How to watch the Marvel movies in order

Here’s a chronological guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)

(Image: © Marvel Studios/IMAX)

It’s 2020, and with Disney Plus streaming in certain countries, Black Widow soon kicking off Marvel’s Phase 4 and Avengers: Endgame behind us, this is the perfect time for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) marathon.

Even if you own the movies, watching them in order isn’t completely straightforward. You could watch the Marvel Movies in chronological order, beginning with Captain America: The First Avenger during the ’40s, as Steve Rogers takes on Red Skull. Or you could watch the Marvel movies in release order, which makes Tony Stark’s origin in 2008’s Iron Man the place to start.

With Disney Plus Marvel TV shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision coming later this year, and new movie The Eternals arriving in November, it’s a good time for new or existing MCU movie fans to catch up. You’ll find lists of both chronological and release orders below, along with an extra list that ranks the best Marvel movies for those who want to skip the bad ones (that’s you, Thor: The Dark World). We’ll also explain which Marvel movies you’ll find on Disney Plus in 2020. Let’s get started.

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: chronological order

An MCU timeline is probably what you’re here for. This list contains all the Marvel films listed chronologically from The First Avenger to Endgame. The benefits of watching the films this way is that you’ll get to see the events as they unfolded in the universe. You can keep track of the Tesseract, watch Thor’s journey from hero to zero to hero and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s journey to confronting Thanos.

Here’s the chronological viewing order of the Marvel movies:

  • 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 (time unspecified, pre-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)

As 2020 Marvel movies like Black Widow and The Eternals release along with Disney Plus series like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we’ll update this list when we’re certain of their place in the MCU timeline. Black Widow, for example, will be set after Captain America: Civil War, but since you can’t watch it yet, we’ve left it off the list above for now.

(Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Marvel movies in order: release date

That being said, if you want to see the films as they were originally released in theaters, you should follow this list that starts with the original Iron Man in 2008 and continues all the way up to Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Watching the films this way means that they’ll start out rough and only improve over time as the studio puts more money behind the box office behemoth, and it makes for a fun walk down memory lane.

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

  • Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
  • The Eternals (November 6, 2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
  • Untitled third Spider-Man movie (July 16, 2021)
  • Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • Black Panther 2 (May 6. 2022)
  • Blade (TBD)
  • Ant-Man 3 (TBD)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)
  • Untitled Captain Marvel film (TBD)
  • Untitled Fantastic Four film (TBD)

Marvel movies on Disney Plus: more coming in 2020

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Right now as of early 2020, these are the Marvel movies you can watch on Disney Plus in the US. Note that you can’t watch The Incredible Hulk because Universal owns the US distribution rights. You can’t watch the two Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, either, because the rights to those belong to Sony. Disney will need to work some magic to get those on the service.

Here’s the list:

  • 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: Endgame
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Then throughout 2020, these MCU movies will be added on specific dates (with Phase 4 movies to come after their theatrical releases, too):

  • Black Panther (March 4, 2020)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (June 25, 2020)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 29, 2020)

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Best Marvel movies

Finally, if you don’t have time to waste with the worst Marvel films (*cough*) Thor: The Dark World (*cough*), we’ve also ranked the Marvel movies from best to worst, with the most highly acclaimed films like Endgame and Guardians of the Galaxy right at the top. (Scores are based on their IMDB ranking.) We’ll keep updating this as the rankings change throughout 2020, and new movies like Black Widow and The Eternals release.


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