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the marvel movies from iron man to avengers: endgame Illustration: James Bareham/Polygon | Source images: Marvel Studios

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The ultimate way to watch the Marvel movies

The correct order is not a chronological marathon, but well-paced experience

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So, you’ve decided to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Consisting of 23 films released from 2008 to 2019, the “Infinity Saga” tells the story of dozens of heroes and a handful of villains (maybe only three memorable ones) doing battle across the face of the planet Earth, the cosmos, and — finally — the fabric of space-time. It’s a lot of story, but it has a large real world canvas to draw upon.

You’ve probably seen many of the Marvel films before, either because you were on board since Iron Man in 2008 and have since gotten a steady stream of Marvel content keeping you up-to-date on the “in universe” events, or maybe you just like big action, blow-em-up-or-shrink-em-down movies, or you’re a fan of one or more A-list actors named Chris. But now, with all the movies now at our disposal for instant renting or streaming, we can experience the MCU in a pure way and at a more relaxed pace than those poor souls who attend in-theater MCU Marathons. A 23-movie arc should not be viewed in marathon fashion. This isn’t an Olympic event, it’s a road trip.

Below, all three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been broken up to be viewed over two weeks (14 days). Most movies have two films to view in a day to get through the whole series. With most of the movies floating around Disney Plus, the goal was to provide a coherent story and a rewatch method that doesn’t burn you out, but brings the viewer closer to the story being told by the MCU. Each day is lightly themed in case you also want to plan snacks, meals or other events.

This is not the chronological release order. This is for your viewing pleasure.


Day 1: Humble Beginnings

We start at the origins of the MCU, but are shuffling the order of the first two films. The Incredible Hulk could possibly be left out of a MCU rewatch entirely since Edward Norton doesn’t come back as Bruce Banner, and Liv Tyler never comes back as Betty Ross, but let’s be completists.

The Incredible Hulk

hulk gnashes his ed norton teeth in the incredible hulk Image: Marvel Studios

Marvel’s black sheep Hulk movie is a good place to begin because it introduces you to the idea of gamma radiation being a special type of science that can make super-people. It also introduces you to a Bruce Banner whose character development gets instantly discarded. Wake up in the morning and watch The Incredible Hulk.

Be forewarned there is a lot of reading involved with watching this movie. Director Louis Leterrier shot the origin sequence of The Hulk, but felt that it was retreading familiar ground so soon after Ang Lee’s version, so all that footage got transformed into a title sequence. If you want to know that General Ross is tracking the Hulk, you’re going to have to read what’s on screen. Bruce and Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) mostly communicate through computer chat. Then everyone gets big and you have to do the opposite of reading which is watch two CGI characters made in 2008 wrestle each other in Harlem. At the time, the models were the cutting edge of what was possible to make in the time-frame allotted, but considering this series of films ends with Thanos, the computer graphics here should serve as your starting point. They’ll be better in Iron Man, which is up next.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? No. Once Bruce Banner opens his eyes and they’re green and you realize he can control being the Hulk, stop the movie. The end credits scene just makes things more confusing (and if you watch it, then you have to track down the Marvel “One Shot” short film “The Consultant” to retcon it back into making sense).

Iron Man

tony stark suits up in the mark III armor in iron man (2008) Image: Marvel Studios

Your first evening watch is the original Iron Man, which holds up surprisingly well for how scrappy the film was perceived to be under the direction of Jon Favreau, who wasn’t known for making special effects movies at that time. Coming off of Elf and Zathura, Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. both seemed like risks at the time. Iron Man ended up being a big hit despite being slight in the plot department, mostly because it pulls off Tony Stark’s hard pivot from womanizer and weapons manufacturer into a guy who would risk his life for society and date one woman.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. In the annals of post-credits scene history, there are two at the top: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and this one where Nick Fury wants to talk to Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative. It’s the moment that actually kicks off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a great note to end the first day’s rewatch on.


