5 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies you must see before 'Avengers: Endgame' originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
WARNING: Lots of spoilers ahead, but you probably guessed that.
"Avengers: Endgame," arguably the biggest movie of the year, hits theaters April 26.
We’re willing to bet you’ve seen at least one flick from Marvel Studios, which launched its cinematic universe in 2008 with the Robert Downey Jr.-leading "Iron Man" and whose most-recent entry is "Captain Marvel," starring Brie Larson.
But maybe you’ve resisted seeing any of the 21 films in the franchise because you think you don’t like superheroes or action films that happen to have a lot of heart?
Well, if your spider sense is tingling to get caught up on all the Marvel madness in order to understand "Endgame" -- because admit it, you’re curious about what’s going to happen and everyone is going to be talking about it -- we’ve got an abbreviated guide to get you through the Avengers assembling to the snap heard throughout the universe.
Just make sure you watch through the credits!
1. "Marvel’s The Avengers" (2012)
Nick Fury, the leader of world-saving secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D., succeeds in bringing together Earth’s mightiest heroes -- and just in time.
Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye endure a grueling team-bonding experience that involves stopping an alien invasion led by Thor’s brother Loki, and getting the mysterious and all-powerful Tesseract away from the God of Mischief.
Little do they know that the Tesseract and Loki’s scepter each contain one of six Infinity Stones (the Space and Mind Stones, respectively) sought by the Mad Titan known as Thanos, who makes his first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance in a mid-credit scene.
2. "Captain America: Civil War" (2016)
In the four years since the Avengers formed, new heroes have joined their ranks.
But the team’s involvement in fights that had fatal consequences causes the feds to step in and seek oversight of their adventures.
That leads to an internal struggle that explodes in a hero-versus-hero battle, pitting Captain America, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Ant Man and Hawkeye against the Iron Man-led Black Widow, Vision, War Machine, and -- introduced in this film -- Black Panther and Spider-Man.
With S.H.I.E.L.D. previously dissolved and the Avengers fractured after this fracas, Earth now lacks a powerful force to protect it from extraterrestrial threats.
And Cap and Iron Man end up in a rocky relationship after one revelation in "Civil War."
The film marks the first Avengers "team" flick for Anthony and Joe Russo, who previously directed "Captain America: Winter Soldier," and who went on to direct "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame."
Bonus: "Doctor Strange" (2016)
Dr. Stephen Strange, best described as an arrogant neurosurgeon, barely survives a car crash.
But thanks to the help of the Ancient One and her colleagues, he heals but becomes a master of the mystic arts -- the Sorcerer Supreme, if you will.
This movie matters because it introduces Strange, who plays an important part in "Avengers: Infinity War," and introduces the Time Stone in the form of the Eye of Agamotto.
This Infinity Stone is expected to be the key to addressing the consequences of "Avengers: Infinity War."
3. "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" (2017)
The ragtag band of space adventurers -- Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot, and, sort of, Yondu and Nebula -- battle Star-Lord’s father, who is the Celestial planet known as Ego.
While that’s not important to the events leading up "Avengers" Endgame," "Vol. 2" is a good introduction to the Guardians.
It also digs deep into Nebula and Gamora’s relationship, and why the two daughters of Thanos struggle to stop trying to kill each other.
Together, this crew encounters Thor in "Avengers: Infinity War" after he barely escapes Thanos, but collectively, don’t fare well after the villain snaps his fingers toward the end of that movie.
Bonus: "Black Panther" (2018)
Though we met T’Challa, the Black Panther, back in "Captain America: Civil War," here, we get more details about his backstory and abilities.
The Oscar-nominated movie is also one of the few within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that stands on its own and doesn’t require you see the others to get what’s going on.
As it relates to "Avengers: Infinity War," the warriors of Wakanda are among the heroes standing against Thanos’ minions, and the battle to save Earth -- and the universe -- takes place on Wakandan soil on both sides of its Vibranium border.
Plus, we get to know Okoye, who is T’Challa’s friend and one of Wakanda’s fiercest fighters. She’s been seen in "Avengers: Endgame" promos as one of the heroes trying to bring back the fallen.
4. "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018)"
The culmination of a decade’s worth of films!
Thanos is on his way to collect the six Infinity Stones, and once he has them, he plans to eradicate half of the living beings in the universe.
Standing in his way are the fractured Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, the Black Panther and the Wakandans.
The collective group of heroes knows just how high the stakes are but can’t quite get it together to stop Thanos from completing his collection. (He even sacrifices his daughter Gamora in order to achieve his goal.)
As a result, he snaps his fingers and poof! Half the universe -- including some of the heroes who just fought him -- turn to ash and are gone, leaving those who remain confused and hopeless.
Good thing Nick Fury is able to get a page out to Captain Marvel before he disintegrates.
5. "Captain Marvel" (2019)
As Carol Danvers -- a former Air Force pilot on Earth, learns to use her powers while living among an alien race known as the Kree, we get treated to her 1990s adventure with Nick Fury, who begins to understand Earth faces a number of threats from beyond.
Along with Fury getting the idea for the Avengers Initiative that was led him to create the team, we also see that Captain Marvel could be one of the most powerful beings in the known universe and one of the few who’s able to go toe-to-toe with Thanos.
Responding to Fury’s page, she shows up at Avengers headquarters in time to prepare for the forthcoming "Endgame."
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