Marvel movies in order: the MCU timeline

Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man: No Way Home to Moon Knight, our guide to the MCU timeline tells you how to watch all the Marvel movies in order

How do you watch the MCU Marvel movies in order? It was bad enough with all the action movies, but now that we have the Disney Plus TV series as part of Phase 4 as well, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to get a tad unruly. From battling the Nazis in WWII, to fighting living planets, bargaining for humanity’s existence against cosmic entities, and enjoying the internet speeds of 1995, the franchise of Earth’s mightiest heroes stretches across time and space, and then some.

As fun as all of this is, it does make catching up hard. Whether you’re new to the rivalry between Iron Man and Captain America, or just need to be reminded of what’s up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, knowing exactly where to start, or at what point in the universe you are, isn’t always as simple as reading the synopsis.

That’s where we come in, and using our handy guide, you’ll know the best way to watch all the MCU Marvel movies in order. Our list flows chronologically, starting with the story set earliest in Earth’s history, then going right up to the present day. We’ve had fantasy movies, science fiction movies, and sci-fi series that directly overlap, including a shared cast. Unfortunately, that means no Agents of SHIELD, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist, or Inhumans – at least, for now.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The introductions of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, the Red Skull, and Agent Carter, in a period movie about Captain America helping to stop the Nazis from harnessing an Infinity Stone for nefarious use. We’re sure nobody involved quite understood what they were helping kick off, but the lively energy here makes a perfect way to start the universe.

Marvel movies in order: Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter

Agent Carter (Seasons 1 and 2) (2015-2016)

In the first season of Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), and Howard Stark (Dominic West) investigate a possible Soviet terrorist attack. Though the second season is less immediately pertinent, together they help flesh out the post-Steve Rogers, pre-Tony Stark world.

Marvel movies in order: Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel (2019)

The birth of the Avengers Initiative, or at least, what inspired Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to start putting it together. As a stopgap between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel was a playful throwback to earlier movies, and as the second film in the series, it fuels lots of speculation with the shapeshifting Skrulls, while also lining up some new heroes.

Marvel movies in order: Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man

Iron Man (2008)

The Marvel film, directed by Jon Favreau, that started it all still holds up. What more can be said about Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, and the eccentric world his fortune bankrolled? Even now, when Nick Fury pops up in that post-credits scene, it’s spine-tingling stuff.

Marvel movies in order: Robert Downey Jr as Tony Star in Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (2009)

In its earlier years, Marvel Studios struggled with sequels, and Iron Man 2 is a casualty of that. Mickey Rourke in a superhero flick is a novelty, of course, and let’s not forget Don Cheadle taking up the mantle of James ‘War Machine’ Rhodes from Terrence Howard. Other than that, this is one of the more frivolous entries.

Marvel movies in order: Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Speaking of frivolous, William Hurt’s Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross reappearing later is just about all that still ties this to the MCU as a whole. Studio politics mean we may never see Mark Ruffalo get to lead a Hulk movie like Edward Norton does here, which is a shame, and any further significance has been downplayed since this came out.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Hemsworth as Odin and Thor in Thor

Thor (2011)

Like Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor does a lot of work in setting up the overall mythology of the MCU. We get the tesseract, multiple dimensions, and, of course, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, the latter becoming an early fan-favourite. It doesn’t hurt Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, and Kat Dennings are involved, either.

Marvel movies in order: The Avengers cast stand in a circle

The Avengers (aka Avengers Assemble) (2012)

Maybe the most important blockbuster this century? Certainly not far off. Watching the heroes come together for the invasion of New York does everything you expect it to, turning everyone into household names in the process. The changing of leadership from Stark to Rogers starts here, and the upcoming Loki spin-off draws from these events.

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The 360-degree shot of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow rallying together for the first time still absolutely rules, and we get our first look at Thanos in the post-credits scene. Cinema.

Marvel movies in order: Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The end of Tony Stark’s trilogy is contentious among the fanbase, but it’s a crucial piece of character work that separates Tony from the suit. Indeed, the guilt and resentment that would lead Tony astray in later movies is established, and we get some great action scenes besides.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Down beside The Incredible Hulk for the least consequential MCU movie. The reveal of the Reality Stone, and Benicio Del Toro’s first appearance as The Collector give it some substance, but on the whole, it doesn’t add much.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Captain America Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Bucky Barnes returns as The Winter Soldier in the MCU sequel that reshapes the universe as we know it. SHIELD turns out to be Hydra, which is then dismantled by Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson. Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, this was a turning point for Marvel Studios, and in proper order, it still ramps up the action.

Marvel movies in order: The cast of Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Next, we take to the stars for a space-bound team of misfits, lowlifes, and thieves who’d become crucial in the war against Thanos. It’s hard to pick favourites, of course, but Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax (Dave Bautista) do have a tendency to steal the show.

We get another Infinity Stone, and Josh Brolin’s first appearance as Thanos, who’s the adopted father of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). We are Groot.

