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Conquering the MCU: How to Watch the Marvel Movies in Order

Ellen Gutoskey
(Left to right) Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Xochitl Gomez in 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (2022).
(Left to right) Rachel McAdams, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Xochitl Gomez in 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (2022). / Marvel Studios
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So, you’ve decided to watch every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only thing now separating you from understanding a lot of previously meaningless memes is more than 60 hours of screen time (and counting).

With the recent premiere of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, there are 28 films in the MCU (with more on the way). But the chronological timeline doesn’t match the order of the movies' release dates—and it’s best to choose one viewing path and stick to it.

Much like some aficionados recommend watching the original Star Wars trilogy before the prequels, sequels, and spin-offs, there are plenty of Marvel fans who think first-time viewers should watch all the movies in the order in which they were released. That way, they’ll experience the evolution of the universe the way longtime fans did. On the other hand, you might have an easier time keeping track of Marvel's many characters and plotlines if things are unfolding in a (mostly) linear fashion.

Below are two separate lists: One with the films ordered by release date, and another ordered chronologically. The latter list also includes the year (or years) in which each film is set, but there is some debate surrounding the exact chronology. Basically, certain movies take place around the same time, and the timeline Marvel Studios published in the book Marvel Studios: The First 10 Years deviates slightly from the timeline Disney+ lays out on its platform. Both steer you clear of spoilers, so the discrepancies are pretty negligible. What will put you at risk of spoilers if you’re watching chronologically is the occasional end-credits scene—look out for asterisks in our list so you know which ones to save for later.

Since we’re just covering programs specifically in the MCU, you won’t see any sign of Venom, X-Men, or other characters based on Marvel Comics. Their stories are (currently) separate from all the MCU action, but you can see where they would fall in the timeline via GamesRadar+.

We did, however, include a section beneath the lists explaining what to do with Disney+’s MCU TV shows—WandaVision, Moon Knight, etc. They are in the MCU, and you can accidentally spoil some pivotal events by watching them before you’ve seen certain movies.

Marvel Movies in Order of Release Date

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. Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
12. Ant-Man (2015)
13. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
14. Doctor Strange (2016)
15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
17. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
18. Black Panther (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)
24. Black Widow (2021)
25. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
26. Eternals (2021)
27. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Marvel Movies in Chronological Order

1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) // 1943-1945
2. Captain Marvel (2019) // 1995
3. Iron Man (2008) // 2010
4. Iron Man 2 (2010) // 2011
5. The Incredible Hulk (2008) // 2011
6. Thor (2011) // 2011
7. Marvel's The Avengers (2012) // 2012
8. Iron Man 3 (2013) // 2012
9. Thor: The Dark World (2013) // 2013
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) // 2014
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) // 2014
12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) // 2014
13. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) // 2015
14. Ant-Man (2015) // 2015
15. Captain America: Civil War (2016) // 2016
16. Black Widow (2021) // 2016*
17. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) // 2016
18. Black Panther (2017) // 2017
19. Doctor Strange (2016) // 2016-2017
20. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) // 2017
21. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) // 2017**
22. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) // 2018
23. Avengers: Endgame (2019) // 2018-2023
24. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) // 2023 or 2024
25. Eternals (2021) // 2024
26. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) // 2024
27. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) // 2024
28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) // 2025

*Don’t watch the Black Widow end-credits scene until after you’ve seen Avengers: Endgame. (Best understood if you’ve also already seen Falcon and the Winter Soldier.)
**Don’t watch the Ant-Man and the Wasp end-credits scene until after you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War.

Where Do the MCU Shows on Disney+ Fit In?

So far, Disney+ has released six MCU TV shows: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If... ?, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight. If you’re watching the MCU programs in order of release date, you should watch WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki—in that order—after Spider-Man: Far From Home. Watch What If... ? after Black Widow; watch Hawkeye after Eternals; and watch Moon Knight after Spider-Man: No Way Home.

If you’ve chosen the chronological viewing experience, Disney+ advises watching Loki, What If... ?, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (again, in that order) right after Avengers: Endgame. Save Hawkeye for after you’ve seen Spider-Man: No Way Home. While Moon Knight and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness both take place in 2025, it’s not clear which comes first. As Moon Knight writer/producer Jeremy Slater explained on Twitter, “We didn’t know when our show would debut in relation to their other shows and films, so the timeline was intentionally left vague.” But because there’s no crossover between those two programs, it doesn’t really matter which you see first. (What you should see before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is WandaVision.)

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.

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