Marvel movies in chronological order
If you want to follow the events of the MCU, you can’t watch the Marvel films in the order they released. They’re not chronological. That’s why we’re showing you a different order – arranged by when the events in each film happen. The MCU officially started in 2008 with Iron Man, but it’s not the first Marvel film you should watch. Start with Captain America: The First Avenger. It released in 2011 and is the fifth film from Marvel Studios. But it begins in 1942 – decades before Iron Man.
By the way there will be a few spoilers below. If you want to avoid that, go to the bottom of this guide for an at-a-glance, bulleted list of all the movies in order. Along with that list, we’ve compiled others, including one with the TV shows.
Captain America is the fifth Marvel Studios film, with Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor all having films before Cap. But it’s the first film on our list because the events take place first – during World War II. We see the creation of the super-soldier portrayed by Chris Evans, as well as his first battle with Hydra and its leader Red Skull. The film also introduces the Tesseract, which we later discover is the first Infinity Stone, one of the powerful gems that control reality.
The second film on our list hit theatresin 2019. In Captain Marvel, which is set in 1995, we see the titular hero Carol Danvers, played by Brie Larson, fall to Earth and begin a hunt for the shape-shifting Skrull aliens. There’s as much action here as there is nostalgia, especially if you’re a 90s kid, thanks to scenes with Blockbuster stores and even dial-up internet.
According to the official Marvel timeline, Iron Man takes place in 2010. It’s all about genius/inventor/philanthropist/playboy Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. He is captured by a terrorist organization, the leader of which wants the latest weapons system designed by Stark. However, Stark designs something even more powerful to help himself escape: The first Iron Man suit.
The second Iron Man picks up where the first left off: Tony Stark grappling with his Iron Man identity being revealed. The government wants the technology behind his suit, and when Stark refuses to hand it over, another weapons manufacturer shows he’s willing to do anything to get his hands on it. This film also introduces fellow Avengers the Black Widow and War Machine.
Note: Technically, you could watch The Incredible Hulk before Iron Man 2. Marvel said The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor all happen around the same time – though The Incredible Hulk released a couple years before the others. Confusing, we know. We’ve followed Marvel’s official guidance, however, and recommend you watch Iron Man 2 first for consistency purposes.
The Incredible Hulk follows Bruce Banner on the run from General Thunderbolt Ross and the US Military. Realising he can’t ever hope to control or contain the Hulk, Ross decides to create his own version of the Hulk using another soldier, but he quickly loses control. The Incredible Hulk stars Edward Norton, but Mark Ruffalo replaced him in 2012 and has been the big green man since.
The God of lightning has been banished to Earth from Asgard by his father Odin, all thanks to the trickery of Loki. In order to earn his powers back and control his hammer, Thor, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, must prove he’s worthy. Luckily, he meets a nice Earth scientist, played by Natalie Portman, who can help him set things right before Loki assumes total control of Asgard.