Preparing for the ENDGAME

Preparing for Endgame has not been too difficult for me as I have been a constant consumer of the franchise since the very beginning. I have been a Marvel fanboy for most of my life; I was always drawn more to the Marvel brand than I was DC. The X-men were my true favorites, but following their adventures lead me into other Marvel titles such as the Avengers, the Defenders, Spider-man, and all the other X spin-offs like Exiles, X-Factor, Generation X, and X-Force. I would watch all of the Marvel movies when they came out in an era that was still uncertain of how handle superheroes that weren’t Superman or Batman clones.

I remember hearing reports that the first Daredevil movie was supposed to kick off an entire series of movies starring the “Marvel Knights”, a precursor to what we now refer to as Phase One. These movies would feature Black Panther, Moon Knight, Black Widow, and a few others. The only movies to come out under this production branch of Marvel Studios were Punisher: War Zone and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. These were not great movies and so this direction was ultimately scrapped.

Preparation Step #1: The Research

I was loving Phase One before I knew what it was. The first few Marvel movies had been really stale and not worth a second watch. Daredevil was mediocre, Blade was pure camp, The Hulk was tragic, Fantastic Four was a mess, and Elektra was miserable. This was also a nebulous time where franchises didn't strictly hold the rights to movies, as between 2002 and 2008, Marvel comic movies were produced by 6 different production companies, not including the assistance from Marvel Studios.

Everything changed in 2008 when Iron Man debuted and I was hooked. Each movie afterwards became part of a larger story, under the solo control of Marvel Studios, and I consumed every bit of it. As Phase One concluded with Marvel’s: The Avengers only 4 years later, I knew that from then on, all of these movies were going to be good, they were going to be important, and they would feed off each other in excitingly new ways.

Fast forward here to the end of Phase Three and it has been a great ride. It has been over 10 years now, so it does not feel like overkill having watched everything, but it has been a great ride. That means I have watched 6 movies in Phase One, 6 movies in Phase Two, and what will be 11 movies in Phase Three (including Avengers: Endgame and the upcoming Spider-man: Far From Home).

  • Iron Man

  • The Incredible Hulk

  • Iron Man 2

  • Thor

  • Captain America: The First Avenger

  • Marvel’s The Avengers

  • Iron Man 3

  • Thor: The Dark World

  • Captain America: Winter Soldier

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron

  • Ant-Man

  • Captain America: Civil War

  • Doctor Strange

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • Thor: Ragnorok

  • Black Panther

  • Avengers: Infinity War

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp

  • Captain Marvel

Add to this the 20 total seasons of Marvel’s TV shows that exist in the same cinematic universe. I have watched all of these as well.

  • Daredevil

  • Jessica Jones

  • Luke Cage

  • Iron Fist

  • Defenders

  • The Punisher

  • Runaways

  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

There are 3 shows that I did not watch, either due to accessibility or general interest. Fortunately they were relatively unimportant to the greater mythos and my time was better spent elsewhere. These were: Marvel's Cloak & Dagger, Marvel's Agent Carter, and Marvel’s Inhumans. However, I will likely catch up on Cloak & Dagger in the future. That one looks pretty good.

Preparation Step #3: Rewind and Review

In the last year, I have re-watched a majority of the Phase Three movies. This was partially done in prep for Endgame, but also because they are just good movies. I may have even subtly picked up on references in this second or third viewing that I did not catch before, and who knows how these tiny elements can return again and have a greater impact in the grand finale.

Civil War sets up this tone that makes you see both sides of the issue, and challenges you to choose sides also. I am team Cap'n, all the way on this one. I appreciate his loyalty and his courage, which will surely be put to the test in the final confrontation with Thanos.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are both highly entertaining and worth watching again from time to time. They do establish so much about the greater universe surrounding what we already know about the MCU, and they are probably a blueprint on many of the films still to come.

Infinity War was another one that, albeit long and almost over-crowded, was still exciting to watch again from the comfort of home. It will not replace the Harry Potter series for re-watchable every single year, but it is close and it may evolve even more in light of how Endgame resolves.

