My girlfriend is interested in watching Avengers: Endgame on April 24, and as she doesn't have time to see all the MCU movies, I want to re-watch some of them with her in order to watch Endgame without having to explain to her every reference to the other movies; all she knows is that there is that guy that turns big and green when he is hurt or angry, and Spider-Man of course.

What movies are required to watch prior to Endgame, in order to understand what is going on?

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    scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/4649/… - I'm VTC because it's pretty much an opinion - but in an attempt to be helpful, here's my opinion: Avengers 1, Avengers 2, Doc Strange, Guardians 2, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man, Thor Ragnarok, Black Panther, Infinity War. ..... that's still about ~20 hours of movie watching, but you'll get introduced to / at least see most of the characters involved and how most of the people in Infinity War got to be where they are and why
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:08
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    We have several other questions that ask for "required viewing" that were not closed as "opinion based," so not sure why this one would be. VTO. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:17
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    @DaveJohnson - then it's a duplicate because we already have a comprehensive MCU viewing order question and answer - this question is so clearly opinion based: who's to say what you enjoy vs me, or what I think is necessary to a story vs somebody else? Define "understand what's going on" - even that definition will vary. Some people will want to know who X character is or what their motivations are, some won't care, etc...it's Opinion Based first and a dupe secondarily. One need only see the variety of given answers to see that there is NO objective answer to this question
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:50
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    @NKCampbell Suggested-order questions are on-topic here. I don't follow the Marvel universe, but "which films are required viewing to understand one particular film" seems reasonably objective.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 18:07
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    @dhon-joe - news.avclub.com/…
    – Odin1806
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 14:24

4 Answers 4


As Joss Whedon said when Age of Ultron was released, Marvel works hard to try to make these very expensive crossover movies work for as large an audience as possible:

Kevin Feige and I are fanboys, straight up. But we also know that if you just spend your time catering to the fans you make something that is hermetically sealed. The first question we always ask is: ‘What is the way in for someone who has never seen a superhero movie?’ You need to be thinking about everybody all the time.


This is borne out by the box office takings. Infinity War made $2,048 million; Ant-Man and the Wasp made $622 million. While it's possible the exact same audience saw Ant-Man once and Infinity War three or four times, Marvel can't reliably assume that even a majority of the Endgame audience has seen anything other than Infinity War.

So in short, don't worry. You and your girlfriend can understand and enjoy Endgame on its own terms as a direct Infinity War sequel (obviously make sure she sees that), without worrying that you're missing something. Feel free to take it on its own terms, and if any of the characters resonate with you, go and check out their standalone or crossover movies at your leisure.




With that said, the emotional effects of some events on the characters will be clearer and more impactful if you’ve seen what they’ve been through and cared about in previous movies. The MCU is unique in Hollywood movie history, in that the oldest characters have narrative threads running across multiple solo and team-up movies all the way back to 2008.

Hopefully without spoiling you too much for Infinity War or Endgame, these eleven/twelve movies cover the major beats for the oldest characters, and don't miss out any crucial plot elements:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger introduces the two defining relationships of Cap’s life, and lays the groundwork for a minor-but-cool “Oh, it’s that guy!” in Infinity War.
  2. The Avengers shows the birth of the team, gives sufficient introduction to Loki & Thor and their relationship, does enough to explain who Tony and Bruce are without seeing their individual movies, and in the mid-credits sequence introduces our erstwhile Infinity War antagonist.
  3. Thor: The Dark World shows how Loki & Thor’s relationship develops after The Avengers, which will be important for Ragnarok — and the mid-credit sequence mentions Infinity Stones for the first time.
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy covers Gamora and Nebula's history; establishes that like Thor, the Noble Rabbit doesn't know what raccoons are; explains what the deal is with Infinity Stones; and gives us another peek at Thanos.
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduces Falcon, explains why SHIELD is less of a presence in Age of Ultron, and develops Cap’s enduring bromance with a certain seasonal warrior.
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces Vision and Wanda, establishes Tony’s state of mind (he even says Endgame in it!), develops Nat and Banner's relationship, and teases Mr Purple mid-credits again.
  7. Captain America: Civil War gives you Tony's fraught family background, puts all of the earth-bound pieces in place for Infinity War, introduces two major new characters (and introduces Ant-Man enough to skip his movie), while basically being the best superhero movie ever made. Make sure to watch the mid-credits sequence to see where T'Challa comes from.
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduces Mantis, shows Nebula’s development, and develops Quill & Gamora's relationship — all of which are pretty crucial in Infinity War.
  9. Doctor Strange makes the Sorcerer Supreme's role in defending the earth (or rather its dimension) clearer, which will be relevant in Endgame.
  10. Thor: Ragnarok shows you Thor, Loki and Banner & Hulk's journey in the run-up to Infinity War; and in the mid-credits scene, leads right into it.
  11. Avengers: Infinity War — actually, skip this. Nothing much happens.
  12. Optional: Captain Marvel explains the Infinity War post-credits scene, fully introduces Carol, and in its mid-credits scene bridges the gap to Endgame. This is skippable if you're pressed for time, but it's slightly surprising how little exposition Endgame contains for Carol's role and powers.

