron Man in the form of Agent Phil Coulson, who would become a running character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is a military/government organization headed by Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson, again appearing in Iron Man) that specializes in national security. Fury’s pet project is the “Avengers Initiative,” which focuses on getting certain individuals together to work as a team. Black Widow, the spy played by Scarlett Johansson is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., even going so far as to pose as Tony Stark’s personal assistant in Iron Man 2 in order to spy on him.

Another agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sharpshooter Clint Barton, a crossbow professional that goes by the codename “Hawkeye.” Hawkeye had a brief introduction in Thor, but he gets more of an opportunity to shine in The Avengers. In fact, S.H.I.E.L.D. in general gets thrust into the spotlight, along with their many toys.

Tony Stark has a gigantic magnet over his heart to keep him alive

When Tony Stark’s own missile exploded in his face in the opening moments of Iron Man, it blasted chunks of shrapnel into his torso and chest. If not for a makeshift magnet hooked to a car battery installed in his body by cave-mate Yinsen, Stark would have died in a cave in Afghanistan. In fact, one of the first things that Tony Stark does is build himself a better one. In a cave. With a box of scraps.

Basically, he builds a glowing miniature arc reactor in his chest to power the magnet that keeps the shrapnel out of his heart. It’s the part of Tony Stark that’s actually a machine, and the magnet is proof, as Pepper Potts adorably put, that Tony Stark indeed has a heart.

Loki is the God of Mischief and Thor’s half-brother

In the first 40 minutes of Thor, we’re introduced to Asgard, the home of Odin, Thor, Loki, and hundreds of other Asgardians. Thor and Loki have been brought up their whole lives to believe that they are brothers, and that one day one of them would inherit the throne. Thor, of course, inherited the throne and Loki discovered that he was actually a frost giant orphan found in the Jotunheim after the end of the war with the frost giants.

After being filled with rage at the discovery of his parentage, Loki works with the frost giants to stage himself as his father’s hero by setting up an assassination attempt that he himself will thwart. Thor returns from Earth to stop this plan, but Loki forces Thor to fight him until he is dangling from a bridge. After almost being saved by Odin, Loki chooses to fall into a wormhole, transporting him to an unknown branch of the universe.

Bruce Banner turns into The Hulk when he’s angry

Yes, we know. This one is a no-brainer, but after discovering that there are in fact people out there that don’t know that The Hulk is Bruce Banner’s angry alias, we had to include it. In another super-soldier experiment gone wrong, Banner blasted himself with Gamma radiation and found that when he got angry, the beast inside of him would erupt and take control.

In this incarnation, Banner calls The Hulk “the other guy” with little-to-no introduction, so those that are unfamiliar with Banner’s condition might have thought that he was talking about another physical “other guy.”

Excited to see The Avengers? Who among our United States readers will be watching it at midnight tonight? Tweet us your excitement for The Avengers @Hypable or @Herohype!

Cassandra Clare keeps expanding the Shadowhunters’ universe, with the first adult books of the chronicles just announced!

Clare announced via press release this morning that she’ll publish a trilogy about Magnus Bane, the fan-favorite warlock who’s appeared in every single one of her books and already received a collection of eleven spin-off novellas all about him (The Bane Chronicles). There is no word yet on whether the new books will tie in with the stories told in The Bane Chronicles.

Interestingly, this trilogy will be Clare’s first foray into adult literature, after writing extensively in the YA realm. She always pushed the boundaries of YA, though, with the inclusion of “Dirty Sexy Balcony Scenes” and the like. The first Shadowhunter book, City of Bones, was published in 2007, and the teens who picked it up back then will feel right at home in the adult section of a bookstore today.

Also of note, the series will be co-written with Wesley Chu (author of The Lives of Tao). Clare seems to like having co-writers when dealing with Magnus Bane; The Bane Chronicles are the only other Shadowhunter books that have other authors attached.

The first Magnus Bane book is expected to be published in November 2017. This means that Cassandra Clare will have three Shadowhunters series being published concurrently… The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours, and this Magnus Bane series.

If various sources are to be believed, all three will have an installment published in 2017. The second Dark Artifices book, Lord of Shadows, is expected in April. The Magnus Bane book, as mentioned above, is due in November. And the official site of the Shadowhunter Chronicles still says that the first Last Hours book, Chain of Thorns, is expected in 2017. Clare has a sixth series planned after getting some of these finished, The Wicked Powers, so there’ll be more Shadowhunters coming to a bookstore near you at least through the early 2020s.

