How to watch the Marvel movies in order

Marvel movies

(Image: © Marvel Studios/IMAX)

It’s never a bad time to start a Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) marathon – especially with Avengers: Endgame behind us and Marvel Phase 4 on the horizon. The majority of Marvel movies are now streaming on Disney Plus, and in 2020 we’ll see new movies like Black Widow added to the canon, along with original MCU TV shows like August’s The Falcon and Winter Soldier.

Watching the Marvel movies in order should be straightforward, but there are a few quirks to be aware of. The Marvel movies in chronological order begin with Captain America: The First Avenger, as Steve Rogers battles Red Skull in WW2. But you’ve also got the option of watching the Marvel movies in release order, too, which starts with 2008’s Iron Man as Tony Stark kicks off the MCU. 

Watching the MCU films in order now will help you make sense of Black Widow and The Eternals, as well as WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – all of which tie in to previous Marvel movies in some way. Below, you’ll find lists of the chronological and release orders, and a ranked list of the best Marvel movies. If you’re just trying to watch the Avengers movies in order, for example, it means you can avoid the bad ones (sorry, Thor: The Dark World!). In this feature, too, we’ll explain which Marvel movies are on Disney Plus in 2020. 

Ready? Let’s watch some of the best superhero movies ever…

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: chronological order

A Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline is likely what you’re looking for. This lists all the Marvel films chronologically from The First Avenger to Avengers: Endgame. The main advantage of watching the Marvel movies in this fashion means you’ll see important events as they unfolded in the MCU. You’ll follow the Tesseract from the ’40s to the present day, see how Captain Marvel met Nick Fury in the mid-’90s, and follow Thanos’ genocidal journey to obtaining the Infinity Stones.  

Here, then, is the chronological viewing order of the Marvel movies:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (takes place during WWII)
  • Captain Marvel (takes place in 1995)
  • Iron Man (takes place in 2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (takes place after Iron Man)
  • The Incredible Hulk (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • Thor (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • The Avengers (takes place in 2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (takes place six months after The Avengers)
  • Thor: Dark World (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier (post-Avengers, pre-Ultron)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (sometime in 2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (after Guardians)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (takes place in 2015)
  • Ant-Man (takes place in 2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War)
  • Doctor Strange (takes place in 2016)
  • Black Panther (takes place in 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (takes place in 2017)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (ambiguous, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame)
  • Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2017, finishes in 2022)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (post-Endgame)

When 2020 Marvel movies Black Widow and The Eternals are released, along with canonical Disney Plus shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (August) and WandaVision (December), we’ll add them to this list when we learn exactly how they fall in the MCU timeline. Black Widow, for example, is definitely set after Captain America: Civil War, but since you can’t actually see that movie yet, we’ve left it off the list above for now. 

Avengers movies in order

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)

Marvel movies in order: release date 

If you’d rather see the MCU in release order, however, you’ll need this list, which starts with Iron Man in 2008 and culminates in 2019’s Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. Starting with the first few movies is a nice nostalgia trip, and you’ll also see how the Marvel movies were refined over time with increased budgets.

Phase One 

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • 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)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Phase Four

  • Black Widow (May 1, 2020)
  • The Eternals (November 6, 2020)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February 12, 2021)
  • Untitled third Spider-Man movie (July 16, 2021)
  • Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 7, 2021)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (November 5, 2021)

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe 

  • Black Panther 2 (May 6, 2022)
  • Captain Marvel 2 (TBA 2022)
  • Ant-Man 3 (TBA 2022)
  • Blade (TBD)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (TBD)
  • Untitled Fantastic Four film (TBD)

Marvel movies on Disney Plus: more coming in 2020

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Here’s a list of the Marvel movies you can watch on Disney Plus in the US as of early 2020. There’s a good reason you won’t see The Incredible Hulk and the two Spider-Man movies starring Tom Holland here: Universal owns the distribution rights to the former, while Sony made the latter two as part of a deal with Disney. Disney will have to license the movies if it wants to have the full set of MCU films on its streaming service. 

Here’s the list:

  • Iron Man
  • Thor
  • Iron Man 2
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • 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: Endgame
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Then throughout 2020, these MCU movies will be added on specific dates. It’s likely Black Widow will land on Disney Plus in 2020, too, with The Eternals following in 2021. 

  • Black Panther (March 4, 2020)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (June 25, 2020)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 29, 2020)

Finally, here are the original Marvel Disney Plus TV shows in the works, which will also fit into MCU continuity, with the exception of animated show What If…?.

  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (August 2020)
  • WandaVision (December 2020)
  • Loki (Spring 2021)
  • What If…? (Summer 2021)
  • Hawkeye (Fall 2021)
  • Ms Marvel (TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TBA)
  • She-Hulk (TBA)

Marvel movies in order

(Image credit: Marvel Studios/Disney)
  • What we know about 2020’s Black Widow movie
  • Stay safe when you stream with the best VPN for streaming
  • The best superhero TV shows

Best Marvel movies

Maybe you don’t want to waste your time with the worst Marvel movies, like the tedious Thor: The Dark World or boring The Incredible Hulk. With that in mind, we’ve also ranked the Marvel movies in order of quality, based on their IMDB scores. The biggest surprise? Captain America: The First Avenger is really low down this list. It’s such a great adventure movie! Anyway, if the rankings change in 2020, we’ll continue updating this best-of list, and add newer movies when they release. 

Best

  • Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Rating: 8.5
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Rating: 8.5
  • The Avengers (2012) – Rating: 8.0
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Rating: 8.0
  • Iron Man (2008) – Rating: 7.9
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Rating: 7.9
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Rating: 7.8
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Rating: 7.7
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – Rating: 7.6
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – Rating: 7.6
  • Doctor Strange (2016) – Rating: 7.5
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Rating: 7.4
  • Black Panther (2018) – Rating: 7.3
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Rating: 7.3
  • Ant-Man (2015) – Rating: 7.3 
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) – Rating: 7.2 
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – Rating: 7.1 
  • Thor (2011) – Rating: 7.0 
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rating: 7.0 
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Rating: 6.9
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Rating: 6.9
  • Captain Marvel (2019) – Rating: 6.9 
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Rating: 6.7

Worst

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