If, on the other hand, twelve movies isn’t enough, add one or both of these:

  1. Iron Man 2, at the start. It's not as enjoyable a movie as Iron Man, but it introduces Rhodey, Fury, Widow, Howard Stark, and Tony's self-destructive streak.

  2. Ant-Man and the Wasp, right before Endgame. It's good fun, and tees up Ant-Man's role in the finale (although that is sufficiently explained in Endgame itself).




(And once you've seen Endgame, if you want to go back and experience the whole Infinity Saga from the start, I have a great alternative viewing order for you.)

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    Thank you for your time and your response, i would add may be Dr. Strange, to introduce the Time Stone. and definitly squip Infinity War
    – Dhon Joe
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:42
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    @DhonJoe: You're very welcome! That's a good point, although I think Infinity War does a decent job of introducing the Time Stone when Strange, Tony, Banner and Wong have their exposition conference. You do actually get to see it in action in Doctor Strange though. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:57
  • Pretty decent list, I would add in Dr. Strange I either before or after Civil War, due to his large role in Infinity War. Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Homecoming do relatively decent extensions as well, but they don't really impact Endgame too much. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 5:57
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    Having now seen Endgame, I still think this is a pretty solid list. Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel might be worth putting on the full list, and I think Doctor Strange probably needs to go on too. Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 14:19

If she knows next to nothing of the MCU or Marvel in general the best course of action is to watch them all. In fact that is the best course of action anyway so you understand all of the references and character development that has been going on and how it plays out in general.

That said you could probably get away with the following:

  • Avengers: Infinity War - Should be pretty obvious but Avengers: Endgame is essentially IW 2 so this is practically essential to understand.

  • Ant Man and the Wasp - the whole part about the quantum realm appears as if it will play some role in Endgame so worth a watch.

  • Thor: Ragnarok - It leads nicely into Infinity War and gives you insight into Hulk/Banner’s struggle which is supposed to be a 3 film arc with IW and Endgame.

  • Captain America: Civil War - This gives some good insight into what happened to the Avengers and will surely have some mention in Endgame if the trailers are anything to go by.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and Vol 2 - These will give more insight into Thanos and those around him as well as the Infinity Stones.

  • The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron - These two give some good insight into the Avengers themselves and give some pretty decent insight into the characters on Earth.

  • Quantum realm is mostly speculation at this point, isn't it? And even if it's not I doubt Marvel expects people to have seen the Ant-man movies (since they've done relatively poorly). GotG 2 also seems superfluous, the first one involved Thanos and the Infinity Stones but the second one didn't. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 18:30
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    @DaaaahWhoosh Quantum realm whilst speculation looks like it should play at least some part in it from my reading around set images and what not. GotG 2 gives some more insight into Gamora and Nebula and in turn Thanos so whilst not totally necessary seems worthwhile if you can spare the time.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 18:32
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    Good answer. The only thing I'd add is that someone with limited time could crunch this down to a minimum of Guardians of the Galaxy 1, then Civil War (or an earlier Avengers film might be enough), then Thor: Ragnarock, then Infinity War, and everything should be at least enjoyable and make basic sense. Skip any of those first three and big chunks of Infinity War will either not make sense or not resonate; skip Infinity War and (presumably) none of Endgame will make sense. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 20:57
  • @user568458: of course if you skip Civil War, then you miss Vision and Wanda falling in love while... imprisoning and fighting each other 😬 Yeah, maybe it's for the best. Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 12:59
  • Now that we’ve all seen Endgame, the Quantum Realm does indeed play a crucial role. However, I think there’s enough exposition in Endgame itself to make Ant-Man 2 non-essential. I’d argue Captain Marvel is more important, as there’s pretty much no explanation in Endgame of who the hell she is, and why she can fly through space or take a punch from Thanos. Commented May 1, 2019 at 13:10

She will need to know who all the characters are and what they're capable of, because Endgame won't bother explaining them. (Infinity War also didn't bother explaining any of the characters.) So:

Captain America
Captain Marvel1
Iron Man
The Avengers
Guardians of the Galaxy

Infinity War spoiler:

Not every Avenger is currently alive, so I left out the introductions of characters who won't play a role in Endgame (at least at the start). Follow these up with, of course, Avengers: Infinity War. (If you want her to feel some of the gut-punch the rest of us felt in Infinity War, add Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther to the list first.)

1: I haven't actually seen this yet, but I'm assuming it's important. Make sure she knows that this is the most recent movie (by release date) in the lineup, so none of its events will be referenced anywhere else.

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    The one modification I'd suggest is that Spiderman: Homecoming isn't really required: Spidey gets sufficient introduction in Infinity War itself. (I'm basing this on the fact that I haven't watched any of the recent Spiderman movies, and I got quite sufficiently gut-punched in Infinity War, thankyouverymuch.)
    – Martha
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 21:00
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    I really disagree with this - you don't need the origin story films to understand where characters fit in the story. Of course it helps if someone has unlimited time, but no-one does. Any Avengers film (or Civil War) tells you enough about Captain America and Iron Man to understand how they fit and follow the dynamic. Thor: Ragnarok tells you enough about Thor, Doctor Strange and Hulk to understand Infinity War. Ant Man and the Wasp tells you enough about Ant Man to follow and is probably better for introducing some of the stuff that looks likely to feature in Endgame. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 21:08
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    @PlutoThePlanet thank you for your answer, we already watched Captain Marvel, and when we saw the post credit scene, she told me that she want to watch the other movies before Endgame.
    – Dhon Joe
    Commented Apr 5, 2019 at 8:50

If you want just one movie you should watch the Avengers: Infinity War.

Other before Infinity War:
Dr. Strange
Guardians of the Galaxy

  • I don't really understand the downvote. Watching Infinity War is obvious. Can you explain why you think Dr. Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy deserve to be watched (versus other MCU movies)?
    – Taladris
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 16:39
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    @Taladris - I downvoted. Not only did I find your answer extremely unhelpful in terms of its content (you've not explained why he should show these three movies in particular) but I also don't agree with people posting stub answers on questions that are obviously off-topic
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:20
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    @Valorum: the question isn't obviously off-topic; in fact, I'm not certain it's off-topic at all. He's not asking whether we like the movies, he's asking which one(s) will best give a grounding for watching Endgame. He's even defined what he means by "best": the ones which will give the most background information so he doesn't have to spend Endgame explaining things.
    – Martha
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:26
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    I downvoted because there's no substance or reasoning. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 17:34
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    Downvoted for two reasons: 1) No explanation of answer so not ultimately helpful. 2) I agree with Guardians because the Gamora/Nebula subplot is big. But Dr. Strange? Nah, you can just say that he has one of the stones and what it does. There are other movies that explain much more central or complicated things. For example, who is Vision and why does he need the Mind Stone to live? What is Wakanda and why is it so important as a location here? What is with that ship at the beginning, why is Hulk there with Thor, and why does Thor need to make a new weapon? Etc, etc.
    – arkigos
    Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 18:10

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