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How to watch the Marvel movies in order

Here's a chronological guide to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in order

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

If you're figuring out how to watch the Marvel movies in order in 2021, it's more complicated than it's ever been – you've now got 25 movies and a handful TV shows to factor into your Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) marathon, with more to come before 2021 is out. Luckily, we're here 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 Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings, the 25th Marvel movie now screening in theaters – and on Disney Plus from November 12. 

We'll show you how to watch the Marvel movies in both orders in this guide, including the three canonical MCU shows on Disney Plus. We'll break down the MCU timeline as it stands, meaning that all you need to do is enjoy watching them. 

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 in 4K, alongside Star Wars and lots more. 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).
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After taking a pandemic-induced break in 2020, Marvel movies are having a busy 2021. With Black Widow and Shang-Chi now available, and Marvel's The Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home rolling out before the end of the year, Phase 4 is officially in high gear.

So, how will you binge all these superhero movies? 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. 

Here's how to watch the Marvel movies in order in 2021.

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 2021's Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings! This explains how to watch the 25 Marvel movies in chronological order, starting with Captain America's origin in WWII, and ending with the introduction of Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in the newest Marvel movie.

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 (takes place in 1995)
  • Iron Man (takes place in 2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (takes place after Iron Man)
  • The Incredible Hulk (time unspecified, pre-Avengers)
  • Thor (takes place 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 (after Guardians)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (takes place 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 (takes place 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 (eight months post-Endgame)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (set in the present day of the MCU)

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, has confirmed that his movie takes place within the "present day" of the MCU, which makes it the most recent in the timeline as it stands.

Now for the Marvel shows order. WandaVision actually takes place mere weeks after Endgame. 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.

  • 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)

Marvel movies in order: release date

Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi in the next canonical Marvel 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 and beyond below, which is accurate as of the publication time at the top of this article.

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)

Upcoming Marvel movies: release dates for Phase 4 and beyond

Phase 4 (upcoming)

  • The Eternals (November 5, 2021)
  • Hawkeye (TV show – November 24, 2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 17, 2021)
  • Ms Marvel (TV show – expected early 2022)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022) 
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (May 6, 2022)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (July 8, 2022)
  • The Marvels (November 11, 2022)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania (February 17, 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (May 5, 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)

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 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 (from November 12)

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

  • WandaVision (now available)
  • The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (now available)
  • Loki (now available)
  • What If...? (now available)
  • Hawkeye (November 24, 2021)
  • Ms Marvel (expected early 2022)
  • She-Hulk (TBA)
  • Moon Knight (TBA)
  • Secret Invasion (TBA)
  • Ironheart (TBA)
  • Armor Wars (TBA)
  • Wakanda series (TBA)

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)

Best Marvel movies

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.

Best

  • 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
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Rating: 6.7

Worst

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, here.

Content you download 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: High quality is six times better than standard quality while 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.