With the MCU turning 22 films old upon the release of Avengers: Endgame, many fans are using their considerable expertise to guide newcomers through Marvel’s complex timeline. But taking into consideration story flow, chronology, and plain common sense, just what is the best way to enjoy the franchise? With an emphasis on how all the movies link together, and how to have the best viewing experience possible, here’s the order we think is the best.
Captain America: The First Avenger may be the earliest setting the MCU has explored, but the franchise was born with 2008’s Iron Man, and it was Robert Downey Jr. and his genius billionaire playboy philanthropist who became the beating heart of Marvel’s narrative.
Almost everything we associate with the MCU begins here: the origin story of the flawed but lovable hero, the graceful interweaving of elements from the larger Marvel narrative, and of course the compulsory post-credits scene, teasing larger things to come. Even if it’s not first in the timeline, the birth of the narrative was Iron Man, and no Marvel movie marathon should begin with anything else.
Iron Man 2 hit theaters two years after The Incredible Hulk, but there are a couple of reasons why you should watch Tony and Rhodey take out Whiplash’s drones before Ed Norton’s lone MCU feature.
First, although chronology isn’t the most important thing to take into consideration here, the events of Iron Man 2 mostly take place before Incredible Hulk. Then again, judging by the news footage of the Hulk’s rampages that can seen in the background of the film’s penultimate scene, there is at least some overlap between the two movies’ timelines.
Second, and most importantly, with Tony agreeing to become a S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant at the end of Iron Man 2, watching this movie first helps make sense of his appearance at the end of the next one.
Instead of a mid or post-credits scene, The Incredible Hulk features a short final scene which tied the events of the movie to the larger Marvel narrative.
Considering the tenor of Ross and Stark’s conversation, it seems likely that the original plan was to follow the trajectory of the comics and have the origin of the Avengers begin with a hunt for the Hulk. After plans changed, however, this scene stuck out like a sore thumb.
Marvel’s solution was to release the short film The Consultant on the Thor Blu-ray, which we’ll include as a necessary watch after Incredible Hulk, but before Thor. It features two conversations between S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell. One of the chats takes place before Incredible Hulk’s final scene… Keep watching the video to find out that this is the right order to watch every MCU movie!
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Iron Man | 0:25
Iron Man 2 | 1:02
The Incredible Hulk | 1:43
Thor | 2:56
Captain America: The First Avenger | 3:45
The Avengers | 4:22
Captain America: The Winter Soldier | 5:05
Thor: The Dark World | 5:39
Iron Man 3 | 6:06
Guardians of the Galaxy | 6:36
Avengers: Age of Ultron | 7:18
Ant-Man | 7:47
Captain America: Civil War | 8:17
Black Panther | 8:43
Spider-Man: Homecoming | 9:11
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | 9:51
Doctor Strange | 10:31
Thor: Ragnarok | 11:18
Avengers: Infinity War | 11:56
Ant-Man and the Wasp | 12:24
Captain Marvel | 12:59