The Marvels is finally here, and some of us might have some catching up to do if we don’t want to miss any callbacks to previous MCU events. Luckily, there are just a few key projects that we recommend refreshing your memory on to reap the full benefits of the new movie.
Below are the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s most pivotal projects that you need to know about before spending 105 minutes with Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau. And don’t worry, there’s no need to watch all the Marvel movies in order.
What to watch before The Marvels:
- Captain Marvel (2019)
- Ms. Marvel
- Secret Invasion
1. Captain Marvel (2019)
We’re going in chronological order, starting with the most crucial background for The Marvels. 2019’s Captain Marvel introduced Brie Larson’s photon-blasting hero. Set in the ’90s, Carol recovers her missing memories on Earth and finds out her Kree allies are not who she thought they were.
Turns out, the Skrulls the Kree have been at war with are mostly just looking for a new home to settle on. Carol sided with them and agreed to help them relocate.
After unlocking her full power and leaning into her determination to excel past her limits, she flies off, leaving Maria and her daughter Monica on Earth.
2. WandaVision (2021)
We’ve jumped forward quite a bit, and that’s because there are decades in the MCU timeline with no sign of Captain Marvel, aside from two small cameos in the Infinity War post-credits scene and Avengers Endgame that are non-essential. The best Marvel series, however, is essential!
In it, we reconnected with a grown-up Monica, who had a chip on her shoulder. The S.W.O.R.D. agent was reeling from the death of her mother, Maria, who passed during the blip. This grief allowed her to empathize with Wanda Maximoff, however, and Monica helped put an end to the witch’s Westview hex.
In the finale, a Skrull contacts Monica and invites her to join S.A.B.E.R. at Fury’s behest, hinting that Monica’s next call to duty is in space. That sounds good, except she’s in her feelings about Carol, thinking the hero abandoned the Rambeaus.
3. Ms. Marvel (2022)
Fan-girl Kamala Khan took center stage in Ms. Marvel, becoming one of our favorite new MCU characters. The adorable teen stans Captain Marvel even more than we do, and when ancient bangles unlocked her Noor dimension powers, she stepped up to bat despite anxieties about inadequacy and not being accepted by her parents.
The finale leads directly into The Marvels, with a startled Carol suddenly popping through time and space into Kamala’s bedroom. Imagine waking up and seeing your face plastered all over someone’s walls… thank god Kamala means well.
This funny tease is there because, in The Marvels, Kamala finds herself swapping places with Carol and Monica when they use their powers. Her family is also in the new movie, so the series is worth watching.
4. Secret Invasion
Though our main trio was not in Secret Invasion, the thriller series gave important context to the current state of affairs with the Skrulls: adrift and feeling used by Fury, the radical Super-Skrull Gravik attempted an invasion of Earth, with aliens covertly threading themselves into governments and armies.
It’s not one of the best Disney Plus shows, but to recap, Carol and Nick’s promise from Captain Marvel clearly didn’t work out. And Talos, who was their closest Skrull ally, was killed when he defied Gravik’s plans.
By the end, a worn-down Fury decided to head back out into space to attend a Kree-Skrull peace summit, leaving chaos behind; the US government officially declared all Skrulls a threat to national security, regardless of their loyalties. Read our full Secret Invasion episode 6 recap for the full briefing.
To get the full breadth of Captain Marvel’s powers, watch Infinity War and Endgame. They aren’t crucial to understanding The Marvels, but we understand being a completionist. Also, they are two of the best movies in the MCU.
She shows up in Infinity War’s post-credits when Fury pings her right before he’s dusted in the snap. In Endgame, she’s briefly around in the first act before returning for the climactic battle, when she rocks up to headbutt the purple titan and fly through one of his ships — A+.
Those are the broad strokes that tie into Marvel’s Phase 5. For more, see who we chose as the best Marvel villains, find out about the upcoming Marvel movies, or read up on Marvel Phase 6‘s new movies.