Marvel Studios’ "Avengers: Infinity War" will without a doubt be one of the biggest film releases of the year. With the momentum of "Black Panther" breaking box office records and making history in ways no other movie has in decades, this isn’t one you’ll want to miss. The superhero genre has taken over Hollywood, and there’s still room on the train, even if you’re fashionably late. You’ve got until April 27 to get it together.
If you’re new to Marvel’s cinematic universe (MCU), or saw "Black Panther" and now you’re hooked, don’t worry; we got you. There are only a handful of movies in the timeline that you need to see to get what’s happening. And just in case you don’t have time to watch several dozen hours of premiere comic book cinema, the must-know info will be condensed here for you. All of us who know what’s going on will want to have our undivided attention on Thanos throwing hands with the Avengers. Please do not be the person that has to ask a million questions in the theater; no one likes that person.
If you’re going to commit to the binge, technically you could skip this one but don’t. This is the very first film that set Marvel on this amazing journey. Robert Downey Jr. rises from the ashes of Hollywood disdain like a phoenix. It’s OK to ignore Terrence Howard’s performance as James Rhodes; Don Cheadle replaces him after this movie. Make sure you watch the after credits so you can meet Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Enjoy yourself.
This is the very first iteration of what will become the most iconic superhero team up in movie history. But more importantly, this is the first time we're offered a glimpse of anything related to the story arc that leads Thanos to Earth. In "The Avengers" we see our first two Infinity Stones: the Mind stone and Space stone (aka the Tesseract). Thanos also makes his on-screen debut in a scene smack dab in the middle of the credits.
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
In "Guardians," we get the most info on Thanos and his origin than any of MCU films leading up to "Infinity War." Chris Pratt throws his hat into the ring to become the most popular Chris in the business as Star-Lord, the most hilarious superhero of all-time. A sometimes problematic fave, Zoe Saldana really delivers as Gamora, Thanos’ adopted daughter, that he kidnapped and who turns on him to join Star-Lord’s crew. We learn the history of the Infinity Stones, which is very mythological in nature. We get to see the Power Stone and how dangerous one of these glowing rocks can be on their own. If (and when) Thanos gets all of them, it will get ugly.
"Avengers: Age of Ultron"
"Age of Ultron" is one of the best films the MCU has to offer, but, more importantly, for our "Infinity War" cram study session, there are some very important plot points throughout. The Mind Stone is used to create Vision, who makes his Marvel big screen debut. Thor has a premonition involving the Infinity Stones that doesn’t look good, so he leaves Earth to go track them. And Thanos pops back up again in the middle of the credits with the Infinity Gauntlet, a big glove that will allow him to wield the stones.
"Captain America: Civil War"
Although "Civil War" is probably the best superhero fight movie in the pantheon of the genre to date, the only thing that really matters in the timeline is how it links to the next film in the study guide. Chadwick Boseman makes his beyond stellar intro to the MCU as Black Panther. The Avengers goes through a separation due to political stances which may or may not have a big impact on their whereabouts in "Infinity War." And the after credits scene shows the very first glimpse of Wakanda.
This installment in Thor’s solo saga is the last Marvel movie that takes place directly leading up to Thanos’ arrival. You get to figure what the Hulk has been up to, and there’s some quick interaction with Doctor Strange, who has the Time Stone. But the most important way that this film connects is in the mid-credits scene, which happens literally right before where the "Infinity War" story opens.
Again, you don’t technically need to go see this one another time, but why wouldn’t you want to? Buy a ticket; the record-breaking doesn’t have to be over yet. Don’t deny yourself an incredible time. Plus, "Avengers: Infinity War" does have a good number of scenes set in Wakanda.
If you do decide to check out all, or any, of these movies leading up to "Avengers: Infinity War" on April 27, you won’t be disappointed. Marvel has pretty much developed a reputation synonymous with a perfect shooting percentage for good reason. The MCU is pretty airtight when it comes to what diehard and casual fans want from comic book movies. But if you’re too busy to spend your time bingeing, at least you’ll be caught up enough not to bug whoever you go with to the movie theater.