Marvel Marathon Mayhem
Updated: Aug 2
Yeah, we have strong feelings about the best way to watch these movies
Similar to Star Wars there is a debate about how to properly watch the Marvel movies. Even Disney+ acknowledged it by sectioning the Marvel movies by phases and in timeline order so you can choose which way you want to watch them — apparently they didn’t want to actually pick sides. But don’t worry, we will pick sides. We are here to explain which way we watch the movies and why it is, for lack of a better word, superior. No matter what order you watch them in, there’s 27 movies so strap in.
There really is not a “correct way” to watch the Marvel movies. Especially for me, seeing as I watched them all out of order at first. However, during quarantine I watched every Marvel movie in chronological order — and now I can’t go back. In chronological order you get to see the events play out in the actual order that they happened in rather than jumping around.
Here’s the chronological viewing order for Marvel:
Captain Marvel (2019)
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Incredible Hulk* (2008)
The Avengers (2012)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Black Widow (2021)
Spider-Man: Homecoming* (2017)
Black Panther (2018)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
WandaVision (2021) (Disney+ series)
Loki (2021) (Disney+ series)
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021) (Disney+ series)
Spider-Man: Far From Home* (2019)
Spider-Man: No Way Home* (2021)
Hawkeye (2021) (Disney+ series)
Moon Knight (2022) (Disney+ series)
Ms. Marvel (2022) (Disney+ series)
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
*Not available on Disney+
This order starts with Captain America: The First Avenger, which is set during World War II. From there the sequence of events take place chronologically. There are some movies that don’t have a certain order, for example Doctor Strange and Black Panther can be swapped, but they generally take place between Civil War and Infinity War.
Once you hit Endgame, the MCU timeline can get a little messy because the Blip lasted for five years. That means a lot of the post-Endgame movies and series are set in the future because Endgame technically happened in 2023.
Additionally, I didn't include What If...? in this order solely because it's set in the Multiverse and each episode is seemingly during a different time period. However, I would watch that series before Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
I think this is the best way to watch these movies because you get the characters’ full backstories. For example, Nick Fury is introduced in Captain Marvel and you learn his full story — including why he wears an eyepatch. But if you don’t watch Captain Marvel until after Endgame, there’s no point in knowing this information. Watching the movies in chronological order takes the questions and guesses out of them so you’ll never have to ask “who the heck is that?” ever again.
Similarly to Bailey, I saw a handful of Marvel films before watching them all in any sort of order. However, I chose to watch them all in release order the first time, and now I can’t watch any other way.
When you watch in release order, you see the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as it came together, piece by piece. The end credit scenes are also perfectly synced to leave you hyped for the next movie in the series. If you watch in chronological order, you may be more informed on the timeline, but these scenes don’t make sense. I’d suggest skipping them if you’re going to go Bailey’s route.
Additionally, Marvel films are split into Phases. Each phase has a “natural story” arc and introduces new characters. This offers an added benefit to newer MCU fans who can gradually expand their knowledge. I particularly like this order with the new Disney+ shows. Watching them feels like “coming home” to revisit the characters that didn’t get as much screen time or development in the other films.
Here’s the release viewing order for Marvel:
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. 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. WandaVision (2021)
25. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)
26. Loki (2021)
27. Black Widow (2021)
28. What If...? (2021 (Disney+ series)
29. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
30. Eternals (2021)
31. Hawkeye (2021) (Disney+series)
32. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
33. Moon Knight (2022) (Disney+ series)
34. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
35. Ms. Marvel (2022) (Disney+ series)
36. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
No matter which way you decide to start your journey into the MCU, you’ll get to enjoy the character development, jam-packed action sequences, and dazzling special effects that make this a beloved franchise around the world.
And there’s one thing we can all agree on: we don’t acknowledge The Incredible Hulk film.