- Warning: There are potential spoilers ahead for “Avengers: Endgame.”
- If you don’t have time to watch all 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before “Avengers: Endgame” is released, INSIDER rounds up which movies you should watch and what to know before heading to theatres.
- “Avengers,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” are three necessities. “Iron Man” and the first “Captain America” are two other great choices.
You don’t need to binge the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe’s catalogue of 21 movies before “Avengers: Endgame” comes to theatres Friday, April 26.
If you are trying to catch up on some of the previous installments, but don’t have time to binge watch nearly two dozen Marvel movies, we have you covered.
INSIDER has rounded up the essential Marvel movies to binge, from least important to most valuable. We’ve also noted four others you should revisit moments from if you have the time.
Revisit “Captain America: The First Avenger” if you want to complete Steve Rogers’ character arc.
During the press conference for “Avengers: Endgame,” Chris Evans said the movie will complete Captain America’s story arc. What better way to celebrate Cap (and possibly send him off) than by going back to where it all started?
We also think this is an important film to revisit because the second “Endgame” trailer teases a few moments from “The First Avenger,” including when Steve Rogers first enters the United States Armed Services Recruitment building.
The trailer also teases Rogers’ love interest, Peggy Carter, in a voice-over saying a quote from “Winter Soldier.”
“None of us can go back. All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best that we can do is to start over,” says Carter as we see footage of Cap at her funeral.
Why are we hearing Peggy’s voice? Don’t be surprised if she plays some unexpected role in this movie, even if it’s solely in flashbacks to help inspire Cap during the hard road to take down Thanos.
You can skip the majority of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but you should tune in for two key scenes.
You don’t need to watch the entirety of Ultron trying to dismantle humanity and extinguish the world of the Avengers. Rewatch it for two scenes.
First, head 33 minutes into the film. You may be caught off guard hearing Tony Stark reference the “Endgame” title all the way back in the 2015 movie.
“We’re the Avengers. We can bust arms dealer all the live long day. But that up there, THAT’S the Endgame,” Tony says in reference to the Chitauri aliens who came through a wormhole to attack Manhattan in the first “Avengers” movie. “How were you guys planning on beating that?”
It’s the following exchange between the two team leaders that gave me chills.
Captain America: “Together.”Iron Man: “We’ll lose.”Cap: “Then we’ll do that together, too.”
Is that a hint of things to come in “Endgame”? Maybe.
The second scene you’ll want to revisit revolves around the introduction to Hawkeye’s family at his farmhouse. It’s actually a scene director Joss Whedon fought to keep in the sequel when Marvel wanted it scrapped. Now, that scene should have a larger payoff when it’s revealed whether or not Hawkeye’s family survived the Thanos snap at the end of “Infinity War.” (Given Hawkeye’s new look, we don’t feel like it’s good news.)
If you’re a fan of Jarvis’ Vision (Paul Bettany), this film introduces the superhero to the MCU, too.
“Iron Man” is the movie that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In “Iron Man,” Tony has to figure out how to escape a group of terrorists to make his way home. He builds his first Iron Man suit with the help of Dr. Yinsen who gave his life to help save Stark. In “Avengers: Endgame,” Tony has to figure out how to get out of space and make his way home.
It seems like “Endgame” may channel Stark’s escape from the Ten Rings at the start of the 2008 movie to come full circle. We plan on seeing Stark honour both Dr. Yinsen and Harley from “Iron Man 3” by doing what he does best, putting on his mechanic hat and building his way out of a seemingly impossible situation.
If you haven’t watched “Iron Man” in the 11 years since its release, there’s a lot of payoff there. The beginning of the film hinted at the entire “Civil War” storyline by showing a newspaper that said Stark’s parents were killed in a car crash.
Knowing that this could possibly be Iron Man’s final film, the movie that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe will make you appreciate how far Stark has grown as a person. When you see the Rolling Stone cover pop up on screen that says “Tony Stark Wants to Save the World,” you may get a little misty-eyed knowing he’s probably going to try his darnedest to do just that in “Endgame.”
“Captain America: Civil War” is one of two films directors Anthony and Joe Russo recommended fans should make the time to watch before “Endgame.”
If you’re wondering why certain characters are separated, scattered, or paired up the way they are at the start of “Infinity War,” “Civil War” will give you the answers you seek.
“I would say, certainly, ‘Civil War’ and ‘Infinity War’ are probably the two biggest lead-ins to this movie in the sense that ‘Civil War’ created the situation where the Avengers were divided,” “Endgame” co-director Anthony Russo told Fandango when asked what movies he and Joe Russo recommend fans watching before the sequel hits theatres.
“Endgame” will also have Tony Stark/Iron Man and Steve Rogers/Captain America reunite for the first time since “Civil War.” The two had a falling out after Tony learned that Cap’s BFF Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier was responsible for the death of his parents decades ago. The worst part? Rogers knew and kept the truth from Stark. The two haven’t been on speaking terms since.
