Marvel Movies In Chronological & Release Order
Whether you're a dedicated Marvel fan or new to the world of capes and tights, the Marvel films offer superheroes and supervillains in true, blockbusting style. However, the timelines in the films have a habit of jumping around, which, for newbies, can make things confusing. If you want to watch the Marvel movies in order of their storylines and gain a greater appreciation of the Marvel movies in order of release date, then buckle up.
1) Captain America: The First Avenger
Set in 1942, this kicks off the Marvel superhero concept, introducing us to Captain America. Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, is something of a weakling until he's injected with a strength-inducing super-serum. With his iconic vibranium shield, he sets off to halt the Nazi onslaught, spearheaded by the nefarious Red Skull. During his final battle, Rogers crashes a plane into the Arctic, where he's frozen for 70 years before being revived in the 21st Century.
2) Captain Marvel
We’re in 1995 for the Captain Marvel origin story. Starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, it begins by introducing us to a member of Starforce, Vers. Vers is suffering from amnesia. On being kidnapped by the villainous Skrulls, she discovers that she is, in fact, an ex-air force pilot, Carol Danvers and is gifted with superpowers. After battling the shapeshifting Skrulls, Danvers is recruited by Nick Fury, the founder of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD). He christens her ‘Captain Marvel’ and takes the first step to drafting superhumans to defend Earth.
3) Iron Man
Jump forward 15 years, and we're in 2010, where billionaire genius, Tony Stark, is kidnapped by terrorists and forced to build weapons of unimaginable destruction. Instead, he uses his brilliance to create a technologically advanced suit of armour and escapes his captors. After battling the villainous Obadiah Stane, who has developed a similar suit of armour, the name ‘Iron Man’ is bandied around by the Press. However, Stark’s mouth is as big as his ego, and he reveals his secret identity to the world. Nick Fury recruits him for the ongoing Avengers Initiative.
4) Iron Man 2
Set just a year later, Stark is being pressured by the government to release his technological secrets. With the Russians also aware of his existence, it doesn't take long before they develop their own version of the Iron Man suit. After another battle, Stark defeats Vanko and saves the day. However, because of his complex personality, Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson) tells him that SHIELD will only use him in a consultative capacity.
5) The Incredible Hulk
Also taking place in 2011, The Incredible Hulk traces the origin of ol' greenskin. His alter-ego, Dr Bruce Banner (played by Edward Norton), takes part in an experiment to make humans immune to gamma radiation. However, it goes wrong, and whenever Banner becomes stressed or angry, he transforms into the jade giant. Another gamma-spawned creature, The Abomination, hunts him down but is beaten. Fearing what the monster inside could do to his loved ones, Banner flees to British Columbia.
Another one set in 2011, Thor tells the story of the God of Thunder (played by Chris Hemsworth) who, exiled from Asgard, must live among humankind on Earth, powerless. His treacherous half-brother, Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), sets out to kill Thor, wreaking havoc on Earth. Facing death, Thor proves himself worthy to wield his magic hammer and is reinstated in Asgard, having defeated Loki.
7) The Avengers
A year later, we're in 2012. Loki's back and has allied with the alien Chitauri in a bid to vanquish the Earth. Nick Fury assembles the planet's mightiest heroes in the forms of Iron Man, the Hulk (this time played by Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), Thor, Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson), and Captain America. Despite saving the world, the Avengers are unaware that a more powerful force is looking to destroy them.
8) Iron Man 3
The third of the Iron man Marvel movies in order of chronology, this one sees Stark pitted against the malevolent Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley). However, the Mandarin is a stooge for the scientist Aldrich Killian, who plans to install himself as a puppet master for all the world's governments. After Killian is defeated, Stark considers retiring from his role as Iron Man.
9) Thor: The Dark World
It’s 2013, and Thor must form an uneasy alliance with his half-brother, Loki, to defend both Earth and Asgard from the Dark Elves. During the ensuing battle, Loki sacrifices himself to help Thor escape back to their home. There, Thor tells his father, Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins), of Loki's death. However, unbeknownst to Thor, his half-brother is very much alive and plotting more mayhem.
10) Captain America: The Winter Soldier
It's 2014, and Captain America is struggling to adapt to life in the 21st Century. However, an attack on SHIELD threatens to jeopardise the entire planet. Teaming up with the Black Widow and Falcon (played by Sam Wilson), the heroes must uncover a web of intrigue and deceit. However, the biggest surprise of all comes in the form of Cap's old buddy, Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan), who has been resurrected as a villainous assassin.
