"I am Iron Man."
- Black Sabbath, "Iron Man"
As I'm writing this, Avengers: Endgame has made $2,272,706,419 in theaters around the world, according to Box Office Mojo, making it currently the second highest grossing movie in cinematic history, with the number one spot well within it's sights. It only has approximately half a million dollars to go to take that spot, and that's a lot of money, but it's been out only one full week.
Whether it ends it's theatrical run first or second, one thing is certain. A review on a small news-site (with readers in the high double digits!) catering to a niche demographic will not be the deciding factor. There is no world where I write a rave review that sends everyone back to the theater, nor is there a world where I so utterly critically destroy this movie that theaters empty like, well, like what happened at the end of the last Avengers movie. Of course, the real reason to review this movie is because I reviewed the last one, and I reviewed that one because it's got a talking raccoon in it, and the coming possibility that the biggest movie ever might soon feature an anthro character is something that should be noted on a furry site.
SPOILER ALERT: The Russo brothers say I can spoil the movie now, but don't worry, I won't. However, if you haven't seen Avengers: Infinity War and want to see it unspoiled, hold off on hitting read more.
The movie begins on the day of the "snap" where half of all life in the universe was instantly erased from existence that capped off the last movie. The various surviving Avengers soon find out there's basically nothing they can do about this. Thanos (Josh Brolin), the villain responsible for the "snap", has made sure it will stick, unless someone randomly invents time travel or something. That's about all I'll reveal about the plot of the movie, because people have been just weird about spoilers with this movie.
The Avengers each have their own unique ways of dealing with the trauma of realizing they failed, and because of that failure, lost friends and loved ones. Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) depression is the most obvious. He hangs around on a couch playing Fortnite with his Thor: Ragnarok buddies. His original movie featured him proving himself worthy to wield a magical hammer. It has been lost in older movies, but it's obvious he doubts whether he would be worthy anymore. He's not the only one stressing, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) becomes the defacto leader of the surviving Avengers still active around the world, and she just looks overworked in her ever-changing hair. The only Avenger to come out seemingly in a better place is the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who has managed to use the trauma to finally merge his Hulk and Bruce Banner personas.
Of course, if the Avengers think they have it bad, then pity the poor Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket (played by a combination of Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn and the late, great Oreo) and off-again, on-again member Nebula (Karen Gillan) are the only two survivors of that team (at one point, the "snap" apparently reached out into the real world and even claimed their director, but it's okay, he got better). They're an interesting combination. Both are cybernetically enhanced characters who are not entirely happy about their upgrades. Nebula, surprisingly, becomes one of the more important characters in the movie. Rocket, meanwhile, gets paired up with Thor frequently, continuing their odd friendship began in the last movie.
The movie is basically one giant call back to the previous 21 movies in the series, and that's the thing about this movie. If you haven't seen at least some of them, I don't know if there's a point here. Just given how popular this movie franchise is, I mean, surely you have seen at least one. The thing is, I have no idea which ones you should watch to "prepare" for this one (besides Infinity War, obviously) and if that even matters. The only two I haven't seen are The Incredible Hulk and Captain Marvel, and while the former is long enough ago it really doesn't matter much anymore, I didn't really get much introduction to the title character of the latter here. Fortunately having ties to prior films really didn't take away from the experience, either. It's comic book story-telling. I can check out her story later if I want to. But if you're not used to it, it might not work as well for you.
In the end (and, for once, even though the MCU will continue chugging along, it does feel like some sort of end), it's a good movie made better if you've seen the previous movies. Which does not mean I'm recommending a 21 movie marathon, here. Basically, my recommendation is watch Iron Man, the original Avengers, the first Guardians of the Galaxy (which, to remind my target audience, is also the only place with any real furry content), Captain America: Winter Soldier and Thor: Ragnarok, and you can watch rest if you like them.
And I guess that's my final call. Those five movies are the top tier "have to see" movies of the MCU. That's not my recommendation of homework for Endgame, that's it. Endgame is good, but it's not the best MCU.
Also, while I'm here, I would just like to say the Avengers: Endgame tie-in limited time mode in Fortnite was garbage.