DAY 2: SHIELD Day

As you slept, time passed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tony Stark has been Iron Man publicly for a little while and is planning a big Stark Expo, plus something fishy is happening with a heavy hammer in New Mexico. Luckily for both of these potential problems we have SHIELD, a division of spies and soldiers assigned to monitor super-activity on Earth. You will not miss SHIELD shoe-horning their way into the plots of both of today’s entries.

Iron Man 2

whiplash shakes his whips in iron man 2 Image: Marvel Studios

Iron Man 2 is the first movie produced for the MCU that recognized that there was a “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” At this point, Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige knew he was going to build to The Avengers, so Iron Man 2 has to take a detour about halfway through into the SHIELD Archive. The film also introduces audiences to Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, and Don Cheadle’s Rhodey, the version that becomes War Machine. The curly red wig on Black Widow is horrible and the gobbledygook about having to create a new element to power the arc reactor is meaningless, but Iron Man 2 ultimately adds two Avengers to Marvel’s roster, so lay back and forget all the Whiplash and Justin Hammer stuff as soon as it’s over.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Skip this one. It’s setting up Thor and that Agent Coulson and SHIELD are aware of Mjolnir in New Mexico. The actual Thor movie covers all this.

Thor

thor holds mjolnir on bifrost in the final Loki fight in Thor 1 Image: Marvel Studios

Real talk: Captain America is the obvious MVP of the three core Avengers who got trilogies. A lot of that benefits from Civil War functioning as Avengers 2.5. Iron Man has a great trilogy except the second one is a dud. Thor follows the same pattern, but this first entry gets overlooked for doing so much heavy lifting in order to establish the tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Director Kenneth Branagh brought the Shakespearean aspect of Asgard to screen and managed to seed Loki, the MCU’s best villain. The Earth-bound, fish-out-of water stuff is either funny or feeding into the mythology of SHIELD. The scale of the action is so relatable compared to where Thor ends up. Plus, Thor establishes that in the Marvel Universe science and magic are one in the same (at least until Doctor Strange shows up with real magic).

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. Shot by Joss Whedon and added to the end of the film, the extra beat leads directly into The Avengers and reveals the Tesseract, an important item for tomorrow’s slate of movies. It also shows that Loki is still alive despite being sucked into a wormhole at the end of the movie.


Day 3: The First Avengers Day

Get it? Because one movie has “The First Avenger” in its title and the other one is the first Avengers movie in the series.

Captain America: The First Avenger

bucky and captain america stand on a snow covered mountain in captain america the first avenger Image: Marvel Studios

Rocketeer 2 is my favorite non-Avengers Phase 1 movie. Joe Johnston’s film is a romp that wears bold and uncomplicated emotions on its sleeve. Bolstered by one hell of a visual effect with Skinny Steve Rogers, this movie serves as ground-zero for the Earth-bound MCU timeline (not counting anything Odin says at the beginning of any Thor movie). The Red Skull’s unearthing of the Tesseract, and Howard Stark’s exposure to it, seeds the man to devise the Arc Reactor. The Tesseract was hidden on Earth by Odin. The super soldier serum that works on Steve Rogers in this movie never works correctly again with knock off formulas popping up in The Incredible Hulk and later in Civil War. Iron Man may have started the MCU run of movies, but Cap is at the center of the in-universe history of heroes.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Nope. It’s basically just a trailer for The Avengers, and Cap’s last line of the actual movie is the best place to leave his storyline at the moment, setting up his ultimate arc of returning for that dance date.

Marvel’s The Avengers

captain america, black widow, and hawkeye walk out to fight in avengers 2011 Image: Marvel Studios

Remember, when this movie came out it was a gigantic risk, and could have been a massive failure (like a certain other comic book company’s team-up movie that depth-charged a franchise into oblivion). It’s amazing that Avengers works as well as it does, and because it did, it became an essential movie in the MCU. The consequences of the Battle of New York are felt throughout the rest of the series.

