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I haven't seen any of the movies in the universe that includes The Avengers. However, this one is a Joss Whedon film, so of course I'll see it.

But first, should I go watch any other movies in that universe? Like The Hulk and Iron Man?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 43 down vote accepted

Skippable

  • Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are, IMO, the best movies in the current Marvel film universe. They are also not very important to understand what's going on in The Avengers - if you understand that Tony Stark is a brilliant jerk and has a robot suit, that's about all you need to know. 2 has Black Widow, but she's not really introduced until The Avengers.
  • The Incredible Hulk is completely missable if you're even slightly familiar with the Hulk character. It's an average action movie, hardly alluded to during The Avengers, and it's not even the same actor between the two.

Nice to See

  • Captain America's backstory is used often for humor and occasionally for drama. If you don't see it you'll probably miss or barely catch a lot of the jokes in the first half.

Important

  • Thor is mandatory - The Avengers is almost Thor 2. The main antagonist of The Avengers is the antagonist in Thor. A scientist in Thor is also a character in The Avengers and is given absolutely no introduction or explanation; if you want to understand the character dynamics in any of the scenes with him, you'll have to see Thor.
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I think the section on Captain America could be fleshed out a bit. How necessary is it if you're already familiar with his origin story? –  Keen May 5 '12 at 15:42
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+1 for actual details, but I have to disagree with both Thor and Captain America. I saw neither, and had no difficulty with Thor, Loki, etc. (at least once he was identified as Loki), but Captain America seemed to know a lot more than he should have. Which I assume was covered in his movie. –  Izkata May 20 '12 at 0:00
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@Izkata On the Helicarrier, Thor refers to Selvig as a friend. –  Keen Jun 7 '12 at 20:07
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Without watching Captain America, you probably won't know much about the Tesseract, which does have a pretty large part in the plot development. –  Pyrodante Jul 25 '12 at 23:17
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It's worth pointing out that Hawkeye was in Thor pretty much like Black Widow was in Iron Man II. –  Jeff Jul 26 '12 at 0:41

It should be sufficient to know the backstory of each of the characters (two of which - Black Widow and Hawkeye - didn't get a movie, and so their backstory is mostly covered in the new movie) to enjoy The Avengers. If you were a fan of the comic books you can jump right in.

However, if all of this is new to you, then it may help to see the "prequels" to this movie:

  • Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010) (good movies, both, but skippable; Black Widow makes an appearance in 2, but other than that all you need to know is that Starke is a billionaire genius, basically Marvel's version of Bruce Wayne, kidnapped by terrorists who wanted his weapons expertise and the end result of which is the first incarnation of the suit and the power generator embedded in his chest to keep him alive).
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) (Hulk, from 2003, follows a slightly different canon and got mixed reviews; the 2008 film was written under closer supervision by Marvel Studios, but even then all you need to know about The Hulk is that Dr. Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma radiation that makes him transform into a big green guy with purple pants when he gets angry)
  • Thor (2011) (an absolute must-see, introduces Thor, Loki and Hawkeye which are all central to Avengers)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) (worth watching, but can be skipped if you understand who Captain America is; the key piece other than his origin is that

he is frozen in a block of ice for the 70 years between WWII and the present day, before being found by Tony Starke and revived.

Note: Black Widow does get introduced in Iron Man 2 and Hawkeye is introduced in Thor, but their characters and backstory are significantly fleshed out in The Avengers.

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I moved Hulk down a notch so the order makes more sense. Seeing Hulk first means you don't understand the final scene, since you haven't been introduced to the visiting character. –  Keen May 4 '12 at 0:47
    
I'd lmost put Thor last, since it seems that Loki plays a major part of the Avengers movie (going to go see it tonight so I might update my opinion) –  DForck42 May 4 '12 at 20:26
    
Just got back from the film, I've added some details. –  Keen May 5 '12 at 6:28
    
@DForck42 Captain America largely works as either the first or last film in the sequence, given that it mostly takes place during WWII. –  Keen May 5 '12 at 6:28

I believe the correct order should be:

  • Iron Man 1,
  • The Hulk,
  • Iron Man 2,
  • Thor, and lastly
  • Captain America.

Then of course the Avengers.

If you watch the cut scenes after the titles for Iron Man you will see Nick Fury approach Tony Stark at the end or Iron Man talking about the Avengers. Then at the end of The Hulk, Tony comes in talking about a putting a team together and helping with the Hulk problem. At the end of Iron Man 2, Agent Coulson shows up at the site where Thor's hammer landed in the desert, then at the end of Thor the Tesseract is introduced, and lastly, at the end of Captain America, is the trailer for the Avengers.

These are all the reasons I think this is the order. Not just the movie content, but for the cut scenes.

