Ever since Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark first charmed his way into our hearts with the 2008 release of Iron Man, millions of fans around the world have eagerly anticipated the newest entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe set to storm theaters. What started out as a risky project by the newly-formed Marvel Studios has grown to be the biggest franchise in history. Twenty-one movies, countless hours of television, and eighteen billion dollars later, the MCU as we know it is hurtling towards an epic conclusion in Avengers: Endgame.
After the Mad Titan Thanos succeeded in his plan to erase half the universe from existence using the all-powerful infinity stones, it will be up to the original Avengers to restore what was taken away. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Hulk will be teaming up one last time in many of the actors’ final appearances, as most of their contracts are now completed. They’ll be joined by the lovable Ant-Man, Nebula, Rocket Raccoon, War Machine, and Captain Marvel as they take on Thanos in a showdown that will serve as a definitive ending for this iteration of the MCU.
While no doubt the most anticipated movie of all time thanks to Avengers: Infinity War’s shocking cliffhanger, we are still completely in the dark when it comes to the plot of film. We can thank directors Joe and Anthony Russo for that, as they’ve kept the film’s plot shrouded in secrecy to preserve the massive spoilers that are sure to come.
Only a few short weeks remain until Endgame hits theaters on April 26. While we try to contain our excitement, many fans are using this time to rewatch the past entries in this grand story that has been dubbed “The Infinity Saga.”
If you’ve never seen these movies, we recommend watching them like we did last year, in order the order they were released. Post credit scenes set up the next installment with small teasers that make it easy to follow the story. This year we decided to change things up a bit, watching all the movies and tv shows in chronological order. Check out our list below…and you’d better hurry! There’s a HUGE amount of content to get through in only a few weeks.
- Captain America: The First Avenger – This period piece set in WWII is a stellar introduction to Steve Rogers, the always unyielding Captain America, as he fights to protect the world from Hydra. Here we meet Howard Stark, the future father of perhaps the most important person in the universe, as well as SSR Agent Carter. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, the film’s central macguffin, the Tesseract, houses the Space Stone, the first of the infinity stones to show up in the MCU.
- Marvel One Shot: Agent Carter – This short film can be found on the home video release of Iron Man 3 and shows just how awesome Peggy Carter can be on her own.
- Agent Carter Season 1 & 2 – Available on blu-ray and Hulu, this ABC series follows Peggy as she tackles dangerous missions and fights sexism in the urban environments of 1940s NYC and LA. Both seasons are quite compact, with only eight episodes for season one and ten episodes for season two.
- Captain Marvel – The newest film on our list takes us back to the 90s for a sci-fi adventure that finds Carol Danvers discovering her past while caught in a war between two alien races. It introduces S.H.I.E.L.D. and plants the seeds that will eventually lead to the formation of the Avengers Initiative. There’s also a very powerful item that shows up in the third act directly linking it to several other Phase One films, but we’ll keep that a secret since it is a major spoiler. The only place to see this right now is on the big screen…so you better hurry to your local theater.
- Iron Man – This was the original introduction to the MCU and set the stage for great things to come. Even after all these years, it still holds up as one of the best films in the franchise. Robert Downey Jr. steals the show from a stellar cast that includes Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges as the ruthless Obadiah Stane. After being kidnapped while on a trip to the middle east, Tony creates the Iron Man armor in an effort to escape. Once home, he is devastated to find out his company is selling weapons to the very terrorist organizations who held him hostage and sets out to make things right.
- Iron Man 2 – Although it released two years after the original, Iron Man 2 catches up with Tony Stark only six months after he announces his identity as Iron Man. While often cited as one of the MCU’s weaker entries thanks to multiple plot lines, it still has some really fun moments. Black Widow makes her first appearance, as well as Don Cheadle’s version of James Rhodes, aka War Machine.
- The Incredible Hulk – When a project to recreate Captain America’s super soldier serum goes dreadfully wrong, Scientist Bruce Banner finds himself on the run from U.S. Army General Ross, as well as something hiding within himself. This was actually released shortly after the first Iron Man, but the events take place concurrently with Iron Man 2. Many fans might find it a bit jarring to see Edward Norton in the role of the troubled Banner, and many more might be put off by the serious tone, but this film is indeed set within the confines of the MCU. Abomination is a great villain, and it’s a shame this is his only appearance to date.
- Marvel One Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer – Another short film, this one is found on the Blu-Ray release of Captain America: The First Avenger. It follows S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson on his trip to New Mexico to investigate a mysterious crash site.
- Thor – The crater Coulson found was formed by Mjolnir, the magical hammer belonging to the God of Thunder after he is banished from Asgard and exiled to earth. Thor expands the cosmic side of the universe and is our first time seeing the franchise’s mythological elements. Perhaps the most important thing the film accomplishes is acquainting us with Loki, perhaps the most popular villain Marvel has ever brought to the screen.
- Marvel One Shot: The Consultant – Coulson seems to show up in every almost every one of the Phase I films, and here he is again, this time with an important task: keep Abomination off the Avengers roster. It can be found on the Blu-Ray release for Thor.
- The Avengers – This is it, the film that broke all expectations and proved that the once-crazy notion of an interconnected universe of films could actually work. Loki returns in spectacular fashion, this time with an army of Chitauri aliens, hell bent on ruling the world. As the Tesseract opens a portal in the skies above New York, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, and Hawkeye band together to form earth’s mightiest heroes. The Mind Stone makes its first appearance here, hidden within Loki’s powerful scepter. An ominous post credit scene featuring Thanos’ wicked grin serves as the first hint at the epic story yet to come.
This should be enough material to keep you busy this week. Come back next Tuesday and we’ll finish up our list!