Being the huge sci-fi film fan you are, you’ve binged-watched the Marvel movies in order, most probably in the order each film flew into cinemas. You might have even tried viewing them all again in chronological order. However, there is another way to watch the superhero saga.
You see, there was an idea called the MCU Spaghetti Order. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable movies, see if they could become something more. See they could work together when we needed them to tell a more coherent story.
Intrigued? Here’s all you need to know…
How to watch the Marvel movies in order – release order
Okay: before we begin, we need to lay out the traditional film order about to be subverted.
Phase One of the MCU kicks off with Iron Man (May, 2008), followed by The Incredible Hulk (June, 2008), Iron Man 2 (May, 2010), Thor (May, 2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (July, 2011) and Avengers Assemble (May, 2012).
Phase Two includes 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) and Ant-Man (July, 2015).
Phase Three then commences with Captain America: Civil War (May, 2016), with 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) and Spider-Man: Far From Home (July, 2019) following suit.
Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this order. After all, as Marvel Studios calculated, this sequence served cinema-goers an intelligible and downright thrilling story with plenty of tension and twists along the way (while making $22.5 billion at the box office).
But is there a better way of viewing? According to the Spaghetti Order, absolutely.
How to watch the Marvel movies in order – Spaghetti Order
First thing you’re probably wondering: why Spaghetti? Does this order have some innate link to the narrative nuances of Italian filmmaking, à la Spaghetti Western? Should you let each movie play between eight and 12 minutes first before digging in?
In a word: no. In a bit longer: the Spaghetti Order was assembled by writer Jonathan Sim, who happens to just really really likes Spaghetti.
While there’s little logic in its name, the Spaghetti order follows sound and simple reasoning. Basically, if a post-credit scene alludes to another film, the thinking is that you should watch that film next, if possible. And that’s it.
Here’s how that looks in practice.
- Iron Man (2008)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Thor (2011)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- The Avengers (2012)
Yes, we know. Absolutely nothing has changed from the release date order. But that’s because the first six MCU films fit fairly tightly together with their post-credit shenanigans.
In Iron Man’s post-cred scene, we see Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) learn about the Avengers Initiative. The character then appears again in the closing moments of The Incredible Hulk, which thus leads into Iron Man 2. And at the end of that outing, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), finds Thor’s hammer, which ushers to screen – you guessed it – Thor. At its finish, Thor alludes to the Tesseract, an object we learn more about in Captain America: The First Avenger.
And at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger? There’s essentially a trailer for Avengers Assemble.
- Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Ant-Man (2015)
As per phase one, the second block of MCU movies follows a fairly clear structure, post-credit-wise. However, you’ve probably notice one major outlier: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, a film that was originally part of phase three.
What gives? At first, it might not be clear why this is the case. After all, the post-credit scene of its predecessor primarily features a swaying sapling Groot and unlikely Howard the Duck cameo. But, as Sim argues, the twist in the sequel movie (SPOILER: Pete Quill’s father killed his mother) carries more emotional weight if the films are watched back-to-back.
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Black Panther (2018)
- Doctor Strange (2016)
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Here’s where it gets a tad more complicated. Although the last five films on this list remain in their original order, there’s a fair bit of jostling further back.
The reasons are exactly what you’d expect. Due to an after-credits scene featuring Tom Holland’s web-head, Captain America: Civil War should lead straight into Spider-Man: Homecoming, according to Spaghetti logic. And, as Civil War also introduced viewers to Black Panther, the thinking is that you should then watch T’Challa’s origin story (starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular Wakandan).
After that, you revert back to the MCU chronological, meaning you watch Doctor Strange, followed by Thor: Ragnarok.
All things considered, it’s so easy even Drax could manage it (sorry, Drax).
Which Marvel movies are on Disney Plus?
As Marvel is owned by Disney, almost all the MCU movies listed above can be found on Disney Plus. However, you may The Incredible Hulk (owned by Universal) and the Spider-Man films (partly owned by Sony) are missing.
You can sign up to a free 7 day trial of Disney Plus here. A full membership costs £5.99 per month or an upfront payment of £59.99 for the full year.
If you’re looking for something to watch on TV tonight or what to watch now then check out our TV guide.