I also watched Ant Man and the Wasp again. It is a breezy little comedy without much at stake, and so it is easier to watch. However, I am certain that some of Endgames biggest secrets and surprises will deal with the Quantum Realm and so it was good to have a refresher as to what we know of it so far. Plus, we were reminded of Scott Lang's predicament, being abandoned and alone in the Quantum Realm when the Pym family are turned to dust back in the normal world.

Preparation Step #3: Zone of Silence

I do love a good conspiracy theory. I also like good movie theories as the MCU is littered with Easter eggs, red herrings, and outright bait-and-switches. We know we can only trust about 50% of what we see in a Marvel movie trailer. Characters are added we never saw before, some are thrown in for the trailer and then removed to throw us off the track, and the producers play mind games over social media to keep fans guessing. It is a really fun part of the fandom, to try and figure out plot details and special moments simply to keep us hyped up before we get to see the finished product.

However, as we are now IN the endgame for Endgame, it is time for me to put on a pair of blinders and to hide from social media. My friends all have good intentions, but even they are often guilty of divulging details without thinking of other’s desires to stay in the dark until showtime. I will be almost completely off all social media sites, not reading fun news articles on other websites, just basically waiting this one out until after I see it for myself. Friday morning is always the most dangerous time, because those who went to see it Thursday at midnight can easily be over-excited and drop major spoilers.

I am not even going to watch the most recent trailers again, although I am fairly sure I have seen them all by now. Lots of tiny moments that are sprinkled in that give away subtle details that may be better left uncertain. Minor spoiler here! In the newest preview we see Iron Man and Captain America talking to each other. Not a big deal, but it means Tony Stark makes it back to earth. A small detail, but one that may have been better left to speculation. I have even seen another very small detail that few others have noticed, which mostly confirmed a theory that has been in circulation since Infinity War was released. I wont mention it here, but someone else with a sharp eye may have seen it and blown a great reveal that should have been a surprise in the movie.

This movie will be so big, and there are so many possibilities to come that I want to go in to the theater as open-minded and tabula rasa as I can.

Preparation Step #3: Going to the Theater

I splurge for the best movies. It doesn’t bother me to spend $30-$40 when I go out to the movies with my wife, if it is only 2-3 times a year and for movies of this caliber. For Endgame, I HAD to see this one on the best screen and in 3D. So, I booked at 10:30 PM start time, and as I get off of work at 7:00 PM, I will have plenty of time to get there. But how will I prepare to soak in the movie as best I can?

  • I have already cleared my schedule for Saturday, so I will have no outstanding concerns or worries going into Friday evening.

  • Earlier in the day, around 4:00 PM, I will stop drinking all liquids so that I am not needing a potty break during the feature.

  • As soon as I get home, I will have a very light meal so that I am not starved for junk food later.

  • Depending on the rigors of my workday beforehand, I may take a 45-minute power nap.

  • On the way to the theater, I will eat a power bar, or something packed with ultra-nutrition to help my mind stay active and receptive over the 3-hour run time.

  • I will be wearing a light jacket to the theater, not matter the weather, so that I can control my comfort level as needed to keep me focused and not too sleepy.

  • Before the first trailer begins, I will make sure to take one last potty break, as I feel there may be new and exciting trailers to catch for this blockbuster opening.

  • I will put down the popcorn and holster the coke as the movie begins. I do not want to be distracted by any food elements while the show is in session.

  • However, I will smuggle in something chocolaty to eat for an extra burst of energy at the halfway mark. Probably M&M’s.

  • Lastly, my phone will be silenced and stowed away before the movie begins. I NEVER want to be That Guy.

In Summary

There was an incredible line of dialog in the finale of Daredevil season 3, which sums up the entire Marvel franchise thus far:

“God's plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and the muddy colors. We only get a hint at the true beauty of what would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does.”

As fans of the franchise we have been on the side of beauty. There is this intricately interwoven, wonderfully complex, and meticulously crafted story that spans the breadth of the MCU for over a decade. The threads are are the colors of 23 different movies (including Endgame and Spider-man: Far From Home) and 11 different television series, with delicate needlework coming from the hearts and minds of legions of producers, directors, writers, and actors.

Once Endgame is over, this massive tapestry will be complete. It will be hung in the annals of time and in the halls of the heroes, so that the fans can behold its full scope and splendor. I can't wait!