Marvel movies in order: The cast of Guardian of the Galaxy Vol 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Sticking to space, James Gunn’s follow-up has Kurt Russell as Ego, The Living Planet, so you know it’s going to be good. The second volume contains more personal drama than the first, and the familial conflict between Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan) directly ties into the oncoming face-off against Thanos. In the post-credits scenes, we learn cosmic Marvel hero Adam Warlock is on the way, from the gold-skinned Sovereign race – exciting times ahead.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Hemsworth as Thor with Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man in Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Back down to Earth for the team’s fight against Ultron, and the start of their unravelling. Tony Stark makes it clear he’s looking for a way out of the avenging business, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff join the fray, and Vision is born via the Mind Stone. Very much a setup for the third phase of the universe.

Marvel movies in order: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang in Ant-Man

Ant-Man (2015)

Away from the planet-threatening stakes of the Avengers is Ant-Man, led by Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. Some of the 70-odd year gap between The first Avenger and now is explored, showing Hank Pym’s separation from SHIELD, and the tech market away from the shadow of Stark Industries.

Not all superhero stories need to be about the end of the world, and Lang’s story of a dad trying to do right by his daughter grounds the franchise before we head into even grander territory.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The rift between Stark and Rogers tears the Avengers apart, Bucky’s dark past as the Winter Soldier is exposed, and Spider-Man and Black Panther are introduced. Civil War covers a lot of ground and delivers on the action to boot.

Spidey takes on Captain America, The Falcon tests Vision’s accuracy, and Iron Man and War Machine have to wrangle Giant-Man in the central hero-on-hero fight. The big second act tragedy heading into Thanos showing up.

Marvel movies in order: Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanov in Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW (2021)

Black Widow and Black Panther happen more or less concurrently, however, Disney Plus has this listed first. Coming out of Civil War, Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross is on the hunt for Natasha Romanoff after she and Steve went off the grid as wanted fugitives.

Natasha’s sister Yelena (Florence Pugh) reappears, and together they take down the Red Room, with a little help from mom Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) and dad, Alexei ‘Red Guardian’ Shostakov (David Harbour). Worth noting the post-credits scene is later, post-Avengers: Endgame.

Marvel movies in order: Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa in Black Panther

Black Panther (2018)

The Ryan Coogler-directed Black Panther begins just a week after Civil War. Newly crowned King T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, reckons with Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) challenging him for the throne. The vibrant kingdom of Wakanda, now a crucial region of the MCU, is brought to life in all its glory.

Marvel movies in order: Tom Holland as Peter Park in Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Fresh from web-slinging through Civil War, Tom Holland, the MCU’s Peter Parker, gets his own movie. Everyone’s favourite friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, hellbent on becoming an Avenger, learns balancing heroism with being a decent student isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Vulture’s plan may be thwarted by the webhead, but Michael Keaton’s performance as the working class crook gives Holland a real run for his money.

Marvel movies in order: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (2016)

After getting an offhand mention in The Winter Soldier, Doctor Strange finally enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film shows his complete origin story, from world-famous surgeon to master of the mystic arts and, like Guardians of the Galaxy, it widens the palette for Marvel Studios productions.

Characters flow in and out of cascading realities, and physics becomes a kaleidoscope, controlled by those who have done the appropriate training. The Time Stone is revealed, and Strange takes his place in New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum as a protector of Earth.

Marvel movies in order: Chris Hemsworth as Thor fights the Hulk in Thor Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The energy of Taika Waititi’s threequel for the God of Thunder is best exemplified by Thor exclaiming “He’s a friend from work!” when he finds Hulk is his challenger for space gladiatorial combat.

Silly, madcap, eccentric, and thrilling, Thor: Ragnarok’s burning of Asgard is the cosmic equivalent of Civil War, throwing characters to the wind for the burgeoning showdown. Appearances by Doctor Strange, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) only add to the spectacle.

Marvel movies in order: Evangeline Lily and Paul Rudd stare at each other in Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

The second Scott Lang adventure pairs him up with Hope Pym, the titular Wasp, against the elusive Ghost. Some very comic-book-y science is deployed to explain the Quantum Realm, a microscopic layer of reality that Hope’s mother vanished into, and more of SHIELD’s shady underbelly is exposed. By the end, the Pym family is reunited, but just before Thanos’ snap vanishes all but Lang.

Marvel movies in order: Josh Brolin as Thanos in Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

The first of a massive two-parter brings many of the hanging threads together. Thor, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Hulk, and Captain America join Wakanda against an invasion of Thanos’ Black Order, while Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy challenge Thanos himself on his ruined homeworld, Titan.

Ultimately, it’s all for naught when the Mad Titan manages to gather all the Infinity Stones, ripping the last from Vision’s head, and performs the Snap, removing half of all life in the Universe.

Marvel movies in order: The cast of Avengers Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

The climax to the MCU’s three-phase journey features our heroes learning to cope with a world in which they lost. Some moved on, like Tony Stark, others, like Hawkeye or Thor, not so much. Building a second gauntlet out of Infinity Stones gathered from throughout time allows those lost in the snap to be brought back for the final showdown, a fists-in-the-air battle that gives everyone a second to shine. One that’s always worth a fresh bag of popcorn.

