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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

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If you’re attempting to watch all Marvel movies in order you may have already realised that’s there’s 23 MCU movies in chronological order to work your way through.

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The task to watch all the 23 movies (plus TV shows) may seem daunting, but that’s where we come in: this guide will give you a comprehensive overview of the MCU so far as well as the different watch orders in which you can enjoy the epic series. We’ll explain how to watch the Marvel movies in release date order and chronological order as well as the lesser known spaghetti order. Each section breaks down the MCU timeline in an easy to follow format so you can binge away to your heart’s content, and you can even include the newer Wandavision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier for the more complete timeline.

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. It’s also going to be the home of the future of the MCU franchise too, with Black Widow confirmed to be debuting on 9th July in both cinemas and on the platform, for an additional Premier Access fee. Black Widow will be the first new Marvel movie in the nearly two years and will focus on Natasha Romanoff.

As well as Romanoff’s outing, there are plenty of new Marvel movies set for a 2021 release as seen in the Marvel Studios Celebrates the Movies trailer, including; Shang-Chi and Marvel’s Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home as well as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (8th July, 2022), The Marvels (11th November, 2022), Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania (17th February, 2023) and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 (5th May, 2023).  That’s before we even get to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder and an all-new incarnation of the Fantastic Four.

It’s not all about the movies though, so far this year, we’ve already seen two blockbuster Marvel series join Disney Plus’ vast library with the genre-bending WandaVision and the action-packed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – while the likes of Tom Hiddleston’s hotly-anticipated Loki (June 2021), Ms Marvel and Hawkeye are also on the way. We also have She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Armor Wars, Ironheart and Secret Invasion all on the way too.

We’ve also got the full list of upcoming Marvel movies and every upcoming Marvel series so there’s no need to miss a thing.

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, with Wandavision kicking things off, 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 order: chronological order

While most Marvel films follow on sequentially from the previous chapter, there are a few films in the franchise that don’t fit quite so neatly in the 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: Far From Home, which was released in 2019 but due to the Endgame time-jump, actually takes place in the year 2023.

Both of the Disney Plus shows released so far – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision – are set after the events of Far From Home, placing them firmly at the end of the timeline (more on that below).

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.

  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. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2016)
  17. Doctor Strange (2016-2017)
  18. Black Panther (2017)
  19. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2017)
  21. Avengers: Infinity War (2017)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (2018-2023)
  23. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2023)

The recently released Disney Plus shows both take place after the events of Far From Home, although confusingly 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.

This caused WandaVision to be released first, but in the timeline of the MCU, it is likely that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier actually comes first.

  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2023)
  • WandaVision (2023)

We will update this page later this summer with the launch of Loki and Black Widow, both of which will take place at entirely different points in the MCU timeline.

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: release date order

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 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, with several new movies to be added to that list later this year.

Phase 1

  • 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 2

  • 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 3

  • 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 4

Future MCU movies and TV shows

  • Blade (Movie – TBA)
  • Fantastic Four (Movie – TBA)
  • Hawkeye (TV show – TBA)
  • She-Hulk (TV show – TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TV show – TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TV show – TBA)
  • Ironheart (TV show – TBA)
  • Amor Wars (TV show – TBA)
  • Wakanda Series (TV show – TBA)

Marvel movies on Disney Plus

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.

Here are the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies available to watch on Disney Plus:

  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • 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: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp

You also have a few more TV series coming to Disney Plus. You’ve probably already watched Wandavision and The Falcon and the Winter Solider, and Loki arriving in June.

As well as these series, we have:

  • Wandavision (now on Disney+)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Solider (now on Disney+)
  • Loki (11th June 2021)
  • What If?…(summer 2021)
  • Ms Marvel (late 2021)
  • Hawkeye (late 2021)
  • She-Hulk (TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TBA)
  • Ironheart (TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TBA)
  • Wakanda Series (TBA)

Marvel movies in spaghetti order 

If you’ve already tried the Marvel movies in chronological order and release date order there’s one more option – The Marvel movies in Spaghetti order. First assembled by writer Jonathan Sim, this order follows the logic that if a post-credit scene in a Marvel movie alludes to another film, you should watch that film next, if possible. To watch the Marvel movies in spaghetti order you need to watch them in this order:

  1. Iron Man (2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  3. Iron Man 2 (2010)
  4. Thor (2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  6. The Avengers (2012)
  7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
  11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  12. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  13. Ant-Man (2015)
  14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  15. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  16. Black Panther (2018)
  17. Doctor Strange (2016)
  18. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  21. Captain Marvel (2019)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  23. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

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

Captain Marvel
Disney/Marvel

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 advice 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.

Plus, you might have the opposite problem and spend too much with other superheroes – as much as we love Tony Stark, his character arc can feel rushed if you watch Iron Man and Iron Man 2 back to back.

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

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.

  1. Avengers: Endgame (IMDb score: 8.4)
  2. Avengers: Infinity War (IMDb score: 8.4)
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy (IMDb score: 8)
  4. Avengers Assemble (IMDb score: 8)
  5. Iron Man (IMDb score: 7.9)
  6. Thor: Ragnarok (IMDb score: 7.9)
  7. Captain America: Civil War(IMDb score: 7.8)
  8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (IMDb score: 7.7)
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (IMDb score: 7.6)
  10. Spider-Man: Far from Home (IMDb score: 7.5)
  11. Doctor Strange (IMDb score: 7.5)
  12. Spider-Man: Homecoming (IMDb score: 7.4)
  13. Black Panther (IMDb score: 7.3)
  14. Avengers: Age of Ultron (IMDb score: 7.3)
  15. Ant-Man (IMDb score: 7.3)
  16. Iron Man 3 (IMDb score: 7.2)
  17. Ant-Man and the Wasp (IMDb score: 7.1)
  18. Thor (IMDb score: 7)
  19. Iron Man 2 (IMDb score: 7)
  20. Captain Marvel (IMDb score: 6.9)
  21. Captain America: The First Avenger (IMDb score: 6.9)
  22. Thor: The Dark World (IMDb score: 6.9)
  23. The Incredible Hulk (IMDb score: 6.7)

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. How? It’s simple.

  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.

How to download and watch Marvel movies

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

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 on what to look forward to by release date:

You can sign up to Disney Plus  for 7.99 per month or an upfront payment of £79.90 for the full year.

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Check out more of our movies coverage or visit our TV guide to see what’s on tonight.