By Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor
“Avengers: Endgame” is being released in theaters Friday, and fans everywhere are gearing up for what is expected to be one of the biggest movies of the decade. The release of Iron Man in 2008 tipped the first domino in a lengthy series of movies, all revealing bits and pieces of information that will culminate in this film. To watch every one of these movies in preparation would be a difficult challenge, yet questionably worth the time investment. But if you don’t have the time to rewatch them all, here are five movies that offer the crucial information you need to understand “Avengers: Endgame.”
1. The Avengers — This is an obvious choice because it gives a poignant introduction to the characters that are bound to play key roles in the upcoming movie. Viewers are offered a small taste of the sheer magnitude of the forces under the control of Thanos, although the villainous alien “Chitauri” armies in the movie are more directly controlled by Loki, Thor’s quasi-brother. The movie also lays the groundwork for the subplot of Thanos’ pursuit of the six infinity stones, one of which is the Tesseract and the primary goal of Loki’s alien invasion of earth.
2. Dr. Strange — Some might disagree with this choice and say that this movie was more an auxiliary feature of the main plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, I think “Dr. Strange” is worth the watch because it offers an in-depth look at the Time Stone, one of the six infinity stones. Many suspect that the Time Stone will play a crucial role in “Avengers: Endgame,” potentially being the only way to reverse damage done in the previous film.
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp — Viewers learned about something that the other movies only hinted at — the quantum realm, a different plane of existence within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We don’t know much about it, but we do know that one character in the film, Janet van Dyne, was somehow able to survive there for years. Furthermore, the film ends with a twist as Ant-Man is trapped in the subatomic world after his friends disappear with the snap of Thanos’ finger.
4. Captain Marvel — Before the release of this movie, Marvel fans everywhere were grasping at straws to try and understand how the Avengers might overcome Thanos. With the introduction of Captain Marvel and her insane powers, the group seems to have a chance at success. The movie also provides information about how the Avengers ever came to be a group under Nick Fury’s leadership.
5. Avengers: Infinity War — At the beginning of the movie, Thanos is well on his way to collecting the six Infinity Stones. In this movie, viewers watch the choppy resolution of the rifts caused between the Avengers in “Captain America: Civil War,” and see Thanos rise to become the single most powerful entity in the universe. The movie ends right around the time that “Avengers: Endgame” will pick up — countless heroes have been reduced to dust by Thanos who sought to eliminate half the life in the universe in the pursuit of balance.
To fully capture every nuance, subplot and overarching theme of the Marvel Cinematic universe that will undoubtedly contribute to the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame,” you’d have to dedicate the countless hours to watching every previous film. But with so little time before the film’s release, these movies will offer enough necessary information to keep you in-the-know as you watch this crowning film.