WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
Avengers: Endgame was not only the finale to Marvel's Infinity Saga, it capped off 11 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Over the course of its three-hour runtime, the movie paid homage to, in some form or another, nearly all 21 films that came before it. The movie featured every major character to grace the big screen since 2008's Iron Man, and it delivered clever nods to such films as 2012's The Avengers and 2013's Thor: The Dark World.
Going into the highly anticipated film, we knew that certain MCU movies would be more crucial to Endgame's plot than others. In fact, we even ran a list of critical movies to rewatch before the fourth Avengers film to make certain that fans would be all caught up. The list includes such tent poles as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
However, with Avengers: Endgame now in theaters, its many secrets now stand revealed -- and there is one film that has now become critical to the MCU: 2015's Ant-Man.
Before the release of Avengers: Endgame, we were under the impression that Ant-Man and the Wasp would be a critical rewatch before the film, given how the Quantum Realm was poised to come back in a big way. And, yes, the movie is quite essential to Endgame, but perhaps not as much as Peyton Reed's first Ant-Man film.
Think about it. If an audience member has never seen Ant-Man, then there is a good chance that there is a lot about Endgame that they simply won't understand. After all, in order for the Avengers to travel back in time and collect the Infinity Stones, they are all outfitted with Ant-Man costumes that will allow them to shrink down into the Quantum Realm. Sure, the suits are a bit different design-wise, but when the superheroes put on the helmets, there is no mistaking it -- these are all Ant-Man helmets.
What's more, the energy source that fuels the suits, Pym Particles, while barely mentioned in Ant-Man and the Wasp, come back to the forefront in Endgame. The technology of the shrinking suit was at the center of the first Ant-Man's story and, in Endgame, Scott Lang briefly explains to the Avengers that their supply of Pym Particles is limited. This warning would, eventually, lead Tony Stark and Steve Rogers' to travel further back in the past to acquire more. It's an important scene in the film, and it is only further enriched by the knowledge gained in Ant-Man.
Speaking of Iron Man and Captain America's trip to the '70s, the impromptu mission is based on a thread that was first established in the opening minutes of Ant-Man. The two Avengers travel back to that specific time because it was an era when Howard Stark, Tony's father, and Hank Pym worked together at S.H.I.E.L.D. As fans might recall, the opening flashback scene of Ant-Man first showed us that Hank and Howard knew each other, and even worked together.
Plus, if all that wasn't enough, there is also Luis' van to take into consideration. The van, which was originally featured in Ant-Man, became a gag of its own thanks to its "La Cucaracha" honk. The signature honk actually makes a return in Endgame's climactic battle when Thanos and the Avengers are fighting for control of the Infinity Stones.
There are a lot of elements from previous movies at play in Avengers: Endgame, and there are a lot of big movies that comprise the steps that lead us to this fateful cinematic event. However, now that we know all of Endgame's secrets, we will have to add Ant-Man to the list of crucial movies to rewatch in our next MCU marathon. Who knew such a small (pun intended) film would have such a big impact?
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos.