With Avengers: Infinity War the Marvel Cinematic Universe has now been rolling forward for exactly 10 years. As these movies have gone on, they’ve also become ever-more interlinked, featuring regular cameos, references, and Easter Eggs to other instalments.
For newcomers to superhero movies — perhaps those who have become absorbed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) following Black Panther — the amount of material to watch can be overwhelming. But for those wanting to persevere, there are two watching orders.
Really, you should probably watch these movies in release order, starting the journey starting with Iron Man — one of the best MCU instalments to date — moving onto The Incredible Hulk, then Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, finishing Phase One with Avengers. This order works well in terms of the post-credit scenes all setting up the next movie and has the intended rhythm formed by producer Kevin Feige.
However, many fans have taken to watching the series in chronological order. This might be a little convoluted, but that should not put you off: below is every piece of MCU viewing material mapped out into chronological order including movies, Netflix shows, one-shots (those mini-films you will find in the DVD extras), and other TV shows.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Agent Carter (seasons one and two)
Agent Carter (one-shot — Iron Man 3 DVD)
Iron Man 2
The Incredible Hulk
The Consultant (one-shot — Thor DVD)
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer (one-shot Captain America: First Avenger DVD)
Item 47 (one-shot — Avengers DVD)
For phase two, things almost play out in release order, except Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes directly after the first Guardians, meaning the movie has been moved into Phase Two, despite being a Phase Three release.
Also of note, one-shots were phased out during Phase Two with the introduction of the Netflix shows and Agents of Shield. For those who do embark on Agents of Shield (the second and third seasons are great), you should definitely watch along with the movies as they have major effects on the show’s story.
Iron Man 3
All Hail the King (one-shot – Thor: The Dark World)
Agents of Shield (season one: episodes 1 — 7)
Thor: The Dark World
Agents of Shield (season one: episodes 8 — 16)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Agents of Shield (season one: episodes 17 — 22)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Daredevil (season one)
Agents of Shield (season two: episodes 1 — 19)
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Agents of Shield (season two: episodes 20 — 22)
Jessica Jones (season one)
Daredevil (season two)
Agents of Shield (season three: episodes 1 — 19)
Made it this far? Well done, you’ve watched a whole lot of Marvel! Phase Three marks some of the best MCU movies so far, but also some timeline bending difficulties. For instance, Doctor Strange begins before Civil War, but finishes after Civil War, Slingshot features lots of flashbacks, and Agents of Shield season five features a lot of obscure time travelling. Also, Black Panther and Spider-Man both take place directly after Civil War, while Ragnarok and Panther directly lead into Avengers: Infinity War. Below’s just a guide for a manageable way of watching based mainly on release order.
Captain America: Civil War
Agents of Shield (season three: episodes 20 — 22)
Luke Cage (season one)
Agents of Shield (season four: episodes 1 — 8)
Agents of Shield: Slingshot (web series)
Agents of Shield (season four: episodes 9 — 22)
Iron Fist (season one)
The Defenders (season one)
Inhumans (season one)
The Punisher (season one)
Runaways (season one)
Jessica Jones (season two)
Agents of Shield (season five, episodes 1 — 14)
Cloak and Dagger (season one)
Avengers Infinity War
Congratulations. If you’ve watched all of the above, you’ve processed over nine days worth of Marvel movies and television. Nine days! And there’s still more to come, including: Ant Man and The Wasp, Captain Marvel, an untitled fourth Avengers movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming 2, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Luke Cage season two, Daredevil season three, The Punisher season two, Iron Fist season two, Jessica Jones season three, and New Warriors season one. Phew.