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How to watch the Marvel movies in order

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

There have been a lot of Marvel movies made in relatively short time. As in, like, a little more than a decade now. From 2008's Iron Man to the end of "Phase 3" with Spider-Man: Far From Home (I'd argue Infinity War should have marked the end of that phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but nobody asked me) it's been one hell of a ride.

And it's not slowing down anytime soon. WandaVision opens Phase 4 — and in a big way.

This is a ride that many of us have been on for years now. But what to do if you're new to the MCU and you're looking for the best way to experience all of the Marvel films in order?

The real question you have to ask yourself is which order you should watch the films in. There's something to be said for working your way through as Marvel intended, by release date. But there's also something to be said for watching the flicks in chronological order — that is from the start of the timeline to the bitter end. (No spoilers here, we promise.)

So here's how we'd go about watching the various Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in order. Both orders. And where you can actually watch all these movies.

How to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order

This takes you straight through the timeline — more or less — in terms of what year the movie takes place.

Things kick off with Captain America: The First Avenger. It actually was the fifth movie from Marvel, but it's the furthest back, with Steve Rogers doing his thing in World War II. And we move forward from there.

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 events in the other movies.

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 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: Ah. Avengers, set in 2012.
  • Iron Man 3: Some six months after The Avengers.
  • Thor: Dark World: Avengers is a thing, but this is set before Ultron is a thing.
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier Also post- Avengers and pre- Ultron , setting up a good bit of things to come.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Meanwhile, sometime in 2014 we get a new band of ruffians.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Not quite as important in the scheme of things, but comes after the first Guardians.
  • 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.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Our first Spidey movie also is post- Civil War and pre- Infinity War.
  • Doctor Strange: We time travel forward into 2016.
  • Black Panther: The best MCU movie (don't @ us) takes place in 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Easily the most fun MCU flick, but kind of floating in time after Ultron and before Infinity War.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: It's on. And it's happening in 2017.
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp: We don't know exactly when — just that it's between Infinity War and Endgame.
  • Avengers: Endgame: We've got a couple important timelines here, with things beginning in 2017 after Infinity War , and finishing up in 2022, five years later.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: After Endgame, because it must be.
  • WandaVision: The series lands after the events of Endgame.

Watch the Marvel movies by their release date

The other way we love to watch Marvel movies is in the order in which they were released. That's perhaps more helpful to those of us of a certain age who were there the first time around, so we remember that very first utterance of "I am Iron Man" in a far different way than if it came three movies in, via the chronological order.

Same goes for Captain Marvel. It's a great film in its own right, but it's also very different if it's the second flick you watch, versus coming very late in the series, after a whole mess of stuff (again, no spoilers) has happened.

So pick your poison. If you're going to watch the Marvel films in the order in which they were released, this is how you'll do it. There's one catch to all of this. While the vast majority of the films are available on Disney+ (because Disney owns Marvel), a handful have been caught up in the legalese of Hollywood. 

But either way, your favorite MCU films are just a few clicks away, be it on Disney+ or Amazon or elsewhere.

MCU Phase 1

MCU Phase 2

MCU Phase 3

MCU Phase 4

  • WandaVision (Jan. 15, 2021)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19, 2021)
  • Black Widow (May 7, 2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, k2021)
  • Eternals (Nov. 5, 2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (Christmas 2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022)
  • Black Panther II (July 8, 2022)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (Nov. 11, 2022)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2022)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
  • Fantastic Four (TBA)