Hate Marvel? Still Want To See Infinity War And Have It Make Sense? Help Is At Hand!

[Spoilers for all movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!]

Hello there, my oddly photogenic Caucasian friend! What seems to trouble you today?

*sigh* I really want to arrange a trip to see Avengers: Infinity War with my friends, but none of them have ever seen a Marvel movie! They just can’t be bothered to watch all 18 movies. What on earth should I do?

Not to worry! Circle of Cinema have spent the last few days endeavouring to work out a solution. Below you can find “Circle of Cinema’s Marvel Series For Slothful Spectators”™  In only three simple sections we explain the minimum amount of time you need to waste spend in order for Infinity War to make some kind of sense!

marvel-cinematic-universe-phase-one (1)

What You Don’t Need To See

Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger

What You Need To See

Thor, The Avengers

The Avengers is really the daddy here. Say what you will about Joss Whedon, but that man really knows how to take a multiple installment franchise and then introduce the entire thing to a new audience in about two hours (see Serenity). As important as some of the Phase One films are to understanding the nitty-gritty of the Marvel characters and their motivations, The Avengers manages to cover almost every necessary piece of information in its limited runtime.

Take, for example, Steve Rogers’ origin and the introduction of the Tesseract in Captain America. Though extremely important to the future of the MCU, the relevant information about both these things are shown in The Avengers through the judicious use of flashbacks and small snippets of dialogue.

There might be some people reading that will be surprised neither of the Iron Man movies make the cut. But really, outside of knowing that he’s a quick-witted billionaire with a penchant for REALLY expensive mechanical suits, what more do you need from his movies that affects the big picture?

There also might be a few readers that are equally surprised Thor does make the cut. And in theory, you might be able to get away with just watching The Avengers. The issue is that without it, you don’t get a proper introduction to Asgard, Loki, Odin or any of the other minor aspects that make up the far more important Thor: Ragnarok.

As for The Incredible Hulk… Come on, really?

Total Time Needed: 257 minutes (4 hours 17 minutes)


What You Don’t Need To See

Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man

What You Need To See

Captain America: The Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron

In a similar vein to Iron Man 1 & 2, the third installment in the adventures of Tony Stark doesn’t really contribute any major changes to the MCU. That’s in spite of an ending that indicates otherwise. But since Iron Man 3’s finale ends up being ignored in all future Tony Stark appearances, it’s safe to say the average person can do the same.

A similar approach can be taken when it comes to The Dark World and Ant-Man. Both movies end up being pretty stand-alone to the larger narrative. (In the case of The Dark World, while the McGuffin / the Aether is technically important to later films, the actual portrayal of its powers within the film itself is so bland as to be rather pointless.)

But when it comes to the three films you need to see from Phase Two, missing any of them would leave you in knots. For one, Winter Solider and Age of Ultron together end up introducing seven major characters that all play significant roles in future installments. (Though, admittedly, without watching the Iron Man trilogy, the appearance of James Rhodes as War Machine / Tony’s best friend is going to seem really random!)

As for GOTG, considering how deeply Marvel end up diving into the cosmic realm, this one’s a no-brainer. Add the fact that this is the first movie to give a clear description of the Infinity Stones; it would be close to impossible to understand anything in Infinity War without seeing this adventure with Starlord and his crew.

Total Time Needed: 399 minutes (6 hours and 39 minutes)


What You Don’t Need To See

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-man: Homecoming, Black Panther

What You Need To See

Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Thor Ragnarok

Like the movies you can skip in Phase Two, GOTG Vol. 2 and Homecoming are basically really good examples of standalone entries in the MCU. Take the character of Spider-Man for example; Civil War already does more than enough to introduce him to Marvel newbies, thus making Homecoming redundant. And while GOTG Vol. 2 does make Mantis a part of the crew, her impact in Infinity War is so small as to be easily ignored.

The interesting part here is Black Panther. While the third act of Infinity War would suggest you need to have watched the stand-alone film, all the relevant information is actually given in the post-credit sequence of Civil War. Though the scene lasts only a minute and a half, it quickly explains what happened to Bucky and the general idea that Wakanda is a technologically advanced nation.

So basically, in the same way that The Avengers is at the core of Phase One, Civil War ends up being the core of Phase Three. An absolutely must-see movie.

That leaves Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnarok. Again, considering the former acts as general audiences’ introduction to magic and the Time Stone (and taking into account how pivotal Doctor Strange’s role is in Infinity War); this is another unmissable entry.

Thor: Ragnarok, however, might cause a little bit of confusion without having seen The Dark World. Without the latter, a newcomer might wonder how Loki escaped from prison and how on earth he took Odin’s place as King of Asgard. But considering the time gap from his appearance in The Avengers, most viewers will probably extrapolate an explanation for themselves or overlook it. Of course the more important issues that make Ragnarok a necessary watch are the destruction of Mjolnir, the loss of Thor’s eye, the reintroduction of the Hulk, as well as positioning all the characters for the beginning of Infinity War.

Total Time Needed: 392 minutes (6 hours and 32 minutes)

Total Time Needed For Avengers: Infinity War To Make Any Kind Of Sense:
17 hours and 28 minutes

And there we have it. Less than a day needed to catch up. Good luck Marvel Newbies!

Photo Credit: “Young man experiencing immense sadness” by Ananian is licenced under CC by 2.0

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