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How to watch all the Marvel movies in order: MCU chronological timeline and release order

What’s the best way to watch Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in action? Here's a full explanation of the MCU and Avengers timeline.

Published: Friday, 20th May 2022 at 12:08 pm
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You may already be an avid fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or are a beginner who wants to venture into the great and profitable film franchise for the first time and are wondering how best to view the films.

There is, of course, the possibility of watching all of the films in their release date order, or you can alternatively watch the films in chronological timeline order.

No fear, RadioTimes.com has gathered all you need to know about these orders, whilst also adding the order of the films by ranking on IMDb and review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

So, if you are keen to start watching the movies then look no further than our guide!

That's not all, either, as we can also include Disney Plus' vast library of series with the genre-bending WandaVision, the action-packed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, high-concept Loki (check out our breakdown of the jaw-dropping Loki ending for details), the feel-good Hawkeye and the quirky Moon Knight.

There are more MCU series on the way on Disney Plus too, including Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Echo and more.

Fortunately, it's never been easier to watch all the Marvel movies in order as Disney Plus has nearly every movie, and they come in 4k too.

Recently, the streaming platform has welcomed Black Widow to its stellar line-up, along with the martial arts movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and most recently, the ambitious epic Eternals.

And now Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness have been also been in cinemas, adding more movies to Marvel's output with a slightly simpler place in the timeline (they take place after Avengers: Endgame explicitly).

Although, in the case of No Way Home, you will also need to be up to date on how to watch the Spider-Man movies in order.

You can also enjoy the Spider-Man: No Way Home streaming release and find out how to watch Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Our next closest releases in cinemas are Thor: Love and Thunder (8th July 2022) and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (11th November 2022).

There are plenty of new Marvel cinematic releases on the way too, including; Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (17th February 2023), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 (5th May 2023), The Marvels (28th July 2023), and an all-new incarnation of the Fantastic Four (TBC).

For more information on all of the above projects, check out our full guide to the upcoming Marvel movies and every upcoming Marvel series, which will make sure you don't miss a thing.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Marvel

With so many new additions on the way the MCU timeline can get a little muddled, but there are two main ways to watch Marvel movies in order, chronological order, which kicks things off with Captain America: The First Avenger, or Marvel movies in release order, which starts with Iron Man.

When it comes to the best Marvel movies in order, it's really down to you, we like seeing things in release order as they naturally developed, but always advocate giving the chronological order a go at least once.

With Phase 4 now well underway there's no better time to get started. We've included all your options so get that Marvel movie marathon binge started now.

How to watch the Marvel movies in chronological timeline

Looking at the series in chronological order, it's actually Captain America: The First Avenger that is set earliest, taking place during the Second World War where a skinny Steve Rogers is first dosed with the incredible Super Soldier Serum.

The latest film entry in the chronological timeline is Spider-Man: No Way Home which was released in 2021 but due to the Endgame time jump, actually takes place in the year 2024.

Some fans believe that this is the best way to watch the MCU movies as elements are introduced as the characters in the story encounter them – for instance, this method makes Nick Fury's Infinity War cameo more satisfying, as viewers will already have the context provided by Captain Marvel (released in cinemas the following year).

However, there are other cases in which this is a detriment, such as Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is largely set before the events of Infinity War, but its own post-credits scene spoils the ending to the epic crossover movie.

Here are the Marvel movies in chronological viewing order:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger (1942)
  2. Captain Marvel (1995)
  3. Iron Man (2010)
  4. Iron Man 2 (2011)
  5. The Incredible Hulk (2011)
  6. Thor (2011)
  7. The Avengers (2012)
  8. Iron Man 3 (2012)
  9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2014)
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  14. Ant-Man (2015)
  15. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  16. Black Widow (2016, excluding post-credits scene)
  17. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2016)
  18. Doctor Strange (2016-2017)
  19. Black Panther (2017)
  20. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  21. Avengers: Infinity War (2017)
  22. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2017)
  23. Avengers: Endgame (2017-2022)
  24. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2023)
  25. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2023)
  26. Eternals (2023, excluding flashbacks)
  27. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2024)
  28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2025)

The recently released Disney Plus shows both take place after the events of Far From Home, although they were released out of order. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was intended to be the first Marvel series to launch on the service but suffered a substantial delay due to filming interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

WandaVision was released first, but in the timeline of the MCU, it is likely that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actually comes first. All of these shows were set earlier than Eternals until the shows Hawkeye and Moon Knight.