On the “Infinity War” commentary, co-director Joe Russo said the big reunion between Tony and Steve almost happened in last year’s film; however, in the end, they thought it would have detracted from everything else too much.
“If Tony and Steve had to see each other for the first time, it would be much more complicated,” Russo said.
“Which is why we didn’t do it,” said screenwriter Stephen McFeely. “We tried in a few drafts, and it ground things to a halt.”
“The Avengers” isn’t on the Russo brothers’ list of must-watch films, but we have a feeling you’ll want to revisit it before and after “Endgame.”
If you haven’t revisited “The Avengers” after “Captain Marvel,” now’s the time to do it for multiple reasons.
The first 10 minutes of “The Avengers” not only introduce us to the Tesseract and the time travel P.E.G.A.S.U.S. project mentioned in “Captain Marvel,” it also teases Thanos’ relationship with Loki. In “Avengers,” Thanos loaned Loki an army of Chitauri aliens to help him gather the Tesseract for the space stone inside of it. At the beginning of “Infinity War,” we finally saw Loki hand over the Tesseract, unwillingly, to Thanos after failing to deliver it years earlier.
Why am I bringing all of this up?
It’s been strongly suggested from paparazzi photos that our heroes will time travel back in time to the events of “The Avengers” to prevent Thanos from ever getting hold of any of the Infinity Stones. (You can read our explainer on the stones here.) Several new “Endgame” toy releases have already suggested we’ll see the Chitauri pop up again.
That wouldn’t be a surprise at all. After all, as Tony said in “Age of Ultron,” that wormhole the Chitauri came through was the “Endgame.” We think you’ll want to be very familiar with the big battle that occurs late in this film.
“Avengers: Infinity War” is the most logical movie to watch right before seeing “Endgame.”
If you only have time to watch one movie before “Endgame,” this is the holy grail. It will give you the quick rundown on everything you need to know about the Infinity Stones, Thanos, and every character you may not be familiar with as the Avengers meet the likes of Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time.
If you don’t know who is alive and who was dusted at the end of “Infinity War,” then this is a no-brainer. Last year’s movie also gives you a big hint as to why Nebula may have been spared in the Thanos snap. If the Avengers are going back in time, Nebula’s the only person left alive who knows where to find the orange soul stone her father collected in “Infinity War.”
Years from now, people will probably watch the two together back-to-back as if they were one giant film. Fortunately, the film is on Netflix to stream right now.
Bonus: Here are a few scenes and moments you may want to revisit from a few other movies.
“Iron Man 3” may be worth a watch for Tony Stark’s battle with PTSD and Harley Keener.After the Battle of New York in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Stark starts having panic attacks and nightmares about the wormhole and his near-death experience. We wouldn’t be surprised if Stark is plagued by a similar downward spiral of grief after losing Peter Parker, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and others close to him.
In addition, there’s the small chance, we could see a grown Harley Keener, the boy who helped give Stark work through some of his initial PTSD to bring the story full circle. At the least, Tony could remember and recall Harley’s advice to focus on his ability to build something instead of worrying about something that’s out of his control.
We love “Thor: Ragnarok,” but you can skip it. It’s worth knowing it was the last place we saw the space stone before Thanos got his hands on it at the start of “Infinity War.”
The entire beginning of “Infinity War” takes place right after the very end of “Ragnarok.” Thanos’ ship meets Thor, Loki, and Valkyrie in order to take back the space stone Loki was supposed to give him years ago. That could be important to know. If Loki had let the stone perish along with Asgard, “Infinity War” may have turned out very different.
You only need to know “Ant-Man and the Wasp” introduces us to the Quantum Realm and showed us more of Giant Man.
I’m become increasingly convinced the Quantum Realm is going to be the key to helping the Avengers travel back in time and reverse the events of “Infinity War.” (You can read more about that here.) We know from one of the “Endgame” teasers that Ant-Man should be wheeling around Hank Pym’s laboratory, which presumably has access to the Quantum Realm.
It’s also worth knowing that Ant-Man can become a super-sized Giant Man.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is one of the MCU’s best films, but you only need to know about the location of the power orb from here, for now.
The crew store the purple power Infinity Stone with the Nova Prime for security. We later learn in “Infinity War” that Thanos destroys the planet of Xandar to acquire the gemstone offscreen. Rocket Raccoon is currently the only one with the remaining Avengers who knows where it was stored before Thanos got it.
If you’re going to watch any scenes in this film again, watch the one with Thanos, about 32 minutes into the film where the Mad Titan asks Ronan to get him the purple Infinity Stone. Then skip to the end and watch where Peter Quill leaves the power orb.
Though this movie may not be necessary viewing ahead of “Endgame,” we have a feeling you may want to revisit this film afterwards when you’re wondering where the Marvel Cinematic Universe may head next.
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