Yes, that is a good word.
Stuff happened. The Marvel universe will never be the same.
It’s going to be a long wait until the next Avengers film (a year, I believe).
It’s such a very Marvel movie. Funny, tragic, epic, spectacular.
It IS rushed. It has to be. The elegance of character introductions & relationships is extremely impressive from a writing perspective. It’s theoretically possible to come into this movie as one’s first comic book movie—it would, fundamentally, hold together—but the movie relies on the pre-existing love the audience has for these characters while also giving them speedy intros that pack a lot into a little bit of time.
The trailers lied at least twice.
The stakes are real.
Thanos isn’t nearly as boring as I expected.
The movie is fast-moving and complicated, so it’s worth a quick recap of the last EIGHTEEN movies.
There are many spoilers for past movies here, and a suspicious mind can extrapolate spoilers for Infinity War too. So if you’re trying to stay away from spoilers, stop here. But if you want reminders of who’s who (or you’ve missed some movies along the way), this is the useful bit. I’ll colour in the bits related to the Six Infinity Stones (the Mind Stone looks orange rather than yellow due to legibility concerns), and capitalise the most important characters.
You’re probably already aware that the plot of Infinity War is that Large Purple Humanoid Thanos has an infinity gauntlet designed to let him harness the power of six infinity stones, each of which has specific powers. He believes that the universe will be much improved by instantly killing half its population (no more overpopulation, etc). When he has all six infinity stones, he can kill half the universe by snapping his fingers. That is his goal.
Here’s a useful graphic that has been copied so many times I’m afraid I don’t know where it originally comes from. Please let me know in the comments!
I’ll completely leave out plots, villains, problems etc that are fundamentally taken care of along the way. I’ll put an asterisk next to movies that are truly excellent.
*IRON MAN Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) is a billionaire genius playboy who begins a relationship with his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). He is a human who invents a very cool flying iron suit with many useful (military) features. It’s originally invented to save his life (he got some shrapnel in his heart), but gets more portable and deadly over time (in other movies). He is arrogant, charming, and later becomes deathly afraid of Really Bad Stuff Happening (which often causes him to make seriously bad choices). At the end of this movie, he publicly announces his private identity. At the end of the credits, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson with an eye patch) reveals the existence of SHIELD, a superhero group protecting the earth.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK Dr Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, now Mark Ruffalo) is also a genius, who due to SCIENCE sometimes turns into The Incredible Hulk, a giant green monster that smashes things fairly indiscriminately. Over time, he gains control over his ability to transform—but it’s still not 100%. Hulk is stronger than any other Avenger, and tends to get into pissing contests with Thor (but gets on fairly well with Tony Stark because they’re both super genius inventors heavily into SCIENCE).
Tony Stark approaches him in a post-credits scene, asking him to join “a team” (aka SHIELD).
Iron Man 2 Pepper Potts wants Tony Stark to stop nearly getting killed. This is an ongoing source of tension. His heart problem is repaired, but/and he makes more and more suits. Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff, played by Scarlet Johansson) is introduced here, as one of the members of SHIELD. She is human with no powers, but extreme combat ability.
THOR aka the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth), has quite a family. His father is Odin, ruler of the world of Asgard, who is worshipped as a Norse God on Earth. His younger brother is LOKI, God of Mischief, who it turns out is actually adopted from a different species. Thor’s hammer is super important and useful. Loki can shapeshift, and is Marvel’s most interesting villain for many years to come (partly because he sometimes does good things, and partly because he’s played by Tom Hiddleston). Thor is super muscly and masculine, and can be quite simplistic about good and evil and hitting things. But he grows up a fair bit here. Idris Elba plays Heimdell, a minor but powerful character who controls and guards the bridge into and out of Asgard.
Thor and SHIELD briefly cross paths. In the end Thor is trapped on Asgard due to sacrificing the rainbow bridge that connects it to the rest of the universe.
The Tesseract aka Space Stone, appears in a post-credits scene. Loki is pursuing it.