  • Loki (after Endgame, but outside of the main timeline – read more on Loki's timeline)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2023)
  • WandaVision (2023)
  • Hawkeye (2024)
  • Moon Knight (2025)

Marvel's What If...? is set outside the main timeline, as it takes place in various parallel realities.

Marvel movies in order by release date

If the chronological order sounds a little too confusing, there is also the option to simply watch in release date order, which also neatly categorises the MCU story into four distinct "phases".

The first three phases make up what is now referred to as the Infinity Saga, beginning with the introduction of the Avengers characters and ending with the time-hopping mega-event that was Avengers: Endgame.

Watching this method will send you on the same journey that millions of Marvel fans all over the world have enjoyed, allowing you to watch first-hand how the MCU grew from a fairly grounded superhero flick to an all-out space opera.

It's true that watching this way will mean you see some events outside of their in-universe order, i.e. the origin of Captain America or the first meeting between Nick Fury and Captain Marvel, but this doesn't cause any serious storytelling problems.

In release date order, the MCU begins with 2008's Iron Man and continues all the way up to 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesss with several new movies to be added to that list later this year.

Phase One

  • Iron Man (May, 2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (June, 2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (May, 2010)
  • Thor (May, 2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011)
  • Avengers Assemble (May 4, 2012)

Phase Two

  • Iron Man 3 (May, 2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (November, 2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April, 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (August, 2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (May, 2015)
  • Ant-Man (July, 2015)

Phase Three

  • Captain America: Civil War (May, 2016)
  • Doctor Strange (November, 2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May, 2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (July, 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (November, 2017)
  • Black Panther (February, 2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (April, 2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (July, 2018)
  • Captain Marvel (March, 2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (April, 2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (July, 2019)

Phase Four

  • Wandavision (TV series) (January, 2021)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (TV series) (March, 2021)
  • Loki season 1 (TV series) (June, 2021)
  • Black Widow (9th July 2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (3rd September 2021)
  • Eternals (5th November 2021)
  • Hawkeye (24th November 2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (17th December 2021)
  • Moon Knight (TV show -30th March 2022)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (5th May 2022)
  • Ms Marvel (TV show - 8th June 2022)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (8th July 2022)
  • She-Hulk (TV show - 17th August 2022)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (11th November 2022)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (TV special - December 2022)
  • Secret Invasion (TV show - TBC)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (17th February 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (5th May 2023)
  • The Marvels (28th July 2023)
  • Echo (TV show- 2023)
  • Fantastic Four (Movie - TBA)

Future MCU movies and TV shows

  • Blade (Movie - TBA)
  • Ironheart (TV show - TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TV show - TBA)
  • Wakanda Series (TV show - TBA)
  • An untitled X-Men movie (Movie - TBA)
  • Agatha: House of Harkness (TV Show - TBA)
  • Spider-Man: Freshman Year (Animated TV Show - TBA)
  • Loki season 2 (TV Show - TBA)
  • Daredevil (TV Show - TBA)

So, we still have a wealth of Marvel series left to enjoy in the next few years - and beyond!

Marvel movies on Disney Plus

Shang-Chi
Katy (Awkwafina) and Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios' SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

As Marvel is owned by Disney, you can watch most of the MCU movies whenever you like if you're a subscriber to the studio's very own streaming service: Disney Plus.

That said, there are a few movies missing from the platform at the time of writing, specifically The Incredible Hulk (as it is owned by Universal) and Tom Holland's recent Spider-Man movies (as they were co-produced with Sony Pictures).

Fortunately, The Incredible Hulk is available to rent on Amazon from just £2.49, while Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home are available to purchase digitally.

Cinematic releases Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals have all made their way to Disney Plus in recent months.

You also have a few more TV series coming to Disney Plus. You've probably already watched WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, the animated series What If..., Hawkeye, and Moon Knight.

Additionally, 2022 will see the release of further series in the form of She-Hulk and Ms Marvel.

As well as these series, we have coming up:

  • Ms Marvel (8th June 2022)
  • She-Hulk (17th August 2022)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (December 2022)
  • Echo (2023)
  • Secret Invasion (TBA)
  • Ironheart (TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TBA)
  • Wakanda Series (TBA)
  • Agatha: House of Harkness (TBA)
  • Loki season 2 (TBA)
  • Spider-Man: Freshman Year (Animated TV Show - TBA)
  • Daredevil (TBA)

What’s the best way to watch the Marvel movies in order?