11) Guardians of the Galaxy
One of the more fun-filled films on this list of Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy follows the adventures of Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt. Also known as Star-Lord, Quill joins forces with Drax the Destroyer (played by Dave Bautista), Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), a talking tree called Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and a bounty-hunting racoon, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Their adventures see them zipping across the universe in a bid to prevent the insane Ronan from using an Infinity Stone to destroy the galaxy.
12) Guardians of the Galaxy 2
After saving the galaxy only months earlier, the Guardians are back and a name to be reckoned with. However, Quill's father, Ego (played by Kurt Russell), is revealed to be an almost god-like alien creature known as a Celestial. Ego is looking for his son to activate an energy that will give him power over thousands of planets. Ego is killed in an explosion, but we learn of an artificial being, Adam, who is prepared to destroy the Guardians.
13) Avengers: Age of Ultron
If you’re watching Marvel movies in order of storylines, this one takes place in 2015. After recovering Loki's sceptre, Stark and Banner discover it houses an artificial intelligence and decide to upload it into an artificial body named Ultron. However, Ultron develops the idea that the only way to save Earth is to destroy mankind. Ultron is destroyed, but his body is used to upload a new intelligence in the form of the Vision (played by Paul Bettany).
Back in the Eighties, scientist Hank Pym resigned from SHIELD after discovering that they were trying to duplicate the technology he'd developed, causing things to shrink. Fast forward to 2015, Pym's house is burgled by the thief Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), and the secret Ant-Man suit stolen. However, the whole thing has been engineered by Pym to encourage Lang to become the new Ant-Man and retrieve some technology from his old business partner. After successfully rescuing the Yellowjacket suits, Lang is scouted to become part of the Avengers Initiative.
15) Captain America: Civil War
2016 isn't a good year to be an Avenger. The heroes are under pressure from the government to subscribe to the Hero Registration Act, effectively making them political weapons and accountable for their acts. This divides the team to the point where they engage in toe-to-toe war. However, Stark discovers that Captain America's old friend, Bucky Barnes, might be caught up in the whole mess. With all roads leading back to the sinister organisation, HYDRA, the Avengers must unite to defeat a threat from within.
16) Spider-Man: Homecoming
Witty, slick, and packed with all the action you might expect from any film on a list of Marvel movies, Spider-Man: Homecoming introduces us to the teenage superhero, Peter Parker, played by Tom Holland. Bitten by a radioactive spider, Parker becomes Spider-Man. Meanwhile, collateral damage clean-up operative Adrian Toomes discovers some alien tech in the wreckage of the Avengers' inter-team battles. He uses this to develop a suit that allows him to fly and becomes the Vulture, whose plan is to steal weaponry from the superheroes. After beating Toomes, Parker is asked to join the Avengers but decides not to.
17) Doctor Strange
Of all the films on this chronological list of Marvel movies, Dr Strange is the first to span two years. Taking place between 2016 and 2017, we meet Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a talented but arrogant surgeon. After injuring his hands in a car crash, he seeks alternative therapies and is led to Kamar-Taj. There, under the tutelage of Mordo, the Ancient One, and Wong, he learns to harness mystical energy, becoming a 21st Century sorcerer. On learning that the mysterious Dark Dimension is set to engulf Earth, Strange must reluctantly join forces with his old mentors to prevent the unthinkable.
18) Black Widow
While Stephen Strange is busy dealing with the Dark Dimension, Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow, is busy dealing with the Taskmaster (played by Olga Kurylenko). As a Black Widow, Romanoff is a former KGB agent. However, there are other Black Widows, all unwittingly under the control of the Taskmaster. Romanoff contacts the Avengers to help free them but finds herself having to work alone. Scarlett Johansen’s first solo outing as the eponymous heroine, it’s one of the best in the canon.
19) Black Panther
While Natasha Romanoff is busy dealing with the Taskmaster, the Black Panther takes us to Wakanda, where the king has died. Returning to his homeland, T’Challa is next in line for the throne. However, he’s challenged by M’Baku, which sets an unforeseen chain of events in motion. Another claim to the throne sees T’Challa fighting for his life. After ingesting alien herbs, he is restored and granted superhuman abilities. However, the mysterious Killmonger is equally strong as the two battle to the death.
20) Thor: Ragnarok
Also set in 2017, Thor: Ragnarok sees the God of Thunder pitted against a friend. While searching for his father, and with the destruction of Asgard imminent, Thor crash lands on the planet, Sakaar. There, he finds himself at the mercy of the Grandmaster (played by Jeff Goldblum), who commands him to fight as a gladiator in his Contest of Champions. However, his opponent is none other than the Incredible Hulk. After an exhausting and explosive battle, Thor manages to trick the Hulk into transforming back into Bruce Banner, and the two set off to save Asgard. Despite their best efforts, they are too late, and Thor decides to take the remaining Asgardians to Earth.