*CAPTAIN AMERICA: The First Avenger Steve Rogers is a wimp with a heart of gold who is transformed into a super soldier during World War 2. He consistently remains the superhero best known for his integrity, and has a distinctive shield made of vibranium (which, unbeknownst to all at this stage, is from the African nation of Wakanda) with a star on it. His best friend is Bucky, who is killed as they fight Nazis including the Red Skull (whose head is a… well, a red skull, and who is doing Bad Things with the power of the Tesseract/Space Stone, which ends up with Tony Stark. Steve Rogers is also recruited by SHIELD).
*The Avengers This brings together Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, as well as Hawkeye (he shoots arrows really well, gets mind controlled in this film, and that’s pretty much it; played by Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow. Loki is the main problem (wants to rule Earth) and is ultimately defeated and imprisoned. There is lots of bickering but ultimately the Avengers work as a team and save the world. The Tesseract (glowy blue cube with the SPACE Infinity Stone inside) ends up safely (for now) in Asgard. The Chitauri Sceptre Loki has been using gets moved around to various places and is (much) later broken open, revealing the Mind Stone inside, which is (later still) used to make VISION.
Iron Man 3 Tony Stark has much shenanigans and then promises Pepper Potts to be normal from now on. She is physically altered by villains in this movie, which helps her survive.
Thor: The Dark World Due to an accident, the Reality Stone is released from safekeeping, causing problems. In the end, it is given to The Collector, a random guy in space, for safekeeping on the planet of Knowhere. Thor is no longer stranded on Asgard, but able to travel again. Loki is apparently killed (but is actually shape-shifted into Odin, and now ruling Asgard).
+Captain America: The Winter Soldier Steve Rogers’ best friend (and only remaining person who lived in the same age as he did) is being mind controlled. He has also not aged, and is a super soldier too. Towards the end of the film, there are signs he may be breaking free of his mind power. In the meantime, SHIELD has been taken over from within by evil super-company HYDRA, and has to be utterly dismantled. The Falcon (Sam Wilson; a guy with giant mechanical wings played by Anthony Mackie) is introduced here.
*Guardians of the Galaxy Star-Lord (QUILL; Chris Pratt) steals what turns out to be the Power Infinity Stone (which can do all sorts of trippy things), and gets into a whole lot of trouble while partnering with a rag-tag bunch of criminals (GAMORA, played by a green Zoe Saldana, the adopted daughter of THANOS, who has committed horrific crimes and wants to kill Thanos “more than anyone”), Drax (Big tattooed muscly alien man played by Dave Bautista, who wants to kill Thanos for destroying half his planet including his wife and child—that’s what Thanos does), Rocket (a bloodthirsty modified raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper with motion capture by Sean Gunn) and Groot (a tree voiced by Vin Diesel). Ultimately they put the Power Stone in the Nova Corps Vault on the planet Xandar, and it’s safe. Quill is the only human, kidnapped as a child in the 80s with nothing but the clothes on his back and a rocking 80s mix tape.
Avengers: Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch (who is extremely powerful, created by SCIENCE + the Mind Stone and able to alter minds and reality dramatically) and her brother (who dies) manipulate Tony Stark’s fears, causing him to create Ultron, a villain who does villain-y things. In the end they defeat Ultron and create Vision, who is a computer-y person powered by the Mind Stone in his forehead and played by Paul Bettany. Vision is good—so good he can lift Thor’s hammer (which only the worthy can do). Scarlet Witch joins the good guys, but they’re afraid of her (except for Vision).
+Ant-Man Ant-Man is a loser trying to hold down a job so he can pay child support and still see his daughter. Due to SCIENCE he gets the ability to turn super tiny (but with an even stronger punch).
Avengers: Civil War The usual bickering turns to actual fighting, particularly between Iron Man and Captain America (mostly over Bucky, who is by no means sane). Iron Man has been keeping tabs on a super-powered teen called Peter Parker (SPIDER-MAN, who is extremely agile, strong, and can shoot webs from his wrists) who helps a bit. The team is disbanded in various directions (The Hulk is blasted into space, sacrificing himself).