Eternals
(L-R): Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan) in Marvel Studios' ETERNALS. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

While the choice is yours entirely, we'd recommend just watching in plain ol' release order – it's the order in which the films were produced and so, ultimately, the order in which they are best viewed.... at least if you're an MCU newbie, with post-credits scenes, Easter eggs and so on all making the most sense viewed in this order.

We would advise against using the chronological order if you're a total newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the method sounds appealing in theory, there are several reasons why it could actually hamper your overall experience of the MCU.

First off: you may struggle to remember the background of certain characters. Captain Marvel, for instance, will be introduced in the second film in the list, but won't be mentioned again until more than 40 screen hours later.

Also, making Captain Marvel your second MCU movie means you miss out on the in-jokes and references established over 17 preceding entries.

However, there is something to be said for ardent Marvel fans revisiting the saga chronologically, as this will give more depth to the backstory of some key characters and brings a new understanding of the MCU timeline (e.g. many don't realise that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and 2 are set mere months apart).

Best Marvel movies by IMDb scores

Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Endgame
Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Endgame Marvel Studios

Another factor that might help you decide which order to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies is their review scores, which have varied a little over the years.

We've ranked the franchise below according to their IMDb scores, decided by the consensus of a large number of fans, and it's little surprise to see the two most recent Avengers films come out on top.

  • Avengers: Endgame (IMDb score: 8.4)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (IMDb score: 8.4)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (IMDb score: 8)
  • Avengers Assemble (IMDb score: 8)
  • Iron Man (IMDb score: 7.9)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (IMDb score: 7.9)
  • Captain America: Civil War (IMDb score: 7.8)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (IMDb score: 7.7)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (IMDb score: 7.6)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (IMDb score: 7.5)
  • Doctor Strange (IMDb score: 7.5)
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home (IMDb score: 7.4)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (IMDb score: 7.4)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (IMDb score: 7.4)
  • Black Panther (IMDb score: 7.3)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (IMDb score: 7.3)
  • Ant-Man (IMDb score: 7.3)
  • Iron Man 3 (IMDb score: 7.1)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (IMDb score: 7)
  • Thor (IMDb score: 7)
  • Iron Man 2 (IMDb score: 7)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (IMDb score: 6.9)
  • Captain Marvel (IMDb score: 6.8)
  • Thor: The Dark World (IMDb score: 6.9)
  • Black Widow (IMDb score: 6.7)
  • Eternals (IMDb score: 6.7)
  • The Incredible Hulk (IMDb score: 6.6)

Naturally, this is a ranking that consistently changes as a result of votes.

At the moment it is neck and neck between epic crossover movies for Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War for the most popular with audiences, while The Incredible Hulk is now the least popular.

Best Marvel movies by Rotten Tomatoes score

Black Panther
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther Marvel Studios 2018

Many will be wondering what are the most critically acclaimed Marvel movies, however.

So, according to critics' scores on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, here are all the Marvel movies in order of the percentage of reviews that rated the film "Fresh".

  1. Black Panther (Rotten Tomatoes score 96%)
  2. Avengers: Endgame (Rotten Tomatoes score 94%)
  3. Iron Man (Rotten Tomatoes score 94%)
  4. Spider-Man: No Way Home (Rotten Tomatoes score 94%)
  5. Thor: Ragnarok (Rotten Tomatoes score 93%)
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Rotten Tomatoes score 92%)
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy (Rotten Tomatoes score 92%)
  8. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Rotten Tomatoes score 91%)
  9. Avengers Assemble (Rotten Tomatoes score 91%)
  10. Spider-Man: Far From Home (Rotten Tomatoes score 90%)
  11. Captain America: Civil War ((Rotten Tomatoes score 90%)
  12. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Rotten Tomatoes score 90%)
  13. Doctor Strange (Rotten Tomatoes score 89%)
  14. Ant-Man and the Wasp (Rotten Tomatoes score 87%)
  15. Avengers: Infinity War (Rotten Tomatoes score 85%)
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Rotten Tomatoes score 85%)
  17. Ant-Man (Rotten Tomatoes score 83%)
  18. Captain America: The First Avenger (Rotten Tomatoes score 80%)
  19. Captain Marvel (Rotten Tomatoes score 79%)
  20. Black Widow (Rotten Tomatoes score 79%)
  21. Iron Man 3 (Rotten Tomatoes score 79%)
  22. Thor (Rotten Tomatoes score 77%)
  23. Avengers: Age of Ultron (Rotten Tomatoes score 76%)
  24. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Rotten Tomatoes score 74%)
  25. Iron Man 2 (Rotten Tomatoes score 72%)
  26. The Incredible Hulk (Rotten Tomatoes score 67%)
  27. Thor: The Dark World (Rotten Tomatoes score 66%)
  28. Eternals (Rotten Tomatoes score 47%)

