How to watch the Marvel movies in order in 2023

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.

Upcoming MCU Movies

Marvel announced plenty of upcoming MCU movie release dates, but let's start with the one that's almost here. Black Widow will premier in theaters on July 9th, 2021, and for an extra fee you can watch it on DIsney+ the very same day (I know I will).

But there is a lot more coming from Marvel, even in 2021:

  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (September 2021)
  • Marvel's The Eternals (October 2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 2021)

Marvel also released the scheduled release dates for movies coming in the next two years:

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (July 8, 2022)
  • The Marvels (November 11, 2022)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania (February 17, 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023)

Finally, in terms of TV shows we have:

  • Locki (June, 2021)
  • Hawk-Eye (later in 2021)

The two most sensible Marvel movie watch orders

Watching Marvel movies in order can be done in two ways that make sense.

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. Since Captain America's story started the whole thing, I would definitely recommend starting with this one and going in chronological order than theater release order.

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.

Marvel movies in order: Chronological Order

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.

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 cinematic universe timeline
Marvel movie order and timeline Image credit: Disney

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 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. Essentially, these movies were produced and released whenever it was possible to complete the MCU projects, so it's natural that chronological order was not maintained.

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

  • Blade (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 Universal and Sony distribution rights belong.

Marvel movies available on Disney plus in 2021:

  • 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 TV Shows on Disney+ (2021 & Upcoming):

These are the Marvel TV shows available on Disney Plus, meanwhile:

  • WandaVision (now available)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (now available)
  • Loki (June 9, 2021)
  • What If…? (summer 2021)
  • Ms. Marvel (late 2021)
  • Hawkeye (late 2021)
  • She-Hulk (TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TBA)
  • Ironheart (TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TBA)
  • Wakanda series (TBA)

Marvel movies in order of IMDB ratings

While not ideal, it's better to resort to IMDB ratings and Marvel movies' consensus. However, you may disagree 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 and very emotional film. But it's hard to disagree with the top of the list, though, as three out of four Avengers films were pretty amazing.

What's the ideal way to watch Marvel movies in order?

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

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