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By now, it’s fair to say that plenty of fans left dangling by the tragic cliffhanger ending of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War have prepped for Avengers: Endgame by taking a deep and nostalgic tour back through the MCU movie library to get ready for the final act in Marvel’s current movie phase.
But for those who haven’t, or who just want a refresher to get up to speed before Endgame arrives in theaters later this month, co-director Anthony Russo has a quick and dirty shortcut to get you caught up: If time is precious, at least watch Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War. That's it.
Russo recently offered up both MCU movies (which, incidentally, he helped direct along with brother Joe Russo) as the surest crash course to help fans cover the essential plot beats and groundwork that have laced the MCU’s larger themes together as Marvel worked its way, one movie at a time, toward Endgame.
“[T]he audience keeps growing for these films. So what that tells us is that people are seeing these movies who haven't seen the previous ones,” Russo told Fandango in a pre-release interview. “So it's important that we are speaking to an audience that is perhaps seeing these stories for the first time.
“That being said, there's certainly an interconnected story being told. I would say, certainly, Civil War and Infinity War are probably the two biggest lead-ins to this movie in the sense that Civil War created the situation where the Avengers were divided.”
One additional benefit of checking out both Civil War and Infinity War is each movie’s focus on the fraying relationship between Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who in different ways supply both the emotional and practical leadership for the rest of the Avengers.
“The relationship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers was severed,” said Russo of Civil War, “and that was what put them in a vulnerable place when Thanos came in Infinity War, and I think is partially what led to their demise in that film, the fact that they were divided when the greatest threat they ever faced came to them.”
Infinity War picks up on that fractured relationship early, when Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) persuades Stark to let bygones with Captain America be bygones, for the sake of uniting against Thanos’ universal threat. But the movie goes on to separate the Avengers’ two biggest leaders, denying fans a moment of reconciliation that, we’re hoping, gets a proper payoff by the conclusion of Endgame’s reportedly lengthy run time.
For those with the time and inclination to check out more of the Avengers’ on-screen backstory before Endgame arrives, Russo acknowledged that “the previous Avengers movies also very much factor into this film” — so there’s certainly no harm in rewatching the Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But even with Russo’s advice, and only three weeks to go before Endgame lands in theaters, we’re guessing there are still plenty of fans who’ll make the time to start at the very beginning with Iron Man, and work their meticulous way through each and every film in the entire MCU catalog. Is that what you’ll be doing before you can feel like you’re truly in the endgame now?
Let us know in the comments — and then bring us Thanos. Avengers: Endgame rockets onto big screens everywhere beginning April 26.