Best Ways to Watch the MCU Movies

The best ways to watch the MCU movies depends a lot on how familiar you are with them. Whether you are new the MCU or revisiting the franchise in preparation for Black Widow, you’ll find an order that suits your fancy.

1) Watch the Marvel movies in theatrical release order

Why use this order: The theatrical release order of the MCU movies is best for people new to the MCU. Each movie in the MCU helps set the stage for upcoming movies and events in the universe.

Many times, reveals come in the mid and post credit scenes. And the best part, since you are watching them at home, you can fast forward through them.

Theatrical release order is also a good go to if you are boring and follow things by the book all the time. If you are boring, then you keep watching them in this order. No one is judging you.

No one.

In any case, the theatrical order goes:

  1. Iron Man (May 2008)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (June 2008)*
  3. Iron Man 2 (May 2010)
  4. Thor (May 2011)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011)
  6. The Avengers (May 2012)
  7. Iron Man 3 (May 2013)
  8. Thor: The Dark World (November 2013)
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014)
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 2014)
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015)
  12. Ant-Man (June 2015)
  13. Captain America: Civil War (May 2016)
  14. Doctor Strange (October 2016)
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 2017)
  16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 2017)
  17. Thor: Ragnarok (November 2017)
  18. Black Panther (February 2018)
  19. Avengers: Infinity War (April 2018)
  20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 2018)
  21. Captain Marvel (March 2019)
  22. Avengers: Endgame (April 2019)
  23. Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2019)

*You can skip this one it truly has no impact on the MCU. Most people regard it as the worst movie in the entire MCU. It’s worse than Dark World, which is also terrible, but sets up at least a few future events in the MCU.

2. Watch the MCU movies in chronological order

Why use this order: The Marvel cinematic universe’s timeline is roughly parallel to our actual timeline, but there are some exceptions, like Captain America and Captain Marvel (read my review here).

If you have watched the entirety of the MCU movies already, this is another way to enjoy the movies. Since you are already familiar with the MCU, you’ll understand the references.

The chronological order of the MCU movies is:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. Iron Man
  4. Iron Man 2
  5. The Incredible Hulk*
  6. Thor
  7. The Avengers
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Thor: The Dark World
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Guardians of the Galaxy
  12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  13. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  14. Ant-Man
  15. Captain America: Civil War
  16. Doctor Strange
  17. Black Panther
  18. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  19. Thor: Ragnarok
  20. Avengers: Infinity War
  21. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  22. Avengers: Endgame
  23. Spider-Man: Far From Home

*Again, skip The Incredible Hulk if you want to.

3. The Black Widow Arch

Why use this order: After many years of waiting, Black Widow is finally coming out. Well, it will. Once the social distancing ban for Covid19 is lifted.

The Black Widow Arch show cases her growth and development throughout the MCU movies. This way of watching the MCU films cuts out any movie that does not have Black Widow in them.

This order is not for people brand new to the MCU. You will likely have a very hard time understanding what is going on.

The Black Widow Arch is:

  1. Iron Man 2
  2. The Avengers
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Captain America: Civil War
  6. Avengers: Infinity War
  7. Avengers: Endgame

4. The Iron Man Arch

Why use this order: Iron Man effectively launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. Had the film failed, you probably wouldn’t be reading this crappy article right now.

Let that sink in.

This way to watch the MCU movies is similar to the Black Widow Arch in that you cut out any movies not involving Iron Man. You can use this order to see Tony Stark’s character development over the years.

Again, don’t be stupid. If you have never watched the MCU movies before, don’t follow this order. It is also not for you if you only have a vague understanding of the overall universe.

The Iron Man Arch includes:

  1. Iron Man
  2. Iron Man 2
  3. The Avengers
  4. Iron Man 3
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  6. Captain America: Civil War
  7. Avengers: Infinity War
  8. Avengers: Endgame

5. The MCU Bromance

Why use this order: Ask nearly any MCU fan who does Steve Rogers (Captain America) love, and they will tell you it is Peggy Carter and James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. Ask a fan who he loves more, and the debate begins.

If you want to watch a bromance unfold without the unnecessary fluff of the rest of the MCU, then you should watch the MCU Bromance.

Steve Rogers and Bucky and Steve Rogers and Peggy
Are you team Bucky or team Peggy?

