How to watch the Marvel movies in order

An alternative to the Star Wars movie marathon for the holiday season is a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) marathon. In case you are up for it, you need to know how to watch the Marvel movies in order. This guide aims to explain how to watch the Marvel movies both in chronological and release date order and offer you an understanding of the MCU timeline. But before we proceed with the Marvel movie order, let's provide some context on why Disney Plus is the platform of choice to follow the franchise. Then we will proceed with the best order to watch all Marvel movies released so far. There are two options here; watch the Marvel movies in chronological order or watch the Marvel movies in order of release.

Since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, it has made more than $18 billion from Marvel films. Now Disney Plus is a good starting point if you want to watch the Marvel movies in order, simply because it has most of them streaming in 4K. Moreover, it will be the venue for a whole new set of canonical MCU TV shows starting in January 2021 with WandaVision, followed by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in March 2021, Loki in May 2021, and Ms. Marvel in late 2021. 

Finally, Hawkeye, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Armor Wars, Ironheart, and Secret Invasion are planned for the service, too.

Table Of Contents

2021, the return of MCU movies

After a break in 2020, Marvel movies are set to return to theaters (bar any further covid19 lockdowns) in May 2021 with Black Widow. Then, to complete the 2021 duo from Marvel, Marvel's Eternals is released later in the year. Naturally, we will update the list accordingly after the release of these MCU films.

Watching Marvel movies in order can be done in two ways. Now the first and most recommended one begins with Captain America: The First Avengers back in the days of WWII and the origins of Steve Rogers' story. Alternatively, you can start with the first Marvel movie released in 2008, Iron Man. Then you can continue with the rest 22 MCU movies.

When done, you will be ready to follow Phase 4 of the MCU movies. By watching all films, especially in chronological order, you will have witnessed the most expensive TV show produced – ever. Let's explain how both orders work and then you can decide the one you prefer. Next, we will explain how to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order, followed by release order. Finally, we will rank the Marvel movies from best to worst.

Firstly, understanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) official timeline is probably ideal when you jump to the films. So, if you want to follow the MCU events as they happened instead of sorting them out yourself, this is the way to go.

Consequently, this list of Marvel movies starts with Captain America: The First Avenger and ends with Spider-Man: Far From Home, at this point. It starts with Red Skull searching for the Tesseract and ends with Peter Parker in Venice for vacation. Luckily there is no international travel ban in MCU.

Marvel movies in chronological order

So this is how to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (takes place during WWII)
  • Captain Marvel (takes place in 1995)
  • Iron Man (takes place in 2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (takes place after Iron Man)
  • The Incredible Hulk (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • Thor (takes place six months before Avengers)
  • The Avengers (takes place in 2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (takes place six months after The Avengers)
  • Thor: Dark World (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (sometime in 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (after Guardians)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (takes place in 2015)
  • Ant-Man (takes place in 2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
  • Doctor Strange (takes place in 2016)
  • Black Panther (takes place in 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (takes place in 2017)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (ambiguous, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame)
  • Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2017, finishes in 2022)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (post-Endgame)

Black Widow is supposed to take place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Meanwhile, we do not know much about the Disney Plus shows, like The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, and WandaVision. Of course, we will update the list to know more about the MCU Phase 4.

Marvel movies in order: Release date

On the other hand, if you prefer to watch the MCU movies in release date order, this is the list for you. It includes all four phases of the MCU, starting with the 2008's Iron Man, which launched Robert Downey-Junior to interstellar superstardom. Inarguably one of the best and most iconic character-actor matches in the history of cinema. 

By watching the Marvel movies this way, you will experience the improvements in technology and CGI first-hand, while the budget increases lead to better movies overall. Still, keep in mind that Marvel movies' release date order heavily depends on cast and crew availability, along with production cost management, so you will not get the ideal version of the story in terms of timeline.

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 (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Phase Four

  • WandaVision (TV show – January 15, 2020)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TV show – March 19, 2021)
  • Black Widow (May 7, 2021)
  • Loki (TV show – May 2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, 2021)
  • The Eternals (November 5, 2021)
  • Ms. Marvel (TV show – late 2021)
  • Untitled third Spider-Man movie (December 17, 2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022) 
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022)
  • Black Panther 2 (July 8, 2022)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (November 11, 2022)

Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe announcements

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania (TBD)
  • Blade (TBD)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)
  • Fantastic Four (TBD)
  • Hawkeye (TV show – TBA)
  • She-Hulk (TV show – TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TV show – TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TV show – TBA)
  • Ironheart (TV show – TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TV show – TBA)

The MCU on Disney Plus

Considering Disney Plus is the best means of following the MCU and will be from now on, let's see which Marvel movies and TV shows are available on the platform. Of course, this heavily depends on the region, but the list of Marvel movies on Disney Plus is accurate for the US, UK, and Australia as of December 2020. Notice the absence of The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man films from this list as the distribution rights belong to Universal and Sony.

So, below we present the Marvel movies available on Disney Plus:

  • Iron Man
  • Thor
  • Iron Man 2
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel movies list: From best to worst – IMDB

While not ideal, it's better to resort to IMDB ratings and Marvel movies' consensus. However, you may find yourself disagreeing with some ratings, depending on individual taste and aesthetics. 

I don't understand how Captain America: The First Avenger is ranked as I think it was a well-made film and a very emotional one at the same time. But it's hard to disagree with the top of the list, though, as three out of four Avengers films were pretty amazing.

Ideal Marvel movie order

The ideal order to watch Marvel movies is a matter of personal preference. But the orders provided, along with the IMDB ratings for each MCU movie, should help figure out the best order for you.

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