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How to watch the Marvel movies in order

Here's a chronological guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The main cast of Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame.
(Image: © Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

Are you wondering how to watch the Marvel movies in order? That's becoming something of a tall order in 2021. Not only are there 26 movies to watch if you're planning a marathon, there are now five Disney Plus shows to take into account, too. That means you'll be spending more time than ever watching your favorite entertainment franchise.

If you're stuck with where to start, though, allow us to help you navigate this ever-growing superhero universe. 

First, you'll need to know whether you're going to watch the Marvel movies in chronological or release order. Whichever list you follow, both currently end with Eternals, the 26th Marvel movie that's now screening in theaters. Hawkeye's TV series has just launched on Disney Plus as well but, if you're only concerned about films in the MCU, you don't need to worry about that yet.

We'll show you how to watch the Marvel movies in both orders in this guide, including the five canonical MCU shows on Disney Plus. We'll break down the MCU timeline as it stands, so you don't have to. We're nice like that, you see.

Stream Marvel movies and TV on Disney Plus

Stream Marvel movies and TV on Disney Plus
Pretty much every MCU movie (minus The Incredible Hulk and the two Tom Holland Spidey movies) is available to stream on the Disney Plus service. If you want a Marvel movies marathon that isn't hindered by getting up from your couch and finding a DVD, Disney Plus costs only $7.99 a month in the US, or you can get an annual subscription for a discounted $79.99 (see the price in your country here).

After taking a pandemic-induced break in 2020, Marvel movies are having a busy 2021. With Black Widow, Shang-Chi and Eternals having released, and Spider-Man: No Way Home swinging into cinemas in December, Phase 4 is officially in full flow.

Marvel did, however, recently announced a major delay that would affect a number of movies in Phase 4: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will now be released in early May instead of March; Thor: Love and Thunder is due out in July instead of May, and Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever is going from a July release date to November. The Marvels and Ant-Man 3 have also been shunted back – the latter as just finished its principal photography, though – but Guardians of the Galaxy 3 hasn't.

So, how will you binge all these superhero movies while you wait? The Marvel movies chronological order starts kicks off with Captain America fighting the Red Skull, while the MCU release order starts with Tony Stark becoming Iron Man in the 2008 movie. Whichever you pick, you're in for a fun journey through some of the best superhero movies ever made.

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: chronological order

The Avengers

The Avengers was the movie that made us all believe in the MCU vision, and things have only gotten bigger and better since then. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Let's start with a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) timeline, now including Black Widow, Shang-Chi and Eternals. 

Below, we explain how to watch the 26 Marvel movies in chronological order, starting with Captain America's origin in WWII, and ending with the introduction of Eternals in the latest MCU flick. The arrival of the Eternals make things a little murky, as there are flashbacks to periods in time that precede Captain America's WWII origins. But, in order to help from going mad at the prospect of pausing Eternals, watching three or four Marvel movies, and then returning to Eternals to pick up events again after every flashback, we've slotted it in at the end of our list.

This is how you'll want to watch the Marvel movies in order if you're a continuity buff – it lets you enjoy the sequence of events as they happened. We've listed the MCU shows order below, too, so you can see how they fit around the movies. 

Here's the chronological viewing order of the Marvel movies as of 2021:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger – takes place during WWII
  • Captain Marvel – occurs in 1995
  • Iron Man – takes place in 2010
  • Iron Man 2 – takes place after Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk – time unspecified, pre-Avengers
  • Thor – events occur six months before Avengers
  • The Avengers – takes place in 2012
  • Iron Man 3 – takes place six months after The Avengers
  • Thor: Dark World – post-Avengers, pre-Ultron
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier – post-Avengers, pre-Ultron
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – sometime in 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – set after Guardians
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – occurs in 2015
  • Ant-Man – takes place in 2015
  • Captain America: Civil War – post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War
  • Black Widow – takes place right after Civil War
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming – post-Civil War, pre-Infinity War
  • Doctor Strange – takes place in 2016
  • Black Panther – takes place in 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok – post-Ultron, pre-Infinity War
  • Avengers: Infinity War – occurs in 2017
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp – ambiguous, but fits nicely between IW and Endgame
  • Avengers: Endgame – starts in 2017, finishes in 2022
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home – set eight months after Endgame
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – set in the present day of the MCU
  • Eternals – set in the present day of the MCU, though it does flash back through 7,000 years of human history

Some timing is ambiguous – for example, Black Widow, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Black Panther and Doctor Strange all take place at roughly the same time, and they're set across varying lengths of time, which makes ordering them tricky. 

Black Widow, though, technically takes place entirely within the events of Captain America: Civil War, which means it comes first out of those. Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton, meanwhile, revealed the martial arts hero's film takes place within the "present day". Eternals, too, is set well before Cap's origins story, as well as during the present day. So the timeline, as we mentioned, is getting messier as time goes on.

Now for the Marvel shows order: WandaVision takes place mere weeks after Endgame. Meanwhile, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is set six months after Endgame – so both shows take place before Spider-Man: Far From Home. Loki, meanwhile, is technically set after the events of The Avengers, but in another timeline – we'd advise watching it after Avengers: Endgame.

