Look, it’s inevitable: Your kids are going to want to see the Star Wars and Avengers movies. Pictures of Star Wars characters and Marvel superheroes are plastered on everything from paper plates to Dorito bags. After a simple trip to a grocery store, children will be practically exploding with the need to see the movies.
So where to start and where to end? Watching every modern superhero movie is a 60-plus hour commitment—plus, in what order should you watch? What you need is a system that pares down the list without the kids feeling like they’re missing out on anything.
Let’s start with Star Wars. Blogger Rod Hilton suggests a solution: In a quest for peak enjoyment and maximum efficiency, Luke and Leia fans devised an optimal order of Star Wars movies:
Episode IV (A New Hope)
Episode V (Empire Strikes Back)
Episode II (Attack of the Clones)
Episode III (Revenge of the Sith)
Episode VI (Return of the Jedi)
You’ll notice a slight disturbance in the force. Episode I (the one with Jar Jar Binks and the screechy kid whose name isn’t even worth Googling) is gone, saving you two hours and a whole lot of space mumbo jumbo. Without the bloat, it’s a simple story about a lost space boy named Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader seems like a mysterious bad guy until the shocking reveal as Luke’s dad. Your audience will ask why he turned to the dark side, a question that’s answered by the next two movies they see.
The Marvel movies don’t tell a single story (the Thor, Captain America and Iron Man movies tell individual stories and only occasionally push the overall narrative forward) like Star Wars, but they can still be streamlined.
The suggested Marvel order:
1. Iron Man
2. Captain America: The First Avenger
4. The Avengers
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
I know. There are seven movies on that list. That’s about 14 hours of superheroes and explosions. But it could be much, much worse—you’ve actually been spared five movies, two television programs and a Netflix series. Now only one actor plays Bruce Banner instead of three. The list also scraps two Iron Man films and the second Thor movie. And there’re no TV shows. The 60 hours of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Peggy Carter and Daredevil are gone.
What we excise in time spent with the characters, we gain in narrative clarity. Despite losing two Iron Man movies, the Marvel movie suggested order becomes the story of Tony Stark. We start with him as a cocky, rich jerk and watch him become a cocky, rich jerk with a cool suit of armor and a fun bunch of superhero buddies.
Of course, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Winter Soldier don’t have anything to do with him, but they’re probably the best movies in the bunch. And with the time you’ve saved, you can watch them twice.