Four essential Marvel movies to watch before “Avengers: Infinity War”

Charles Liu

This Friday, the end begins.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest event yet, “Avengers: Infinity War” is the culmination of a 10-year journey. This might make it a confusing watch for those who’ve never seen an MCU picture, but if you’re hellbent on taking someone uninitiated to see “Infinity War” or just looking for a quick refresher yourself, here’s a brief list of movies that will help bring anyone up to speed.

“Iron Man”

The superhero movie landscape was different before the MCU. If you were a fan of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange or Vision, you probably lamented that Hollywood would never cash in on these lesser-known characters. Then, a controversial movie star with a troubled past and a comedy director teamed up to bring a B-list superhero into the limelight. 

Released in 2008, “Iron Man” marks the beginning of the MCU, and it unexpectedly succeeded, not because its titular character was a star, but because Robert Downey Jr.’s enthralling performance made him one. It helps that director Jon Favreau nailed a tone that future MCU films would follow, balancing seriousness with comedy as the picture tracked Tony Stark’s redemption from arms dealer to savior.

Largely devoid of hints of the larger universe audiences were about to plunge into, “Iron Man” focused on creating a protagonist worth investing in. Today, the flawed but noble Stark is the MCU’s central character, making his origin story a
necessary watch. 

“The Avengers”

“The Avengers” was an unprecedented achievement for its time. 

Featuring the first-ever team up of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk, “The Avengers” is bombastic and thrilling action spectacle at its finest. With Joss Whedon’s direction and dialogue, each of Marvel’s mightiest heroes shines in what could have been a disaster of a movie. The Avengers experience some growing pains while trying to work together as a team, but this only makes it all the more satisfying when they finally rally together to defend New York City against an invading
alien army.

Although “Infinity War” baddie Thanos makes a brief appearance at the end of “The Avengers,” his machinations drive the destructive conflicts of the film. Witness what Thanos can do when he’s not leading the charge, and then imagine what he can when he’s willing to get down and dirty himself.

“Guardians of the Galaxy”

Marvel goes out of this world with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which somehow made audiences fall in love with a talking racoon and a sentient tree. 

As a fun and giddy stylistic mashup of “Star Wars” and “The Avengers,” “Guardians” takes Marvel’s weirdest elements and sells them, thanks to a fantastic ensemble cast featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. While the central heroes start the film as criminals, they are each lovable in their own right, and the development of their friendships is organic and hilarious.

“Guardians” is one of Marvel’s most unique outings, but it’s also an essential introduction to the coveted Infinity Stones. When combined, these artifacts can spell doom for the universe — and that makes them the object of Thanos’ desire. 

“Captain America: Civil War”

In “Captain America: Civil War,” friends become foes.

When the United Nations calls for increased regulation of superheroes, Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on opposite sides of the issue. This conflict is only compounded when Captain America’s friend, Bucky Barnes, is framed for killing Black Panther’s father. The Avengers battle each other over the fate of superheroes and ultimately tear themselves apart.

“Civil War” sets the stage for “Infinity War” by leaving the Earth more vulnerable than before. Understanding the unresolved drama between Iron Man and Captain America’s respective factions will make their upcoming campaign against Thanos all the more suspenseful, because the Avengers’
relationships are on thin ice.