In The Avengers we get an actual look at SHIELD’s helicarriers and plans to make super-weapons. Thanos sends Loki to Earth, and gives away the only Infinity Stone he had at that point in the form of Loki’s scepter. More importantly, the characters are all established as parts of a dysfunctional team. The Hulk’s backstory is almost entirely retconned and the seeds of a relationship with Black Widow are ... sort of there. Thor and Hulk have a combative relationship from the beginning that matures into Ragnarok’s buddy comedy. Black Widow and Hawkeye have a whole “I know who you really are” conflict established here that they repeat every time they’re together. Captain America thinks Tony Stark is an asshole but respects him. It’s all here. Oh, and Iron Man gets a glimpse into the greater cosmic universe and it freaks him out.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. There are two post-credits scenes, you should watch both of them.


Day 4: Strange Stones Day

In our most significant reshuffling of the release order so far, Doctor Strange moves up from Phase 3 to Phase 2. Also, both of these movies contain the introduction of Infinity Stones. The only reason Doctor Strange doesn’t show up earlier in the rewatch is because Endgame told us he’s not in New York at the time of Avengers. However, he is mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as one of Project Insight’s targets, so he’s potentially the Sorcerer Supreme at that time. Either way, we’re going to plop an origin film here in Phase 2. But first...

Thor: The Dark World

thor shoots frickin lightning out of his hammer in thor 2 the dark world Image: Marvel Studios

No one wants to rewatch Thor: The Dark World, but we must. First, lots of important things happen: Jane absorbs the reality stone (important) and visits Asgard (important) where they are attacked and Thor’s mom dies (important), which allows Thor and Loki to reunite (important) and Loki to fake die (important) and replace Odin on the Throne (important).

Unfortunately, you’ll notice that list of important things doesn’t even mention the villain Malekith or his Dark Elves, or anything that happens in London. Those things are all boring and pointless.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. The scene introduces you to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and the idea that keeping two Infinity Stones together is a bad idea. If you don’t watch this post-credits scene, you might be confused about why Thanos ends up on Knowhere in Infinity War to obtain the Reality Stone.

Doctor Strange

doctor strange floats above the earth touching a butterfly Image: Marvel Studios

You liked Tony Stark when he was a weapons manufacturer who learned not to make weapons, so get ready for an asshat surgeon who learns to heal with magic instead of his hands.

Doctor Strange should be much more boring than it is, but it manages to be both funny and amazing looking. The magic effects of the mirror dimension and the time effects of the Time Stone all look great. Bald Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One is perfect casting, as is her stunt double who does the fighting. The only thing that’s not good is how the movie casts Rachel McAdams to do something important, then decides it doesn’t need her, but Oh, shoot, we already hired Rachel McAdams. Still, fun to watch. Maybe it was underestimated because it came out in theaters in November 2016 when we were all a little distracted here in America.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? There are two post-credits scenes but they’re both inessential. One is a preview of a scene from Thor: Ragnarok, which you’re not watching for a whole week. The other is a set-up for Mordo to turn villain in some future Doctor Strange project that’s not part of this rewatch.


Day 5: Christmas Day

Iron Man 3 was the movie directly after The Avengers. Everyone was wondering why Tony Stark doesn’t even think about calling the Avengers in times of need, because we had just seen the greatest superhero team-up movie of all time. Moving Iron Man 3 to after The Dark World and Doctor Strange gives the universe some room to breathe. Thor won’t pull The Avengers into space (at least not yet), and Doctor Strange isn’t going to call the Avengers to deal with assaults on Sanctums because he works in the realm of magic not international policing.

Iron Man 3

Iron Man and War Machine in Iron Man 3 Image: Marvel Studios

The core idea to take away from Iron Man 3 is that Tony loves Pepper enough to give up his suits. He never really does (he just makes her a suit for Endgame), but the movie works really well as a one-shot about soldiers and trauma. There’s a bunch of interesting concepts about being a soldier that “maintains,” and how post-traumatic stress affects people we assume will save us. There’s also a big reveal about Ben Kingsley’s character that not only works well in the film, but worked well when the movie was released. On a rewatch, it’s easy to see how this movie would be more effective if Maya Hansen was the “real” Mandarin behind her own invention, but it was 2013 and Marvel was apparently not ready for a female villain yet.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? No, but you should. The idea that Tony Stark’s voice-over throughout the movie was directed at Bruce Banner is a good meta-moment for the MCU, and a quick way to establish that Banner and Stark are spending time together after having met in The Avengers.


