There’s nothing quite like watching the Marvel movies in chronological order. Unlike some cinematic universes we could mention (*cough* Star Wars *cough*), it’s a lot more straight-forward, which means you can just enjoy the ride rather than getting confused. And with some of the best space movies in the universe among the MCU, why wouldn’t you want to binge them all from beginning to end?
Granted the majority of the best Marvel movies are set around the same, present-day time period, but thanks to golden oldie The First Avenger, 90s flashback Captain Marvel, and the Black Widow prequel, there’s still a lot to be gained by watching the Marvel movies in chronological order. Start by fighting the Nazis in 1942 and then leap-frog in time to when Pogs were all the rage, before eventually jumping into the future to five years after Thanos wiped out half of the universe.
Watching the Marvel movies in order will give you a whole new appreciation for the MCU – not to mention the journeys of Captain America and Iron Man, in particular – that you just don’t get from watching them in release order. And the good news is that you can watch pretty much all of them with just one Disney+ subscription. Unfortunately, Disney+ doesn’t have The Incredible Hulk or the Spider-Man movies, and at the time of writing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is still on theatrical release, so you’ll have to find them somewhere else.
Wait until you have a spare weekend (or month!), load up on all your favorite snacks, and start watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order. You won’t regret it.
Marvel movies in chronological order
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Avengers
- Thor: The Dark World
- Iron Man 3
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Black Widow
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Black Panther
- Doctor Strange
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame
- Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
1. Captain America: The First Avenger
- Release date: July 22, 2011
- Cast: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving
If you want to watch all the Marvel movies in chronological order then you have to start with Captain America: The First Avenger. Not the best Marvel movie by a long shot, but given it takes place during World War 2, in 1942 to be exact, its setting is certainly the oldest. Travel back in time to watch Cap fight HYDRA masquerading as Nazis and fall for Peggy Carter, only to be frozen in ice so he could conveniently leapfrog through time to the present day and eventually team up with the Avengers. This is where it all began…
2. Captain Marvel
- Release date: March 8, 2019
- Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law
Next you’ll jump forward in time to the 90s where Captain Marvel discovers grunge as well as a community of Skrulls hiding in plain sight on Earth. Set in 1995, Marvel gave us a strong blast of nostalgia with this origin movie, which saw appearances from 90s icons such as Blockbuster, payphones, and Nine Inch Nails. Plus, it was the first Marvel movie to have one of its main characters de-aged using some impressive CGI so a young Nick Fury could kick ass right alongside one of the most powerful superheroes in the franchise.
3. Iron Man
- Release date: May 2, 2008
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard
That brings us to Iron Man, the very first Marvel movie made, but the third in chronological order. Set in 2010, this origin movie started it all for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark creates the Iron Man suit to escape his captors and then become a powerful but arrogant superhero. With his P.A. Pepper Potts and friend Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes along for the ride, Tony eventually takes down baddie Obadiah Stane who arranged Tony’s kidnapping so he could take over Stark Industries.
4. Iron Man 2
- Release date: May 7, 2010
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow
Less than a year later Tony is back in hot water as the son of a former Stark Industries employee, Ivan Vanko, tries to kill him using his own version of Tony’s Iron Man suit technology. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Tony finds out that the palladium core in the Arc Reactor that keeps him alive and powers his suit is actually killing him. All in all, Tony isn’t having a great year, but thanks to a little help from Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff, aka S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow, he eventually cures himself and takes down Vanko.
5. The Incredible Hulk
- Release date: June 13, 2008
- Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth
At the same time, Bruce Banner is trying to find a cure for his condition which sees him turn into a big, raging, green monster anytime he feels a bit irritated. Set in 2011, Banner is being hunted by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross who sends special forces soldier Emil Blonsky to take him down. Unfortunately, Blonsky is no match for the Hulk which is why he agrees to be injected with a similar serum to the one that turned Banner into the Hulk. The problem is, it also makes him insane. Eventually becoming Abomination and going on a killing rampage, Banner convinces Ross to let him stop Blonsky and save the day.
