It's almost time. Time to do whatever it takes to avenge the fallen and stop Thanos - if that's even possible. Avengers: Endgame comes out on Thursday, April 25th and the world is anxiously waiting to see what is packed into those 3 hours and 2 minutes (yes, it's that long).
There's lots of talk about re-watching and getting caught up on the past Marvel movies before the new movie comes out. Some are doing full re-watches of the entire timeline (myself included), and others are just going back through their favorites. Obviously watching all of the movies is a great idea any time, but time is running out at this point and you also may not want to invest in getting some you don't already own.
So, if you want to watch the essential movies that will provide the most context and help you understand what is likely to happen in Endgame, I've got you covered. Of course this is all based on Infinity War and what is expected to happen/continue; Marvel could throw us off and change this up on us once the movie is out.
These 5 movies will help you understand the state of things currently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, know the relationships that exist, and get to know key players in the movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1
I was surprised by how much detail was packed into this movie, but there's a lot. It gives the first detailed look and explanation of Infinity Stones, explained by The Collector who had two. This movie will also give you the backstories of the Guardians, who you may not know as well as the other heroes who are based on comics and more common in pop culture.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
This second Avengers movie gives so much detail and backstory on Avenger characters, especially ones that haven't had their own movie (yet). Hawk, Black Widow, Falcon, and Vision (especially Vision) are pretty heavily featured in this movie and their backstories come to light a bit. Given that they play a large role in Infinity War, and likely will in Endgame (if they're not snapped), this will be a good context movie for you and it will also give you some pre-text to conflict within the Avengers team for the next movie.
Captain America: Civil War
This movie explains why the Avengers are broken up and why things are so great between Stark and Rogers in Infinity War, which is a relationship the two will likely have to repair (based on trailers, they do) in Endgame. We also get introduced to Spiderman for the first time, and while he's snapped up in Infinity War, he may still be featured/come back in Endgame because he's got a new movie coming this summer and his story does continue. This movie, while in the Captain America series, is more like another Avengers movie and so it fits in well on this top list.
This movie gives a lot of context and history on Infinity Stones, and is only one of two that really does (the other being Guardians as mentioned above). This gives a different perspective and goes into even more detail than Guardians' story did. I watched this one before Infinity War last year and it was so helpful, and that won't change for Endgame.
Avengers: Infinity War
Finally, if you haven't seen Infinity War yet, you need to see it (and if you have, re-watch it). If I was making a list of 1, this would be it obviously. Endgame takes place right after Infinity War and is all about recovering from the end scene effects of the snap. Just watch it.
What about Captain Marvel?
Okay, so I almost put it on the list. But honestly, it just came out and if you're interested in Endgame, you probably already saw it or you could still go see it now in theaters. It's a good sixth choice. It doesn't, however, give much you need to know for the next movie. It's a good backstory and a really good movie, for sure, but not essential for context and understanding - which is the purpose of this list.
What about Avengers 1?
The other Avengers movies made the list, but the first Avengers didn't. It's fairly expositional and doesn't give a lot of detail, though the end credits do introduce Thanos for the first time (Guardians does a better job of that in the movie though). You can get to know Cap, Tony, Hulk, and Thor through the other movies on the list just as well if not better than this one. And you'll get to know SHIELD and Fury through some of these movies as well.
Let me know what you think - do you agree with this list? Would you make any changes?