Avengers: Infinity War is arriving in less than a month. It is as Marvel calls it, “The most ambitious crossover event in history.”
Make no mistake about it, Infinity War is a huge movie with a ton of characters that has been building up for ten years. So, with so many movie parts moving, it’s probably a very good idea to catch up with all the MCU movies to have a full understanding of the events in the latest Avengers movie.
That’s easier said than done. There are 18 movies in the MCU that span a whopping 38 hours of watch time. If you divvy that up over the coming month, it’s not an easy task. However, some of these movies don’t play any role in the Infinity War story arc, and can therefore be skipped.
I took three main aspects into account when selecting the movies to skip: relevance to the storyline of the Infinity Stones, impact to the MCU and overall quality of the movie.
The Incredible Hulk
If there is one movie that can be removed from the MCU entirely, it is The Incredible Hulk. Once a founding member of the universe, it has now been forgotten as a relic of a bygone era. It’s almost impossible to think of Edward Norton as Hulk, but once upon time, he was the unstoppable monster. However, the movie bore no connection to the first Avengers, much less Infinity War. It’s an easy decision to skip.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man burst on the scene in 2008 with a bang, jumpstarting the MCU. His role in Iron Man 2, however, did not meet the lofty standards set by its predecessor. That’s the main reason to skip this movie, but aside from introducing Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff), it also doesn’t play a role in the overarching Avengers storyline.
Thor is quite the divisive movie. Some hate it, others love it. I fall somewhere in between, but for me it’s still in the Don’t Watch category. At its core, it’s a simple origin story for Thor, although it does establish the existence of the Tesseract in the post-credit scenes.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger is technically the first MCU movie in terms of the chronological timeline, taking place during World War II. An Infinity Stone (the Tesseract) plays a major role in the plot of the movie, which is important for Infinity War, but that’s about the only thing you need to know about it. The rest is just a slow-churning plot where an idealist Captain America battles Hydra and the Red Skull.
Iron Man 3
I excluded Iron Man 3 for two reason: First, it doesn’t matter if you watch it or not, nothing of importance happens in it and two, it’s just not any good. The whole Mandarin villain swap was terrible.
Thor: The Dark World
Much like Iron Man 3, this is not a good movie. In fact, it’s pretty bad. But it does feature the Reality Stone, better known as the Aether. I debated excluding from the list it for that reason alone, but I changed my mind because, again, its poor quality trumped everything. It almost ruined Thor’s standalone movies until Thor: Ragnarok came along.
Ant-Man is another casualty. Despite being an all right movie, it doesn’t have much affect on the larger Avengers storyline. Hence its exclusion. It is still fun to see Paul Rudd frolic around as the diminutive superhero.
This was the toughest of the bunch. Not because what the movie is about – there’s nothing in it that matters to the Infinity War storyline – but because it’s great. Of the movies I’ve excluded, this one is the best. I included it in my best movies of 2017 list, and I still stand by that. But if you’re catching up on the major MCU storylines, skip it. If you just want to watch an entertaining movie, definitely check it out.