Before You Watch Endgame, Here’s Every Marvel Movie, Summarized

Avengers: Endgame came out on Thursday, and with 21 Marvel movies that total to around two days of screen time, it’ll be kind of hard to fully catch up (although you’re forgiven if you don’t watch The Incredible Hulk). If you haven’t seen a few of the movies, or if you want a quick refresher before you hit the theaters, here’s an overview of every Marvel movie since 2008. Be warned, this is a brief summary of each film because if I mentioned all the important quotes, scene parallels and in-depth relationships between each character, you’d be better off watching the movies.

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man is the first movie in the MCU. The film follows Tony Stark as he is captured by a terrorist group, builds the arc reactor and the first Iron Man suit, shuts down the weapons development section of Stark Industries, and is betrayed by the company’s manager, Obadiah Stane (who wants to get the arc reactor). It mainly focuses on Stark’s realization that he is leaving behind a violent legacy and his attempts to reconcile that. Pepper Potts also takes down the MCU’s first villain.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk offers a cool backstory on the Hulk, but it doesn’t really have an impact on the rest of the MCU films. There’s a short Tony Stark cameo at the end, and the film vaguely explores the idea that Bruce Banner can control his transformations into the Hulk.

Iron Man 2 (2010) - Available on Hulu

Iron Man 2 opens with the government trying to take the Iron Man technology for military use, and it features a Russian scientist named Ivan Vanko as the main antagonist. Vanko has replicated the arc reactor technology and tries to kill Stark because Howard Stark was grossly unfair to Vanko's father. The film also follows Stark through his creation of a new element so that his arc reactor doesn’t kill him, and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) is introduced as his undercover spy/assistant.

Thor (2011)

In Thor, Thor is stripped of his powers and sent to Earth to learn some humility. He meets and begins a relationship with Jane Foster (an astrophysicist!) and ultimately learns some manners, defends a small town from a magic monster, and earns his powers back. The film also introduces us to Clint Barton (Hawkeye) as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and the Tesseract.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers starts out as a skinny, sad man filled with rage and justice and ends as a buff, sort of dead man filled with rage and justice. He’s picked for an experimental super soldier program because he has fantastic moral values, and it works. When he finally sees action, it’s to rescue his best friend, Bucky Barnes. He fights the evil organization Hydra (who keep using the Tesseract’s power for weapons), but in the end, the Tesseract is lost in the ocean, and Steve crashes the plane into icy water because it’s filled with explosives. In the post-credits scene, he wakes up in present-day New York.

The Avengers (2012)

Surprise! Howard Stark found the Tesseract a long time ago, and now S.H.I.E.L.D. is using it to make weapons in The Avengers! Loki shows up and steals it in an attempt to take over the world. Nick Fury assembles the Avengers, and the original six (Stark, Rodgers, Thor, Banner, Romanoff and Barton) fight a LOT of aliens when Loki opens a space portal. Feelings are hurt, relationships are formed, but they all end up fine when Stark flies a nuke through the portal to blow up the mothership. The film’s post-credits scene introduces Thanos for the first time.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

In Iron Man 3, a terrorist called the Mandarin starts blowing things up, and when Happy (Stark’s driver/friend) gets hurt, Stark threatens him. The Mandarin blows his house up, making him go undercover, and kidnaps Pepper Potts. Fantastic character development for Stark, who is suffering from PTSD and panic attacks. In the end, the guy behind all the terrorism is a white guy who helped develop a limb regrowth technology that was faulty and made people blow up. Pepper kills her second MCU villain in this film.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

In Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster investigates some weird physics portals on Earth, falls through one, and gets infected with the Aether (later known as the Reality Stone). Thor brings her to Asgard, where Dark Elves attack them in their efforts to get the Aether. They escape with Loki’s help. A bunch of portals converge at a certain time to connect all the realms, and the Dark Elves want to use that convergence to destroy all of them at once. Obviously, Thor, Jane and Loki win and kill the main bad guy, but Loki is “fatally wounded” (but later revealed to be impersonating Odin). Honestly, this is an overlooked movie. Loki also has some fantastic lines.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. has this thing called Project Insight that’s supposed to be able to easily eliminate threats, but Hydra has infiltrated it and once it’s operational, they’ll be able to kill the good guys. (Think Death Star, but on the individual level.) Fury get suspicious but is ambushed by the Winter Soldier, a Hydra assassin. Steve, Natasha and Steve’s friend Sam (Falcon) try to take down the Winter Soldier and stop Project Insight, and it’s revealed that the Winter Soldier is Bucky Barnes, who was brainwashed by Hydra. They succeed, and the credits scenes briefly introduce Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and Pietro (Quicksilver).

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy introduces the Guardians! They all meet when they’re trying to steal an orb from each other, but they don’t know it contains the Power Stone. They get arrested, and we learn that Gamora is closely connected to Ronan (main villain of this movie) and Thanos (her adoptive dad). They work together to escape, while Nebula (Gamora’s sister) attacks them, as she is working for Ronan. In the final showdown, Quill holds the Infinity Stone, and they share its power to defeat Ronan.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers go on a mission to retrieve Loki’s scepter (with the Space Stone in it), but when they get there, Wanda uses her abilities to plant a terrifying vision in Stark’s head, causing him and Banner to develop the “Ultron” global defense program. When it unexpectedly becomes sentient, Ultron believes humanity must die for the world to be safe. He builds a robot army and then tries to cause a global extinction event. Stark uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. into a different synthetic body, creating Vision, who possesses the Mind Stone. They beat Ultron with Vision’s help, Hulk flees Earth, and the Avengers deal with the aftermath. The film’s credits scene shows Thanos deciding to get the Infinity Stones himself.

Ant-Man (2015)

Scott Lang gets out of prison and immediately steals a suit from Hank Pym’s house, decides he doesn’t want it, returns it, and is arrested when trying to leave. Pym decides that he wants Lang to become Ant-Man with the shrinking suit to steal a similar suit from his former protégé Darren Cross, and Hope van Dyne trains him. When the time comes, Lang is captured by Cross, and they fight in normal size and small size. Scott briefly enters the quantum realm, which is supposedly impossible to escape from, but manages to reverse it and get out. This film’s credits scenes introduce van Dyne as the Wasp and show Rogers, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes trying to figure out next steps.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In Captain America: Civil War, the UN tries to pass the Sokovia Accords in order to create oversight on the world’s superheroes. Stark supports them; Rogers doesn’t. At the ratification conference, a bomb goes off, killing the king of Wakanda (enter T’Challa), and Bucky Barnes is blamed. Later, they learn of other “Winter Soldiers” that exist, and instead of waiting on the Accords to support them, Steve and Bucky go off to kill them. Stark is sent after them, and there’s a fun fight scene where they recruit a bunch of people and fight each other. (Ant-Man! Spider-Man!) Afterward, they briefly work together until it’s revealed Bucky killed Stark’s parents. Understandably, Stark is upset (that Rogers knew and didn’t tell him), they fight, and Rogers and Barnes win and take refuge in Wakanda. Steve leaves his iconic shield with Stark. Also, this film really sets up Tony Stark as a father figure to Peter Parker.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange introduces Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon who gets into a huge car accident that injures his hands. He tries many methods in an attempt to rehabilitate himself, but eventually finds out about magic and demands to be taught. He’s super arrogant at first but becomes skilled and learns about the sorcerer's task of protecting their dimension from evil. An evil sorcerer summons Dormammu from the timeless Dark Dimension, and Doctor Strange uses the Time Stone to create a time loop around him and Dormammu. Dormammu kills him over and over, but it keeps looping back and Strange basically annoys him into giving up. Strange fills the position of protector of the New York Sanctum, and presumably stays there until Infinity War.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - Available on Netflix

