Marvel fans will know that the next phase of the MCU has been marked with the release of Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman: Far From Home.
Whether you’re a veteran fan or new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be useful to watch the films in order. But this doesn’t mean the order in which they were released, as it makes far more sense to view them in order of when events take place.
Some may believe that Iron Man is the first MCU movie to watch, as it was released in 2008. However, chronologically speaking, it makes more sense to begin with Captain America: The First Avenger. This is because, while it was released in 2011 and was the fifth film Marvel Studios created, it’s set decades before Iron Man.
This is the complete chronological order to watch the MCU movies in so that the events make the most sense:
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Events take place in World War II, with the creation of the super-soldier, his battle with Hydra and Red Skull, plus the introduction of the Tesseract – also known as the first Infinity Stone.
Captain Marvel (2019) – Events take place in 1995, with Carol Danvers coming to Earth and hunting for the Skrull aliens. 90s kids can enjoy the nostalgia of Blockbuster stores and dial-up internet, as well as plenty of action-packed scenes.
Iron Man (2008) – Events take place in 2010, with Tony Stark captured by a terrorist organisation so he can create a weapons system for the leader. However, Stark instead creates the first Iron Man suit to assist in his escape.
Iron Man 2 (2010) – Events follow those in Iron Man, with Tony Stark’s Iron Man identity revealed and the government seeking the technology behind his suit. The Black Widow and War Machine are introduced as other Avengers.
Side note: Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and Thor all take place within a single week. The movie events are referred to as Nick Fury’s Big Week, where the Avengers are first introduced. They take place in 2011, while Iron Man takes place in 2010.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Bruce Banner is on the run from the US military and General Thunderbolt Ross. He tries to create his own version of the Hulk with another soldier after realising he can’t control himself, but he loses control.
Thor (2011) – Odin banishes the God of Lightning to Earth from Asgard after trickery from Loki. He must prove he’s worthy to earn his powers back and control his hammer. While on Earth, Thor meets a scientist who helps him before Loki takes full control of Asgard.
The Avengers (2012) – This is commonly seen as the climax of Phase 1 of the MCU. All of the Avengers, now they have been introduced, combine to work together against Loki, the Tesseract and an alien horde taking over New York City.
Iron Man 3 (2013) – Takes place six months after the giant fight in New York City from The Avengers, with Tony Stark coping with the memories of the battle that nearly resulted in his death. He builds an army of Iron Man suits so he will never be unprepared.
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Takes place after Loki’s invasion of New York City, with Thor returning to Asgard. The Dark Elves, who were once defeated by his grandfather and believed to be extinct, return as they seek the Aether (later shown to be an Infinity Stone).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – The titular character has been working for Shield since the end of The Avengers movie, but begins to question this government agency’s motives. The Winter Soldier, his closest friend, returns from the dead and becomes an enemy. The Falcon is also introduced.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Peter Quill finds an Infinity Stone in the ruins of an alien world. A group of outcasts – such as Groot the talking tree – join him as they stop Ronan the Accuser from wielding it.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) – Takes place a few months after the first movie, with Quill falling in love with Gamora and confronting Ego, a godlike being. The two Guardians of the Galaxy movies seem separate to the other movies in the MCU timeline, and they take place in outer space.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014) – A mistake created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner called the Ultron is fought by The Avengers as they come together again. New Avengers The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Vision are introduced.
Ant-Man (2015) – A cat burglar recruited by Hank Pym takes on the Ant-Man suit so the technology doesn’t become weaponized. The technology has been recreated, so Ant-Man must battle him.
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Nearly all of the Avengers feature, along with two more – Black Panther and Spider-Man. They are split into factions as Captain America wants to save Bucky Barnes.
Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) – Spiderman confronts Vulture, a foreman turned black market weapons dealer. Technology from the New York City battle has also been recovered. Peter Parker must still deal with the problems which come with being a high school freshman.
Doctor Strange (2016) – Strange is a top surgeon who nearly everyone struggles to deal with due to his arrogance. When a tragic accident takes away the use of his hands, Strange searches for a cure, and finds one with some ancient magic.
Black Panther (2018) – Looks at the events after the UN bombing seen in Captain America: The Civil War. T’Challa has to go home to Wakanda and become king, but faces a mistake from his father’s past with a villain called Eric Kilmonger.
Side note: While it also makes sense to watch Black Panther after Captain America: The Civil War, the official MCU timeline places the movie here.
Thor : Ragnarok (2017) – Follows the events after the death of Thor’s father and his long-lost sister Hella destroying his hammer. He’s stuck in gladiator fights against the Hulk, who hadn’t been seen since the Avengers’ defeat of Ultron. Thor, Hulk, Loki and Valkyrie take on Hella.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – Scott Lang is on house arrest after his actions in the Civil War, where he sided with Captain America. He is estranged from Hank Pym and Hope, but helps them after thinking Pym may be able to fetch Hope’s mother from the Quantum Realm.
Side note: It’s recommended to watch the post-credits scene of this movie after Infinity War.
Black Widow (2020) – Follows Natasha Romanov during a time in her life where she is an exile. Takes place after Captain America: Civil War, and before Infinity War and the Snap. She explores her past, including the Red Guardian. Appears to be a prequel which explains Black Widow’s background, with fans expecting some kind of reveal which impacts the future of the MCU.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Thanos decides to go after the Infinity Stones himself following years of attempting to do so from behind the scenes. The Avengers stand in the way, and they obstruct his mission of wiping out half of all life in the universe.
Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Thanos has achieved his destructive mission, and the Avengers must try and rectify the situation. Captain America and Tony Stark must make peace in order to reunite the Avengers one more time.
Spiderman: Far From Home (2019) – Looks at the MCU after the events of Infinity War, as all who were snapped by Thanos return to life five years later. Peter Parker, who is one of them, goes to Europe for a field trip, but Nick Fury and Mysterio need his help with the Elementals.
Films and shows: Chronological order
To watch the Marvel films and the shows in the right order, there is a more comprehensive list below which incorporates the shows. The TV shows take place in the same universe as the movies, and focus on the destruction or chaos caused by the films. While they aren’t necessary to watch, they can fill in some entertaining gaps between the films. Watching them in the correct chronological order can be difficult, but here is one way in which they fit:
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 1 (2015)
- Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2 (2016)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
- Iron Man (2008)
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Thor (2011)
- The Avengers (2012)
- Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 (2013)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
- Daredevil Season 1 (2015)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 (2014)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Jessica Jones Season 1 (2015)
- Daredevil Season 2 (2016)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 3 (2015)
- Luke Cage Season 1 (2016)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Black Panther (2018)
- Iron Fist Season 1 (2017)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 4 (2016)
- The Defenders Season 1 (2017)
- The Inhumans Season 1 (2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- The Punisher Season 1 (2017)
- Jessica Jones Season 2 (2018)
- Luke Cage Season 2 (2018)
- Cloak and Dagger Season 1 (2018)
- The Runaways Season 1 (2017)
- Daredevil Season 3 (2018)
- The Punisher Season 2 (2019)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 5 (2017)
- Iron Fist Season 2 (2018)
- Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
- Black Widow (2020)
- Avengers Infinity War (2018)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
- Spiderman: Far From Home (2 July 2019)