Day 6: Hail Hydra Day

Meanwhile, SHIELD has been policing the world with Captain America and Black Widow. The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier have a big effect on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it gets its own day. Also, we need to simulate some time passing before Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

big fight in captain america: the winter soldier Image: Marvel Studios

This movie is a lot of fun. Sure, it upends the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, yeah, the first act is largely adapted from leftover ideas from Joss Whedon’s more Cap-heavy early draft of The Avengers, but the movie is fun.

Much like Iron Man 2, Winter Soldier eventually gets hijacked by the greater Cinematic Universe, but unlike Iron Man 2, it manages to pull off the info-dump section of the movie without slowing down. It even slips in that Winter Soldier killed Howard Stark in a photo montage and saves the drama for Civil War. Also, Robert Redford makes for a diabolical villain, Samuel L. Jackson gets his most substantial action scene as Nick Fury, and we begin the saga of Bucky, the Winter Soldier, who is a super important character in Civil War and ... uh ... future post-credits scenes?

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. Age of Ultron dumps you right in the middle of an ongoing Avengers mission to mop up Hydra and the leaked Chitauri technology that escaped into the world once SHIELD collapsed. A compound run by Baron Von Strucker, introduced in this post-credits scene, is the last stop on that mission because he has Loki’s Scepter, revealed here. Also Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver appear for the first time, and we want as much Quicksilver as we can get in his limited appearances. There’s also a scene revealing Bucky is still alive, which isn’t important, but has a great score cue over it.


Day 7: New Avengers Day

The status quo of the MCU is changed in a major way again, with the Avengers vaporizing Sokovia to stop an evil AI (that they created). Ant-Man is slight and a good palate cleanser with one reference from Hank Pym about thhe Avengers “dropping cities” on people that means it has to come after Age of Ultron.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

all the avengers in age of ultron Image: Marvel Studios

By all accounts, Joss Whedon just managed to pull together the first Avengers movie, and this time the needs of Marvel Studios and the needs of a coherent film were at odds. Age of Ultron also wastes James Spader, who is out there giving his all in a motion capture performance as Ultron.

About halfway through, when they fight Ultron for the first time, the movie grinds to a halt to have emotional Avengers time, especially surrounding Stark and the Banner/Natasha romance. Most of that emotional Avengers time actually pays off in later films, but it puts the skids on the momentum of the movie it’s actually in. Thor has a pretty nonsensical vision in a cave pool that might actually play better on this rewatch because it isn’t such a retread of the Collector’s Infinity Stone speech in Guardians of the Galaxy, a movie you’ll watch later. The pacing never manages to establish Ultron as a threat again because it has to pivot to creating the Vision from the Mind Stone.

Age of Ultron is an essential Avengers movie because it’s darker and shows all the cracks that will eventually rip this team apart, plus it’s the first movie since Iron Man to recognize that Tony Stark is still an asshole. It’s just too much movie for one movie, and not enough substance for different two movies.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Skip it. Thanos gets a Gauntlet (which he later has Eteri build for him? That makes no sense) and says “I guess I have to do it myself” which he doesn’t do for several more movies. The scene had to exist as a promise to the 2015 audience they were preparing to do Infinity War, which was announced before Age of Ultron’s release. It is a very horse-before-cart situation.

Ant-Man

ant-man rides an ant Image: Marvel Studios

Edgar Wright almost made this movie. He wrote a version of it to come out in Phase 1, based off a treatment he had written when the Ant-Man property was at another studio. Then, Marvel Studios wanted more MCU in there, from Hank Pym being a founding member of SHIELD to Scott Lang running a heist at the new Avengers compound. Edgar Wright wasn’t into it, and Peyton Reed came on to direct the movie.

As a result, this movie floats in the canon. It definitely happens after Avengers: Age of Ultron and before Ant-Man shows up in Civil War, so there’s literally no other place to put this movie that is mostly just a fun heist movie about changing sizes.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? There are two. One is a scene from Captain America: Civil War and you can skip it because you’ll see the full thing. The second post-credits scene has Hank showing Hope the Wasp suit. Evangeline Lilly saying it was “about damn time” is worth sticking around to see.


