When Iron Man hit theaters in 2008, its success was anything but guaranteed. Few could have predicted how much of a breakout hit the movie would be, but nobody could have predicted what it would start: the massive, interconnected, industry-changing behemoth known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU). Avengers: Age of Ultron will be the 11th movie set in that shared universe, which includes tales of the other Avengers — the Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man films — but is hardly limited to them. In fact, the MCU includes three TV series (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Daredevil), a ton of tie-in comics (31 issues in total), and five different short films only available on home-video releases of movies.
Here’s the bad news: You have to have some knowledge of almost all of that stuff in order to understand Age of Ultron. But here’s the good news: We’ve put together a handy video explainer that gives you everything you need to know from the existing MCU stories. Hit play and just pretend you’re Steve Rogers — but instead of super-soldier serum, we’ll be injecting you with continuity details. You will emerge from the experiment with franchise knowledge that is nothing short of superheroic.