The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a sprawling, gargantuan series of comicbook based movies that can be viewed in a number of ways, from release order, to character-specific arcs, to the good old-fashioned chronological method. But what is the best marvel movie watch order? Let’s explore a couple of the best Marvel movie viewing orders to prepare you for a Marvel movie marathon.
Disney and Marvel have done a fantastic job in crafting a lived in Marvel universe that neatly includes easter eggs and references while crafting a galaxy so huge that it gives Star Wars a run for its money.
Today we’re going to show you how to watch every single Marvel Cinematic Universe (otherwise know as the MCU) movie in the order that they were released and then how to navigate the MCU timeline in the order that the events occur. The best thing is now that Disney has released Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, you can binge every single one on Disney+ (with the exception of The Incredible Hulk and the two Spider-Man movies from Sony, sadly).
Let us know your favorite Marvel movie watch order in the comments below.
Watch the Marvel Movies in Release Order
Marvel fans let’s start with the most straightforward watch order of marvel movies with the complete list of the MCU films in the order that they were released. If you want to tackle the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the way that Disney and Marvel Studios intended, here you go.
1. Iron Man (2008, Director: Jon Favreau)
Robert Downey Jr. stars as Tony Stark as he trades in his life of luxury to stop selling weapons and become the invincible Iron Man in this revolutionary first movie in which he creates the Iron Man suit and uses it to escape captivity.
2. The Incredible Hulk (2008, Director: Louis Leterrier)
Edward Norton is introduced as the MCU’s Bruce Banner / The Incredible Hulk. He and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) go on the run and eventually come face to face with the hideous Abomination. Tony Stark then appears in a post credits scene, foreshadowing The Avengers for the first time.
3. Iron Man 2 (2010, Director: Jon Favreau)
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Don Cheadle’s War Machine make their MCU debut in this direct sequel. Mickey Rourke stars as Whiplash, an evil scientist with ties to the Stark family.
4. Thor (2011, Director: Kenneth Branagh)
Chris Hemsworth stars as Thor Odinson, an alien God from the planet Asgard. He must defeat his scheming brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and reclaim his place as the prince of Asgard.
5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, Director: Joe Johnston)
During WWII a skinny boy named Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to undergo experimental treatment to turn himself into the world’s first super soldier; Captain America. With the help of his friend Bucky Barnes and love interest Peggy Carter, Rogers must take down the evil Red Skull, the leader of HYDRA.
6. The Avengers (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble) (2012, Director: Joss Whedon)
Loki returns and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury assembles the Avengers for the first time to stop him. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo) all team up to fight in the battle of New York and reclaim the Tesseract.
7. Iron Man 3 (2013, Director: Shane Black)
Set at Christmas, this movie takes place shortly after the events of The Avengers. Tony Stark must overcome his personal demons and face his greatest foe yet: The Mandarin.
8. Thor: The Dark World (2013, Director: Alan Taylor)
Thor and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) take on the evil Dark Elves and encounter the aether, which is later revealed to be one of the infinity stones.
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers)
Captain America meets a new hero; Sam Wilson / The Falcon as well as an old friend turned enemy. The heroes must uncover a conspiracy at the very heart of SHIELD to save the world.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, Director: James Gunn)
In our first real look at the cosmic MCU we meet an unlikely team of heroes who fight to stop the evil Ronan The Accuser from obtaining the power stone. Ronan is also revealed to be working for a greater threat; Thanos.
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015, Director: Joss Whedon)
The Avengers return to fight a villain of their own making; Ultron. The evil AI teams up with ‘enhanced’ brother and sister Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to destroy the world using vibranium.
12. Ant-Man (2015, Director: Peyton Reed)
Scott Lang becomes the MCU’s smallest hero as he inadvertently becomes Ant Man. After being trained by Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym, Scott undertakes the heist of his life and tangles with the villainous Yellowjacket.
13. Captain America: Civil War (2016, Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers)
The Avengers clash over a set of accords intended to hold them accountable for their actions and are split into two sides led by Iron Man and Captain America respectively. Meanwhile, an African prince reveals himself as the mystical Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
14. Doctor Strange (2016, Director: Scott Derrickson)
An arrogant doctor by the name of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has his world rocked when a car accident leads him down a path of magic and mysticism. Strange must embrace his role as the Sorcerer Supreme and defeat the evil Dormammu.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017, Director: James Gunn)
The Guardians are back and must contend with a living planet claiming to be Peter Quill (Chris Pratt)’s father. They also take in a new member who can control emotions; Mantis (Pom Klementieff).
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Director: Jon Watts)
Peter Parker (Tom Holland) learns the ropes from his mentor, Iron Man, and encounters the first of his extensive rogues gallery: The Vulture (Michael Keaton).
