How to Watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Order
The Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, or MCU, includes some of the biggest blockbusters of this century; it adapts some of the best-beloved Marvel superhero comics into movies, TV shows and one-shot short films, all happening in the same fictional universe.
The MCU is known for its engaging characters, spectacular special effects, huge fandom and central place in popular culture. However, it includes so many different plots and characters that it's difficult to know where to start. In this OneHowTo article, we'll show you how to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order. Get the popcorn ready!
Phase One: The Avengers
The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in 2008 with the hit film Iron Man. While you only have to look at release dates to get a sense of the order you can watch them in, here we will show you how to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in chronological order, following the plots as they develop. We'll do our best not to spoil any plot points or secret identities. Phase One (2008-2012) focuses on the individual Avengers, who come together in the final film.
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011, dir. Joe Johnston): Introduces Steve Rogers (Captain America), Peggy Carter and Bucky Barnes, as well as Hydra.
- Agent Carter (2013): One-shot short film.
- Marvel's Agent Carter (2015-2016, TV series): Follows Peggy Carter as she fights Hydra and sets up SHIELD. Introduces Jarvis. First woman-led MCU production.
- Iron Man (2008, dir. Jon Favreau): Introduces Tony Stark (Iron Man), Colonel Rhodes, Pepper Potts, Phil Coulson and Nick Fury.
- The Incredible Hulk (2008, dir. Louis Leterrier): Introduces Bruce Banner (The Hulk) and Betty Ross. The cast did not return for further MCU films.
- The Consultant (2011): One-shot short film.
- Iron Man 2 (2010, dir. Jon Favreau): Introduces War Machine and Natasha Romanov (Black Widow).
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer (2011): One-shot short film.
- Thor (2011, dir. Kenneth Branagh): Introduces Thor, Loki, Jane Foster and Clint Barton (Hawkeye).
- Marvel's The Avengers (2012, dir. Joss Whedon): First crossover film.
Phase Two (2012-2015) follows the aftermath of the Battle of New York in The Avengers, and introduces TV and Netflix series - Agent Carter actually aired during Phase Two, but it works better with the events of Phase One. They can be watched independently, but they might spoil film plots or reference events that you might have missed if you don't watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order. Phase Two also introduces the Infinity Gems plotline, which was hinted at in Phase One.
- Item 47 (2012): One-shot short film.
- Iron Man 3 (2013, dir. Shane Black): Introduces Iron Patriot and Extremis.
- All Hail the King (2014): One-shot short film.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-, TV series): Episodes 1 to 7. Introduces Skye Johnson, Melinda May, Grant Ward, Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons.
- Thor: The Dark World (2013, Alan Taylor).
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episodes 8 to 15.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014, dir. Anthony and Joe Russo): Introduces the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Sharon Carter.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episodes 16 to 22.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, dir. James Gunn): And now for something completely different. Ties up with the rest of the MCU through the Infinity Gems.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, episodes 1 to 19.
- Marvel's Daredevil (2015-, Netflix series): Season 1, introduces Matt Murdock (Daredevil), Clare Temple, the Kingpin, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page.
- Marvel's Jessica Jones (2015, Netflix series): Season 1, introduces Jessica Jones, Patsy Walker and Luke Cage.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015, dir. Joss Whedon): Introduces Vision, Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) and Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch).
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, episodes 20 to 22.
- WHIH Newsfront (2015, Web Series): Fictional newscast on YouTube and social media.
- Ant-Man (2015, dir. Peyton Reed): Introduces Scott Lang (Ant-Man) and Hope Van Dyne.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, episodes 1 to 19.
- Marvel's Daredevil: Season 2, introduces Elektra and Frank Castle (The Punisher).
- WHIH Newsfront (2016, Web Series)
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently in Phase Three, which began with the release of Captain America: Civil War (2016). From then on, all release dates are planned, and the order might be altered.
- Captain America: Civil War (2016, dir. Anthony and Joe Russo): Introduces Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and T'Challa (Black Panther).
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 3, episodes 20 to 22.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 4. Episodes will follow developments in other MCU productions.
- Marvel's Luke Cage (2016, Netflix series): First MCU production led by a person of color.
- Doctor Strange (planned 2016, dir. Scott Derrickson): Introduces Stephen Strange (Doctor Strange) and the Ancient One.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (planned 2017, dir. James Gunn)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (planned 2017, dir. Jon Watts): First Spider-Man film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Thor: Ragnarok (planned 2017, dir. Taika Waititi)
- Black Panther (planned 2017, dir. Ryan Coogler): First MCU film led by a person of color.
- Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 (planned 2018, dir. Anthony and Joe Russo)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (planned 2018, dir. Peyton Reed)
- Captain Marvel (planned 2019, dir. unannounced): First MCU film led by a woman.
- Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 (planned 2019, dir. Anthony and Joe Russo).
An Inhumans film and the TV series Marvel's Most Wanted, for instance, were dropped. Undated scheduled productions include:
- Marvel's Iron Fist (Netflix series)
- Marvel's Jessica Jones: Season 2
- Marvel's The Defenders (Netflix series): First Netflix crossover event.
- Marvel's The Punisher (Netflix series)
- Marvel's Damage Control (planned 2016, TV series)
- Marvel's Cloak and Dagger (planned 2017, TV series)
A Phase Four is planned, but films can be subjected to changes.
On top of all these series, one-shots and films to watch, most new productions come with tie-in comics, which are usually shorter than four issues and provide extra information and character development. When you watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe, remember to always stay for the post-credits scene, which show extra tidbits from the characters' lives and occasionally make big reveals about future productions and plot elements. Sometimes there is even a second one at the very end!
Moreover, all Marvel Cinematic Universe films so far include a cameo by Stan Lee - make sure to spot him.
This has been a list so you can learn how to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order. You can also simply watch them in order of release. It's going to be a long, long ride.
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