The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most expansive movie franchises ever. In total, 18 movies have been made that in one way or another interconnect with each chapter. The newest movie to join the fray is Avengers: Infinity War, due out April 27.
With that in mind, it’s a good time to start the process of catching up. If you do chose to embark on the 18-movie marathon, we wish you the best of luck. It’s quite an undertaking. But if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll want to cut back but still get up to speed.
Last week, I selected eight MCU movies you should definitely skip as you’re catching up. That left ten movies, and they are part of the must-see movie list to get ready for Infinity War.
I came to final ten movie selection taking into account their importance to the Infinity War storyline either via their incorporation of the Infinity Stones or development of key Avenger characters. Some of them play a more pivotal role than others, but each provides important context.
Without further ado, these are the ten must-see MCU movies to get ready for Avengers: Infinity War.
Iron Man is the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has no connection to Avengers: Infinity War, but it’s the movie that started it all, so it earned a spot on the list. Up until this point, superhero movies were very much a singular entity. In fact, two months after the release of Iron Man, the best superhero movie of all time opened—that would be The Dark Knight. It was very much a focused franchise on a single character. All changed with Iron Man and the dawn of the MCU.
If Iron Man was the first step for the MCU, The Avengers was the first major milestone. It marked the first time a group of superheroes teamed up to save the world. Together, the Avengers take down the Infinity Stone-wielding Loki and his Chitauri army in the Battle of New York. During the end credits, it marked the first time audiences laid eyes on the villainous Thanos.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the first MCU movie from the Russo brothers, who have now moved on to bigger and better things. Among other things, the movie reintroduces Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier, shows the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and introduces Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver for the first time. It doesn’t offer much in the development of the Infinity Stones, but it’s still one of the most entertaining Marvel movies in recent memory.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Universally accepted as one of the best MCU movies, Guardians of the Galaxy paved a new road for the universe. Aside from bringing together the rag-tag team of Galaxy defenders, it was also the first time an MCU movie truly delved into the lore of the Infinity Stones with the Collector’s backstory of them. More so, Ronan the Accuser tries to destroy Xandar with the Power Stone. He ultimately fails and the Guardians entrust the Nova Corps with the Stone for safekeeping.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The most polarizing movie in the MCU is Avengers: Age of Ultron. A great movie it is not, with multiple weak points to pick on. It did, however, start laying down the groundwork for Avengers: Infinity War with a renewed focus on the Infinity Stones. While reconvening with Dr. Selvig, Thor has a vision of the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet.
Ultron’s plan to eradicate humanity inadvertently leads to the creation of Vision, who is powered by the Mind Stone located on his forehead. Once Ultron is defeated, the Avengers go their separate ways and audiences are treated to the most notable MCU post credit scene to date. Thanos is seen walking into a vault and putting on the Infinity Gauntlet, uttering, “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
Captain America: Civil War
This movie might as well be called Avengers 2.5. Captain America: Civil War has little to do with the Infinity Stones, but it does advance the Avengers’ storyline. In it, Iron Man and Captain America butt heads over certain issues, resulting in Captain America and Winter Soldier being exiled to Wakanda, where a major battle in Infinity War is expected to take place. More on that later.
Doctor Strange introduces the Eye of Agamotto, also known as the Time Stone. In the movie, Doctor Strange uses it to warp time, becoming of the utmost importance in containing Dormammu. Doctor Strange will have a major role in Infinity War judging from the trailer. He is seen being tortured by the Black Order’s Ebony Maw, which undoubtedly is to secure the Infinity Stone he possesses.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
In the grand scheme of things, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t really play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War other than setting up the Guardian characters, but they will play major roles in the movie. Gomora in particular will be among those given her Thanos monologue we saw in the trailer. Also, anytime we get to see Baby Groot dance is a good thing.
Thor: Ragnarok was the unexpected hit from the Thor movie trilogy. Who knew pairing Thor and Hulk would provide for such an entertaining buddy hero comedy. It also delivered a few major plot points that will be integral for Avengers: Infinity War. Near the end of the movie, Loki appears to snatch the Space Stone (aka Tesseract) and hands it to an unseen figure (likely Thanos) in the first Infinity War trailer.
In a post credits scene, the Grandmaster vessel carrying all of the Asgardians is intercepted by a gigantic spacecraft we believe to be Thanos’ spaceship. What happens next is not entirely clear, but Thor somehow ends up floating in space only to be rescued by the Guardians of the Galaxy, bringing them into the fold of the Avengers.
Black Panther is the most recent MCU movie and leads right up to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. This is important for two reasons. One, judging from the Infinity War trailer, at least some portion of it will take place in Wakanda. Second, a popular theory out there is that the last (and up to this point unseen) Soul Stone is located in Wakanda and is responsible for the Vibranium. Why else would Thanos arrive in Wakanda if not to capture the an Infinity Stone.