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Sovereign race tries to kill the Guardians because they stole their powerful batteries—until they are destroyed by a person who happens to be Quill’s father, Ego. Ego is a Celestial (aka a god and a physical planet?), and Quill is manipulated into helping him take over other planets until Ego tells him that he killed Quill's mom. They escape with the help of Mantis, Ego’s servant, and blow up Ego’s planet brain. Quill loses his Celestial powers and becomes a normal human. Also, Groot is a baby in this movie, and it’s super cute.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

We waited so long, but Spider-Man: Homecoming introduces the Peter Parker the world deserves. After fighting in Civil War, Spider-Man goes back to his normal crime fighting schedule and discovers some advanced weapons made from leftover alien technology from Avengers. He tries to track down their ringleader, and along the way, reveals his secret identity to his best friend Ned, almost drowns in a lake, almost blows up the Washington Monument, and tears apart a ferry. Getting back to normal life, he shows up at his homecoming date’s house only to realize that her father is the bad guy. He defeats the villain after some incredibly moving scenes. Peter says no to becoming an Avenger, and Aunt May finds out he’s Spider-Man. Tony and Pepper get engaged!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) - Available on Netflix

Thor: Ragnarok is easily the funniest Marvel movie. Thor and Loki’s evil sister Hela takes over Asgard—she’s easily more powerful than them (RIP Mjolnir)—and the brothers end up on Sakaar, a planet where the Hulk has been fighting for sport, presumably since the end of Age of Ultron. Hulk transforms back to Bruce Banner; they eventually escape back to Asgard and learn that Hela has killed over half of the population. Thor finally realizes how to channel his power without his hammer, and they defeat Hela, but not before Loki steals the Tesseract out of the palace vault. Asgard is destroyed, and the remaining Asgardians start to travel to Earth, which brings them to the beginning of Infinity War.

Black Panther (2018) - Available on Netflix

Black Panther is a visually gorgeous movie with a rich and exciting plot. After Civil War, T’Challa completes his coronation ceremony, and narration shows how someone becomes the Black Panther. It’s shown that a man named N’Jobu planned to share Wakandan technology with the world, but T’Challa’s father killed him. N’Jobu’s son Killmonger became a trained killer, nearly kills T’Challa in a ritual, and becomes King of Wakanda. In the end, T’Challa is revived and stabs Killmonger, who chooses to die as a free man. T’Challa later decides to reveal Wakanda’s advanced technology to the world.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) - Available on Netflix

In Avengers: Infinity War, the Avengers and friends try to stop Thanos from killing half the universe. It was called the most ambitious crossover movie ever and features literally every hero in all the previous movies. In the end, Thanos wins and snaps out half of all life.

Lives: Original six Avengers, Nebula, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Thanos 

Dies: Loki, Barnes, T’Challa, Groot, Maximoff, Wilson, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Gamora, Doctor Strange, Peter Parker, Maria Hill, Nick Fury, Vision

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) - Available on Netflix

Set ~mostly~ before Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp follows Lang and van Dyne as they try to open the quantum realm to contact Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp. They are able to stabilize a quantum tunnel and successfully rescue Janet. They realize that Janet has quantum energy, which has healing powers. A lot more happens, but basically, they send Lang back into the quantum realm, the snap happens, and Hank Pym and both van Dynes disintegrate, leaving Lang with no way out of the quantum realm.

Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel tells the fantastic origin story of Carol Danvers, basically following her as she learns that she can use her emotions to control and amplify her powers rather than hindering them. It’s set in the 90s (some time after Captain America: The First Avenger) and shows what happened to the Tesseract after it fell in the ocean. Captain Marvel takes control of her powers, absolutely destroys an entire spaceship, and basically cements herself as one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel Universe. She gives Fury a pager to contact her in case of an emergency (which he used at the end of Infinity War) and leaves Earth. Fury names the Avengers after her Air Force call sign, Carol “Avenger” Danvers. In the credits scene, she shows up at the Avengers’ base post-snap, which presumably leads us directly into Endgame.