The MCU's first animated series – What If...? – is like Loki. It's set in the wider multiverse, so it plays out around events that we've seen on the big and small screens. Finally, Hawkeye's solo adventure (well, paired adventure with Kate Bishop) is set two years post-Endgame, which means it takes place in 2024.

  • WandaVision – three weeks after Endgame
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier – around six months after Endgame
  • Loki – technically post-The Avengers in 2012, but best watched after Endgame
  • What If...? season 1 – technically, this spans the entire multiverse, but it's best watched after Endgame
  • Hawkeye – two years after Endgame

How to watch the Marvel movies in order: release date

An official poster for Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi movie

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Want to watch the MCU movies in release order instead? Try this list. 

Watching the Marvel movies in this order is how Marvel Studios intended you to see the story play out, and you'll get to enjoy how the movies got bigger and better over the years – especially as Disney took over ownership and started pumping up the budgets. You'll also find Marvel movies release dates for Phase 4 below, or you can check out our official Marvel Phase 4 hub if you want more information on each upcoming movie and TV show.

Phase 1 

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase 2

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Phase 3

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Phase 4

  • WandaVision (TV show)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TV show)
  • Loki (TV show)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • Eternals (2021)
  • Hawkeye (TV show)

Upcoming Marvel movies and TV shows: Phase 4 and beyond release dates

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17, 2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022) 
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (July 8, 2022)
  • Ms Marvel (TV show – expected summer 2022)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 11, 2022)
  • The Marvels (February 17, 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (May 5, 2023)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania (July 28, 2023)
  • Blade (TBD)
  • Fantastic Four (TBD)
  • She-Hulk (TV show – TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TV show – TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TV show – TBA)
  • Ironheart (TV show – TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TV show – TBA)
  • Wakanda series (TV show – TBA)
  • What If...? season 2 (TV show – TBA)
  • Loki season 2 (TV show – TBA)
  • I Am Groot (TV show – TBA)
  • Echo (TV show – TBA)

Marvel movies on Disney Plus

Marvel movies on Disney Plus

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Wondering which Marvel movies are on Disney Plus? The Incredible Hulk and the Spider-Man films are the only MCU films that aren't on Disney Plus, and that's because Universal and Sony own the distribution rights to them respectively. You'll have to buy or rent them on DVD, Blu-Ray or digital right now if you want a full Marvel movie marathon. 

These are the Marvel movies on Disney Plus in the US, UK and Australia:

  • Iron Man
  • Thor
  • Iron Man 2
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Black Widow
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

These are the Marvel TV shows available on Disney Plus, meanwhile:

  • WandaVision
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
  • Loki season 1
  • What If...?
  • Hawkeye

Marvel movies, ranked best to worst

Marvel movies: Iron man 3

Iron Man 3 is perhaps the least consequential Marvel movie in terms of plot, but secretly one of the most fun. (Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

What are the best Marvel movies? For us on TechRadar, the Avengers movies mark the peak of the MCU, but the whole thing is incredibly subjective.

Below, we've ranked the Marvel movies based on user scores from IMDb. The peoples' votes are spot-on with some things (Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk are no one's favorite Marvel films), and other things extremely wrong (Ant-Man and the Wasp is surely worse than Captain America: The First Avenger?). 

Notably, fans don't seem to love Black Widow as much as some of the others, while Shang-Chi has drawn a much better response. Meanwhile, Eternals is actually viewed as better than The Incredible Hulk, which isn't the case on other sites including Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – Rating: 8.4
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019) – Rating: 8.4
  • The Avengers (2012) – Rating: 8.0
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Rating: 8.0
  • Iron Man (2008) – Rating: 7.9
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) – Rating: 7.9
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Rating: 7.9
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Rating: 7.8
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Rating: 7.7
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – Rating: 7.6
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) – Rating: 7.5
  • Doctor Strange (2016) – Rating: 7.5
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Rating: 7.4
  • Black Panther (2018) – Rating: 7.3
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Rating: 7.3
  • Ant-Man (2015) – Rating: 7.3 
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) – Rating: 7.2 
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – Rating: 7.1 
  • Thor (2011) – Rating: 7.0 
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rating: 7.0 
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Rating: 6.9
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Rating: 6.9
  • Captain Marvel (2019) – Rating: 6.9 
  • Black Widow (2021) – Rating: 6.8
  • Eternals (2021) – Rating: 6.8
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Rating: 6.7

How to download Marvel movies

If you want to download Marvel movies for watching on the go, you can save offline copies via the Disney Plus app on your portable device (smartphone or tablet). You can't do this on a desktop PC or laptop, though.

You'll need enough storage space, but just look for the download symbol on any title in the Disney Plus app:

Click the download symbol on the right, which you can see in the image above.

Downloaded content on your phone will stay in your device's main memory if it doesn’t have an external microSD card slot. That includes all Apple iPhone smartphones, iPad tablets and a few others handsets (like the Google Pixel 3a).

A 1-hour download takes about 400MB of storage depending on your download quality, Meanwhile, high quality is six times better than standard quality, and medium is 50% better than standard quality (which is the Disney Plus app’s default).

If you're happy to buy the movies, too, say through Amazon Prime, that'll also allow you to download Marvel movies locally.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar and covers TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's written for TechRadar, GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.