MCU Rewatch: The Best Order to Watch Every MCU Movie and Marvel Show

In 2008, Marvel Studios started a global phenomenon with the release of Iron Man.

When Robert Downey Jr. confessed “I am Iron Man,” a franchise was born. Since then, 22 more films have followed. Now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is growing with shows on Disney+ and a long list of future movie projects. Before the MCU expands too much, it may be time for a full rewatch. 

The real question is what order should you watch the movies in. Just like the Star Wars fandom, MCU fans argue over “correct” viewing order. There is the classic order that starts with the first release and ends with the most recent release, but you should consider switching it up a little. Let’s try watching the MCU in chronological order to see if we can spot new easter eggs and appreciate each character’s story even more. 

Strengths and weaknesses of the MCU original release order

One way to watch the film franchise is in release order. The biggest strength of this order is that this is the way it was originally meant to be seen. The films were designed to come out in phases that have complete story arcs and themes.

Another strength of the release order is starting with arguably the best character, Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man launched the success of the entire franchise, so it feels right to start with his story. 

There are some drawbacks. A huge weakness of the original MCU release order is having to go back in time to get filled in on storylines that happened before previous films. This can convolute character arcs and mess with momentum. Like when all you want to do is see what happens after Infinity War, going back to the ’90s in Captain Marvel may feel like a step backward (because it is).

Also, in the case of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, you may prefer watching them sequentially instead of waiting for no other reason than it took a while for them to release the sequel. 

Rewatch the MCU in chronological order instead

Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

An exciting part of the MCU fandom is that there are always new ways to enjoy it. You can become a historian of the MCU by watching it chronologically instead.

People online don’t completely agree on an exact MCU chronology because there are some discrepancies, especially when you take into account post-credit scenes. But with the help of Rotten Tomatoes and many viewings of all MCU movies, here is our recommended chronological rewatch list:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. Iron Man
  4. Iron Man 2
  5. The Incredible Hulk
  6. Thor
  7. Marvel’s The Avengers
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  14. Ant-Man
  15. Captain America: Civil War
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  17. Doctor Strange
  18. Black Panther
  19. Thor: Ragnarok
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  21. Avengers: Infinity War
  22. Avengers: Endgame
  23. Spider-Man: Far From Home

The biggest difference between release and chronological order is the first two movies. In chronological order, Captain America: The First Avenger becomes the first film because it is set in the ’40s during World War Two. Watching in this order, you will get to see the origins of important MCU figures like Howard Stark and Red Skull before many of the Avengers were even born. This helps give context to later events.

The next movie, Captain Marvel, is set in the ’90s and serves as a partial origin story for Nick Fury. This order lets you see Nick Fury get the idea to form the Avengers instead of telling the story later. One of the best things about chronological order is seeing events unfold in real-time rather than jumping around to reveal storylines from earlier. However, this also comes with a disadvantage. By the time you get to Avengers: Endgame, you may have forgotten all about Carol Danvers, so events that should be timely end up falling a little flat. 

To keep the tension and momentum of Infinity War going into Endgame, it is recommended to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp before Infinity War. Just keep in mind that you should watch its post-credit scene (and Captain Marvel‘s) after Infinity War to avoid spoilers or problems with the timeline.

How do the Marvel shows fit into the MCU chronology?


Marvel Phase 4: Which Other Marvel Movies Will Join the MCU?

Lately, it seems like the MCU’s massive TV expansion on Disney+ are the only MCU shows, but as true Marvel fans know, there are many Marvel shows that are already out. Shows like Agent Carter and Daredevil are also part of the MCU. However, according to We Got This Covered, Kevin Feige, the Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, is trying to distance the older Marvel shows from the MCU’s canon. About the new Disney+ shows, Feige said that “it all, for the first time, will interlink.” This is great news for fans excited to see some of their favorite Avengers again, but it also may feel like the older Marvel shows are being pushed aside in the larger MCU. 

Regardless of their connection to the film franchise, truly ambitious MCU fans want to know where all the Marvel shows should fit into the chronological order. Geekritique compiled a complete chronological timeline that includes Marvel shows. This list even breaks the shows up into seasons.

Even if shows like Jessica Jones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are more like cousins of the MCU film franchise rather than siblings, they are still definitely worth a watch. If you want to finish your MCU chronological binge before Falcon and the Winter Soldier comes out on March 19th, you better start watching now.