With the end of a 22-movie saga culminating in the recently released Avengers: Endgame, non-Marvel fans may find it intimidating to jump into the last movie with no context. You find yourself at a crossroads: you want to see the movie everyone is obsessing over, but you can’t watch and pay attention to 45 hours’ worth of Marvel films. Luckily for you, there are really only 6 movies, in this order, that you need to see to feel invested in the end of this series. And trust me, you’ll get invested with all the comedy, romance, action and drama that charges these films.
One word of advice: Always wait for the mid-credits and end-credits scenes.
- Marvel’s The Avengers
You could sit down and watch each individual Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor movie from “Phase 1” of the MCU films. However, they all lead up to The Avengers, and by watching this film, you’ll get a feel for the characters and their relationships.
Things to know beforehand:
– Loki is Thor’s adopted brother, but there’s a reason Loki’s nickname is “God of Mischief.”
– Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) created this Avengers Initiative as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a government agency meant to ensure national security.
– Tony Stark has a magnet and energy source over his heart to stop shrapnel from killing him.
– Steve Rogers, or Captain America, was frozen in time after a 1940s plane wreck but due to his super-soldier abilities, he awoke after being frozen for six decades. When he woke up in 2011, the love of his life was ill in a retirement facility as he started life anew.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
This movie takes a detour to space, with the energetic, fun-loving half-human Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and this comedically charming posse. Plus, you’ll learn the necessary information about Thanos and the Infinity Stones, which will end up playing a much larger part later on. Mantis (the one with the antennae) joins in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2, but you’ll meet her in Avengers: Infinity War.
- Captain America: Civil War
So you took a break from these Earthly guys, but now we’re back for an ultimate hero throwdown. In the meantime, the Avengers defeated Ultron in a nasty battle in Sokovia, and lovebirds Vision and Scarlet Witch joined the Avengers squad. Vision was engineered by Tony and Bruce, and Scarlet Witch was the result of an experiment by HYDRA, a terrorist group that infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. You’ll also be introduced to Ant-Man, T’Challa and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
I know what you’re thinking: Paul Rudd playing a former criminal who shrinks to the size of an ant is necessary viewing? The answer is yes. He’ll end up playing a larger role than you may think. I can’t say much more without spoiling but just watch this one. You should be able to follow along without having seen the first movie, but if you want to have more context, watch Ant-Man first. (Important: Don’t watch the end-credit scene or beware spoilers.)
- Doctor Strange
This one is a bit of a break from the classic Avengers films, as Benedict Cumberbatch wields a magical cape and space and time altering abilities in present-day New York. The film presents information crucial to understanding the Time Stone and introduces a character highly important to the next, and last, film you need to see. I recommend watching this one, but if you don’t get to it, it’s not the end of the universe.
- Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame is basically part two of this movie. If you don’t watch anything else, at least watch this one, which is conveniently on Netflix. All of the action in the new film is completely derived from the events in this one. We don’t get to see Captain Marvel because her movie came out after this one, but you should pick up on her character pretty easily during Avengers: Endgame.
If you decide you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and want to do thorough research before Avengers: Endgame, watch these blockbusters that are just not completely relevant in the last film: Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spiderman: Homecoming
Enjoy your viewing, and brace yourself for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.