17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017, Director: Taika Waititi)
Thor takes on his toughest opponent yet when his long lost sister returns. Lost on another world and without his hammer, Thor must rediscover what it means to be the God of Thunder with a little help from The Incredible Hulk, Loki, and a rock monster named Korg.
18. Black Panther (2018, Director: Ryan Coogler)
T’Challa / Black Panther becomes king following the tragic death of his father. A challenge from within Wakanda may become his undoing as he takes on the sinister Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers)
Worlds collide as The Avengers splinter and team up with The Guardians of the Galaxy in an attempt to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from wiping out half of all life in the universe.
20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Director: Peyton Reed)
Set just before Infinity War, Scott Lang is under house arrest. Can he overcome the new threat of the Ghost (Hannah John- Camen)?
21. Captain Marvel (2019, Directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)
Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel in this 1990s prequel. Danvers must remember who she is with the help of a much younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and end the Skrull – Kree conflict.
22. Avengers: Endgame (2019, Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers)
It all ends here. After a disastrous defeat five years ago, the remaining Avengers introduce time travel into the MCU in a last-ditch effort to undo Thanos’ snap.
23. Spiderman: Far From Home (2019, Director: Jon Watts)
A distraught Peter Parker deals with the loss of his mentor by going on a school vacation. What he doesn’t count on is meeting Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal); a hero from another world.
24. Black Widow (2021, Director: Cate Shortland)
Natasha Romanoff goes back to her roots and takes on the evil Taskmaster in this superhero prequel.
Use Disney+ to binge-watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga in order
The advent of Disney+ has made watching the Infinity Saga a much less arduous process (cheers, Disney). No longer will you have to switch discs between Iron Man 2 and Thor, or Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange.
It also means that you can see Thanos’ long term plan to find every infinity stone play out in the MCU timeline one Marvel film at a time. If you’re super hardcore, you can also work in the Marvel tv shows, such as the Netflix shows; Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders. However, with Disney+ quashing the Marvel Netflix dream, it’s unclear how canonical these are anymore.
What certainly are canon, however, are the official Marvel Universe TV shows like Agent Carter and Marvel‘s Agents of SHIELD. If you’re talking an in-universe Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, Agent Carter comes just after Captain America: The First Avenger, while Agents of SHIELD splits depending on which season you’re watching.
But this isn’t the only Marvel movie watch order…
Different ways to spice up your Marvel watch order
Not content with watching your Marvel movies and TV shows by Marvel phase? Well, this Marvel superfan decided to cut together every MCU movie by scene, painstakingly coming with an MCU viewing order that is completely chronological.
Watching each MCU film in the order that they were meant to be seen in is a must for any Marvel fan. There’s something so fun about switching on Disney+, starting with Iron Man and spotting all the Easter eggs and little details that you may not have seen the first time around. Move over Star Wars and Harry Potter, there’s a new series of movies to binge-watch, and it’s called the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, we’re also going to give you our recommendation for the best way to view the Infinity Saga: chronologically. Our Marvel movie watch order will follow a simple A to B structure, by trying to work out what year each movie is set in. From there we’ll order each Marvel movie downwards to show what the most complete way to view this cinematic universe is.
Many sites have given their own take on the best Marvel movie watch order such as the famous official concession stand order. However, we’re going to start with Captain America: The First Avenger in 1942 and move all the way up to that iconic moment in Avengers: Endgame where Cap smacks Thanos with Thor’s hammer and shouts “Avengers Assemble!” Let’s do this, MCU fans!
Watch the Marvel Movies in Chronological Order
We’ve done our best to work out, or at least give our best guess of the chronology of the MCU and create a chronological Marvel movie viewing order. Some scenes are obviously set in the past and one or two films use flashback, so we’ve only gone for entire movies that feature in a specific year. It’s worth stating that most MCU movies don’t confirm which year they’re set in, so we’ve had to make some educated guesses!
We’ve also only mentioned some of the TV shows, as this is a cinematic viewing order. However, shows with characters from the movies like Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD seem to be more directly tied into the wider story, so we’ve put them down as ‘suggested viewing’ where appropriate. We’ve also included the Marvel Netflix shows as ‘extra reading’, as despite not featuring any Marvel movie characters, they occasionally allude to the Battle of New York as well as tenuous references to characters like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.
