Marvel. Photo: Android Authority
Marvel. Photo: Android Authority

How to watch the Marvel movies in order – chronological order

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America is the fifth Marvel Studios film, with Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor all having films before Cap. But it's the first film on our list because the events take place first - during World War II. We see the creation of the super-soldier portrayed by Chris Evans, as well as his first battle with Hydra and its leader Red Skull. The film also introduces the Tesseract, which we later discover is the first Infinity Stone, one of the powerful gems that control reality.

Captain Marvel (2019)

The second film on our list hit theatres just last year. In Captain Marvel, which is set in 1995, we see the Carol Danvers, played by Brie Larson, fall to Earth and begin a hunt for the shape-shifting Skrull aliens. There’s as much action here as there is nostalgia, especially if you're a 90s kid, thanks to scenes with Blockbuster stores and even dial-up internet.

Iron Man (2008)

According to the official Marvel timeline, Iron Man takes place in 2010. It's all about genius/inventor/philanthropist/playboy Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. He is captured by a terrorist organization, the leader of which wants the latest weapons system designed by Stark. However, Stark designs something even more powerful to help himself escape: The first Iron Man suit.

Iron Man 2 (2010)

After IRON MAN introduces viewers to the modern-day iteration of S.H.I.E.L.D., the sequel dives deep into that organization. It also features Nick Fury in a far more significant role, allowing viewers to get a sense of just who this figure really is. Meanwhile, the focus on Howard Stark’s legacy continues to draw the narrative threads together. It makes perfect sense to watch IRON MAN 2 at this point.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Photo: Pinterest
Photo: Pinterest

This particular adjustment to the viewing order is appropriate. While THE INCREDIBLE HULK actually happens at the same time as IRON MAN 2, the end-credits sequence assumes Tony Stark now has a “consultant” role with S.H.I.E.L.D.

Thor (2011)

THOR introduces viewers to Asgard and launches a series of stories inspired by events in the Realm Eternal. At the same time, it continues to develop the story of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Coulson and Hawkeye playing important roles.

The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers is the culmination of the so-called "Phase 1" of the MCU. With all the main heroes introduced, the real challenge was finding something daunting enough to force them to work together. The combined power of Loki, the Tesseract, and an alien horde invading New York City proved to be the match that made these superheroes become friends in life and on the frontline.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The third and final standalone Iron Man film takes place six months after the giant fight in New York City. Tony Stark is dealing with the memories of the battle that took place (and nearly killed him). The memories lead him to build an army of Iron Man suits so he can always be prepared.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The second Thor film sees its hero return to Asgard after the Loki-led invasion of New York City. He doesn’t have much time to rest, however, as the ancient Dark Elves return. They were once defeated by his grandfather and thought to be extinct. They're back now and seeking the Aether, a powerful weapon that is later revealed to be an Infinity Stone, or one of six powerful gems in the MCU.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Continuing with the Earthly focus, this movie shows what Captain America is up to. This story could even be happening at the same time as IRON MAN 3, explaining why Cap doesn’t help Tony against the Mandarin and why Stark isn’t on hand to deal with Hydra. Or maybe Cap and Stark are merely still wary of one another at this stage. Perhaps most importantly, placing this film here begins a Falcon arc that will run through the next few movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Photo: London Bridge City
Photo: London Bridge City

Continuing the cosmic focus, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY unveils another Infinity Stone. The Collector, introduced in the stinger of THOR: THE DARK WORLD, makes another appearance, tying the two films together. Viewers are left with a strong sense that the Infinity Stones are being brought into play across the universe.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)

The events of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 are set only a couple of months after the first film, so it makes sense for this to follow straight on. It continues the space-opera style and tone established by the last two films in our Marvel movie order.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The Avengers reunite to confront a mistake created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner: the AI known as Ultron, voiced by James Spader. If a single robotic version of Ultron is left standing, he can continue fighting the Avengers. This film also introduces new Avengers: The Scarlet Witch (played by Elizabeth Olson), Quicksilver (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and Vision (played by Paul Bettany).

Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as a cat burglar recruited by Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym to dawn the Ant-Man suit in order to stop the technology from becoming weaponized. Pym’s former prodigy (played by Corey Stoll) has recreated the technology in the form of a yellow jacket suit, and Ant-Man must battle him and ultimately save the day on the smallest scale imaginable.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Although it's a Captain America film, Civil War features almost every single Avenger while adding two more heavy hitters to the lineup: Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Unfortunately, the Avengers are split into different factions due to Captain America wanting to save his friend Bucky Barnes, who appears to be responsible for the bombing of a UN session.

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)

Photo: Cafe phim T-Box
Photo: Cafe phim T-Box

Set two months after CIVIL WAR, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING focuses on Peter Parker. It’s important to note that Tony Stark has been given time to heal a little, so this viewing order makes sense.

Doctor Strange (2016)

Placing DOCTOR STRANGE here gives the film real importance as a thematic tie between the MCU’s Earth-bound and cosmic movies. DOCTOR STRANGE introduces the concept of magic and brings the Time Stone into play. The Quantum Realm also plays a subtle role, as Strange glimpses it while being sent careering through the dimensions. Finally, the end-credits scene leads nicely into THOR: RAGNAROK.

