In 2008, Marvel Studios released Iron Man. The film – directed by Jon Favreau – starred Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges, and was a huge hit.

Shortly after the release of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk (2008) hit cinema screens to become the second film from the studio. Edward Norton took the lead role, and thanks to a brief cameo from Robert Downey Jr., as well as a few other references here and there, that second movie helped develop a shared universe between the two pictures.

As is now common knowledge, that shared universe quickly expanded with each new film from Marvel Studios and soon the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – a sprawling landscape in which multiple heroes share triumph and tragedy – was born.

Over the years, the MCU has expanded to include many movies, from team-up tales to solo adventures. But what order do you watch them in?

In this post I will explain the viewing orders for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yes, I did say ‘orders’ as there is more than one.

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MCU production order

Image: ©Marvel Studios/Disney

OK, to ensure this doesn’t get too complicated, let’s start with the MCU movies in production order. So, if you simply want to watch all of the Marvel movies in the order they were released, use the following order:

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

And now onto the timeline…

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MCU Timeline order

Image: ©Marvel Studios/Disney

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown, new characters and situations have been introduced, but not necessarily in chronological order. In fact, Marvel Studios have a knack of jumping back and forth across the timeline in order to tell a compelling story.

If you would prefer to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in chronological order, then you will need this list:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Thor (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

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MCU timeline order + Marvel One-Shots

Image: ©Marvel Studios/Disney

In addition to the movies, Marvel has released a number of shorts that can be slotted into the timeline. These shorts – known as Marvel One-Shots – were originally released as extra features on Marvel Studios home video releases and are as follows:

  • The Consultant (2011)
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (2011)
  • Item 47 (2012)
  • Agent Carter (2013)
  • All Hail the King (2014)

The shorts fill in a few background details which the films didn’t have time to cover. If you wish to watch the MCU in timeline order with the shorts, then use the following list:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Agent Carter (2013) – SHORT
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • The Consultant (2011) – SHORT
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (2011) – SHORT
  • Thor (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Item 47 (2012) – SHORT
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • All Hail the King (2014) – SHORT
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

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The Marvel television shows (pre-Avengers: Endgame)

Image: ©Marvel Television/Disney/Netflix

The above lists take into account the movies, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe encompasses television shows too – from programmes produced by ABC to those on Netflix and beyond. So, how do these effect the timeline?

In all honesty, the Marvel TV shows produced prior to the release of Avengers: Endgame, have little to no influence on the movie timeline. While they do exist in the same universe, the shows are effectively their own entity which make no real impact on the film series.

Should you want to watch the pre-Endgame produced TV shows then it is probably best to break them down into their individual categories and view them away from the movies. In my opinion, these shows are a way to enhance your experience of the MCU, but they don’t have to define it.

Use the following as a guide:

Shows from ABC

Image: ©Marvel Television/Disney/ABC
  • Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015 – 2017)
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013 – 2020)
  • Marvel’s Inhumans (2017)

Shows from Netflix

Image: ©Marvel Television/Disney/Netflix
  • Daredevil (2015 – 2018)
  • Jessica Jones (2015 – 2019)
  • Luke Cage (2016 – 2018)
  • Iron Fist (2017 – 2018)
  • The Defenders (2017)*
  • The Punisher (2017 – 2019)

*The Defenders takes place after the second season of Daredevil, and the first seasons of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

Show from Hulu

Image: ©Marvel Television/Disney/Hulu
  • Marvel’s Runaways (2017 – 2019)
  • Marvel’s Helstrom (2020)

Shows from Freeform

Image: ©Marvel Television/Disney/Freeform
  • Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger (2018 – 2019)

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I hope the above information has been of use to you. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in continuous development, I will update the lists as the universe expands further.

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