Whether this movie counts as part of the MCU is up for debate – Disney/Marvel say no, but it was very clearly meant to be in the MCU when it was created, as evidenced by Tony Stark’s post credits cameo.
- Release date: May 6, 2011
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman
Also at the same time (yes, seriously, 2011 was a busy year for the MCU), God of Thunder Thor is banished to Earth by his dad Odin and discovers he’s no longer worthy enough to lift his favorite hammer. There he meets scientist Jane Foster and learns how to live as a mortal for a while. Meanwhile on Asgard, Thor’s brother Loki, the God of Mischief, finds out he’s actually adopted and doesn’t take it particularly well. Eventually, Thor proves himself worthy enough to once again wield his hammer and returns to Asgard to stop Loki from causing anymore trouble, only to witness his brother supposedly die.
7. Avengers Assemble
- Release date: May 4, 2012
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Surprise! A year after Loki’s ‘death’ and he’s back trying to take over Earth, which leads to the creation of the Avengers in 2012. A recently unfrozen Cap, Iron Man (who’s trying to be slightly more of a team player), a reluctant Banner/Hulk, and Thor (who’s traveled to Earth to stop his brother) all team up to stop Loki. They’re also joined by Black Widow and her pal Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. Long story short, a huge battle ensues destroying most of New York, but eventually ends with Loki being captured and taken back to Asgard for a spanking.
8. Thor: The Dark World
- Release date: November 8, 2013
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston
Fresh off the back of taking down his brother, Thor returns to Earth and runs into Jane who has accidentally absorbed a dangerous substance called the Aether, and is more than a little upset Thor didn’t call her when he was in town. After discovering that the Aether will kill Jane, Thor enlists the help of his wayward brother to trick dark elf Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane. Loki is, once again, supposedly killed during the confrontation and Malekith tries to use the Aether to wreak havoc on Earth, but is stopped by Thor and Jane.
9. Iron Man 3
- Release date: May 3, 2013
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow
While this is all happening, Tony is struggling given his experiences during the Battle of New York. Convinced that the only way to protect Earth and the ones he loves is with more Iron Man suits, he spends the better half of 2012 creating suit after suit after suit, only for bombs to start going off all over the place, allegedly orchestrated by the Mandarin. During his investigation into the Mandarin, Tony discovers that scientist Aldrich Killian is really behind the attacks and that he’s kidnapped the President. Tony teams up with Rhodey to save the President, eventually destroying all his suits and promising Pepper he’ll tone down the superhero thing for a while.
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Release date: March 26, 2014
- Cast: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson
After the events of Avengers Assemble, Captain America is spending 2014 continuing to adjust to present-day life when an assassin called the Winter Soldier starts causing trouble for S.H.I.E.L.D. It turns out that the Winter Soldier is actually Cap’s old friend Bucky from 1942 who’s been brainwashed and periodically kept on ice by HYDRA. Oh, and HYDRA has taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Cap, along with Black Widow and his new friend Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, help bring HYDRA/S.H.I.E.L.D. down, but Bucky ends up on the run.
11. Guardians of the Galaxy
- Release date: July 31, 2014
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace
That same year Star-Lord is roaming the galaxy trying to find a buyer for a powerful Infinity Stone he’s stolen when he gets ambushed by Thanos’s adopted daughter, Gamora, and bounty hunters, Rocket and Groot, who are also all after the stone. After being sent to prison and meeting Drax, the unlikely friends team up, break out, and decide to sell the stone to keep it from baddie Ronan, who wants to use it to destroy Xandar. All doesn’t quite go to plan and they end up in a big battle with Ronan, which ends with an awkward dance off and victory for the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Notably, Guardians of the Galaxy sent the MCU into space for the first time (if you don’t count Iron Man’s very brief spaceflight in Avengers Assemble).
12. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
- Release date: May 5, 2017
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Kurt Russell
No sooner had the Guardians of the Galaxy defeated Ronan, then they were faced with another big baddie in the same year, this time with some added family drama. Star-Lord’s estranged, but very powerful daddy, Ego, turns up and announces he wants to teach Star-Lord his skills. But, before they can get very far with the lessons, it turns out that Ego is a mass-murdering psychopath and the Guardians have to destroy him, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. At least they made a new friend in the form of empath Mantis.
13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Release date: May 1, 2015
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth
2015 saw the Avengers having to reform to defeat another villain, except this time it was one of their own making. Well, Tony’s anyway. Still desperately trying to protect humanity, he creates an A.I. robot called Ultron who’s more interested in enslaving humanity than saving it. The heroes have to work together – along with some new friends in the form of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – to stop Ultron, but it comes at a high price, with the destruction of Sokovia.
- Release date: July 17, 2015
- Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
While the Avengers were taking down Ultron, ex-con Scott Lang was breaking into Hank Pym’s house and accidentally stealing his Ant-Man suit. After getting caught, Hank reveals he set up the whole thing to see if Scott was good enough to become the next Ant-Man. The good news is he passed, the bad news is that Hank needs his help to stop his former protégé and all round jerk, Darren Cross, from developing his own suit. After training with Hank and his daughter Hope, Scott finally gets the shrinking thing down and saves the day.
15. Captain America: Civil War
- Release date: May 6, 2016
- Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
After the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the U.N. asks the Avengers to sign the Sokovia Accords and promise not to do any superhero-ing until they’re told to. Unfortunately, only half the Avengers think it’s a good idea, with Iron Man and Captain America on opposing sides. To make matters worse, King T’Chaka is killed, supposedly by Cap’s old buddy Bucky/the Winter Soldier, causing an international incident involving Black Panther. The Avengers end up having a big bust up, but Cap and Bucky track down the real murderer, Zemo, and discover that he coordinated the whole thing to split the Avengers up. That’s when Zemo reveals Bucky killed Iron Man’s parents, and Cap and Tony’s friendship is officially over.
16. Black Widow
- Release date: July 9, 2021
- Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour
Later that same year, Natasha is on the run for breaking the Sokovia Accords when she finds out that the Red Room organization that tortured and trained her to be a Black Widow is still up and running. With an antidote to the Black Widow mind-control, and her former fake family in tow, Natasha tracks down the head of the Red Room, Dreykov who’s turned his own daughter into the perfect soldier, Taskmaster. Natasha and co use the antidote to save her and the other Black Widows and make plans to rescue the rest, all around the world.
17. Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Release date: July 7, 2017
- Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
After teaming up with Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is back in his old neighborhood when he discovers that weapons made from alien tech are being sold by Adrian Toomes. He tries to stop him, but has to be saved by Iron Man, who eventually confiscates the suit he made for Peter when he thinks he’s become too reckless. Trying to get back to normal life, Peter asks his crush, Liz, to the prom, only to discover that her dad is Toomes. Awkward. Realizing Toomes is going to try and steal a plane full of alien weapons, Peter abandons his prom date to stop him.
18. Black Panther
- Release date: February 13, 2018
- Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
After the death of his father in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa returns to Wakanda to take his rightful place as king, but quickly discovers that Wakandan artifacts are being stolen. In his attempt to apprehend the man responsible, black market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross is badly hurt. Meanwhile, Klaue is double-crossed by his accomplice Erik Stevens/Killmonger who kills him, brings his body to Wakanda, and reveals himself to be T’Challa’s cousin. He challenges T’Challa to ritual combat for the throne and wins. Planning to send Wakanda weapons to his operatives around the world, T’Challa must gather his remaining allies to stop him and become king once again.
19. Doctor Strange
- Release date: November 4, 2016
- Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
Brilliant but arrogant surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange is in a car accident that destroys his hands. Devastated that he can no longer wield a scalpel, he travels the world attempting to find a cure and eventually meets The Ancient One. After agreeing to train him in the mystic arts, Strange is learning how to become a sorcerer when a former pupil, Kaecilius, attacks looking for magic that will help him contact Dormammu of the Dark Dimension. Killing The Ancient One, Kaecilius succeeds in contacting Dormammu, and Strange creates a time loop prison for Dormammu until he agrees to leave Earth forever.
