Best Way To Rewatch The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Here's how you should rewatch the MCU before Avengers 4 comes out!
Captain America: The First Avenger
The best way to kick off your MCU rewatch is with The First Avenger himself, Captain America. While this 2011 film has present day scenes as bookends, the bulk of the story takes place back in the 1940s during World War II. It's a great introduction to this world and even features the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the S.S.R. which is the glue that sticks this vast universe together. This movie also introduces us to the first of the fabled and important Infinity Stones, later revealed to be the Space Stone.
In March of 2019, Captain Marvel will takes audiences back to the 1990s making it a prequel to the MCU's present day storyline. It'll tie everything together even further as it is also a space-faring adventure as well as an earth-bound tale. Nick Fury will play a major role (sans eyepatch) as will fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson.
The first Iron Man movie actually started this whole thing back in 2008. Tony Stark is a central figure in the MCU and his origin story is one of the most enjoyable to watch unfold. It also introduced us to both Nick Fury and the peacekeeping organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D.
Iron Man 2
Taking place just six months after the original Iron Man movie, 2010's Iron Man 2 finds Tony at his lowest and most self-destructive as he must with cure himself of a deadly disease. He also finds out more about his father Howard Stark and his ties to this complex cinematic story. It brings back Fury while also introducing both Black Widow and War Machine to further expand this vast world.
The Incredible Hulk
Set during the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk film from 2008 features the Green Goliath as a failed super-soldier attempt who just wants to be left alone. The man-on-the-run storyline is thrilling and brings in many important character like General Ross. It also ties into Captain America and Tony Stark makes a fun cameo appearance.
The first time we go cosmic is in the 2011 film Thor where we find out that we are not alone in the universe. In the magnificent realm of Asgard, we discover beings of great power and intelligence and the prince of the realm eternal is banished to Earth by his father Odin the All-Father to learn humility. There are plenty more connections to S.H.I.E.L.D. here and we also get the largest expansion of this cinematic universe we've seen yet.
Bringing together every disparate part of this universe is 2012's The Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury and his most trusted S.H.I.E.L.D. agents must recruit unlikely heroes to unite and defend the planet from an invading alien force. It's a blast to see these heroes join forces for the first time as they butt heads and team-up for the greater good. We also get our first glimpse of a smirking Thanos who will play a major role moving forward.
Thor: The Dark World
After the Battle of New York in The Avengers, Thor takes his tricky brother Loki back home to Asgard as prisoner, but soon must work with him to defeat the dark elf Malekith from plunging the Nine Realms into total darkness. 2013's Thor: The Dark World is a story that further develops Thor and Loki's complex relationship and also introduces the second Infinity Stone, known as the Reality Stone.
Iron Man 3
After his harrowing experience in The Avengers, we find Tony Stark months later still dealing with PTSD in 2013's Iron Man 3. To add to his woes, a terrorist known as The Mandarin threatens everything he cares about and Iron Man must take drastic measures to save those he loves. This one goes back to basics in a story which focuses on Iron Man and his character journey with very little ties to the rest of the MCU.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Cap joins S.H.I.E.L.D. after The Battle of New York, but doesn't agree with their methods of saving the world and soon uncovers a plot that could spell doom for the entire planet due to the agency being infiltrated by the former Nazi organization known as HYDRA. In 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, our patriotic hero joins new allies like Falcon and old friends like Black Widow to take down the government group he works for, and their deadly brainwashed assassin, in a story that forever changes the fabric of the MCU.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Coming back down to Earth is Avengers: Age of Ultron, a 2015 film that has the team beginning to fall apart after an artificial intelligence looks to create an extinction level event. It's got our heroes at each other's throats while also facing off against their biggest threat yet. This one sets up so much that's to come with each of the characters and their individual storylines while moving the overall plot forward in significant ways. Here, we also discover the fourth Infinity Stone, known as the Mind Stone.
This origin story for the retro hero Ant-Man has thief Scott Lang caught up in corporate espionage when Dr. Hank Pym recruits him to steal back a highly advanced formula that allows things to shrink. The 2015 film uncovers lots of MCU history as Dr. Pym was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and became the first Ant-Man back in the 1980s. There are also plenty of other references to other aspects of this vast universe.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Taking us even further into the cosmic space of the MCU, 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy opened things up for this universe more than anyone could have imagined. As we follow this band of misfits save the galaxy we learn more about the various aliens and planets in this vast universe. We get our first scene with the Mad Titan known as Thanos here who's behind many of the nefarious plots in this cinematic world, and we find the third Infinity Stone, known as the Power Stone.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Picking up six months after the first film, 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has the team becoming a family as Star-Lord meets his father. It's got plenty of character development for this team of heroes, and introduces some great new characters as well. However, Vol. 2 sets itself apart from the rest of the MCU as a stand alone story with little connection to the overall story.
In this unusual origin story we find a brilliant doctor who loses everything and desperately searches for the answers to his ills. 2016's Doctor Strange reveals a whole new side of the MCU in this mystical adventure where we discover otherworldly beings and new dimensions. He plays a major role moving forward, and this is a great introduction to him, his unique abilities, and his powerful talisman which is the fifth Infinity Stone, known as the Time Stone.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War is an extremely important film from 2016 which finds Cap leading The Avengers and continuing the search for his best friend, the formerly brainwashed assassin, Bucky. After a devastating accident is caused by the superhero's intervention, the United Nations decides the team must cease all activity and only act when called upon. Cap and some of his teammates can't sign on, but Tony and others do thus causing a rift in the group leading to a huge conflict. It's an emotional and intense story that brings in most of the members of the Avengers and changes the universe forever.
After being introduced in Civil War, Black Panther returns home to claim the throne of Wakanda, but a forgotten warrior rises to challenge him. This 2018 film is mostly a stand alone story, but it still has strong ties to the rest of the MCU. It explores a previously unseen section of the world and sets up important things for the future.
Following his introduction in Civil War, Spider-Man gets to save the world on his own in 2017's Homecoming. He does get assistance from his mentor Iron Man, but this is still very much Peter Parker's movie as he must battle The Vulture while also dealing with homework and friends in high school. There are great ties to the MCU, but this one feels like a small-scale adventure for our teenage hero which we haven't yet seen in this universe.
Thor: Ragnarok finds our hero trying to prevent the devastating, apocalyptic titular event which would spell doom for his homeworld of Asgard, but he's sent to the gladiator world of Sakaar by his evil sister Hela, and made to fight his former teammate The Hulk. In this 2017 film, we finally get to see what Thor and Hulk were up to while the rest of the Avengers were fighting each other in Civil War. It's an important film for the development of Thor, his brother Loki, and Banner/Hulk which also sets up the next film in this franchise.
Avengers: Infinity War
The culmination of the MCU is this epic 2018 adventure film in which our heroes desperately battle the overwhelming forces of Thanos and his Black Order as he seeks to unite all six the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of the universe. Characters who've never met meet for this first time here including Iron Man and Doctor Strange, Thor and Rocket, and Captain America and Groot. This film brings together so many storylines and alters the entire cinematic universe forever.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Scaling things back down to size, 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp finds the titular heroes hunting down a new villain who wants to hijack the quantum realm putting everyone else at risk. This story is mostly self-contained and focuses on the relationships between these characters. However, it does tie into the rest of the MCU in a surprising way which also sets up what's to come next.
This is the end of the entire MCU. Here we find our heroes reeling after the shocking events of Infinity War and banding together again to undo the tragedy that befell them all. It looks like an extremely emotional journey which will likely see the end of many of our heroes. The filmmakers have their work cut out for them but looking at their track record, I think we're in good hands.