21) Ant-Man and the Wasp
If you’re making your way through this list of Marvel movies in order, then it's been two years since we were introduced to Scott Lang. In this second film, Lang receives a message from the Quantum Realm, suggesting that's where his missing wife is being held. With only two hours to save her, Lang and his daughter, Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly), must work fast. However, a black market dealer named Sonny Burch has his eye on the miniaturising technology and does everything in his power to stop them.
22) Avengers: Infinity War
While Ant-Man was busy in the Quantum Realm, the arch-villain Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) was hunting for the Infinity Stones. He plans to collect them all, activate the Infinity Gauntlet, and destroy half the life in the universe, believing it to be for the greater good. All the Marvel superheroes unite to meet him in a galactic battle. However, they're unsuccessful, and Thanos obliterates half of all the living beings in existence, including many of the Avengers.
23) Avengers: Endgame
The fourth in the Avengers series, Endgame, covers the period between 2018 and 2023. Tony Stark is rescued from deep space and, with the remaining superheroes, fashions a plan to reverse Thanos' actions. Building a time machine, they travel back to 2012 and retrieve the Infinity Stones. During the rescue, the Black Widow is killed, and during the final battle with Thanos, so is Iron Man. Steve Rogers retires from the Avengers, making Falcon the new Captain America.
24) Spider-Man: Far From Home
Eight months after everything has been restored to normal, Peter Parker and his chums are on a school trip to Venice. However, Nick Fury has other ideas and diverts the vacationers to Prague, where Spider-Man encounters the apparently heroic Mysterio (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). However, there’s more to Mysterio than meets the eye, and he has ideas of revenge on the late Tony Stark.
25) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
With the death of King T’Challa, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright), M’Baku (played by Winston Duke), Okoye (played by Danai Gurira), and the Dora Milaje must unite to protect their kingdom against the forces that seek to mine their vibranium. Aided and abetted by Prince Namor of Atlantis (played by Tenoch Huerta), they must use all the resources available to them.
26) Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
While there’s no hard-and-fast date attached to this film’s place in the MCU timeline, it’s definitely set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, so it’s safe to assume that it's somewhere around 2023. Starring Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, we're taken on a journey from 1,000 years before the present day. Once an unwilling assassin, Shang-Chi runs away to San Francisco to start a new life. However, the shadowy Ten Rings organisation turns up, sending our hero into the dimension of Ta Lo, where he must face the immortal Xu Wenwu.
Around the same time as Shang-Chi's adventures, Eternals charts the discovery that we've been living with a race of alien protectors. However, their less-than-pleasant counterparts are all set to wipe out humankind. Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie, and Lia McHugh, it's one of Marvel's more existential outings.
28) Spider-Man: No Way Home
We meet Spidey somewhere in 2024. With his secret identity now public knowledge, his life has become more complicated than ever. He asks Dr Strange to cast a spell to remove this information from everyone's minds. However, magic has consequences and villains from alternate universes, such as the Green Goblin (played by Willem Dafoe) and Dr Octopus (played by Alfred Molina), are back on his tail. Help comes in the unlikeliest of forms. Think Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield, and you get the idea.
29) Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Hot off the back of helping out everyone’s favourite webslinger, we find Dr Strange trying to tidy up the effects of that ill-fated spell. With more baddies popping up from other alternate realities, Strange seeks out the help of the Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen. A darker chapter in Strange's stories, this film flips between universes in a fast and furious fashion.
30) Thor: Love and Thunder
Way back in the first Thor film, the God of Thunder fell in love with Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman. Circumstances conspired against them, and it looked like she'd never be seen again. However, courtesy of Thor's mighty hammer, she's back and with the same abilities as her one-time boyfriend. With Gorr, the God Butcher (played by Christian Bale), slaying deities right, left, and centre, the two need to patch up their differences to defeat him.
Now that you know how to watch the Marvel movies in order of chronology, building up to Avengers: Endgame, it’s time to learn how to watch Marvel movies in order of release. While this won't dampen your enjoyment of the individual films, you might miss out on the gigantic arc that made them so famous. To make things easy, here's a list of Marvel movies in the order they hit the cinemas:
Iron Man (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The Avengers (2012)
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)
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 (July 2018)
Captain Marvel (March 2019)
Avengers: Endgame (April 2019)
Spider-Man: Far From Home (June 2019)
Black Widow (July 2021)
Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings (September 2021)
Eternals (November 2021)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (December 2021)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 2022)
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 2022)
Black Panther Wakanda Forever (November 2022)
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