Across over a decade and a frankly stupid number of films, TV shows, web series, and one-shots, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has sprawled in size, and even for the most ardent Marvel fans it’s a serious challenge to a) actually watch everything, and b) keep your head around the timeline.
With that in mind, we’ve done our best to put together a chronological timeline of the Marvel movies, shows, and more, so you know which order to watch the Marvel movies in. For the moment, watching them in chronological order arguably makes more sense than watching in the jumbled release date order, but that may change soon: 2019’s Captain Marvel will be set in the ‘90s, but we suspect it may tease or even spoil all sorts of later stuff, so might not end up being the best film to watch before most of the others.
There are a couple of other disclaimers. First up, the timeline gets more and more complex as it goes on, so it gets harder to order the films perfectly. For example, Doctor Strange begins just before Captain America: Civil War, but takes a time jump and ends way after it, while Black Panther kicks off shortly after Civil War, but the whole story likely plays out before the bulk of Doctor Strange, making it trickier to say which to watch first.
It doesn’t help that Marvel also sort of broke its own timeline. There are a few little inconsistencies dotted around the place, but the most egregious is Spider-Man: Homecoming, which claims to take place eight years after the New York attack in the first Avengers. That would set the film in 2020 - two years after 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s a pretty minor gaffe in the scheme of things, but it’s a reminder not to take the MCU’s chronological timeline too seriously - even Marvel itself can’t keep it all straight, so as long as you watch things in about the right order you’ll be fine.
So without further ado, here’s our chronological ordering of the Marvel film universe as it stands right now. The films are in italics, to make it easier if you only care about them and aren’t fussed about keeping the TV shows straight too.
We've also tried our best to split everything up into Marvel's 'phases', but there are some grey areas: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was made within Phase Three, but is set almost immediately after its predecessor, while some of the TV shows sit awkwardly between the different movie phases.
Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline
Phase One films and shows
Captain America: The First Avenger
Agent Carter (seasons one and two)
Agent Carter (one-shot — Iron Man 3 DVD/Blu-ray)
Iron Man 2
The Incredible Hulk
The Consultant (one-shot — Thor DVD/Blu-ray)
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Thor’s Hammer (one-shot — Captain America: The First Avenger DVD/Blu-ray)
Phase Two films and shows
Item 47 (one-shot — Avengers DVD/Blu-ray)
Iron Man 3
All Hail the King (one-shot – Thor: The Dark World DVD/Blu-ray)
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)
Phase Three films and shows
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)
Cloak and Dagger (season one)
Luke Cage (season two)
Agents of Shield (season five, episodes 1 — 19)
Agents of Shield (season five, episodes 20 - 22)