Since 2008, the folks at Marvel Studios have worked to create a multi-storied franchise in which every chapter operates as its own thing while also contributing to the larger whole. As a result, the best way to prepare for any new title is by watching everything that preceded it... but considering that's now about 34 hours of movie content, that's not the easiest thing to schedule. Certainly some will make an effort to marathon all of these titles before the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but for those who don't have time, we're here to help you out.

Having now seen the new Spider-Man movie, and looked back on the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that came before it, we've isolated the three blockbusters that work best for preparation purposes. While titles like Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy don't inform a great deal of what's going on in the new film, watching these three specific features should provide you with everything you really need to know. (And don't worry, this is totally SPOILER-FREE).

The Avengers

In 2012, Earth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe faced an incredible threat. It was the year that the Asgardian known as Loki led an alien invasion of Chitauri to attack New York, with the ultimate goal being global conquest. He would have succeeded also, had it not been for the heroics of six very important individuals: Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America, Bruce Banner a.k.a. Hulk, Thor, Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow, and Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye. Each skilled and powerful in their own right, it was their combined forces that wound up not only saving the world, but changing it forever.

The reverberations of the events in The Avengers are still being felt years later in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that very much extends to what we see in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Battle of New York allowed the world to see real superheroes unite and prevent global annihilation, and one of the many that these characters wound up inspiring was Peter Parker. Re-watching Joss Whedon's movie will give you a stronger insight into exactly what's going on in Spider-Man's head whenever he puts on his costume. Plus, Spider-Man: Homecoming has narrative elements that tie directly back to the blockbuster, so it really just wouldn't hurt to get a refresher course on the details.

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