Day 8: Civil War Day

Captain America: Civil War is the keystone movie in the MCU, so it gets its own day. Take the evening to feel the sheer consequence that your Avengers won’t be together for years in MCU time. Years.

Captain America: Civil War

Iron Man holding a dying war machine in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Image: Marvel Studios

It’s all exciting from here on out in your rewatch. Captain America: Civil War is chock-full of great MCU moments, but they all pale in comparison to the big hero-on-hero airport fight. So it’s easy to forget the Black Panther introductory chase or the Winter Soldier’s escape from the government.

Also, hey, Spider-Man is here! [Pushes glasses up nose] Back in my day, that was a big deal, kids.

Baron Zemo is also an interesting villain who avoids fighting the Avengers in order to break them, and his scheme works out very well. Tony and Steve don’t see each other again until Endgame. This movie also branches off into Phase 4 with the upcoming Black Widow movie taking place after Civil War but before Infinity War.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Not really. Once again there are two and they both provide some linking material to future movies that teased where the MCU was going next. It’s probably useful to know Bucky is in Wakanda, but he doesn’t appear in Black Panther until after the credits. It’s also nice to know that Peter Parker got to keep the Tony Stark-made Spider-Man suit, but that’s also explored fully in Homecoming.


Day 9: New Heroes Day

Captain America: Civil War introduced two new heroes to the MCU yesterday, and both of those encounters will have fallout. Without any new Avengers joining the team, we’ll spend today seeing how Civil War kicked off anarchy in Spider-Man and Black Panther’s lives (and kingdoms).

Spider-Man: Homecoming

spider-man sits on the ledge of a building talking on the phone Image: Marvel Studios

Up until Spider-Man: Homecoming, the traditional idea with Spider-Man movies was that we had to do an origin story and emotionally connect Spider-Man to Uncle Ben. The Sony/Marvel Studios co-productions skip the origin and make Tony the Uncle Ben archetype of the story. It won’t be complete until after Stark’s self-sacrifice, but it sets the groundwork here, with Stark serving as a parental figure in the world of being a hero. The movie also makes Michael Keaton’s Vulture villain a by-product of Tony Stark, and the dad of Peter’s love interest Liz Allen. This movie has Tony all over it, but the cast and Jon Watts’ direction keep the school kids grounded and the climax focused on Spider-Man himself.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? No. One sets up a Spider-Man sequel that never happens and the other is a good joke, but not important to what’s happening in the MCU.

Black Panther

t’challa accepts the role of black panther Image: Marvel Studios

What Black Panther meant to superhero movie culture outshines what Black Panther does in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The in-universe side had built to introducing Black Panther for a long time, with Wakanda appearing on a map in Iron Man, and the debuts of Ulysses Klaue and Vibranium exporting planted in Age of Ultron.

Director Ryan Coogler really hits it out of the park as far as Marvel directors who are able to work within the system and still produce a distinct film. The big battle between Killmonger and T’Challa isn’t the best CGI of the saga, but Killmonger’s final line is one of the MCU’s most poignant. Black Panther lives in a world of afrofuturism and sci-fi tropes with more confidence than, say, 2011’s Thor and the alternate universe of Asgard. The film shows off amazing technology and a death dimension and all of it feels like a logical extension of where the universe was going. Watching Black Panther will help you suspend your disbelief in all the space tech that’s gonna be thrown at you tomorrow.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. The mid-credits scene shows T’Challa is ready to open up Wakanda, which they will do in Infinity War, and the end credits scene establishes that Bucky slept through the events of Black Panther, but is back and seems to be cured of his Winter Soldier brainwashing.


Day 10: Guardians of the Galaxy Day

The Guardians’ success at the Box Office in Phase 2 of the MCU was no sure thing, so they allowed it to be isolated from the greater MCU in case they had to cut it loose. This means the two existing Guardians movies can be paired together outside the Marvel Universe until absolutely necessary: here, before they meet Thor for tomorrow’s Infinity War.