+Doctor Strange DOCTOR STRANGE (Benedict Cumberpatch) is a brilliant surgeon who’s badly injured in a car accident and goes to find peace under the instructions of The Ancient One. She recruits him into a group that protects reality using Mystic Arts, including the ability to make portals anywhere and alter physical reality. He can alter time as well using the Eye of Agamemnon, which is also the Time Infinity Stone (worn by Doctor Strange on a fancy necklace from now on). The librarian/sidekick Wong is similarly skilled in the Mystic Arts.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 Star-Lord, Gamora, and the others reluctantly join up with Thanos’s other assassin-daughter, Nebula (Karen Gillan; blue and metallic), and an empathetic alien called Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
*Spider-Man: Homecoming Iron Man is (sort of) mentoring Peter Parker, who is extremely enthusiastic and in need of some training. Spider-Man matures somewhat over the film (quickly surpassing his own mentor’s maturity). He is very innocent, and a deeply decent human being who is very careful not to kill the baddie.
*Thor: Ragnarok Odin is dying, and Doctor Strange is concerned when Loki (one of several interplanetary threats he’s monitoring) lands on Earth looking for him, but is mollified that Thor and Loki are working together against their long-buried half sister Hela, God of War. They ultimately defeat her, but she has already destroyed Thor’s hammer. He maintains his powers of lightning because he is, after all, a god. Thor, Loki, and Heimdall rescue some of Asgard’s people (better than none at all), destroying their homeland in the process.
*BLACK PANTHER King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is deciding what kind of king to be. He rules Wakanda, an African nation that has hidden itself, its incredible riches (including a lot of vibranium), and its uniquely advanced technology (much of it invented by his brilliant younger sister, SHURI, played by Letitia Wright) from the world. Ultimately he decides to open up Wakanda to the world. His special forces are the Dora Milaje, shaven-headed warriors led by Okoye (Danai Gurira).
There is a really excellent video summary at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97OJjlpbuBc
Groups that already know each other and are connected at the beginning of Infinity War:
*Thor, Loki, Heimdall, and The Hulk are still travelling in space together after destroying Asgard.
*Iron Man is engaged to Pepper Potts and still trying to train/protect Spider-Man.
*Scarlet Witch and Vision are in a relationship and in hiding.
*Captain America (bearded now) is also in hiding since “The Avengers: Civil War”, and connected to Black Widow and the Falcon.
*Ant-Man and Hawkeye are both under house arrest, since they didn’t want to be fugitives. They each have a family with children that they care for.
*Bucky is fully healed with a shiny new arm, living in Wakanda under the care of Shuri and King T’Challa the Black Panther.
*The Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gamora, etc) are in space.
Current Locations of the Infinity Stones:
*Loki stole the Space Stone (aka Tesseract) from Asgard before fleeing into space with Thor, Hulk, Heimdall, and the Asgardian refugees. A long time ago, Thanos sent him to get it.
*Vision has the Mind Stone in his forehead. It is an important part of who he is.
*A moderately bad individual called The Collector (planet Knowhere) has the Reality Stone.
*The Power Stone (aka Orb) is on planet Xandar, in a vault.
*The Time Stone is inside the Eye of Agamemnon, hanging around Doctor Strange’s neck and giving him power over time.
*The Soul Stone is a mystery.
Which movies should you see/re-watch before seeing “Infinity War” (in order of importance):
*Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a great stand-alone movie (funny, charming, great soundtrack, and surprisingly emotionally compelling), has a lot of cast members in “Infinity War”, deals directly with one of the infinity stones & with Thanos, and includes some details of outer space that are relevant to “Infinity War”.
*Black Panther. A brilliant stand-alone movie (in so, so many ways), which once again has a lot of important “Infinity War” characters, and features Wakanda, which is important in “Infinity War”.
*Thor or Thor: Ragnarok or Avengers #1, or all of the above. All of them show the relationship between Thor and Loki. Ragnarok includes the Hulk, and Avengers shows how the whole primary group functions. Thor is the most independent movie, given that it’s all about intro’ing Thor properly.
*Spider-Man: Homecoming because Spidey is going to be more and more important, and because it shows his relationship with Tony Stark (which reveals a great deal about both of them). Also because Tom Holland has overtaken Captain America as the Avenger with the greatest heart. This is another fantastic stand-alone movie.