The MCU bromance includes:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger – see where it all began and the first falling out (get it? Because Bucky fell out of a train. Never mind.)
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – a scorned friend returns to the bromance many years later and starts to remember why they originally became best friends
  3. Captain America: Civil War – the bromance rekindles and fractures the relationships between Steve and his family
  4. Avengers: Infinity War – after doing the long distance thing, its time to meet up again, if only for a little while
  5. Avengers: Endgame – saying goodbye to the best bromance Steve has ever had to finally, after like 100 years, get laid… but a new bromance may be emerging with Falcon and Bucky

6. Captain America Arch

Why use this order: Captain America is a MCU fan favorite.

Personally, I like Iron Man better because, from the start, his character was a likable asshole. Captain America started as a boring “nice” guy who was largely unlikable.

In several repeated viewings of the MCU movies, I have since come to appreciate Captain America more.

The movies in the Captain America arch:

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. The Avengers
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Captain America: Civil War
  6. Avengers: Infinity War
  7. Avengers: Endgame

The Captain America arch does not include all the times he makes an appearance in the movies. For example, he has a cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a public service announcement and Thor: The Dark World when Loki imitates his likeness. He is also in post credit scenes in Ant-Man, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Captain Marvel.

7. The Thor Arch

Why use this order: Like Captain America, Thor started out really boring. Seriously boring. You really didn’t even get a hint at Thor having a personality until Avengers: Age of Ultron.

And then in Thor: Ragnorak his personality actually shines through. Finally, Infinity War and Endgame set up what promises to be a good cross over event with the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Love and Thunder.

So far, the Thor Arch includes:

  1. Thor
  2. The Avengers
  3. Thor: The Dark World
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Thor: Ragnarok
  6. Avengers: Infinity War
  7. Avengers: Endgame

MCU Movies: FAQs

How many movies are in the MCU movie collection?

There are technically 23 movies in the MCU movie collection as of the start of 2020. Many don’t consider The Incredible Hulk true cannon and will tell you there are only 22 movies so far. Either way is correct.

Is Spider-Man still apart of the MCU?

In the 90’s, Marvel Comics sold off some of the movie rights of its characters to get some extra cash. This included Spider-Man.

Sony currently owns the rights to all Spider-Man movies and allowed the Disney owned MCU to use Spider-Man in several of its films. Though future Spider-Man appearances are set to occur, the two studios may again have another disagreement that causes them to part ways.

What year did the MCU start?

2008

Are the X-Men movies apart of the MCU?

The current X-Men movies are not a part of the MCU. Marvel sold the X-Men movie rights to Fox. All current X-Men movies are their own separate entities and not connected in anyway to the MCU.

Fun Fact: Quick Silver and Scarlet Witch, who first appeared in the MCU in a mid-credit scene in Captain America: Winter Soldier and formally appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron, are actually a part of the X-Men universe in the comics. The MCU changed most of their back story, but kept the fact that they are twins.

But, future X-Men movies will be apart of the MCU since Disney consumed Fox in one of it’s recent mergers. Seriously, how is Disney not getting shut down as a monopoly?

Who owns Marvel?

Disney bought Marvel Entertainment in 2004. And if you have small kids, Disney pretty much owns you too.

Are the MCU movies any good?

Overall, yes. And, if nothing else, they have done something that no other comic based set of movies has come close to achieving: a connected extended universe with over 20 films.

Critics often complain that the Marvel movies follow a formula, are predictable, have crappy villains, and are popcorn flicks at best. Comic book fans sometimes complain that characters and stories don’t align well with their comic book counter-parts. And to a certain degree, they are both correct.

But the MCU movies are mostly entertaining. Mostly. They also offer a little bit for everyone so that even non-comic book fans can enjoy at least some of the movies.

Can my young kids watch the MCU movies?

Yes, Karen, your kids can watch the MCU movies. Unless they are lil bitches. Are your kids lil bitches, Karen?

My 5 year old daughter has seen all of them and there is nothing wrong with her. Yet. I mean, she hasn’t burned anything down anyway.

Nathan

Nathan is not a published author, professional movie critic, or avid fan of most children shows. He is a caring father (when he's not banging his head against the wall), a movie connoisseur of sorts literally able to have full conversations in movie and TV quotes, and dedicated to helping other parents avoid starting a show with their small children that they will soon regret. In his free time, he does nothing. He has two small children. Free time does not exist.

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