How To Watch The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Here are the best ways to watch the MCU movies!

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The Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Viewing Orders

The Best Marvel Cinematic Universe Viewing Orders

Marvel Studios has created the first mega-popular shared movie universe with their group of films featuring Marvel comics heroes and villains. These movies now represent the highest grossing film franchise of all time as audiences around the world can't wait to see the next installment of this sprawling series. However, at eighteen films now the timeline has become more complex than some realize. Mostly the films are easy to follow and you can usually jump in at any time, but seeing each and every one of these films helps you understand the characters and their motivations as well as the overall storyline much better. To prepare for the culmination of this entire cinematic universe in this summer's Avengers: Infinity War, scroll down to find your favorite way to watch these movies. Check out the historical timeline and various other ways to watch all eighteen movies below including the five Marvel One-Shot short films the studio has released so far.

Historical Order

Historical Order

This viewing order is the most accurate to the historical chronology of the universe. While Captain America: The First Avenger does have bookend scenes at the beginning and end of the movie which probably take place in 2012, most of the story is set in the 1940s making it the "oldest" story and that's why I put it first here. Other films in the franchise have flashbacks going back further, but those scenes are not a major part of their particular stories and don't take up most of those movie's total runtime. So here's the historically accurate way to watch the MCU.

March 1942-1945 - Captain America: The First Avenger

1946 - Agent Carter (One-Shot)

January-October 2008 - Iron Man

April-June 2009 - Iron Man 2

May 2009 - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (One-Shot)

November 2010-June 2011 - The Incredible Hulk

June 2011 - The Consultant (One-Shot)

May-June 2011 - Thor

May 2012 - The Avengers

June 2012 - Item 47 (One-Shot)

December 2012 - Iron Man 3

November 2013 - Thor: The Dark World

December 2013 - All Hail the King (One-Shot)

March-April 2014 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

August 2014 - Guardians of the Galaxy

October 2014 - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

April-May 2015 - Avengers: Age of Ultron

July-August 2015 - Ant-Man

May 2016-March 2017 - Doctor Strange

May-June 2016 - Captain America: Civil War

May 2016 - Team Thor (One-Shot)

June-July 2016 - Black Panther

June-September 2016 - Spider-Man: Homecoming

September-December 2017 - Thor: Ragnarok

December 2017 - Team Darryl (One-Shot)

Iron Order

Iron Order

This viewing order highlights Iron Man as the central figure in the MCU. He's the one who kicked off this ten-year-old universe back in 2008, so it makes sense to start where it all began. Since the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor all take place at the same time you can pretty much move them around in any order you'd like. I have The Incredible Hulk after Iron Man 2 because Iron Man becomes a S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant at the end of his sequel and speaks to General Ross about Hulk at the end of the big green guy's movie. This one makes the most sense and is the easiest to watch, and it's cool to see Tony Stark's character arc from selfish playboy to thoughtful mentor in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Iron Man

Iron Man 2

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (One-Shot)

Thor

The Incredible Hulk

The Consultant (One-Shot)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Agent Carter (One-Shot)

The Avengers

Item 47 (One-Shot)

Iron Man 3

All Hail the King (One-Shot)

Thor: The Dark World

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ant-Man

Captain America: Civil War

Team Thor (One-Shot)

Doctor Strange

Thor: Ragnarok

Team Darryl (One-Shot)

Black Panther

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Thunder Order

Thunder Order

Putting Thor in the spotlight, this viewing order begins and ends with him since his first film is the most vital to see when going into the first Avengers movie and his third film is the perfect lead-in for Avengers: Infinity War. The character is a major player in the overarching story of the MCU's Infinity Stones. It's a unique way to watch the series as we are introduced to the god of thunder first and then go backwards in the storytelling timeline from there, at least for the Phase One films which include the first six movies the studio released. It's a fun way to watch if you've seen the series before, but is also fun for first timers as long as you pay attention and fit the pieces it together as you go.

Thor

The Incredible Hulk

The Consultant (One-Shot)

Iron Man

Iron Man 2

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (One-Shot)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Agent Carter (One-Shot)

The Avengers

Item 47 (One-Shot)

Thor: The Dark World

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Iron Man 3

All Hail the King (One-Shot)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ant-Man

Captain America: Civil War

Team Thor (One-Shot)

Black Panther

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Doctor Strange

Thor: Ragnarok

Team Darryl (One-Shot)

Super-Solider Order

Super-Solider Order

We're placing Hulk front and center in this viewing order which begins with his underrated origin movie. This film introduces both Bruce Banner and General Ross who comes back later in Captain America: Civil War, as well as Iron Man in the final scene of the film which is a great lead-in to his first solo movie. Also, you'll notice I've been moving the Guardians of the Galaxy movies around because, while they do take place only a few weeks apart from each other, we don't know for sure when exactly they are set within in the grander scheme of things. This team of misfits will play a big role in Avengers: Infinity War, so it's fun to put them last here as our lead-in to that film, especially since that movie's big bad Thanos has a small role in the first Guardians movie. Hulk is closely tied to Captain America, (hence the name of this order) so it's fun to place their movies closer together; plus Thor is really the best lead-in for the first Avengers film, so that works well. The events of Ragnarok, which includes Hulk in a major role, take place either during the events of Captain America: Civil War, so I moved the third Thor film up before Spider-Man and Black Panther.

The Incredible Hulk

Iron Man

Iron Man 2

The Consultant (One-Shot)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Agent Carter (One-Shot)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (One-Shot)

Thor

The Avengers

Item 47 (One-Shot)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Iron Man 3

All Hail the King (One-Shot)

Thor: The Dark World

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ant-Man

Doctor Strange

Captain America: Civil War

Team Thor (One-Shot)

Thor: Ragnarok

Team Darryl (One-Shot)

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Black Panther

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Release Order

Release Order

Another simple and easy way to watch these movies is in the order in which they were released into theaters. It's a cool way to do it since that's how those of us who've been fans from the beginning have experienced them in theaters and they flow pretty well this way too. I've also separated them as Marvel Studios has into their respective Phases, each of which tells a new overall story while still remaining connected to what came before. Whichever way you choose to view this series of films, the important thing is that you watch them with someone you care about and have fun doing it, making memories along the way as you go on this incredible journey with these unforgettable characters. Get ready for Avengers: Infinity War in theaters May 4!

Phase One:

Iron Man (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Consultant (2011)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (2011)

Thor (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Avengers (2012)

Item 47 (2012)

Agent Carter (2013)

Phase Two:

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

All Hail the King (2014)

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)

Team Thor (2016)

Doctor Strange (2016)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Team Darryl (2017)

Black Panther (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Captain Marvel (2019)

Untitled Fourth Avengers Film (2019)

MCU Avengers Marvel Iron Man Captain America Thor Black Panther Guardians of the Galaxy Doctor Strange Ant-Man Hulk Spider-Man