What is the best order to watch the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in prep for Avengers 4? This year has seen three Marvel movies hit the box office, including the blockbuster hit Black Panther, the epic Avengers: Infinity War, and - most recently - Ant-Man & the Wasp. The next Marvel movie isn't due out until March 2019, meaning viewers have a few months to get in a refresher.
Meanwhile, next year's Avengers 4 will pick up from the events of Avengers: Infinity War. With half the life in the universe erased with a snap of Thanos's fingers, it's safe to say the surviving Avengers are going to want to fight back. That will make the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4 the climax of the entire MCU to date, bringing an end to the first three phases of the MCU. But here's the catch; if you want to revisit the previous films over the next year, then rewatching in the order of release isn't necessarily the best way to get the big picture.
In true comic book fashion, the events of some of the MCU's films happen out of order. This has famously created a few plot holes in the timeline, but practically makes catching up tricky; which order tells the best story? Previously, we compiled an exhaustive viewing guide for the Marvel movies and TV shows; however, for those who intend to rewatch the MCU movie slate (but don't want to bother with the TV shows and one-shots), we've gone through all the films across the MCU's three "Phases" to bring you the optimum movie viewing order, which will be explained below:
Date Last Updated: January 4, 2019
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- Captain Marvel (not released until March 2019)
- Iron Man
- Iron Man 2
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Avengers
- Iron Man 3
- Thor: The Dark World
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Doctor Strange
- Captain America: Civil War
- Black Panther
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Ant-Man & the Wasp
- Avengers: Infinity War
This is not quite the same as release order for some key reasons. Although the movies started with Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger is set earlier (in the 1940s) and works as a good grounding for the story. Likewise, we're predicting that Captain Marvel should be watched next, as it's set in the '90s, develops S.H.I.E.L.D., and will serve as an origin story for Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. Iron Man 2 also comes before The Incredible Hulk as those two and Thor take place in the same week despite being released weeks apart. Also worth noting is the short film Marvel One-Shot: The Consultant where S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Coulson and Sitwell discuss who to send to meet with General Ross, which leads to Hulk's stinger where Tony Stark speaks to General Ross about the Avengers Initiative.
Phase 2 is mostly in order, but also includes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: despite coming out in 2017, the sequel is set just a few months after the original and so fits best before Age of Ultron.
Phase 3 is the most complicated as it's completely out of timeline order: Doctor Strange spans years, while Black Panther and Homecoming take place in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War despite coming out years later. Finally, both Thor: Ragnarok and Ant-Man & the Wasp are set before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, although their post-credits scenes tie into it.
Now you just need to find a lot of free time before Avengers 4 releases next year.
Next: Avengers 4: Every Update You Need To Know
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019