SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the grunge-era "Captain Marvel" has cleared the runway to the tune of a $153 million opening weekend, there’s nothing but a six-week wait between fans and “Avengers: Endgame.”
So how are you going to spend that time? Working? Providing selfless service? Crouching behind the glow of your laptop, rocking back and forth as you scour the Internet for Marvel rumors while Nirvana's "Come As You Are" plays softly in the background?
How about an MCU refresher? With 21 movies in the official canon, there are plenty of Marvel titles to marathon between now and “Endgame's" April 26 release. But for those of us with a little less time on our hands, here are a few titles — along with some soundtrack highlights — that might be worth a second run between now and the big day.
The first one: “Iron Man”
Iron Man was never the most well-known member of Marvel’s superhero stable, but he was a perfect fit for Robert Downey Jr., and Jon Favreau’s 2008 Tony Stark origin story marked the start of Marvel’s Phase One films.
Listen for: Running counter to decades of secret identity tradition, Stark announces his alter-ego to the world right before Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" drops in over the closing credits.
The one that got the band together: “The Avengers”
There’s a reason it seems like 2012’s “The Avengers” is on cable all the time. It’s very, very good. After four years of standalone setup films for Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and (technically) the Incredible Hulk, Joss Whedon’s ensemble smackdown brought the whole team together to fend off an alien invasion over New York City.
Listen for: Iron Man arrives to the sound of AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill."
The one that elevated Cap: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
The 2014 Russo Brothers-directed story about the fall of SHIELD singlehandedly turned Captain America’s standalone series from a weak link to the heartbeat of the MCU.
Listen for: Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man,” Falcon’s contribution to Captain America’s “catch up on the last 70 years of pop culture” list.
The One We Didn’t See Coming: “Guardians of the Galaxy”
2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was the first MCU movie that made casual fans (ie, me) say, “who?” But it didn’t take long before this interstellar band of misfits rode a wave of irreverent humor and sweet musical numbers near the top of many MCU favorites lists.
Listen for: Chris “Star Lord” Pratt jams out to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” in an opening sequence that sets a perfect tone for the offbeat outer space adventure to come.
The one about high school: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”
Spider-Man’s introduction in “Captain America: Civil War” was just one of many highlights in the 2016 film, and it marked the official return of the web-slinger to the Marvel fold. But 2017’s “Homecoming” was Spidey’s first standalone adventure, and, well, we’ve already got one Captain America movie on this list.
Listen for: A rousing "Blitzkreig Bop" Ramones intro for the kid from Queens.
The one that saved the demigod: “Thor: Ragnarok”
The first two “Thor” movies were … OK. It’s hard to label any of the MCU efforts as “bad,” but the Thor standalones are easy to forget. Then in 2017, Taika Waititi puts out “Ragnarok,” a crazy, zany movie that feels like the ultimate psychedelic translation of comic book to big screen, and everything changes. “Ragnarok” is a joy.
Listen for: The reprise of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” during the third-act finale.
The one all those bonus scenes were building to: “Avengers: Infinity War”
2018’s “Infinity War” represents all of the strengths and weaknesses of the MCU. By bringing together a host of disparate characters and stories, and putting out a product that is actually easy to follow, it is a stellar achievement. It’s fun, it’s dramatic and it’s funny. At the same time, “Infinity War” is a stark reminder that the emotional stakes in a comic book movie are always going to hit a glass ceiling when it comes to the mortality of demigods, invincible heroes and people who can travel through time. Still, this is the first half of the story “Endgame” will presumably finish, so a proper refresher is in order.
Listen for: The Spinners’ “Rubberband Man” introduction of the Guardians of the Galaxy.