So the worst has happened. You’ve been able to avoid the biggest movie franchise in history so far. You ignored the Avengers hype, you were able to dodge the Captain America movies, you even passed on Black Panther. But now, finally, a friend or loved one has lowered the boom and is dragging you to see Avengers: Endgame over your loud and frequent protestations.
The problem is, with almost two dozen movies already lodged into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, walking into Endgame cold is like starting watching, say, Breaking Bad from the middle of season 4. You’d have no idea who these people are, where they are coming from, or whose power is punching really hard and whose power is meth. Endgame won’t just expect you to have seen Infinity War (Endgame was originally named “Infinity War Part 2”). It will draw from most or all movies from the MCU, from Iron Man 1 on.
On the other hand, you don’t want to torture yourself with 48 hours (or whatever we’re up to) worth of superhero movies, so here’s a quick how-to on getting caught up and without resorting to plot synopses from Wikipedia. These are not only the most important movies in the MCU’s world-building; they are also among its best, so don’t worry: you won’t be steered into stinkers like Thor: Dark World.