Guardians of the Galaxy

the cast of guardians of the galaxy in yellow prison jump suits Image: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun enough film to be placed basically anywhere in the rewatch (before Endgame). Putting it this late in the rewatch means Thanos’ reveal here is much more effective, because we haven’t been constantly reminded of Thanos every three films. Josh Brolin actually voices the character here, so it all lines up nicely. Seeing the Collector is fun and hearing his speech about Infinity Stones is just as effective this late in the game after seeing a few.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? No, but they’re fun and feature very baby Groot and Howard the Duck (voiced by Seth Green).

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

the cast of guardians of the galaxy vol 2 Image: Marvel Studios

The second best Guardians of the Galaxy movie still remains apart from the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. The story of Peter Quill and his father, Ego the Living Planet, is only a little less slight than its predecessor. Baby Groot is great, and the ending works for anyone that has lingering daddy issues. As far as its contributions to the MCU canon, we get Nebula and Gamora coming to terms with each other, and Quill gets his god-powers taken away.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Nope. There are a lot of them, and they are either jokes or setups for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 ... maybe. The reveal of Teenage Groot is nestled in one of the post-credits scenes, but you’ll catch up with him tomorrow.


Day 11: Everything Dies Day

In the Thor comics, Ragnarok is when all the gods die and are reborn. That’s pretty fitting for what’s going to happen for the remainder of our rewatch. First, though, everything has to get torn down before we can build it back up.

Thor: Ragnarok

thor is lighting up in thor: ragnarok Image: Marvel Studios

The Avengers have split up, but Thor and Hulk were off-world, so it’s their turn to be broken. Luckily, director Taika Waititi finds a way to do the necessary character work without letting the movie become a downer. The film also introduces Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie to the MCU, and she’ll stick around. Otherwise, Odin makes his exit from the MCU for real this time, Hulk is convinced to come back from his battle planet ruled by Jeff Goldblum, and Asgard, the planet, is destroyed. The movie is fun and colorful, and you’re not going to get a lot of that with the dour pre-climax of the next entry.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. It’s basically the first scene of Infinity War with Thanos’ ship approaching what’s left of the Asgardians.

Avengers: Infinity War

thanos with infinity gauntlet Image: Marvel Studios

Thanos enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe in earnest (meaning he gets out of his floaty chair) with an entry about him collecting all the Infinity Stones, including the newly introduced Soul Stone. Marvel shot Infinity War and Endgame at the same time, and both movies evolved in the editing process; Banner’s evolution into Smart Hulk was supposed to happen at the end of this movie. But this movie strips most of the lore-twisting of Endgame away to be all about establishing Thanos as the second greatest villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (if only he had a sense of humor like Loki he could have a shot at the crown). Thanks to time-travel antics in Endgame, the Thanos that fights the final battle isn’t actually this Thanos, but a younger and dumber Thanos from 2014. So enjoy peak Thanos. If you can be on his side for this one movie, watching the Avengers get dealt loss after loss just because Star Lord couldn’t not punch his evil father-in-law is easier to take.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. Seeing Nick Fury and Maria Hill dusted means they’re out of the story for awhile, and the tale of the Captain Marvel pager is relegated to post-credits scenes. Without seeing this one and the Captain Marvel one, Carol Danvers’ appearance in Endgame is even more random.


Day 12: Who Avenges The Avengers Day

We’re stuck in the release schedule of the MCU for a day because both of these movies have end-credits scenes that tie directly into Endgame in very critical ways. Otherwise, Ant-Man and the Wasp could have come directly after Civil War, and Captain Marvel might have started this whole rewatch since the majority of her story takes place in the 1990s. But we’re going in this direction.

