Lately, you may have heard people talking about a little movie called Avengers Endgame. It’s a cool little flick about a band of scrappy do-gooders with fancy uniforms. It opened last Thursday, and it’s made over $1.2 Billion (with a capital “B”) in 4 days. No big deal. (Caution – mild Spoilers ahead!)
Okay, so enough pretense. Avengers Endgame is epic in every sense of the word. It’s garnered positive reviews from both critics and audiences. The sequel to last year’s snap-smash, Avengers Infinity War, this movie is THE comic book movie. Tasked with wrapping up 6 story arcs that began over a decade ago, servicing multiple other franchises, and providing the emotional payoff that Infinity War promised, Endgame could have easily collapsed under its own weight.
Fortunately for us and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Russo Brothers and the rest of the Disney/Marvel creative team stuck the landing. Endgame gives each character their moment to shine, as well as delivering possibly the best third-act fight sequence ever to grace the big screen.
Avengers Endgame is the culmination of the 21 MCU movies that have come since the first Ironman was released in 2008. Not all of those 21 previous movies were perfect, and the range of quality has spanned marvelous to mediocre. Many of Endgame’s emotional punches require the viewer to have scene some of the previous installments.
As someone who’s seen the movie (and will be seeing it again), I’ll admit that to get the full emotional impact delivered in Endgame’s 3 hr run-time (and fully understand all of the intertwined story lines), you’re going to want to brush up on your MCU history. However, this doesn’t mean you have to watch all 21 movies.
Here’s our essential Avengers-Endgame pre-viewing list (in order that they should be watched):
2. Captain Marvel
4. The Avengers
Honorable mentions (If you have a few more spare hours laying around to lay around):
This isn’t “essential” viewing for Endgame, but you may want to throw it on while you’re scruffing around the house for two key scenes.
1. Tony Stark drops an “Endgame” reference.
At around the 33 minute mark, you may be caught off guard hearing Tony Stark reference the “Endgame” title all the way back in 2015.
“We’re the Avengers. We can bust arms dealer all the live long day. But that up there, THAT’S the Endgame,” Tony says in reference to the Chitauri aliens who came through a wormhole to attack Manhattan in the first “Avengers” movie. “How were you guys planning on beating that?”
The exchange that followed between the two team leaders is chilling, especially for the events that unfold in Endgame:
Captain America: “Together.”
Iron Man: “We’ll lose.”
Cap: “Then we’ll do that together, too.”
2. Hawkeye’s Family
The second scene you’ll want to revisit revolves around the introduction to Hawkeye’s family at his farmhouse. This scene gets its payoff in Endgame, and helps build the prologue to the movie and to Hawkeye’s transformation into Ronan.
The Dark World is easily one of the less-marvelous entries into the MCU. However, the post-credits scene helps set the stage for the Cosmic elements found in Infinity Way/Endgame, and introduces us to the Reality Stone.
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 (and father/son), which makes you feel the painful sting of the dusting that much more, and Stark’s motivation to bring him back stronger.
Ant-Man and The Wasp (Mid/Post Credits Scene)
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, setting up the events in Endgame.