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All roads lead here - How Avengers: Endgame marks the end of a groundbreaking journey

Avengers: Endgame lands in Irish cinemas this week and Marvel fans are chomping at the bit to learn what has happened to their favourite superheroes, since their last group outing. Spanning 11 years, three phases and 22 movies (including Endgame), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a huge part of our lives for over a decade, and on April 25 part of the Avengers, saga will come to its end.

Whether you came to the MCU from the comic book universe or you only stumbled into the cinema in 2008 to watch Iron Man and have been hooked since the stories of the Avengers have captured all of our minds. Endgame is the finale of the current saga in the MCU and the stakes have never been higher. When Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe, including over a dozen of our favourite characters, the remaining Avengers must reassemble and, along with whatever help they can get, set out to undo the Mad Titan’s actions in a final stand. To bring you up to speed we’ve compiled a list of eight Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that you should rewatch before sitting down with your popcorn. These are laid out in chronological order for the Marvel Cinematic Universe - not in order of the movies’ first appearances - to try to untangle the timeline for you.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Steve Rogers is rejected from the army during World War 2 but after being given a dose of serum to turn him into a super-soldier, he becomes Captain America. His mission is to defeat Hydra, an evil organisation with devastating weapons being powered by a mysterious cube called the Tesseract. Why It’s Important: The Tesseract cube contains the Space Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones, which Thanos needs to enact his master plan.

Captain Marvel

With Captain Marvel, we jump straight back to the 90s when a soldier with superpowers falls from the sky and slowly discovers that she is actually a former US Air Force pilot named Carol Danvers. As Captain Marvel, she teams up with a young Nick Fury and swears to use her powers to protect the galaxy from evil. Captain Marvel is expected to play a major role in Avengers Endgame, but what that role is, we’ll just have to wait and see. Why It’s Important: Before Carol is captured and taken to live as a Kree on their homeworld she was involved in a plane crash and absorbed the power of the Tesseract giving her abilities and powers that she must learn to use. Before leaving earth she reconfigures Fury’s pager which will allow him to contact her in case of emergencies. This is the same pager we see Fury holding in the post-credits scene of Avengers Infinity War.

Iron Man

Tony Stark. Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist - the list of words to describe him could go on and on, but we think he summed it up best when he said: “I am Iron Man”. Released in 2008, Iron Man set the bar at an enormous height when it came to superhero movies, as well as kick-starting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the very beginning of what would become one of the greatest franchises ever so we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you to watch this. Why It’s Important: In terms of plot it has little or nothing to do with Avengers Endgame but by the time Tony Stark dons the Iron Man suit - there have been a number of suit upgrades since - Nick Fury has already recruited Captain America for the Avengers Initiative and crossed paths with Captain Marvel so it was about time he popped by and got Iron Man on board.

The Avengers

While this skips on a few movies, Marvel’s Avengers ups the stakes for all of our favourites. It brings together Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye as Earth’s mightiest heroes. The group comes together to save the planet from an alien invasion, led by Thor’s "adopted” brother Loki. Why It’s Important: The sceptre that Loki uses to control his army contains the Mind Stone, another one of the six Infinity Stones. It also brings back the Tesseract, with the space stone, to open a portal and allow the alien invasion to come to Earth and conquer humanity. The biggest reveal, however, comes in the form of Thanos. Here we get our first look at the Mad Titan. Despite having his plans thwarted, the warlord vows to try again. And that he does…

Guardians of the Galaxy

In this instalment, we get introduced to a whole new cadre of superheroes, but this time, we’re as far from the earth as we can get. As a boy, Peter Quill is abducted from Earth and has since grown up and formed a ragtag band of misfits calling themselves the Guardians of The Galaxy. Together, Peter (aka Star-Lord), Gamora, Rocket Racoon, Groot and Drax must defeat Ronan the Accuser who has come into possession of another Infinity Stone - the Power Stone which contains the power to destroy worlds and civilisations with just a touch. Why It’s Important: This is the first movie that gives us the overall scale of the MCU as it takes place mostly in space. We’re introduced to the Power Stone and find out that Ronan isn’t the only one seeking its power. We’re again treated to a bit of back story on Thanos who, despite another setback, is even more determined than ever to finish what he started and capture all six stones. Oh, and did we mention that Gamora is also the adopted daughter of the Mad Titan? That’s an important point to remember.

Captain America: Civil War

One of the highlights of the MCU roster is the movie that, until Infinity War, took the greatest toll on the Avengers. Following many of their battles across the globe leaving much destruction in their wake, people are beginning to turn on the Avengers, so the UN tries to set up a way to control the team - leading to a split and eventually conflict within the group. After a battle leaves the group in tatters, Captain America’s team goes on the run, leaving Iron Man and his followers to pick up the pieces. Why It’s Important: At the end of the movie Steve Rogers reaches out to Tony Stark and says that the team will reunite should earth ever need defending again - which they will certainly need to do when Thanos comes to town. We’re also introduced to a few more superheroes who will go on to join the Avengers such as King T’Challa of Wakanda - aka Black Panther - as well as Peter Parker, your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Captain America and his team are granted refuge in T’Challa’s kingdom of Wakanda, the setting for both the Black Panther movie and a large part of Infinity War.

Black Panther

As T’Challa takes the throne in the Kingdom of Wakanda and becomes the Black Panther he finds his country is threatened from within his own family. Wakanda appears on the outside like a normal developing country, but on the inside, it is a super-advanced society powered by Vibranium, an element within a meteor that fell to Earth and the metal that makes up Captain America’s shield. Why It’s Important: Black Panther is a movie that celebrates African culture on screen and is a monument to black empowerment. While having strong tones and messages, it is also one of the best superhero movies within the MCU and played a huge part in the next movie on our list - Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Infinity War

Following multiple failures to obtain the six Infinity Stones, Thanos sets out to do it himself. Thanos begins his mission obtaining the Power Stone from where it was hidden by the GOTG on the planet Xandar. Once he has that he moves against the first of the Avengers, killing Loki and taking the Space Stone despite attempts by Thor and the Hulk to stop him. After seizing control of the Reality Stone, which alters reality to however he wants, Thanos is given the Time Stone by Doctor Strange (WHY?!?!) and sacrifices the life of his daughter Gamora to obtain the Soul Stone. Once he gets to Earth, the Mad Titan gains the Mind Stone from the head of Vision and enacts his master plan...With one snap of his fingers, half of all life in the universe turns to ash. Why It’s Important: (See above). Avengers Endgame is in cinemas now. You can book tickets here


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