Updated on August 29, 2022
Are you having a tough time figuring out how to watch the Marvel movies in order? You’re not the only one. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an incredibly complex and interwoven set of superhero stories peppered with time travel and retconning. As of such, both diehard fans and those who’ve recently acquired a taste for the genre can sometimes get confused about the sequence of events.
Nevertheless, an overview of the MCU timeline is essential for understanding how each story fits in the bigger picture, as well as the intricate connections between them. To lend a helping hand, we’ve harnessed the neutron star-like powers of Office Timeline and brought into existence an easy-to-read map of the Marvel movies in chronological order – and of the TV series as well. Enjoy!
How to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order
With all the time-travel and flashbacks, watching the Marvel movies in order can become tricky even for diehard fans of the franchise. To lend a helping hand and address the abounding disagreements, we’ve run a proverbial red thread through the narratives and created the MCU timeline of big screen productions.
Bonus: How to watch the Marvel TV series in order
The TV series are, with some exceptions, relatively coherent with the Marvel timeline, but showrunners are trying to break free from constraints of the movie narrative and grow their stories independently. Our goal is to touch on the major, canon releases without delving outside of the established franchise.
FAQs about the Marvel Cinematic Universe
There are two ways to sort the MCU timeline: based on the historical progression of the events in the stories and based on the movie/series release dates. We firmly believe it’s easier to watch the movies in the chronological order of the events, especially for those who are relatively new to Marvel’s ever-expanding universe. However, movie buffs might also find it enjoyable to trace the cinematic evolution of superhero stories based on the release dates.
Yes, it’s better to watch the Marvel movies in chronological order. If you try to watch the Marvel movies in the order of their release dates, you’re going to have a bad time. For instance, the first movie released within this MCU franchise is Iron Man, which takes place in 2010, but the events are predated by Captain America: The First Avenger set during World War II and Ms. Marvel in 1995.
To put it simply, there is no real connection between the production release dates and the narrative. Therefore, viewing the Marvel movies in chronological order renders the storyline substantially more coherent and comprehensible.
Captain America: The First Avenger
The Incredible Hulk
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3
Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Captain America: Civil War
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Thor: Love and Thunder
We recommend starting with the very first Captain America movie, aptly named “The First Avenger”, for a couple of reasons. It might be the 5th film in the MCU to be released, but the story arc takes place during the second World War, predating the next film in the franchise by more than half a century. It also introduced the iconic bad guys of the shadowy organization named Hydra, Captain America’s comic book arch nemesis Red Skull and the Tesseract. These are just a few things that will make the MCU timeline much easier to follow later on.
The events in the first two seasons of “Agent Carter” are chronologically set right after Captain America: The First Avenger. This makes them the best choice for anyone who wants to view the Marvel movies in order alongside the television series.
The MCU stands for Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s a franchise spanning multiple movies, TV series and short films featuring superheroes from the comic books released by Marvel Comics. These story arcs are interlinked and the universe in which they exist is shared, so do expect many of the movies and series to include crossovers of plot elements, characters, settings, etc.
In addition to that, Marvel has also released tie-in comics and a series of short films called Marvel One-shots. The MCU timeline is split into phases, based on the release dates of the productions and currently we are in Phase 4, which debuted with the 2021 series WandaVision.
There is some debate around this question, primarily because the television series Agents of Shield seems to have severed ties with the canon titles by becoming a parallel multiverse to the wider MCU timeline. More exactly, in season 7 of the show, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team travels to 1931 and back to 2019 (which is why we didn’t include it on the timeline).
However, as far as canon titles go, the Marvel timeline starts in 1943 with the tale of Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Still, it’s best to keep in mind that when time travel is on the table, nothing is set in stone. Not to mention that a certain version of a certain mischievous Norse god is somehow still out there.
How we built the MCU timeline
The Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline was made with the help of Office Timeline, a professional project management solution that allows you to create visually appealing graphs in a matter of minutes.
There’s a free version available that’s great for if you want to try it out because most of the functionalities required for creating and editing simple timelines and Gantt charts are available. For more complex applications, the Pro+ package will grant you access to a whole array of new features such as Swimlanes or the ability to import data from other sources like Microsoft Project or Excel.
You can download the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline as a PowerPoint file and either move the shapes by hand or use the Office Timeline add-in to update the timeline automatically.