Here’s The Correct Way To Binge The Marvel Cinematic Universe In Chronological Order
Now that we've all seen 'Avengers: Endgame', it's time to watch them all again.
With Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe now includes a whopping 22 movies.
It’s a bit of an unwieldy beast even if you’ve been following along the whole time.
The movies all intersect and overlap, which is of course part of what makes them so fun — but it also means if you enjoy watching things chronologically, it can be a challenge. There are a few viewing orders that work, just to make things more complicated.
As someone who has done multiple MCU chronological marathons, here’s what I recommend (btw, there are spoilers in the descriptions, so skip those if you haven’t watched all the movies).
So, here’s how to watch every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order.
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
The First Avenger is tricky to place in the timeline, because the whole movie is basically one giant flashback.
I prefer watching it first because it’s primarily set in the 1940s, following Steve Rogers as he becomes Captain America. The movie also introduces the Tesseract — home of the Space Stone. It’s a great way to kick off the whole story.
2. Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers’ quasi-origin story is set in the ‘90s, so it’s our next stop in the Marvel chronology.
It marks not just Carol’s but also Nick Fury’s introduction into the timeline, and also picks up the story of the Tesseract, which is actually what causes Carol to get her powers.
3. Iron Man
This is the movie that started it all.
It’s the first in release order, but comes third in chronology. Iron Man is very much focused on Tony Stark and his own personal journey to becoming a superhero — and announcing it to the world with those infamous words, “I am Iron Man”.
But Nick Fury does crop up in the post-credits scene to talk about the “Avengers Initiative”.
4. Iron Man 2
This is the point where the timelines start overlapping and things get confusing.
Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk and Thor all take place at almost the exact same time, so it’s ultimately up to you what order they go in. I put Iron Man 2 here because I like the continuity of going from the first Iron Man to this one, and I think the post-credits scenes of each movie line up a little better this way.
5. The Incredible Hulk
This movie kind of feels like it doesn’t even belong to the MCU, especially considering Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner here.
But it does connect to the wider story — mostly through the introduction of Thaddeus Ross. And, of course, that post-credits scene featuring Tony Stark.
Thor’s entry into the MCU is best placed right before the first Avengers movie, as the two flow together really well — especially considering Loki is the main villain in both. The Tesseract even pops up again in the post-credits scene, and Loki’s love affair with it begins.
7. The Avengers
This movie brings the OG six together for the first time as they battle Loki and his alien army in the streets of New York.
It also sees the introduction of Thanos — he’s off screen during the movie, but he does appear in the mid-credits scene. The Tesseract plays a key role, and we’re also introduced to the Mind Stone, which is encased in the Chitauri scepter.
8. Iron Man 3
The third Iron Man deals with the fallout of The Avengers, as Tony struggles with PTSD as a result of the Battle of New York.
It provides context for all of his actions from here on out — notably in Age of Ultron and later Civil War.
9. Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World introduces another Infinity Stone — the Reality Stone, which, as Thor explains in Avengers: Endgame, is less of a stone and more of a sludge, known as the Aether.
Meanwhile, we learn the Tesseract has been placed in Odin’s vault for safekeeping.
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Steve discovers Bucky is alive and that HYDRA has infiltrated SHIELD, which has huge repercussions for the state of the Avengers going into Age of Ultron.
Meanwhile, the mid-credits scene reveals that HYDRA has the Chitauri Scepter (which we actually see them take in Avengers: Endgame).
11. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
Thanos is back and the whole Guardians crew are introduced. The plot centres around a new Infinity Stone — the Power Stone, housed within the Orb.
12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
This might feel like a lot of Guardians back-to-back, but that’s the way the chronology goes.
Vol. 2 picks up a few months after the end of Vol. 1, and it’s primarily Peter Quill’s journey as he learns about who he is and where he really comes from.
13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Age of Ultron is a huge turning point in the MCU in terms of setting up for the events of Infinity War and beyond.
It’s where the cracks really start to appear in the Avengers. We also see all of the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor’s vision. In the mid-credits scene, Thanos picks up the Gauntlet for the first time.
The entrance of Scott Lang marks the beginning of the next “generation” of the MCU. This movie also introduces the Quantum Realm, which is obviously very important for Avengers: Endgame.
15. Captain America: Civil War
This is a Captain America film, but it feels more like an Avengers given the huge cast.
Basically the only heroes who don’t show up are Thor and Bruce — we even get to see Black Panther and Spider-Man for the first time here. Civil War marks the point where Tony and Cap, the two leaders of the Avengers, go their separate ways, meaning they’re sooo not ready when Thanos comes knocking.
16. Black Panther
Black Panther starts pretty soon after the events of Civil War, as T’Challa deals with the death of his father from that movie and learns how to become king. There are no Infinity Stones here, but we do see Bucky in the credits scene.
17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
This movie is set a couple of months after Civil War, so falls after Black Panther in the timeline.
Peter Parker is trying to get back to normal life after getting a taste of being a superhero — and he’s not doing it very well.
18. Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange, which introduces the Time Stone housed within the Eye of Agamotto, is challenging to place in a chronological viewing order.
It’s set over an extended period of time — starting around the events of Civil War, but ending months after those in Spider-Man: Homecoming. But I find it most satisfying to line up the order with where it ends, rather than where it begins.
19. Thor: Ragnarok
This is the first time we see Thor and the Hulk after Avengers: Age of Ultron — Thor: Ragnarok actually picks up two years down the track.
Thor loses Mjolnir and Asgard (how careless of him) in his fight against Hela, and departs with his people on a spaceship that, as we see in the mid-credits scene, soon runs into Thanos’ ship.
20. Avengers: Infinity War
Infinity War begins where Thor: Ragnarok ends, with Thanos attacking the Asgardians and getting his hands on the Space Stone, courtesy of Loki yoinking the Tesseract out of Odin’s vault before Asgard was destroyed in Ragnarok.
Thanos, of course, manages to collect all the stones over the course of Infinity War, and snaps half of all life out of existence. Fun times.
21. Ant-Man and the Wasp
The placement of Ant-Man and the Wasp is tricky because it takes place basically at the same time as Infinity War, with the mid-credits scene lining up with the Snap.
It’s awkward to place it between Infinity War and Endgame, because those two movies are very much two halves of the same story, but the transition between Ragnarok and Infinity War is also one you don’t really want to break.
So, this is the best spot for it, I think — it has the added bonus of being a fun reprieve between two very intense Avengers movies.
22. Avengers: Endgame
This is it! The endgame on so many levels!
The plot threads that Marvel has been weaving since Iron Man and The First Avenger come to fruition here, and the arcs of several characters are brought to a close. Considering how invested the movie is in nostalgia and retracing the past, it’s extra rewarding to watch if you’ve gone through the chronology first.