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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Essential Marvel Cinematic Universe Watch List

Some people probably don’t want to read all my reviews of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. They just want a list of what’s essential, so they can get the gist of the entire scope and story, or fill in gaps in what they’ve seen with only the best parts.

In the list below, I’ve only counted A- or A movies plus a handful of B-/B grade movies that tell important parts of the story. You can in theory skip all the movies below A- except Avengers: Infinity War if you want to keep things short.

(In a sense, this list is a spoiler, not for the MCU storyline itself, but for ratings in reviews I haven’t posted yet. But the streaming shows and cable shows don’t really interact much with the movies, so they wouldn’t be essential, anyways.)

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (B)
  2. The Avengers (B-)
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (A-)
  4. Ant-Man (A)
  5. Captain America: Civil War (B-)
  6. Doctor Strange (A-)
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (A-)
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (A)
  9. Thor: Ragnarok (A)
  10. Ant-Man and the Wasp(A)
  11. Avengers: Infinity War (B)
  12. Avengers: Endgame (A-)
  13. Spider-Man: Far From Home (A)

This is mostly in chronological order, except #10 and #11, which kind of happen simultaneously. I think for people who haven’t seen anything after Thor: Ragnarok, the story is much more effective if Ant-Man and the Wasp comes next, before Avengers: Infinity War.

If you want to fill in just a few more pieces of the story, add:

  1. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 (after the first two movies)
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (before #5)
  3. Avengers: Age of Ultron (before #9)

Anything else is up to your individual tastes. It might even be worthwhile to save the other movies until after you’ve gone through these essentials. You’ll get enough samples of other characters that you can track down just the heroes that sparked your interest.

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  1. Doesn’t the snap happen in the end credits of 10 though? Kind of a major spoiler for 11. I’d swap those.

    1. I think anyone who hadn't seen any of the MCU movies yet wouldn't know what to make of the end credits scene in Ant-Man and the Wasp, so I wouldn't worry about it.

      And anyone with a comics background will know that the Snap WILL happen, so it's not really that spoilery.

    2. Yes, that's my thinking, too. If someone hasn't seen any MCU movies, or #s 10-13 at least, the end credits scene is more of a mystery. It makes you wonder what just happened.

      And even if you know what the Snap is, either because you read the comics or, like me, heard people talk about it constantly once they knew Thanos was in the MCU and that everything was building up to it, all that scene does is make you wonder how the Avengers failed to stop it, and how they are going to fix it.

      I think the tension actually works better with AM&W coming first, because at the end of Infinity War, you may have forgotten that Ant-Man wasn't "snapped", that he's stuck in the quantum realm. You don't remember until Endgame, when he escapes and we get to see the effects of the Snap through his eyes, and he become the key to solving the problem.