11 MCU Movies You *Have* To Watch Before ‘Endgame’ To Be Fully Prepared For The Final Showdown
The masterpiece of an emotional dumpster fire that was Avengers: Infinity War left us all hanging by a thread with that shocker of an ending. And ever since, we've had to deal with the fact that many of our favorite Marvel superheroes disintegrated into dust at the literal hand of Thanos, just like that. So what now? How do they even begin to get back from this? Well, we'll find out soon enough as Avengers: Endgame officially premieres in theaters on April 26. You'll want to prepare for the resolution of this cliffhanger, but there are way too many preceding movies to marathon before the premiere. There's a shorter list of MCU movies you have to watch before Endgame; the others are just gravy.
Endgame will continue where Infinity War left off, with the remaining Avengers and allies who were spared from disappearing into nonexistence licking their wounds, trying to cope with their losses, and deciding how they can and should move forward. They regroup, attempt to restore the universe back to its natural order, and, hopefully, defeat Thanos.
But before you go to the theater to watch all 3 hours and 2 minutes of the much-anticipated film, you might want to do a little review of all the significant things that have transpired in the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to this point. Whether you're a newcomer or a die-hard fan, here are all the Marvel movies you need to watch before Avengers: Endgame. (P.S. Don't forget to watch those essential signature post-credit scenes!)
1. 'Captain America: The First Avenger'
Although Iron Man was the very first movie to establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe, historically Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) was the very first Avenger. So this is definitely an essential for your MCU recap. The First Avenger is also where we get introduced to the Tesseract, which is a powerful box-like vessel that gives off incomparable energy that can power seriously devastating weapons. And because it contains one of the Infinity Stones, particularly the Space Stone, upon touching the cosmic cube mortals are teleported through space — just as the Red Skull ends up in the planet Vormir.
At the end of the movie, the Tesseract winds up falling into the ocean, only to be found by Howard Stark (Tony Stark/ Iron Man's dad) as he was searching for the Cap. The cube eventually makes its way to Project PEGASUS, which is a joint project by NASA and the US Air Force.
2. 'Captain Marvel'
Following the story chronologically, Project PEGASUS continues into Captain Marvel. Vers/Carol Danvers finds her past tied to the project, and learns that the powers and abilities that make her stand out from the Kree come from the Tesseract. This connection confirms the importance of Captain Marvel's role in endgame, and why it was necessary for Nick Fury to use his last breath to page the universe's arguably most powerful hero.
3. 'The Avengers'
This movie is where we first see this group of heroes work together after Nick Fury formally activates the "Avengers Initiative" — which he named after Carol Danvers' call sign — due to an alien threat. Here, Loki makes a deal with The Other (who turns out to be Thanos's servant) to steal the ever-important Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D. in exchange for the Chitauri army, which the god of mischief will use to invade Earth.
4. 'Thor: The Dark World'
Once every five-thousand years, the Convergence — a cosmic event that allows the Nine Realms to become aligned — occurs. This time, however, the Dark Elves (the Asgardians' arch nemeses) plan on unleasing the Aether, which is a weapon they created using the Reality Stone. The Aether then has the ability to alter reality, and was made for the sole purpose of plunging the Nine Realms into darkness.
This movie is important mostly because of the post-credits scene, where the Aether/the Reality Stone winds up in the hands of the mysterious Collector.
5. 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'
In Guardians of the Galaxy, we get exposed to the larger, less Earth-centric part of the Marvel world, and this band of unlikely heroes. We first meet Star-Lord/Peter Quill who is eager to get his hands on the much coveted Orb so he and his mentor can sell it for a fortune. But as the Collector reveals in this film, the Orb is worth so much more as it contains the Power Stone, which grants a person great cosmic power, which is why the mad titan Thanos directs Kree warrior Ronan the Accuser to retrieve it for him.
This movie is essential because it's where we learn, via the Collector, about the Infinity Stones and their mythology. We are also introduced to the daughters of Thanos, who play a huge role in Infinity War: Nebula and Gamora.
6. 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'
In this installment of the Avengers film series, another Infinity Stone reveals itself in the form of the staff that Loki formerly wielded. The Mind Stone, which allows whoever possesses it to control the minds of others, was being used by HYDRA commander Baron Wolfgang von Strucker for experiments. When the Avengers come to cease Strucker's operations, they meet Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, also known as Wanda.
During their first encounter with Wanda, she implants a vision of a catastrophic future in Tony Stark's mind (a foreshadowing of Infinity War). This leads to the creation of supposed protector Ultron, who ends up going rogue, and is ultimately defeated with the help of "Vision" — the physical being manifested by a synthetic body, JARVIS, and the Mind Stone.
7. 'Captain America: Civil War'
The fallout of the Avengers here gives context to where all the heroes are at in terms of their relationships with one another by the time we get to Infinity War. Cap and Iron Man butt heads over how much control they want to surrender to the government to regulate their missions and operations, which ultimately leads to a head-to-head battle among the supers.
Civil War also introduces us to Black Panther and Tom Holland's Spider-Man.
8. 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'
This film follows Peter Parker after Tony Stark recruits him as part of his team in Civil War. The importance of this film lies in its portrayal of Peter and Tony's relationship as mentor and mentee, which makes you feel the painful sting of baby Spidey's disintegration right before Iron Man's very eyes in Infinity War.
9. 'Thor: Ragnarok'
A lot happens in the fun, well-scored adventure that is Ragnarok: Mjolnir (Thor's hammer) is destroyed, Doctor Strange (who is in possession of the Time Stone) introduces himself to Thor, Loki is able to get his hands on the Tesseract again, and all of Asgard is destroyed. In the end, the survivors run into Thanos, which is where Infinity War picks up.
10. 'Avengers: Infinity War'
For very obvious reasons I don't really need to get into, you must watch Infinity War before embarking on the three-hour journey that is Endgame. This is essentially the Part 1 to Endgame's Part 2; the film that presents all the problems and questions to which the next film will (we hope) provide all the answers. Yes, I'm sorry, but you might have to relive the emotional trauma of seeing all your faves disappear into thin air.
11. 'Ant-Man And The Wasp'
Ant-Man and The Wasp is the first post-Infinity War MCU film, though most of it takes place before the events of that movie. Instead, it deals with the problems Civil War caused, more specifically Scott Lang/Ant-Man's internal dilemma of dealing with his double-life. He goes on another mission, and we all learn more about the original Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the mysterious Quantum Realm.
The mid-credits scene is super important as it shows Ant-Man getting trapped in the Quantum Realm, which may be a necessary detail in undoing Thanos's deeds in Endgame. Meanwhile, the post-credits scene for the film brings us back to Thanos's post-Infinity gauntlet snap world, and shows an almost-empty San Francisco, again setting up the next movie.
Now, you don't need need to rewatch all these movies before watching Avengers: Endgame. But these refreshers will definitely make the next film a more epic experience. So if you want to be able to catch every callback and reference, you better get watching!