What is the best order to watch the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to prepare for Avengers: Infinity War? There are a whopping 18 films in the MCU thus far, so before heading to your local theater to witness the culmination of the MCU as we know it, a refresher is needed.
Infinity War will see the Mad Titan Thanos coming to Earth to collect the six Infinity Stones so he can “balance” the chaotic universe, with the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy assembling to stop him. This will be an epic ten years in the making, and to fully understand what’s going on – who’s who of the two-dozen main characters and what exactly the Infinity Stones can do – you’re going to want to revisit the previous films. However, watching the movies in the order of their theatrical 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, 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 eighteen films across the MCU’s three “Phases” to bring you the optimum movie viewing order, which will explain below:
This is not quite the same as release order for some key reasons. Although the movies started with Iron Man, Captain America is set earlier (in the 1940s) and works as a good grounding for the story (although due to modern-day sequences could be watched just before The Avengers). 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 the 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, there’s Thor: Ragnarok, whose mid-credits scene leads directly into Infinity War: when Thor and Loki come across Thanos’ ship, you’re all caught up!
Now you just need to find 1 day, 9 hours and 52 minutes of free time before Avengers: Infinity War releases on April 27. Not got time? Then these are the essential six Marvel films you should watch.
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