Avengers Initiative – Planning Your Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Marathon

On Friday, Marvel Studios will release its 10th feature film in the Avengers film franchise – James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. In light of that, I’m doing a series of articles here where I take a look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the One-Shots, TV series, and the films themselves – and breaking down what’s worked and what hasn’t. However, today we’re not reviewing or recapping – we’re talking strategy.

See, anytime I see a movie in a franchise, I have to rewatch the movies that came before it. Before How To Train Your Dragon 2, I rewatch the first; before The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies comes out, I’ll probably rewatch both Hobbit movies, and likely the original Lord of the Rings trilogy as well. I love doing this, because it helps you get in the headspace for the film. Any film in a franchise, by design, builds on the films that came before it.

But this is the TENTH Marvel Studios film, in the ever-expanding Avengers timeline. And for Marvel movies, you can get away with just watching the direct-connection films – the Iron Man films and Avengers before Iron Man 3Thor and Avengers before Thor: The Dark WorldCaptain America: The First Avenger and Avengers before Winter Soldier – and with that in mind, you don’t really HAVE to watch or re-watch any of them before seeing Guardians of the Galaxy.

But where’s the fun in that?

Let’s assume, like me, you’re just crazy enough to host a Marvel Movie Marathon. Maybe you have a friend who hasn’t seen all of them, or you just enjoy re-watching 18 hours of superheroics, but the reason doesn’t matter.

What matters is the attack plan.

Reminder: With the exception of The Incredible Hulk, each of these films has a clip at the very end of the credits… even if there’s a clip partway through the credits, there is still a scene after the credits.

What You Need:
DVDs, Blu-Rays, or Digital Copies of the 9 Marvel movies so far
Sleeping Bags
Change of clothes
Breakfast Food (cereal, waffles, sausages, toast)
Frozen pizzas
Dinner (burgers, chicken strips, stir-fry, pasta, something like that)

Who To Invite:
You can do this on your own, if you want, but I always invite others – you will often find someone who might have missed one of the movies, or even people willing to try the marathon with you. And make no mistake – this is a MARATHON.

Also, pro-tip: go to the bathroom in between each movie, not during the movie itself.


8AM – Breakfast
It’s an early morning, so start it off right and make a proper breakfast – waffles, french toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, sausage, a bowl of strawberries for you to put on top of your Cinnamon Toast Crunch, etc. Trust me on this, you’re going to need some fuel. And I’d make more than you’re going to eat, because that’s gonna be breakfast tomorrow.

9:00 AMIron Man (2008)
Run time: 126 minutes
Make sure you’re settled in before this movie, because this is a good one, and you’re not going to want to get up – this is a damn good movie.

11:15 AMThe Incredible Hulk (2008)
Run time: 112 minutes
This movie has a lot of scenes that play basically dialogue-free, but by now you should be more or less awake. This is a relatively short film, and segues nicely into the lunch break.

1:15 PM – Lunch Break
When Bruce drops out of the helicopter, that’s a good time to order a pizza – it should be there by the time credits roll.

1:45 PM – Iron Man 2 (2010)
Run time: 125 minutes
You are still going to be eating while this movie goes, but that’s okay – as I’ve said before, I consider Iron Man 2 to be the weakest of the Avengers films, so this is the perfect choice for the post-lunch movie.

4:00 PM – Thor (2011)
Run time: 114 minutes
By now, your blood should be pumping – the post-credit scene of Iron Man 2 leads directly into Thor, so you should be relatively ramped-up and ready to go.

6:00 PM – Interlude – Marvel One-Shots
Take a quick moment, go to the blu-ray or the internet, and watch the short films from Thor and First Avenger:
The Consultant – On the Thor Blu-Ray
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer – On the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-Ray
I recommend watching these before Captain America, just because we get a minute to stick with Coulson, and again, Captain America segues really nicely into Avengers with a tone you don’t necessarily want to break up. This is also a good moment to have some snacks, because there’s another movie coming before we get to dinner.
The other option, for all of the One-Shots, is to watch them directly after the movie they are on the Blu-Ray for, but I tend to group them together, because I feel like they are best consumed in batches together.

6:15 PM – Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Run time: 124 minutes
Quick note on this one: The post-credits scene is just a teaser trailer for The Avengers. It’s not especially spoilery, but if you want, you can skip over the credits entirely.

8:15 PM – Dinner
Take a few minutes to get away from the TV. Maybe just toss some chicken strips in the oven, throw some burgers on the grill, make pasta or stir-fry, whatever you want, but take your time – talk about the movies you just watched, how you feel about each, all of that sort of thing. If you want, you can even take this opportunity to get out of the house, though that wouldn’t be my preference.

9:00 PM – The Avengers (2012)
Run time: 142 minutes
This is the last movie of the day, so make sure you’re settled in and ready to go. As with every movie, be sure to use the restroom before you begin. And, as noted at the top, be SURE to watch to the very end of the credits – there is a scene partway through the credits, and also a scene at the very, very end.

11:15 PM – Go to bed
This is what the sleeping bags are for.

8:00 AM – Wake up
The truth is, the Phase Two films (so far) don’t take as much time out of the day, so you can afford to take your time a bit.
You can set your alarm for 8am, and that will give everyone in your party a chance to get up, shower, shave, etc.

9:00 AM – Breakfast
As with yesterday, make sure you have some options. If you want, you can just use the extra food / leftovers from the day before (pancakes re-heat pretty well).

10:00 AM – Iron Man 3 (2013)
Run time: 130 minutes
This movie does a nice job of kicking off Phase Two, so just make sure you’re settled in and you’re in good shape for momentum.

12:30 PM – Marvel One-Shots, Take 2
I’d actually take this moment to watch the remaining one-shots from Avengers and the other Phase Two films, to get them done before lunch:
Item 47 – On The Avengers Blu-Ray (I wouldn’t make this something you watch after Avengers, because that’s a great movie to wrap up the day with.
Agent Carter – On the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray
All Hail The King – On the Thor: The Dark World Blu-Ray. If you have a friend who didn’t like the Iron Man 3 twist, he or she might appreciate you showing them this short film as shortly after the movie as possible.

1:15 PM – Lunch
Make some sandwiches or something (cold-cuts are always good), or just reheat pizza from the day before.

1:45 PM – Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Run time: 112 minutes
Once again, there are TWO post-credits scenes – same goes for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

3:45 PM – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Run time: 136 minutes
This movie isn’t technically out until late August, but come on. We’re all adults here. Let’s just say you’re not going to do this marathon until August 19th, then nod and wink at each other meaningfully. Anyway, be sure you have the entire credits, and watch to the very end.

6:00 PM – You’re all set!
You did it! Now you’re ready to go see Guardians of the Galaxy with the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind you! Well, except for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but you know. You can watch that another time. Regardless of my feelings towards the series, there was NO way I was going to add 22 hour-long episodes of a TV series into a movie marathon like this.

I mean, come on, guys – what kind of obsessive nerd do you think I am?

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