According to the current Rotten Tomatoes ratings - which are also consistently changing, Black Panther is the most critically acclaimed MCU film while Eternals ranks as the least critically acclaimed and is the only MCU film to be marked as "Rotten".

Best Marvel series on Disney Plus

Loki
Tom Hiddleston in Loki (Disney Plus)

We can also see the IMDb scores for each of the series released as part of the MCU's Phase Four and were released on Disney Plus.

  • Loki (IMDb score 8.3)
  • WandaVision (IMDb score 8.0)
  • Hawkeye (IMDb score 7.7)
  • Moon Knight (IMDb score 7.5)
  • What If...? (IMDb score 7.5)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (IMDb score 7.3)

Meanwhile, the Rotten Tomatoes scores for each series by critics' ratings are as follows.

  • What If...? (Rotten Tomatoes score 94%)
  • Loki (Rotten Tomatoes score 92%)
  • Hawkeye (Rotten Tomatoes score 92%)
  • WandaVision (Rotten Tomatoes score 91%)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Rotten Tomatoes score 89%)
  • Moon Knight (Rotten Tomatoes score 87%)

It is worth noting that we are only including the series that counts as part of the MCU phases and not including the Marvel Netflix series or ABC and Hulu shows.

Marvel Studios' Netflix series according to their IMDb ratings can be found below.

  • Daredevil (IMDb score 8.6)
  • The Punisher (IMDb score 8.5)
  • Jessica Jones (IMDb score 7.9)
  • Luke Cage (IMDb score 7.3)
  • The Defenders (IMDb score 7.3)
  • Iron Fist (IMDb score 6.4)

We think it's safe to say that Iron Fist is the least popular of these shows, while Daredevil clearly comes out on top!

How to download and watch Marvel movies

Avenger's Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron

As we laid out above, most of the Marvel movies are available to stream on Disney Plus.

However, you can also download the films from the service to watch on the go. Here's your step-by-step guide.

  1. Open your Disney Plus app (see how to download here).
  2. At the home screen, search for the film you want to download to your device.
  3. Tap on the download arrow icon at the bottom menu of the Disney Plus app.
  4. To see and watch your downloaded titles, visit the “Downloads” tab on the app’s bottom menu.

You can download an unlimited number of movies from the Disney Plus mobile app. Your downloaded shows will only be able to watch so long as you’re a subscriber to the service.

You can also buy, rent and download each Marvel movie on Amazon (you do not need to be an Amazon Prime customer to do this).

Wondering what else you can watch on Disney Plus? Take a look at our best Disney Plus series guide or the best Disney Plus movies.

Upcoming MCU movies and shows

Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk
Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk Disney Plus/Marvel Studios

We'll update this page as new movies and shows are added to Disney+ and Phase 4 of the MCU timeline, but, for now, we've rounded up your ultimate list of what to look forward to by release date:

  • Ms Marvel (8th June 2022)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (8th July 2022)
  • She-Hulk (17th August 2022)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (11th November 2022)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (Christmas 2022)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (17th February 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (5th May 2023)
  • The Marvels (28th July 2023)
  • Fantastic Four (TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TBA)
  • Ironheart (TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TBA)
  • Echo (TBA)
  • Untitled Wakanda series (TBA)
  • Agatha: House of Harkness (TBA)
  • Loki season 2 (TBA)
  • Spider-Man: Freshman Year (Animated TV Show - TBA)
  • Daredevil season 4 (TBA)

Check out more of our movies coverage or visit our TV guide to see what's on tonight. For Marvel merch, head to our guide to the best Marvel gifts. Check out our list of the best shows on Disney+ or see what else is and visit our Sci-fi hub for all the latest news.

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