If you didn’t know it, the next Avengers movie is coming out May 4, 2018, which is less than four months away. Either you’re foaming at the mouth waiting, like some of us, or you don’t care… or you’re in the middle, and you’d like a little help getting ready for the movie. After all, there are EIGHTEEN movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before Avengers: Infinity War.
What is Avengers: Infinity War? Well, it’s the third Avengers movie, and it’s the culmination of a storyline that they’ve been building towards for a long time–at least seven years and a dozen movies. It’s also the first half of a continued story, although we don’t know the name or shape of the continuation… but we do know when it’s coming out. Untitled Avengers Sequel, commonly called Avengers 4, will be released May 3, 2019.
The best strategy is, of course, to watch all the movies in the MCU, in chronological order. Well, no, that’s the second best strategy. The best strategy is to watch all of them, in chronological order, except for The Incredible Hulk. (Ba-dum-bum, cha!) This is the platinum plan, but you didn’t need me to tell you JUST WATCH THEM ALL. You could have guessed that that would get you ready for the new movie.
(There’s one caveat to everything I’m going to say: Black Panther. It comes out in just under a month, and it may very well have any amount of tie-in to Avengers: Infinity War. We just don’t know. Assume that any of the below plans could be revised to say, “Oh, and you gotta see Black Panther, too.”)
Let’s assume for a moment that you don’t have 36 hours or thereabouts burning a whole in your clock-pocket. Let’s target some other levels. Say you want to go seen Infinity war, and you only have time for two, six, or twelve movies.
If you only have time for one evening of films before you go see Infinity War, my first instinct is to tell you to wait until you have more time, and come back then. The new movie will still be there in year or two, and you’ll miss more by not knowing what’s going on than you’ll get ruined by spoilers for waiting. Maybe you can watch Avengers 3 and 4 in one sitting. But if you have to only watch a tiny handful of movies before Infinity War, I’d go with Avengers and then Captain America: Civil War. That’s the Bronze Plan, but it pretty much leaves out most all the story of the Infinity Stones, and doesn’t even introduce all the characters you’ll see when the war starts.
The Silver Plan is Iron Man, Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, and Thor: Ragnarok, in that order. You only see the first appearances of two of the six Infinity Stones, but you get the background of most of the characters who will be in Avengers: Infinity War and also some cracking good adventure cinema. Guardians of the Galaxy actually includes exposition explaining what the Infinity Stones are, plus that whole team is in Infinity War. You’ll wonder where Vision and the Scarlet Witch come from when you watch Civil War, but hey, you’re interested in saving time.
The Gold Plan, which gets you every scrap of story Infinity War is building on, is Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok, and very likely Black Panther. This gets you all the exposition and history of the Silver Plan, as well as seeing the history and path of all of the Infinity Stones we’ve seen so far.
You’ll notice that there are several movies I’m not mentioning in the Gold Plan. They are, in order, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. They fall neatly into two groups: the ones that are Not So Great, and the ones that are Just Unnecessary. The aforementioned Incredible Hulk isn’t so good. Neither is Iron Man 2, although it does have the first appearance of the Black Widow. They are the two worst movies in the MCU as far as I’m concerned, and more importantly, they don’t contain any of the build-up to Infinity War. The Just Unnecessary ones are really quite good–I have a real fondness for Thor, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-man: Homecoming, all of them. But none of them build to the Infinity war, except for a two second cameo in Thor that I’ll explain if you want.
I hope this helps. Remind me to update it once I’ve seen Black Panther, will you?