How to watch the Marvel movies in order

The Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney Plus.
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

Looking to watch the Marvel movies in order? Here's how.

There have been a lot of Marvel movies made in a relatively short time. As in, just over a decade now. From 2008's Iron Man to the end of "Phase 3" with Spider-Man: Far From Home it's been one hell of a ride.

And it's not slowing down anytime soon. WandaVision opened Phase 4 this year in a big way, and since then we've been treated to a bunch of new Marvel releases — Eternals and Black Widow have already graced the silver screen in 2021, and Spider-Man: No Way Home is on its way in December, plus we've had more action from Loki, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Marvel's What If..., plus Hawkeye has recently kicked off its six-episode run on Disney+.

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand, the MCU timeline is growing more and more complicated.  If you're new to the MCU (or just planning a rewatch), and looking for the best way to watch the Marvel movies in order, we've got you covered.

There are two main ways to work your way through the films: release order, and chronological order. There's just one thing to bear in mind: whichever way you watch them, the majority of the Marvel movies all the TV shows can be found on Disney+ (opens in new tab), although a handful of them will be found elsewhere.

Regardless, here are the two ways you can watch the Marvel movies in order. We've also added in the Marvel TV shows so you can get the ultimate superhero viewing experience. We also have a how to watch the Alien movies in order guide!

How to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order

This takes you straight through the Marvel timeline by when each movie is set.

Things kick off with Captain America: The First Avenger. It was the fifth movie to be released, but the Steve Rogers experiment took place way back during World War II, making it the first movie chronologically by some margin.

That said, there's a little wiggle room here. Some of the films don't have exact dates, though it's easy enough to see where they fit between the events in the other movies. As and when new shows and movies release, we'll be sure to add them in so you can keep up with the entire MCU timeline. 

Here's the list in full:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger: This is the "earliest" Marvel movie thus far, set during World War II, so sometime between 1939 and 1945.
  • Captain Marvel: Definitively set in 1995, thus all the grunge. (And the Nine Inch Nails T-shirt on Capt. Danvers.)
  • Iron Man: The first MCU movie released, but it takes place in 2010.
  • Iron Man 2: There's no precise date for this, but it (obviously) takes place after Iron Man.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The timeline is still a little messy here, but the first Hulk film is pre-Avengers.
  • Thor: No set date here, either, but also is set pre-Avengers.
  • The Avengers: Set in 2012.
  • Iron Man 3: Some six months after The Avengers.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Set in 2013, before Age of Ultron.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A key movie for things to come, and it takes place after Avengers but pre-Ultron.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Sometime in 2014 we're introduced to a new band of ruffians.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Fairly standalone, but it takes place at some point after the first movie.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: We advance a year to 2015 when things really start getting ugly.
  • Ant-Man: Also set in 2015, giving us another branch of the MCU.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Not quite determined, but after Ultron and before Infinity War.
  • Black Widow: Although we had to wait a while for Natasha's standalone movie, it takes place after Civil War.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Having been introduced to Tom Holland's Spider-Man in Civil War, he gets his first solo outing before Infinity War.
  • Doctor Strange: We time travel forward into 2016.
  • Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman takes center-stage as the Black Panther, set in 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Taika Waititi's ultra-fun Thor movie floats around before Infinity War.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: It all built up to this. The first half of Marvel's epic battle took place in 2017.
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp: Also unclear, but sometime in 2017.
  • Avengers: Endgame: Endgame begins in 2017, but things finish up five years later in 2022.
  • Loki: This one's particularly messy; the show takes place following that something that happens thanks to something that goes down in Endgame, but its events take place "outside" of time. 
  • What If: Has to follow Loki, even though different episodes of this animated show take place at various points in the timeline in alternative Marvel universes to the main MCU timeline.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Takes place in 2023, following the fallout from Endgame.
  • Eternals: According to Eternals' producer, Nate Moore (opens in new tab), this is set at roughly the same time as Far From Home in 2023 (minus the flashbacks)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Set during 2023. This was meant to be the first TV series released, but Covid got in the way and caused Disney to lead with WandaVision
  • WandaVision: The series lands after the events of Endgame, set in 2023.
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Shang-Chi's introduced when his world is turned upside down in 2023. 
  • Hawkeye: Clint Barton's Christmas caper is set two years after Endgame, as per director Rhys Thomas' comments to Gamesradar+ (opens in new tab), meaning this likely takes place in the holiday period in 2024.

Watch the Marvel movies in release date order

The other way we love to watch the Marvel movies in order is by their release date. Although the story will leap back and forwards in time this way, some films lend themselves to being watched in release date order. 

For example, if it's your first time through the story, it makes sense to watch Captain Marvel much later, as there's a lot of backstory that probably won't mean as much to you if you aren't already familiar with what went on elsewhere in the MCU before it was released.

Here's how you can watch the Marvel movies in the order they were originally released:

MCU Phase 1

MCU Phase 2

MCU Phase 3

MCU Phase 4