Marvel movies in order: Tom Hiddleston as President Loki in Loki

Loki (2021)

This can go a couple of different places in the timeline, but the easiest is right after Avengers: Endgame. Loki becomes part of the Time Variance Authority to track down other variants of himself, leading to a confrontation with the time-consuming Alioth, and Kang the Conqueror. By the end, the multiverse is descending into madness.

Marvel movies in order: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in WandaVision

WandaVision (2021)

Disney launching its own streaming service, Disney Plus, has led to some miniseries becoming part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first of which is WandaVision.

A broadly surrealist piece of sci-fi, the six episodes show more of Wanda’s backstory, and her struggling with Vision’s death. More than a couple of new faces are brought into the universe, as well as some welcome returns, and a foreboding future is teased at the end.

Marvel movies in order: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan in Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)

Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) takes up the mantle of Captain America in this quasi-buddy cop action series. Wilson’s forced to work with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to stop a mysterious terrorist cell, all the while contending with John Walker, a US Government-appointed replacement for Steve Rogers. Amid all of this, Wilson learns of the racially unjust history of the Captain America moniker, vowing to do better by what it stands for.

Marvel movies in order: Tom Holland as Peter Parker and Zendaya as MJ in Spider-Man No Way Home

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (2019)

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man sequel takes the MCU out of Phase 3. He tries to win over MJ’s heart but gets interrupted by Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio.

The death of Tony Stark looms large, in more ways than one, forcing Peter to create resources of his own to outwit the baddies that confront him. An affirmation of a bright future, and one that’s still full of surprises, if a certain last-minute cameo’s anything to go by.

Marvel movies in order: Simu Liu in Shang-Chi

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS (2021)

After the fake-out in Iron Man 3, Shangi-Chi gives us the actual Mandarin, and introduces the Ten Rings. The Abomination returns to the universe, and we get a swathe of Asian mythology to add Marvel’s cinematic tapestry.

Destin Daniel Cretton directs Simu Liu as the lead martial artist who, without spoiling anything, definitely has a future in the franchise. In tandem with Far From Home.

Marvel movies in order: The cast of the Eternals

Eternals (2021)

Around the same time as Spider-Man is dealing with Mysterio, we have Eternals, featuring Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani and more as the cosmic team in their battle against the evil Deviants.

The history of Eternals goes back millennia, but the important part is that Chloé Zhao’s film takes place around eight months after the second snap, placing it concurrently with Spidey’s second big MCU feature, in early 2024.

Marvel movies in order: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange and Tom Holland as Peter Parker in Spider-Man No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Soon after dealing with Mysterio, Peter Parker gets himself in more trouble, shattering the multiverse with Doctor Strange. Spider-Man: No Way Home is set around the autumn of 2024, further delving into a post-Snap universe that has plenty more oddities to deal with.

Marvel movies in order: Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton in Hawkeye

Hawkeye (2021)

Kate Bishop comes to the MCU in Hawkeye, Clint Barton’s headline project, set during the holiday period of 2024. Their Christmas misadventure has Kate find out in no uncertain terms that being an Avenger is a tough business without many friends. That is, except for Lucky the Pizza Dog and heroes like Clint.

Marvel movies in order: Moon Knight

Moon Knight

Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) can’t tell the difference between waking life and dreams, and soon discovers that he is in fact Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight, a mercenary with several different identities. His adversary is Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a religious zealot.

We don’t get an exact point in time for Moon Knight, but we know it’s after The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and for now, Disney Plus has it after Hawkeye. We’ll update accordingly when new evidence comes to light!

Marvel movies in order: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

The second Doctor Strange movie is set after the events of No Way Home, in 2025. As the last Spider-Man movie and Hawkeye both end around the Christmas period, we can guess then that Doctor Strange 2 is in spring the following year.

This film has the Bleeker Street magician go on a dimension jumping adventure that sees him come face to face with one of the greatest threats the multiverse has ever faced.

Marvel movies in order: Ms Marvel

Ms Marvel

Kamala Khan’s grand induction to MCU, starring Iman Vellani, also takes place in 2025. She lives in a world that celebrates the Avengers, where their accomplishments are well remembered, and commodified. Marvel has been reluctant to put an exact date on it, but we surmise this happens around the same time as Multiverse of Madness.

Marvel movies in order: Thor: Love and Thunder

Thor: Love and Thunder

Another one that’s sketchy to narrow down, Thor: Love and Thunder would logically fit in around 2025 to 2026. This leaves enough time for the eight years since Thor last saw Jane, and for his questing with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Phew – that’s it, how to watch all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order. Of course, we’ll be updating this when more come out, so check back if you want to stay up to date. Check out our guides on Black Panther 2 and She-Hulk for what’s coming next – and if you’re wondering where to watch them all, you just need to get Disney Plus.