Captain Marvel

captain marvel powers up in her solo movie Image: Marvel Studios

This movie manages to side-step being exactly like a Green Lantern origin story by transplanting the action to the 1990s, and toying with flashbacks to a big, repressed memory. Also, Ronin the Accuser (Lee Pace) is back with more Kree and we get the introduction of the Shape-Shifting aliens, the Skrulls. All of this is well and good, but we also learn how Nick Fury was inducted into the world of superheroes, that the Avengers Initiative was named after Carol Danvers, and that Nick Fury’s eye was scratched out by an alien that looks a lot like cat. Which makes a line about the “last person he trusted” doing the eye thing to him back in The Winter Soldier seem slightly less serious. Most importantly for this rewatch, when Captain Marvel goes off planet she tells Fury he can call her on that pager we saw in the Infinity War post-credits scene.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. The first post-credits scene was shot as part of Avengers: Endgame, but isn’t actually included in the final cut of that film. The second post-credits scene features a vomiting cat joke but also explains how the Tesseract returned to SHIELD custody after the events of the movie.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man climbs up Ghost’s arm in Ant-Man and the Wasp Image: Marvel Studios

This movie is more about the consequences of Captain America: Civil War, and it’s just as confusing having to put it in this spot on the rewatch as when it was released after Infinity War. But, if you don’t watch this movie and the post-credits scene, Ant-Man strides into Endgame with a McGuffin van and a random solution to the snap.

In the movie, Scott Lang is under house arrest because of what happened in Civil War. There are several heists that involve size. Then, the crew gets Michelle Pfeiffer back from the Quantum Realm once they discover they can travel in and out of it safely using a “quantum tunnel.” They eventually put that tunnel in a van. It would have been cooler to have this movie be the second film of “Day Eight - Civil War Day,” but that’s too far away from the Snap to have this mid-credits scene make sense.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? As referenced above, The mid-credits scene is key to the plot of Endgame and features one more Michelle Pfeiffer scene, so watch that one. But, then you can skip the giant ant joke at the very end.


Day 13: Endgame Day

You’ve made it! The rewatch of the whole MCU is a lot to process, but doing it so close together should have built up to this three-hour climax. Everything’s fresh on your mind, but also it feels like you’ve travelled thousands of miles to get here.

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame heroes assemble for Thanos fight Image: Marvel Studios

The important thing when rewatching Avengers: Endgame is to recapture the thrill of seeing it for the first time. If you aren’t having fun watching Endgame, you might notice that the plot only sorta conveniently makes sense. By the time you have pinpointed a plot hole, the movie has either moved on or made fun of you for thinking about time travel plot holes.

Luckily for you, this rewatch of Endgame will be the best rewatch of Endgame you’ll ever have. Nothing beats cramming all 21 previous MCU movies into your brain, then seeing the grand climax. Endgame has so many characters that the majority of them are just there and the movie greatly benefits if all the character arcs are fresh in your mind. The entire end fight on Earth is an amazing achievement. Cap finally gets to say “Avengers Assemble!” Things might peak when Captain Marvel shows up in the end fight, but it’s all a great ride.

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? There isn’t one, there’s just the sound of Tony’s hammer from the cave in Iron Man 1.


Day 14: Cooldown Day

What? There’s another movie? It’s not Phase 4, just because of scheduling and business issues during a time period when Marvel and Sony fought over sharing the Spider-Man rights? Yeah, why not make the marathon a solid two weeks and watch another Spider-Man.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

spider-man aka peter parker looks at a mural of iron man in far from home Image: Marvel Studios

Spider-Man: Far From Home has one good argument for being in Phase 3: to wrap up the replacement of Uncle Ben with Tony Stark in this iteration of the character. You can’t have a true Uncle Ben tragedy until Peter Parker somehow feels responsible for it, which he does once he realizes he has the potential to be the next Tony Stark of the MCU. He turns down the responsibility, and the movie’s mid-credits sequel does two cool things: (1) Each MCU Spider-Man movie has a hard cut out of the f-word at the end and (2) shows that Peter Parker’s worst fear is the thing Iron Man accepted immediately at the end of his first movie: Ownership of his hero identity. I wonder what happens next?

Do I need to watch the post-credits scene? Yes. The mid-credits scene has a big reveal about future problems facing Peter Parker, and the end credits scene could be hinting at Nick Fury’s future space adventures, but at the very least has a good Skrull reveal.