We are only a few days away from Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the culmination of an epic, universe-spanning story about the nature of power that began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. The Avengers are now a cultural touchstone and promise to end this story with a splendid crescendo that we’ve come to expect from both the Russo Brothers and Marvel Studios.
And if you’re reading this article, chances are that you already know that.
This article is for all of your friends and family who have inexplicably chosen now to get caught up with the Avengers movies. What I have here is an extremely bare-bones overview of stuff you need to know in order to watch Endgame so that you don’t have to sit through (approximately) 73 hours of movies to get caught up. Also luckily for you, I also have plot summaries for the first 21 movies up through Captain Marvel conveniently linked here.
Shall we? Let’s begin.
Who Are The Avengers?
They’re a group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™ initially formed by a United States Department of Defense branch called SHIELD (the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, & Logistics Division). The Avengers stepped away from the government to function as an autonomous superhero team after SHIELD was infiltrated by a terrorist cell named Hydra. That only lasted about a year until Iron Man wanted to go back under government oversight, and Captain America said no. The Avengers broke up. Very sad. Cap and Iron Man, who were at one time close friends, have not spoken or seen each other for over three years as of the end of Infinity War. Also very sad.
Who Are the Guardians of the Galaxy?
They’re a group of a-holes (their word, not mine). Led by Star-Lord, the Guardians are a group of heroes for hire comprised of reformed assassins, thieves, and brutes. GOTG formed out of a matter of convenience to escape from a supermax prison, but a harrowing adventure fused the band together permanently. They cruise around the galaxy looking to help out people willing to pay for it, as long as it’s within their heroic code. GOTG currently consists of Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, Groot, Drax, and Mantis. They do not have a huge roster like the Avengers.
What’s Been Happening?
Thanos, the Mad Titan, went on a universe-wide quest to collect the six Infinity Stones in order to become the most powerful being in the universe. However, his mission was not about galactic conquest. After seeing his homeworld destroyed due to overpopulation while conventional government refusing to take action, Thanos came to the conclusion that the continued expansion of life was its own worst enemy. He swore to save and balance the universe by wiping out half of all living, sentient beings. Crazy, right?
Upon collecting the six Infinity Stones, Thanos snapped his fingers (no really, I know it sounds corny but that’s what happened) and managed to use the Stones’ power to turn half of the universe’s sentient beings to dust. He then decided to retire and drink mai-tais on a beach (only half a joke).
These magic rocks were formed by the Big Bang and each represent an elemental force of the universe. Conveniently, they all come in different colors.
- Blue: Space Stone. Long-distance teleportation. Like, ultra super long distance. Billions of light years in the blink of an eye long distance.
- Yellow: Mind Stone. Grants the power of shooting laser beams from your forehead (not a joke) and also control people’s thoughts and alter people’s memories.
- Red: Reality Stone. The user can alter aspects of the physical world at will. Primarily used to turn laser beams and knives into bubbles (also not a joke).
- Green: Time Stone. Basically, a time machine that looks like a tiny green rock instead of a car or police box.
- Orange: Soul Stone. You pretty much get control over life and death. Probably. We think. We’re pretty sure. (that stone’s power hasn’t been demonstrated individually yet in the films).
- Purple: Power Stone. You get to throw the moon at people.
Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy Roster (Alive)
- Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Bruce Banner (Hulk currently being a whiny brat because he lost a fight), Black Widow, Hawkeye/Ronin, Rocket, Ant-Man, War Machine, Captain Marvel.
- Not Really Avengers But They’re Alive and Can Fight So I Guess They’re Avengers Now: Okoye, Nebula, Valkyrie, Wong
Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy Roster (Dusted)
- Black Panther, Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Mantis, Spider-Man, Winter Soldier, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange
- Not Really Avengers But They’re Dusted and Probably Will Become Avengers If They Get Un-dusted: Shuri, The Wasp (Janet van Dyne), The Wasp II (Hope van Dyne), Ant-Man I (Hank Pym)
People who were killed by Thanos before the snap and probably are dead for real… We think
- Heimdall — stabbed through the heart and Thanos is to blame
- Loki — neck snapped
- Tanneleer Tivan, the Collector — off-screen death
- Gamora — thrown off a cliff
- The Vision – killed twice: (1) by Scarlet Witch in a successful attempt to destroy the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead before Thanos could acquire it, and (2) by Thanos when he reversed time, resurrected Vision, and then lobotomized Vision by forcibly ripping the Mind Stone from his head.
Important People That We Care Are Alive
- Pepper Potts, Korg & Miek
Current state of events/important things to remember
- Endgame will take place some indeterminate amount of time after the events of Infinity War.
- Advertisements in the trailers read “What do we do now that they’re gone?” We do not know if the “they” refers to The Avengers or to our lost friends and family as a whole, but the presence of these adverts implies some significant amount of regrouping time has happened.
- Iron Man and Nebula are adrift in space on a derelict vessel that they somehow made work after being stranded on Titan after the snap. They are still lightyears away from Earth without food or water, and steadily running out of oxygen.
- The Avengers who survived and are on Earth have located Nick Fury’s pager/distress beacon to Captain Marvel in the streets of New York City. Captain Marvel has answered the beacon by returning to Earth for the first time in 24 years.
- Before the snap, Doctor Strange told Iron Man that he’d glimpsed into over 14 million possible futures, and the Avengers only win in one of those timelines. We do not know what Doctor Strange meant by “win,” but it seems apparent that Strange is looking twenty moves ahead of everyone else.
- When Strange willingly surrendered the Time Stone to Thanos he told Iron Man, “We’re in the endgame now.” Also, Strange’s final line before he got dusted was “There was no other way.” We have to assume that things up through Strange’s death have gone by his design. We’re now in a time without Strange’s ability to directly manipulate events to unfold as he saw in the one possible future where the Avengers win. We are truly in unknown territory, and anyone could be on the chopping block permanently.