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The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:04

I agree with most of the above statements, however going from the small snippets at the end of each movie I believe the order to be the following:

  1. Iron Man 1 - This movie serves as an introduction to the entire Marvel/Avengers universe. The clip at the end is when we first meet Nick Fury.
  2. Captain America - this provides back story as to how Howard Stark is involved with the Tesseract and in turn Tony, which leads to one of the main points in the plot of Iron Man 2. The ending clip states "Captain America will return in The Avengers" therefore we wouldn't see any more of the saga from the captains P.O.V. until The Avengers.
  3. Iron Man 2 - This movie is an official introduction of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D with the clip at the end leading into Thor. We see Agent Coulson at the crash site for Thor's Hammer, this also being a scene in the movie 'Thor' as we all know.
  4. Thor - Starting before the events of Iron Man 2 ended (evidence as per ending credits clip) this movie obviously comes next in the order to watch - ending with Dr Selvig being introduced to the Tesseract project, this leads directly to 'The Avengers'.
  5. The Incredible Hulk - This movie isn't critical to the plot as a whole but it does well to provide how Bruce was able to control the Hulk throughout the fight with the Chitauri and how he was able to remain lucid. The ending clip shows Tony spreading the word about 'The Avengers Initiative' and going in search of Banner.

All in all, the above movies are all important if you are to understand all of the back story, banter and inside jokes that come with the awesome movie titled "The Avengers".

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The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:04

If you want to keep this both time and story lines correct.

1 Captain America

First movie chronologically as others have said and it introduces Shield to the story line without going overboard with it.

2 Iron Man

It continues the "super warrior" idea from a tech angle instead of a biological angle and introduces Tony Stark

3 Iron Man 2

This one brings Shield fully out of hiding and if it wasn't for the final scene in the Incredible hulk with Tony Stark knowing about the Avengers initiative, it would have gotten a fourth place position instead of the Incredible hulk.

4 Incredible Hulk

This one is a bit of a "rework" by Marvel since it trashes a bit of the story line of it's previous iteration on the accident of Hulks creation. It needs to be in fourth place though since it takes the biologically created super warrior to the next level from where Captain America left it and sneaks Tony Stark in at the end to continue the Avengers plot.

5 Thor

This one ties it all together while introducing Thor and Loki. It sets up the stage for the Avengers. Thor also sets up the reason for sheild dropping the Avengers initiative and going to plan B.

6 Avengers

It's really to bad that they reworked the creation of the Hulk. Otherwise, there could have been 7 movies in this list.

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The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:04

I agree with :

  1. Captain America (because it's merely the first in time sequence 1940's) and deals with a major part of the Avengers objective.
  2. Iron Man 1 (due to it being first in release order, and its reference in the end).
  3. The Incredible Hulk (not much you need to know here for Avengers. But carries its own weight in superhero development).
  4. Iron Man 2 (leads into more of the early days of Howard Stark and Shield, which is vital to Avengers, plus the ending references to trouble in the Arizona desert).
  5. Thor (Extremely critical to Avengers, I have to agree they could have called it Thor 2 and gotten away with it. But it was definitely The Avengers. Characters and story line of Thor are without a doubt a MUST in order to get into Avengers.)
  6. The Avengers (crafted brilliance in this movie. Great interaction between heroes and villains alike. Hostility and ego and banter are superb, right out of the original comics. No wonder it's the third highest grossing movie of ALL TIME.

If you have an entire day (sick or bored) watching all 6 in this order would make the most fulfilling saga ever made. Makes Star Wars seem kinda blah! And I'm a Star Wars freak.

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You gave the same answer as @Thomas, but +1 for actual reasons. –  Jay Bazuzi Sep 30 '12 at 1:51
    
The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:05

I think it would be best if it went Captain America because he was the very first avenger and he was the storyline in the whole making of the avengers Iron man because tony stark is introduced in it The Incredible Hulk no great reason because it can be skipped but ok to watch I have not quite gotten to it yet but soon Iron man 2 because it introduces black widow Thor a must see because it introduces Loki and Thor himself Then avengers too top off then so called saga

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Some punctuation might help here. I can't tell which movie it is that you haven't seen, but the fact that you haven't seen one of them makes your recommendations a little less than totally reliable. –  phantom42 Mar 31 '13 at 2:29
    
Why is the saga "so called"? –  Jay Bazuzi Apr 2 '13 at 2:12
  1. Captain America
  2. The Incredible Hulk
  3. Iron Man (very last part of the movie, Thor hammer; agent Coulson)
  4. Thor
  5. Iron Man 2
  6. The Avengers
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The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:06

I would watch them in this sequence:

  1. Captain America
  2. Iron Man
  3. The Incredible Hulk
  4. Iron Man 2
  5. Thor

then The Avengers.

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This answer could be improved by explaining why you think this is the right order. –  Jay Bazuzi Jul 25 '12 at 22:35
    
The question didn't ask what order to watch the films in, but whether to watch them at all, and if yes, which one(s). –  Martha Jun 16 '13 at 14:07

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