20. Thor: Ragnarok
- Release date: November 3, 2017
- Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
In 2017, Thor returns to Asgard to discover his brother Loki is alive and impersonating their father, Odin. They find their dad, only to discover he’s dying and that they apparently have a terrible older sister, Hela, who’s only kept caged by Odin’s magic. Once he dies Hela appears and takes over Asgard, promising to wage war on the rest of the universe. Thor and Loki escape to Sakaar and are reunited with the Hulk (who’s been missing since Age of Ultron) and make friends with Valkyrie. They band together to return to Asgard and defeat Hela by bringing about Ragnarok/the apocalypse, escaping with most of Asgard’s people on a spaceship.
21. Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Release date: July 6, 2018
- Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña
At the same time, Scott/Ant-Man is under house arrest thanks to his involvement in Captain America: Civil War when he runs into Hope and Hank who are on the run because the authorities think they also had something to do with it. They need his help to rescue Hope’s mom Janet from the Quantum Realm, but they’re not the only ones trying to master the Quantum Realm. Ghost tries to steal Hank’s lab, but Ant-Man and the Wasp team up to stop her while Hank successfully brings Janet back from the Quantum Realm. Everything works out fine, until everyone mysteriously disintegrates, except for Ant-Man, who’s trapped in the Quantum Realm.
There’s a lot of quantum physics stuff going on here, and if you want to know more about it we’ve done a dive into just how realistic Ant-Man’s quantum science is.
22. Avengers: Infinity War
- Release date: April 27, 2018
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans
Thanos, who’s already in possession of the Power Stone, destroys the Asgardian ship, killing Loki (for real this time), to get the Space Stone. He then sends his adopted children to Earth in search of the Mind and Time Stones, as he goes off to find the Reality and Soul Stones. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and almost every other superhero in the MCU try their hardest to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones, but one by one he claims them all and the movie climaxes with him snapping his figures to whipping out half of the universe. Bummer.
23. Avengers: Endgame
- Release date: April 26, 2019
- Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans
Five years later and the world is still trying to readjust to life after losing so much when Ant-Man returns from the Quantum Realm with an idea to bring everyone back. Using his knowledge, Tony and smart Hulk find a way to time travel and they, along with the remaining heroes, go back to different points in time to find the Infinity Stones before Thanos. When they return (minus Black Widow who’s killed, R.I.P), they use the stones to bring everyone back – but Thanos is back too and ALL the Avengers must assemble to stop him. Iron Man saves the day with a click of his fingers, but dies in the attempt.
24. Spider-Man: Far from Home
- Release date: July 2, 2019
- Cast: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal
The following year, Peter is still grieving Tony’s death when he goes on a school trip to Europe just as it’s attacked by Elemental monsters. Nick Fury appears and gives him Tony’s old glasses that have access to all of Stark Industries resources, and Peter teams up with Beck, a superhero from across the multiverse, to defeat the Elementals. Believing Beck is the hero the world needs, Peter gives him Tony’s glasses, only to discover that he’s not a superhero at all but an ex-Stark employee who was after the glasses all along. Peter and his friends eventually stop Beck, but not before he lands Spider-Man in hot water.
25. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- Release date: September 3, 2021
- Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
During these events, Shaun/Shang-Chi is in San Francisco when he’s attacked by his dad’s criminal organization, the Ten Rings. He goes to find his sister, Xialing, but the Ten Rings also show up there and take both of them to their dad, who reveals he’s going to find their dead mother in a place called Ta Lo. Once in Ta Lo, their aunt tells them that their dad is being manipulated by the Dweller-in-Darkness monster into setting him free, and they have to work together to try and stop him. Unfortunately, the Dweller-in-Darkness escapes, but with the help of a dragon they manage to defeat him and save the day. Yay!