WARNING: Massive spoilers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are present throughout this post, excluding of course Avengers: Endgame CONTINUE WITH CAUTION.
So, you got on the hype train and got yourself a ticket to see Avengers: Endgame. But what if... you've never seen a Marvel movie in your life and have no idea what an Infinity Stone is or who the Avengers are? Well, I've got some good news and some bad news, the bad news is Endgame is out now, so you've only got a little time to get caught up before diving into 2019's most anticipated premiere. The good news, I'm here to help you before you hit the theater or streaming service!
I could write a novel about everything you would need to know before watching Marvels Avengers Endgame, however, I decided to prioritize efficiency over thoroughness to give you everything you need to know in the shortest amount of time possible. So let's get straight into it, here are all of the Marvel basics you need to know for the Endgame. Feel free to scroll and skim throughout this article for all your last-minute Marvel needs.
Directed by the Russo brothers, Avengers: Endgame is the final film in an extensive 22-part blockbuster series that has followed The Avengers, as well as the location of six powerful gems known as the Infinity Stones, the forces of which left half of Marvel's heroes died at the end of last year's Avengers: Infinity War. It is generally theorized that Endgame will focus most of its plot on bringing the heroes lost in Infinity War back to life, perhaps via time travel.
MCU: An acronym that stands for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the world imagined by the combined narratives of its 22 films.
S.H.I.E.L.D.: A government agency comprised of good guys who support The Avengers in fighting off the universe's numerous bad guys.
HYDRA: A terrorist group whose intention is set on world domination.
The Infinity Stones: Six stones produced by ancient celestial beings, each of which controls a different aspect of the universe, Space, Reality, Mind, Power, Soul, and Time. When united together, The Infinity Stones give the individual who wields them unlimited and unmatched power.
Space Stone: The Infinity Stone that can regulate the physical and metaphysical aspects of space, specifically opening up portals and wormholes that allow the wielder to teleport immediately around the universe.
The Tesseract: A cube that previously contained the Space Stone before being destroyed in Infinity War.
Reality Stone: The Infinity Stone that can completely change the nature of reality by reconstructing matter. It can also change the form of the stones wielder as well.
Mind Stone: The Infinity Stone with mind-control capabilities and additional psychic powers.
Power Stone: The Infinity Stone with the greatest energy. This stone can be used to obliterate entire planets.
Soul Stone: The most perplexing of The Infinity Stones, thought to possibly hold the power to capture or extinguish other beings' souls. To retrieve it, the seeker must "lose that which they love" on the planet Vormir.
Vormir: A deserted alien planet where the Soul Stone was kept and safeguarded by former HYDRA leader Red Skull. A temple found on Vormir is where the Soul Stone sacrifice must be made.
Time Stone: The Infinity Stone that grants the user the ability to fast forward and rewind time. Relevant to Endgame, the Time Stone is used to predict possible futures for our heroes at the end of Infinity War.
The Snap: The blockbuster climax of Infinity War, during which Thanos, the series central villain uses The Infinity Stones to randomly kill half the population with a single snap of his fingers.
The Quantum Realm: An alternate dimension in which time and space operate much differently. This may hold the key to Endgame's speculated time travel plot device.
Pym Particles: Remarkably powerful subatomic particles that can expand or reduce mass while sustaining the subject's physical stability. Necessary to entering and exiting The Quantum Realm.
Vibranium: A nearly indestructible metal that creates the groundwork for many of The Avengers' most powerful weapons, including Captain America's iconic shield.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Infinity Saga exists in three phases which I will run through very briefly to give you a basic understanding of what has happened so far.
This is where we meet our main heroes: Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. Together, these heroes from The Avengers, a superhero group managed by S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury that is designed to protect Earth from the universe's biggest threats. In the franchise's first cross-over film, The Avengers take on Thor's brother Loki, who is set on taking control of Earth. Loki has a scepter that contains the Mind Stone and seeks out the powers of the other stones. Having stolen the Tesseract (which contains the Space Stone) from S.H.I.E.L.D., Loki uses it to open a wormhole in the middle of Manhattan. A massive battle, often called the Battle of New York, erupts and The Avengers are victorious. In a post-credits scene for The Avengers (2012), we get our first glimpse of the Infinity Saga's main villain, Thanos.
Following the Battle of New York, The Avengers face new foes in the forms of terrorist group HYDRA, the artificially intelligent Ultron, and alien warlord Ronan the Accuser. Luckily, a whole bunch of new heroes, like The Guardians of the Galaxy, Winter Soldier (aka Bucky Barnes), Vision, and Ant-Man, join in their fight. Throughout the many battles to defeat these major threats, the heroes encounter two new Infinity Stones: the Reality Stone and the Power Stone. The Reality Stone is discovered by Thor's love interest Dr. Jane Foster, who is infected by its powers in the form of "the Aether." Eventually, the Aether/Reality Stone is extracted from Foster, only to fall into the hands of yet another villain. The Guardians of the Galaxy encounter the Power Stone encased in an artifact known as The Orb, and spend much of their first film attempting to protect it from Ronan the Accuser, who seeks it out for Thanos. Additionally, we are first introduced to the idea of The Quantum Realm through Ant-Man.
With more films than either of the MCU's other two phases, the final chunk of the Infinity Saga covers a lot of ground. Here are the most Endgame relevant storylines to know. In Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers fight each other over proposed oversight of The Avengers and fallout of Phase 2, creating a sizable rift between Captain America and Iron Man. Eventually, everyone winds up back on the same page. Following the Clash of The Avengers, we are introduced to a whole bunch of new heroes, the most Endgame relevant of which is Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange, a skilled sorcerer, and protector of time gain control of the Time Stone and vows to protect it from evil forces. Then, comes the big show: Infinity War. After a long fought battle, Thanos gains control of all six Infinity Stones, sacrificing his daughter Gamora at the planet of Vormir in exchange for the Soul Stone. It soon becomes clear what Thanos wanted the Stones for a vast and merciless population control scheme through which half of the universe's inhabitants will turn to dust so that the remaining half can thrive. With a snap of his fingers, known as The Snap or the "Decimation," Thanos wipes out half of the population and half of our heroes.
There are so many heroes in the MCU, Endgame released a whopping 32 character posters a month before the premiere, and then color-coded them by who did and did not survive The Snap. We've organized the following 32 character descriptions in the same fashion.
It's plausible that other villains from throughout the MCU might make an appearance in Endgame, but there's really just one guy you have to know: Thanos. This is the evil alien behind The Snap. He is the father to both Gamora and Nebula. His whereabouts at the start of Endgame are unknown. However, he remains in control of the six Infinity Stones via a magical glove known as the Infinity Gauntlet.