Avengers: End Game is not only the second largest grossing film in the world, sinking James Cameron’s Titanic streak as the number two movie at the box office for over 21 years but also the culmination of 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
The Efficient Way to Watch MCU Movies
There are a lot of lists and videos on the proper way to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe Unfold. The two main ones are the release date and chronologically. Some start with the scene from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie where The Collector (Benicio del Toro) is explaining the origin of the Infinity Stones. Doctor Strange explains this again in Infinity War to Tony Stark and Bruce Banner and for those in the audience who don’t know about their origin or what they can do.
The theatrical release date model is the simplest, as it doesn’t involve jumping between films or tv shows like Agents of Shield. For this list, anything other than the films themselves is not included.
Skipping to the finale of Phase One, The Avengers climax provides important scenes and back story that is referenced back to in almost the entirety of the MCU, small and large. Watching Iron Man and Iron Man 2, along with the first Thor and Captain America movies plus the Incredible Hulk aren’t necesary.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The turning point in MCU history where S.H.I.E.L.D is revealed to be shadier than most government agencies in the real world or in fiction. No spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie, but it’s often ranked as the best standalone MCU movie. That is, the stories outside the Avenger’s tentpole films. The reveal has lasting impacts for the rest of Phase 2 and especially the televison show Agents of Shield on ABC.
Guardians of the Galaxy
The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is the only one of the two you need to watch to understand who these characters are when they appear in Infinity War. While the second one provides characterization for the core cast, watching it is not required. Despite the fact it introduces a new character to the Guardian’s roster.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
This one made the list only because it develops Hawkeye’s character and his arc for End Game. Aside from that and the introduction to Scarlet Witch and Vision, this movie is more optional, espcially if you’ve watched the other movies leading up to it.
Captain America: Civil War
Director’s Joe and Anthony Russo second foray into the MCU that redefined the super hero movie genre. It addresses the politics of a super-powered team with no restraints put on them in a better way than Batman vs Superman. The climax also explains why things go from bad to worse when Thanos shows up.
Unlike it’s predecessor, Thor: The Dark World, Ragnarok doesn’t have any infinity stones in it. The movie is also in the same tone as Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite this, if someone watched Age of Ultron and then went straight to the next Avenger’s film, they might ask questions on where and how Hulk and Thor met out in space. The answer lies in Thor: Ragnarok.
Avengers: Infinity War
The events of Infinity War lead directly into End Game and should be obvious this list includes it. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s on Netflix as of May 12, 2018. Go watch it and then get tickets to End Game. Be thankful for not waiting a whole year to see the epic finale of a 11 year journey that started with the famous line, “I am Iron Man.”