8 essential MCU films to watch before Avengers: Infinity War


It’s an undertaking to watch 18 films before Avengers: Infinity War, so we’ve tried to simplify it into the key films for you. It’s like a crash course!

Avengers: Infinity War is an insane outing. Say what you will about the state of comic book movies, even if you’re suffering from a bit of fatigue, you can’t deny trying to compile characters from 18 films is insane.

It’s insane. There’s no other word.

Since you’re probably not like me and didn’t start watching a movie a week since New Year’s (hey, it’s a good way to catch up on all the films), you’re most likely wondering the best way to cram for the final exam on April 27.

We’re here to give you the quickest way to cram: the movies that are necessary to watch before sitting down in the theater for Infinity War; the ones that introduce characters, necessary plot points, or something else necessary for this third Avengers film.

And the order to watch them in. We’ve narrowed it down from eighteen films to just eight. That’s a little more manageable, right?

The Avengers

Start with the first team-up film. If you really want to watch any of the pre-Avengers films, you can add in Iron Man (to introduce Tony Stark’s character) and maybe Thor (to introduce Loki). But you don’t really need Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, or really Captain America: The First Avenger.

Avengers really gives you a solid introduction to these characters without needing much backstory. You don’t have to sit through eight hours of films if you don’t want to. It gives you the core defining traits of each Avengers member and how that will play into the movies that follow.

Plus it introduces you to the first two Infinity Stones! Sure, you see the Tesseract in The First Avenger, but Fury and Captain America give enough exposition via dialogue in this film (Hydra used it to make their super high-tech stuff in WWII. Bam. Done.).

And! It’s our first mention of Thanos! He shows up in the post-credits scene with an evil smirk.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

You should watch this one not only because it’s one of Marvel’s best outings, but because it will set the stage for Civil War, which is huge (more on that later).

Winter Soldier introduces the return of Bucky Barnes, Cap’s best friend who he thought died in WWII. The movie gives you enough flashbacks to give you an idea of who Bucky is without having to watch Captain America: The First Avenger (although the reveal of the Winter Soldier’s identity is definitely more impactful if you do).

It also alludes to the fact that Bucky kills Tony Stark’s parents while under Hydra’s control. That comes up in a later film and is very important.

We also get the fall of SHIELD in this film. They were an integral part of Phase One, and we saw that in The Avengers. And you kind of need to know that they’re no longer a thing as the universe moves on. It’ll explain why Fury’s not hanging around anymore and there isn’t an organization for our superheroes to turn to.

Guardians of the Galaxy

You need to have introductions to these characters before Infinity War. Guardians of the Galaxy is no exception. This ragtag group of heroes has a connection to Thanos in Gamora and Nebula, who are both his daughters.

It also gives us a deeper look at Thanos. Granted, all he does is a lot of grandstanding (or sitting). But we get a look at how badly he wants the Infinity Stones (and a fun information dump from the Collector about Infinity Stones in general.) That’ll set up Thanos’s main goal leading into Infinity War.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron gives us a handful of necessary information, one of which is that Loki’s scepter in the first Avengers film actually was powered by an Infinity Stone: The Mind Stone.

This movie also introduces two new characters that are kind of important: Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Wanda, AKA Scarlet Witch, is our first enhanced individual (don’t say “mutant”) by experimentation with Infinity Stones. She starts off on the bad guy’s side but when their end result is extinction, she battles against it and ends up on the Avengers’ side.

Vision is something else entirely. We don’t know what he is (he doesn’t either) since he’s completely synthetic. But he can lift Mjolnir and houses the Mind Stone in his forehead. Thanos will be after him soon enough in Infinity War.

The film does also show Tony’s issues around his superhero responsibilities and that he’s willing to go to the extreme at times to make sure everyone’s protected.


Really, the only reason you want to watch this one is to get introduced to Scott Lang so you have a better understanding of who he is when he shows up in our next film.

You also get to see his run-in with Falcon of the Avengers and why he’ll be so jaded against Tony Stark, too.

Plus, it’s Paul Rudd. Who doesn’t love Paul Rudd?!

Captain America: Civil War

This one… this one is the biggest to see before Infinity War. Captain America: Civil War tears the Avengers apart. It makes Cap a vigilante and turns half of our heroes into criminals.

We are reintroduced to Bucky, AKA the Winter Soldier, trying to find his way in the world. Unfortunately, all of the crap Hydra put in his brain is still there. He’s still a danger, and a bombing at the United Nations that kills the King of Wakanda frames him as the culprit (he’s innocent).

Civil War introduces two brand-new characters as well: T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, and Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man (do I even have to say that?). T’Challa does so much in his brief appearance and grows as a character (he literally has his own story arc).

We get introduced to the third iteration of Peter Parker in the form of actor Tom Holland. He’s the perfect amount of nerdy, and he’s a nervous teenager who just wants to do whatever necessary to impress Tony Stark and be part of the Avengers.

Doctor Strange

This film introduces you to Stephen Strange. But more than that, it shows you the various multiverses in existence and brings mysticism and a hint of magic into the MCU. That’s such a huge step forward. And we don’t know how the rest of the Avengers will react to it (aside from Thor since he shows up in a post-credits scene, and meets Strange in Thor: Ragnarok.)

This film leaves Doctor Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme protecting Earth, which… he hasn’t dabbled in the mystic arts very long, but he’s a smart guy so he’ll figure it out.

Plus, it has yet another Infinity Stone. They don’t even shy away from it—Wong jokes about it at the end of the film when Strange puts the Eye of Agamotto back in its place.

Black Panther

Yes, you already met T’Challa in Civil War, but Black Panther introduces you to the actual Wakanda, which we had only seen once before in a post-credits scene. The big fight scene in Infinity War takes place in Wakanda, so make yourself familiar with it and its characters.

We also get an in-depth look at their insanely advanced technology, their way of life and how things are run. In the end, T’Challa begins to open Wakanda up to the world (albeit in small doses), and T’Challa’s little sister, Shuri, is helping fix Bucky’s brain.

You know it’ll only be a matter of time before Cap shows up on Wakanda’s doorstep again.

Next: The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies ranked by hilarity

Good luck in your crash course study before Infinity War!