With 26 Marvel movies currently out and available to watch, do you really need to watch them in chronological order to get the most out of your MCU experience?
It depends, but if you’ve never watched any Marvel movies before, why not watch them in chronological order? I didn’t watch them in chronological order the first time around, purely because they didn’t come out in order, and it didn’t take away from the experience.
But if you want to add to the experience and catch a few things you might not normally notice, then watching the movies in order might be the way to go.
Watching chronologically from Captain America: The First Avenger means you follow the Tesseract (the Space Stone) as it moves through the MCU to Captain Marvel and then again to Thor. The post-credits scene in Thor then gets you right into The Avengers, which also deals with the Tesseract extensively.
The other Infinity Stones, like the Mind Stone also comes into play in The Avengers, then the Reality Stone in Thor: The Dark World and then in Guardians of the Galaxy we find out what the stones actually are when the Collector explains it all.
Some of the movies are ambiguous, to be honest, like Black Widow, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Doctor Strange all take place at roughly the same time and are hard to pinpoint exactly when they’re set. We do know, however, that Black Widow takes place directly after Civil War.
While watching them in release order isn’t that different, watching them chronologically will definitely make it feel more coherent. For example, Thor: Ragnarok is set directly before the intense opening of Avengers: Infinity War, but if you watched in release order, you’d watch Black Panther straight after Ragnarok before discovering what happens to the Asgardians.
Do you need to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order?
It’s not necessary to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order – the below list just gives you the most accurate timeline, with some spoilers factored in. Alternatively, you can watch the Marvel movies in order of release, which is how us diehard fans watched them at the movies.
Just don’t think you can watch them category by category. Jump from Iron Man 2 to Iron Man 3 and you’re bound to miss a few things. The same absolutely goes for the Captain America movies and absolutely The Avengers movies.
That being said, Marvel does a pretty good job of keeping its stories self-contained in each movie. Approximate knowledge pays off if you’re a fan that hasn’t seen every movie, but can still keep up with the action.
The Marvel movies in chronological order
If you’re looking to watch all the movies chronologically, here they are:
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel (post-credit scene takes place after Infinity War)
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Avengers
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: Dark World
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Black Widow (takes place right after Civil War, post-credit scene takes place after Endgame)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
- Doctor Strange
- Black Panther
- Ant-Man and The Wasp (post-credit scene takes place after Infinity War)
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2017, finishes in 2022)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (eight months post-Endgame in 2023)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- The Eternals
If you want to know where the Marvel TV shows fit in, WandaVision takes place just weeks after Endgame, whereas Falcon and the Winter Soldier is six months after Endgame, so technically, both sit before Spider-Man: Far From Home. Loki is set in another timeline, but technically after The Avengers, but you should probably watch it after Endgame.
Most MCU movies and TV shows are available to watch on Disney+.
This post has been updated since it was first published.