Preparing For a 31 Hour Marvel Movie Marathon
This Wednesday, Marvel Studios will put on a marathon showing of 12 of their currently-released films, followed by their latest, Avengers: Infinity War. They’re starting from the first film to feature each of their universe’s heavy hitters (Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy), and including where they fit in the timeline, the Avengers team-focused films as well (Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Captain America: Civil War). 31 hours of Marvel superheroics, in a single theater, filled to the brim with fans, a few critics….
And me. I’m also a critic, but it’s more dramatic to single myself out like this. Roll with it.
A month ago, the tickets for this marathon initially went on-sale, and on an impulse, I volunteered to the editors of Talk Film Society to purchase my own ticket and attend and write something up on the marathon for our readers. Live updates on that will be on the Twitter feed between movies (don’t watch and text, people).
Since the release of Infinity War is approaching all-too-quickly, I thought I’d walk you through my own prep for this endurance trial of fandom, and you could model your own (very, very scaled-down) preparation on it, if you wish.
First, I’d suggest watching a couple of the movies leading up to Infinity War, though I’d alter the list slightly. It’s much shorter, for a start:
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This one’s the first in the MCU to introduce what we came to know was an Infinity Stone, which are the big, reality-warping MacGuffins that are fueling this whole saga’s overarching story. The Tesseract is used to power weapons here, but it’s also an item that can warp space, as well. (First Avenger is also one of my favorite MCU movies overall and deserves more love).
The Avengers (2012)
Yeah, I’m skipping the first two Iron Man movies here. You shouldn’t, if you haven’t seen them. But they’re not as necessary to understand what’s going on with Infinity Stones, and Avengers is. Y’see, Avengers features two of the total six Infinity Stones. The Tesseract returns here and Loki, brother of Thor, carries another one around in a nifty little staff/cane weapon he uses to brainwash enemies to his side. This Marvel film is also the establishment of the Avengers team for the first time, and that’s important.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
This one kinda lags a bit, I’ll be honest. But there’s an Infinity Stone (The Reality Stone, guess what it does) involved and you kind of need to see it to get where they all are by the start of Infinity War, as the going theory as of this writing is that Thanos, Big Universal Bad, will be on a rampage to acquire them for his Gauntlet. Also, Kat Dennings is a treasure and she’s great here.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Another favorite of mine, this one introduces a new, secondary team focused on cosmic threats out in space. We also see the closest that Thanos gets to an Infinity Stone for himself, with his lackey Ronan taking the Power Stone for himself. He then loses it in a dance-off, but it’s the getting it at all that matters.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Here, the assembled Avengers face a new threat, an AI unleashed from the Infinity Stone within Loki’s recovered staff, who takes on the name Tony Stark gave to his global defense project: Ultron. The Mind Stone eventually comes to reside in the forehead of the sentient android Vision, who is awakened by the combined power of the Avengers themselves to stop the threat posed by Ultron.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
In this film, often referred to as, "Avengers 2.5" because the focus is so clearly on the team and not Cap himself, there are no Infinity Stones here. But the team fractures due to internal conflict, which will likely play an important role in how they approach the existential threat in Infinity War, so understanding where everyone’s left before Infinity War starts just seems important. It’s also a damn fun movie that (re?)introduces Spider-Man to the Marvel films.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Actual, factual, honest-to-Cyttorak magic gets introduced to the Marvel film universe in this film, positioning broken surgeon Stephen Strange as the last remaining bulwark against threats mystical and supernatural. He also does some fun stuff with the Eye of Agamotto, which in the Marvel films stands in for the Time Stone among the Infinity Stones.
This lineup leaves a few Infinity Stones out in the wind, you’ll notice—that’s because the film series has, too, and Infinity War will feature lots of fighting over the ones still in the wild. This list provides a solid idea of who’s who in the MCU, and where the big-ticket items left fighting over are, at the start of the new release.
Now, if you’re going to try to do a 31-hour marathon, there are also a few suggestions I can make. First, make sure you’re actually up for it. I’m not suggesting anyone stay awake for 31 hours straight, but if you’re going to try, make some preparations.
- Deodorant, travel toothbrush, toothpaste, clean clothes. This is non-negotiable. You’re gonna need to freshen up a little at some point between movies. So, carry a shirt and some toiletries. Please.
- Phone charger power pack. Nobody’s phone lasts 31 hours on a charge unless it’s turned off, you’re not gonna find an outlet inside the theater, and you’ll probably want to contact some other humans in the time you’re in there. Just step outside into the hall before you do it.
- Small snacks/energy bars. 31 hours is a long time to go without food and the concessions at theaters are usually stocked with stuff that won’t do you any favors (though I’m a sucker for popcorn and Sour Patch Kids). Something small isn’t a bad idea.
- Travel pillow. Even if the seats are extremely comfortable, and they aren’t always, your back and/or neck is going to want a break. Walking the aisles is distracting, and likely to wear you out faster. So, grab a travel pillow like you’ll be on a long flight. They do wonders. Some even convert from neck pillow to regular pillow for storage.
- Extra cash for concessions. You’re going to break down and buy those Sour Patch Kids. You know it. I know it. The AMC concession stand staff know it. So, plan for it.