So, without further ado, here is our attempt at putting the Marvel movies in the order that they occur, to create a full Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline that features every film. If you have any comments, including where other tertiary shows like Cloak and Dagger or the Marvel one shots like All Hail the King fit in, please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you! As it is, here’s our chronological Marvel movie watch order.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Suggested TV viewing: Agent Carter
Though a flashback in Guardians of the Galaxy technically places the beginnings of the MCU billions and billions of years ago with the forming of the infinity stones, we’ll start with this movie, thank you very much. The 1940s introduce us to Steve Rogers, Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, Red Skull, and Bucky Barnes, who all return in later movies. If you’re a real sucker for continuity you can pause the post-credits scene where Steve wakes up in the modern world and play it directly before The Avengers. We don’t recommend that, though unless you’re trying to spot signs that the movie predicted the events of 2020.
This MCU movie also marks the first time in the Marvel Universe that we see an infinity stone, (though we don’t know that it is one at the time).
Agent Carter picks up four years later in 1946, and features Stark and Carter in a post-Captain America world, setting up the beginnings of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This surprise prequel explores the origins of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. We know its the 90s because of the various littered references, including a Blockbuster — thanks, Disney. We also meet a young Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. Fun!
The Incredible Hulk
Here’s where things become a little more obvious, for now. The Incredible Hulk is clearly set after the events of Iron Man as it features a post-credits scene where Tony Stark approaches General Ross about the Hulk joining the Avengers. Iron Man 2 and Thor presumably follow in their respective years.
Iron Man 2
There’s nothing too notable here in Tony Stark’s second adventure, bar the introduction of Black Widow. If you’re using our order, you’ve already met Nick Fury in Iron Man.
Marvel‘s The Avengers
Suggested TV viewing: Agents of SHIELD and the Marvel Netflix Shows
We know for a fact that The Avengers is set in 2012, and it’s made explicitly clear in Avengers Endgame. All straightforward so far, providing you accept that The Incredible Hulk is now far more Mark Ruffalo looking. In the now-iconic Marvel post-credits scene, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (as it’s known in the UK) also marks the first appearance of (a non-Josh Brolin) Thanos.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD picks up not long after The Avengers, though it catches up with the movies at various points, so switch off when they start talking about Hydra towards the end of season one.
The Marvel Netflix shows (Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders) also allude to the battle of New York, and can, therefore, be enjoyed concurrently. Quite obviously, 2012 is notable for marking the first time that the Avengers assemble as a team; a landmark date both in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and our own. Avengers also introduces Loki’s scepter which contains the second infinity stone: the mind stone.
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Iron Man 3 marks the beginning of Marvel phase two, but otherwise, this period is pretty self-explanatory. Thor: The Dark World introduces a third infinity stone and is confirmed to be set in 2013 by Avengers Endgame while Iron Man 3 deals with Tony Stark’s anxiety directly after the Battle of New York.
Iron Man 3 does feature a flashback to New Years’ Eve 1999, however, but we’re not mad enough to factor that into our MCU timeline.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
James Gunn confirmed that Guardians vol 2. is set a mere two months after the ending of the first, which is supported by the presence of the adorable Baby Groot. It’s worth mentioning that Guardians 1 marks the first time that Thanos speaks on-screen and we also meet our fourth infinity stone; the power stone.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron features the one and only appearance of Ultron, which represents a big step in Tony Stark’s personal character arc. Agents of SHIELD also ties into this one with the titular agents helping out at the Battle of Sokovia while Ant-Man shows us a de-aged Hank Pym and Howard Stark in a flashback that’s set before Captain Marvel, but after Captain America. Phew.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War kicks off Marvel phase 2 with a bang and marks the second time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline that the Russo brothers direct. It’s also notable for being the closest Marvel film to an Avengers movie without bearing the name.
Black Panther and Spider-Man Homecoming directly follow characters introduced in Civil War with reference to the events of that movie as if it happened recently. It seems more recent in the mind of Peter Parker, so we’re going to say that Spider-Man Homecoming comes before Black Panther. Not to mention the fact that significantly more time needs to have passed for Bucky to become the White Wolf in Wakanda.
As for Doctor Strange: it was released in 2016 and needs to come before 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok for Benedict Cumberbatch’s cameo to make sense, so placing it in this part of the MCU timeline is obvious.
Ant-Man and The Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Thor Ragnarok ends with the cliffhanger that leads directly into Infinity War, so it definitely at least ends in 2018 and obviously takes place earlier, before the Asgardians settle into their new life as ship dwellers. With Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers Infinity War itself; they occur around the same time, though Ant-Man and the Wasp quite clearly takes place a few days/weeks before the conflict in Infinity War before catching up to Thanos’ climactic snap at the end. This is a lot neater, as Infinity War works better heading straight into Avengers Endgame, than randomly digressing with the slightly less universe ending adventures of Scott Lang and co.