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther was introduced in CIVIL WAR, and this continues his story. It’s appropriate to drop this movie in next, as BLACK PANTHER is set only a week after the Avengers divide, and the Wakandan focus follows on nicely from the end-credits sequence.

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The third solo film for Thor finds the hero jettisoned across space after the death of his father and the destruction of his hammer by his long-lost sister, Hella, played by Cate Blanchett. He finds himself stuck in gladiator fights pitted against the Hulk, who hadn’t been seen since the Avengers defeated Ultron. Together, Thor and Hulk team up with Loki and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie to take on Hella.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Scott Lang is back, but he has been placed on house arrest following his role in the Civil War and siding with Captain America. He's been estranged from Hank Pym and Pym's daughter, Hope. But he reluctantly agrees to help them, thinking that Pym might be able to retrieve Hope's mother from the Quantum Realm. (Head's up: Save the post-credits scene until after you’ve seen Infinity War.)

*Black Widow (2021 - not in theatres yet)

Black Widow is finally getting her own self-titled film, though it's been delayed from hitting theatres due to the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, it took Black Widow's demise in Endgame for her to get a standalone movie. Nevertheless, Marvel's next film will follow Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanov during a period of exile in her life. It takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but before Infinity War and the Snap. It's being built up as a prequel to explain Black Widow's background.

Black Widow will meet some of her old friends and family as she explores her past, including a fatherly figure, played by David Harbour, who is known as the Red Guardian. He's basically the Soviet Union's answer to Captain America.

It wouldn't shock us if there's a big reveal that factors heavily into the future of the MCU.

READ MORE: WandaVision Episode 9 Spoiler: Is it good? How The Story ends?

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Photo: Popzara Press
Photo: Popzara Press

After years of orchestrating things from behind the scenes in order to find all the Infinity Stones, Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) has decided to go get them himself. The only thing standing in his way are the Avengers, who are currently spread across the universe. To raise the stakes even more, Thanos’ only reason for seeking the power of the stones is to wipe out half of all life in the universe.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

After Thanos snapped away half of all life, leaving the universe in total chaos, the Avengers must try to make things right. Five years pass and a slim chance emerges for them to undo it all, but before that can happen, Captain America and Tony Stark need to make peace and reunite the Avengers one final time.

WandaVision (2021)

Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff has quietly been one of the most tragic characters in the MCU. She lost her family in a bombing, which saw her left stranded in a pile of rubble for days with her brother. Her brother then died during the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)

Far From Home is the latest Marvel film and it serves as our first look at the MCU post-Infinity War, as we see everyone who was snapped by Thanos return to life five years later. The freshly unsnapped Peter Parker heads to Europe for a field trip, but he’s surprised by Nick Fury and Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio, who need his help against enemies known as Elementals.

Marvel movies in order: release date

Looking to watch the MCU movies in release order? You'll want this list, which begins with Iron Man in 2008 and ends in 2019 with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Watching the Marvel movies in release order is a better option if you want a nice nostalgia trip, and you'll see how the MCU films are supercharged after the Disney acquisition with bigger and better budgets.

The MCU story was meant to be enjoyed in this order, after all. We've also included the future MCU Phase 4 release dates below for your reference.

Phase One

Iron Man (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Thor (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Ant-Man (2015)

Phase Three

Captain America: Civil War - May 6, 2016

Doctor Strange - November 4, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 - May 5, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming - July 7, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok - November 3, 2017

Black Panther - February 16, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War - April 27, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp - July 6, 2018

Captain Marvel - March 8, 2019

Avengers: Endgame - April 26, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home - July 2, 2019

Marvel movies Phase four (and upcoming)

Black Widow (7th May 2021)

The Eternals (5th November 2021)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (9th July 2021)

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (25th March 2022)

Spider-Man 3 (untitled) (17th December 2021)

Thor: Love and Thunder (11th February 2022)

Ant-Man 3 (TBC – rumoured 7th October 2022)

Black Panther 2 (8th July, 2022)

Blade (7th October, 2022)

Captain Marvel 2 (11th November, 2022)

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (2023)

Fantastic Four (TBA)

What’s the best order to watch the Marvel movies?

The choice is completely yours – there’s no wrong way. But, with that said, you definitely want to avoid viewing the film chronologically if you’re an MCU newbie.

First off: you may struggle to remember the background of certain characters. Captain Marvel, for instance, will be introduced in the second film in the list only to next be mentioned over 40 screen hours later.

Plus, you might have the opposite problem and spend too much with other superheroes – as much as we love Tony Stark, his character arc can feel rushed if you watch Iron Man and Iron Man 2 back to back.

Also, making Captain Marvel your second MCU movie means you miss out on the in-jokes and references established over 17 movies.

However, ardent Marvel fans will reap the rewards of re-watching the saga chronologically. Not only will this give more depth to the backstory of some key characters (Avengers stalwart Nick Fury being the prime example), but viewing the films in this order brings a new understanding of the MCU timeline (who knew the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and 2 were only months apart?.

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