Perhaps the decision to publish the Magnus Bane trilogy was based on the character’s success on the Shadowhunters TV show, where the fan favorite is portrayed by Harry Shum Jr. Shadowhunters was renewed for a second season by ABC Family, and it looks like they may have many seasons ahead of them.

Clare said, “Over the years writing the Shadowhunter books, Magnus Bane has emerged as one of the most fun and fascinating characters for me to bring to life… There are so many things we don’t know about Magnus, from the story of his first love to the secrets of his parentage, to the beginning of his relationship with Alec. All those are things I was able to touch on in The Bane Chronicles, but I’m excited to dig in even more deeply in these three volumes devoted to Magnus, his past, his future, and his present.”

Are you excited for three books all about Magnus Bane, or is this Shadowhunter overkill?

Arrested Development‘s fourth season aired three years ago today. To celebrate its legacy (and to try to forget how much we’re missing it right now), let’s rank the best recurring Arrested Development jokes!

It’s really no secret that Arrested Development has some of the best recurring jokes and gags of all time. Even people who don’t watch the show are familiar with things like “There’s always money in the banana stand” and “I’ve made a huge mistake.” The jokes in this show are just so understated and catchy that it would’ve been crazy had they not have caught on. Thanks to Arrested Development‘s recurring jokes, pop culture has never been quite the same.

To celebrate our undying love for Arrested Development, we decided to forgo the banner (sorry, everyone) and instead put together a list of all of the gags and jokes that we think are the best ones the show’s ever done. Not only that, but we’re leaving it up to you to rank them!

How to play: Love a certain joke and think that it should be at the top of the list? Upvote it. Really hate another joke and don’t understand how it got on the list in the first place? Hit that little downward-facing arrow. Don’t care either way for some of these gags? Then you can just leave them untouched. It’s all good! We just want to know what YOU think! With everyone participating we’ll be able to build a definitive list of the best Arrested Development jokes!

So, grab your denim cut-offs and hot ham water, and maybe even do a little chicken dance to get yourself pumped up (but not with the hot ham water in your hand, please). If you’re an Arrested Development fan, you’re sure to love ranking these jokes.

(Just be careful about which arrow you hit. You don’t want to hit the wrong one and find yourself saying “I’ve made a huge mistake.”)

Are there any ‘Arrested Development’ jokes missing from the list? Add them below!

 
Related: Arrested Development season 4 drinking game

Marvel fans aren’t pleased with the twist in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.

By now you know that Steve Rogers is revealed to be a Hydra agent in the first issue of the new Captain America: Steve Rogers series (Read our in-depth analysis of the new issue here). Naturally this news — that ultimate do-gooder Cap would be so evil — has not sat well with fans.

The general consensus is that this shit is unacceptable…

http://cairistiona7.tumblr.com/post/144914269536/we-may-not-agree-on-stucky-we-may-not-agree-on

… And the only thing to do is ignore it:

http://contradictoryfrankie.tumblr.com/post/144924573033/marvel-seriously

http://antis0cial1diot.tumblr.com/post/144916043048/basically-how-the-scene-went-down

Others think Marvel need a taste of their own medicine:

http://demigod-who-crashed-the-impala.tumblr.com/post/144916277135/marvel-needs-to-sign-its-own-sokovia-accords

And/or need to fire their lame-o writers:

http://scarlett-ice.tumblr.com/post/144923588829/if-you-ever-think-your-writing-is-bad-just

Then there are beautiful Photoshops like this one of Chris Evans’ Captain America ripping up a tree the comic:

http://epicgeekdom.tumblr.com/post/144924279502/after-hearing-captain-america-has-always-been

Some people are Photoshopping the comic to make him say things that are just as outrageous as him being a HYDRA agent:


http://codyjohnston.tumblr.com/post/144920242899/marvel-how-could-you

While others are giving him a different revelation — one concerning Bucky. This is the twist that SHOULD be in the new Captain America series

http://fukinweeeb.tumblr.com/post/144923721446/guys-i-found-the-real-version-calm-down

http://saltikitti.tumblr.com/post/144918179067/here-i-fixed-it

Marvel, please write yourself out of this one as quickly as possible.

http://robinthephoenix.tumblr.com/post/144917851788/not-to-pleased-with-caps-new-alliance-p

… Before you start coming up with other outrageous revelations

http://pk-wheeze.tumblr.com/post/144916205184