When Black Widow releases, it’s likely to fit in somewhere between these three as it takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers Infinity War. Thor: Ragnarok is also notable for including the destruction of Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, which wouldn’t be recovered until the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Avengers: Endgame obviously picks up directly after Infinity War, then time skips five years. Spider-Man Far From Home deals with Peter’s grief at the loss of Iron Man and both Thanos’s and The Incredible Hulk’s snaps are directly referenced as well as the “deaths” of Captain America and Black Widow. Simples.
Watching the Marvel movies in chronological order
Putting each film in our chronological Marvel movie viewing order creates a tidy MCU timeline that covers every movie but omits the Marvel tv series, lest we be here all night.
You can also place the upcoming Black Widow somewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, but that should become more clear when the movie is finally released.
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel
- Iron Man
- The Incredible Hulk
- Iron Man 2
- The Avengers
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: The Dark World
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Spider-Man Homecoming
- Black Panther
- Doctor Strange
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
When the Marvel Studios-Disney+ shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and the Tom Hiddleston-led Loki launch, this is going to get even more complicated. Not to mention upcoming movies like The Eternals and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If you’re a complete Marvel fanatic, you can expand past the world of film and make your own list including the Marvel TV series.
Netflix shows Daredevil season one and the first Jessica Jones season pick up shortly after the events of the Avengers, while Agents of SHIELD season one also starts shortly after the Battle of New York, but soon becomes entangled with the HYDRA conspiracy that forms the basis of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Luke Cage also follow on directly from Daredevil season one, though all five are only tenuously linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with few vague references to Thor’s hammer and no conflict on the scale of a battle for an infinity stone.
Regardless of how you want to watch the MCU, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a load of friends and binging your favorite Marvel movies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll get even more hyped for the release of Black Widow.
Viewing Marvel movies by Phase
Marvel movies are obviously famously split into different phases that cover mini-arcs over a whole lot of movies. Everything in the Infinity Saga for example covers phases one, two, and three (this also includes Spider-Man: Far From Home, for some reason). This is a different kind of Marvel movie watch order, though it’s just as valid. We’ll also include upcoming Marvel movies like The Eternals, though bear in mind these are subject to change.
Here’s how to watch each MCU movie by phase:
MARVEL PHASE ONE
- Iron Man (2008, Jon Favreau)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008, Louis Leterrier)
- Iron Man 2 (2010, Jon Favreau)
- Thor (2011, Kenneth Branagh)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, Joe Johnston)
- The Avengers (2012, Joss Whedon)
- Iron Man 3 (2013, Shane Black)
- Thor The Dark World (2013, Alan Taylor)
- Captain America The Winter Soldier (2014, Anthony and Joe Russo better known as the Russo Brothers)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, James Gunn)
- Avengers Age of Ultron (2015, Joss Whedon)
- Ant-Man (2015, Peyton Reed)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016, Anthony and Joe Russo better known as the Russo Brothers)
- Doctor Strange (2016, Scott Derrickson)
- Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017, James Gunn)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Jon Watts)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017, Taika Waititi)
- Black Panther (2018, Ryan Coogler)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018, Anthony and Joe Russo, better known as the Russo Brothers)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018, Peyton Reed)
- Captain Marvel (2019, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019, Anthony and Joe Russo better known as the Russo Brothers)
- Spiderman: Far From Home (2019, Jon Watts)
- Black Widow (2021, Cate Shortland)
- The Eternals (2021, Chloé Zhao)
- Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021, Destin Daniel Cretton)
- Spider-Man: Homeless (title not confirmed) (2021, Jon Watts)\
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022, Taika Waititi)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022, Sam Raimi)
All of these movies have been announced by Marvel, but are yet to have a firm release date. Most have no directors or cast attached just yet, though sequels like Black Panther 2 and Guardians 3 are confirmed to retain their former directors. I just hope we get John Krasinski as Mister Fantastic and Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool!
- Fantastic Four reboot
- Black Panther 2 (Ryan Coogler)
- Captain Marvel 2 (Nia DaCosta)
- X-Men reboot
- Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3 (James Gunn)
- Ant-Man 3 (Peyton Reed)
- Deadpool (something Deadpool, who knows where this will sit in continuity!)
Thank you Disney and Marvel for creating this incredible Marvel universe! We can’t wait to see what comes next so we can update our Marvel movie watch order!
Still, need more MCU content? Find out what huge X-Men / Fantastic Four Marvel Cinematic Universe news has been leaked, who is Chris Evans’ favorite superhero, or watch a montage of every time Cap gets punched in the MCU.
Have we made any errors in our Marvel movie watch order? Which MCU film is your favorite? Did you spot any easter eggs that might change our MCU timeline? Give us all of your Marvel Cinematic Universe comments below. Excelsior!