Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, or purposefully avoiding popular culture, you may know that a little film named Avengers: Endgame is due to come out in two weeks—on April 26, to be exact. Whether you have read every Marvel comic, or are only seeing this movie because your friend has read every Marvel comic, Street has got you covered on how to get up to speed for what is poised to be the biggest movie of all time.
If you want to watch every Marvel movie before walking into the theater at 6:00 p.m., April 25:
It’s okay. I get it. And this is not impossible to do—like Thanos, we just need determination and a step–by–step plan. There are currently 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the newest being Captain Marvel. With exactly ten days left until the premier, you have just enough time for two movies per day—not counting The Incredible Hulk, because who does?
Here’s my advice on how to tackle this. The MCU is split into three phases, with Phase 1 spanning from Iron Man 1 to The Avengers, Phase 2 from Iron Man 3 to Ant–Man, and Phase 3 from Captain America: Civil War to the upcoming Endgame. Take three days for Phases 1, another three days for Phase 2, and then the remaining four days for the longer Phase 3. However, you should save Avengers: Infinity War for the morning of April 25, so you can walk into the theatre with a fresh reminder of what tragedy Thanos has created. The two films that have come out since Infinity War (Ant–Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel) are all set before the events of the movie anyway.
If you choose to tackle this plan, you will have my eternal respect. Remember that there are countless students binging hours upon hours of Netflix every day—you are not alone.
If you have barely seen any Marvel movie before, but would love to catch a few quality installments before the big one:
This is the film connoisseur route, where we place quality over quantity and continuity. These films are also a great reminder for anyone who has forgotten why they love the MCU, or fallen out of step with the increasingly overwhelming release schedule. Maybe you just want to laugh with some familiar faces, or be properly introduced to the unique mix of bathos, bright visuals, and oddly relatable characters that is the MCU. For some recommendations, check out Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther.
If you have not seen any Marvel movie before, and really don’t want to:
Really, there are only a few things you need to know before the movie, most of which you can glean from trailers. However, here is a basic run–down: A big purple alien named Thanos used five stones that hold immense powers to reduce half of the universe’s population to dust—a plan that, although intending to conserve resources, would never have worked. A team of superheroes—some from Earth, some not—came together to stop him, but failed.
The story of how these heroes developed individually and then together is the story of all the MCU films, and the story of how they failed is the plot of Avengers: Infinity War. Now, the story of how they will attempt to rectify their failure—helped by heroes (Ant–Man, Captain Marvel) who were absent during their first battle with Thanos—is the story that you will watch in Endgame. If you’re confused by the appearance of a talking raccoon or a blue–skinned alien who’s also the adopted daughter of Thanos, just know that they all have beef with him.
If you don't have time to re–watch 21 movies, but want a refresher before Endgame:
Here, I’d recommend three movies to remind you of what’s at stake, and send you into Endgame with the proper context of our beloved MCU characters.
Captain America: Civil War: This one is for the history. Before we watch Cap and Tony team up again in Endgame, it might be helpful to remember why these two were ever fighting in the first place. The movie also showcases all the complex dynamics between our heroes, and as everyone work together in Endgame, it might be helpful to recognize not only how fraught these relationships can get, but also how deep they run.
Avengers: Infinity War: Although this film came out just a year ago, if you’re like me, you may have already forgotten the details of what happened—if not the broad strokes. Catch up with Thanos before we see him again. After all, this movie was his origin story.
A MCU character film of your choice: We all have that one movie—that solo MCU movie that will always be one score above the rest in our hearts. Maybe it is our favorite characters’ origin story, or maybe it develops them beyond our wildest dreams. Either way, watch your favorite Avenger for a little insight on why you fell in love with the MCU in the first place.
If you are excited for Endgame, but do not have time to watch any movie:
You can follow along the press tour with all the MCU stars, and watch as they struggle not to reveal anything about the movie that they are trying to promote. Aside from the fun Jimmy Kimmel Live appearance above, check out highlights of the movie’s recent press conference here (during which the casts were surrounded by empty chairs, representing the many characters who died during Infinity War), the full press conference here, and a roundtable interview by Entertainment Weekly here.