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How to Watch the Entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in Order

You’re in luck, Marvel fans: (Almost) every MCU installment is now available to stream on Disney+.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is perhaps a little controversial in 2023. It’s come a long way since it began in 2008, spanning dozens of movies and TV shows and even incorporating elements from movies before its time. How’s a fan supposed to catch up?

Enter CableTV.com. We’re here to keep things in order with this complete overview of the MCU. Excelsior!

Where to watch the MCU

If you’re a Marvel fan, the main streaming service you need is Disney+. Most MCU titles are available on this list. However, Universal owns the film rights to the Hulk, so you can only find The Incredible Hulk on VOD. Sony still owns the film rights to Spider-Man, so those movies are split awkwardly between Disney+ and STARZ for the time being.

The adventure continues on Disney+

Fallen behind on Disney+ original content? New to the platform? Check out our Disney+ Originals guide to find your next favorite Disney show or movie.

How to watch the MCU in order

Almost every item on this list is available for streaming on Disney+. The only exceptions are The Incredible Hulk and the Spider-Man movies, which are co-owned by Universal and Sony, respectively, thanks to deals Marvel made prior to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s creation.

For the purposes of this list, we’re recommending the titles in release order. We’re also including Marvel One-Shots, which are short films meant to fill in some gaps (usually in a comedic way) between movies. These aren’t required viewing, per se, but they’re worth a look if you’re a completionist.

Phase One

The Marvel Cinematic Universe started in May 2008 with Iron Man. Phase One culminated in The Avengers, the first movie to see the MCU’s main cast all starring and interacting in one movie. This was totally groundbreaking in 2012—a corporate synergy not seen since the days of House of Mouse on Toon Disney.

This is also the first phase of what is now called “The Infinity Saga,” although it wasn’t called that at the time.

  1. Iron Man
  2. The Incredible Hulk*
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Thor
  5. One-Shot: The Consultant
  6. Captain America: The First Avenger
  7. One-Shot: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer
  8. The Avengers
  9. One-Shot: Item 47

*Available on VOD

Protip: If you want to watch in chronological order rather than release order, you get most of the work done by watching Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel before Iron Man, and Black Widow immediately after Captain America: Civil War. But no one’s even really sure about the Spider-Man timeline, so maybe it’s best not to worry about chronology anyways.

Phase Two

Phase Two handles the aftermath of The Avengers. Once the core heroes were established, the movies explore the characters a bit further and start setting the scene for Thanos to make an entrance in Phase Three.

  1. Iron Man 3
  2. One-Shot: Agent Carter
  3. Thor: The Dark World
  4. One-Shot: All Hail the King
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  7. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  8. Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron

Phase Three

Phase Three covers the Infinity Saga’s climax. The years of teasing Thanos and the Infinity Stones finally paid off in Avengers: Infinity War. The impact of that movie and its direct sequel, Endgame, forever changes most of the existing MCU characters’ stories.

  1. Captain America: Civil War
  2. One-Shot: Team Thor Part 1
  3. Doctor Strange
  4. One-Shot: Team Thor Part 2
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming*
  7. Thor: Ragnarok
  8. One-Shot: Team Darryl
  9. Black Panther
  10. Avengers: Infinity War
  11. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  12. Captain Marvel
  13. Avengers: Endgame
  14. Spider-Man: Far From Home*

*available on STARZ

Phase Four

Phase Four begins the “Multiverse Saga” and is the most bloated of the existing MCU phases, but don’t let that intimidate you. Unlike previous phases, the titles on this list aren’t that closely connected. There are some common threads; for example, WandaVision, Loki, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness all deal with time travel-y multiverse stuff. However, a lot of these titles were written and filmed simultaneously, so they didn’t really have time to learn from and reference each other. You can pretty much watch Phase Four of the MCU in any order.

The best watch strategy here, if you haven’t been following along, is to focus only on the titles that interest you. If you like the Scarlet Witch, watch WandaVision. If you like Loki, watch Loki. If you’re a comics fan (like this writer), you’d probably be pretty happy with Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, and Moon-Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

But if you want to be a total completionist? Well, good luck.

  1. WandaVision
  2. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
  3. Loki
  4. Black Widow
  5. What If…?
  6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  7. Eternals
  8. Hawkeye
  9. Spider-Man: No Way Home*
  10. Moon Knight
  11. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  12. Ms. Marvel
  13. Thor: Love and Thunder
  14. I Am Groot
  15. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
  16. Werewolf by Night
  17. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  18. The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
  19. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur**

*Available on VOD
**Hey, this is technically multiverse canon, probably!

Loki
Loki

Phase Five

Phase Five is ongoing, so we don’t know exactly how it will continue the Multiverse story, or even if these release dates are 100% correct. But we’ll keep you updated as we find out!

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Disney+, May 17)
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (in theaters, May 5)
  3. Secret Invasion (Disney+, June 21)
  4. What If…? season 2 (Disney+, 2023)
  5. Loki season 2 (Disney+, October 6)
  6. Echo (Disney+, November 29)
  7. The Marvels (in theaters, November 10)
  8. X-Men ‘97 (Disney+, 2023)
  9. Ironheart (Disney+, 2023)
  10. Blade (in theaters, 2024)
  11. Agatha: Coven of Chaos (Disney+, 2024)
  12. Daredevil: Born Again (Disney+, 2024)
  13. Captain America: New World Order (in theaters, 2024)
  14. Thunderbolts (in theaters, 2024)

MCU-adjacent shows and movies

The problem with keeping a single, standard canon across dozens of shows and movies is that sometimes, your plans change. Maybe you want to incorporate elements from movies you didn’t personally make, and sometimes you declare something canon only to walk back on it a few years later.

Such is the fate of many Marvel properties prior to the creation of Disney+. These titles aren’t necessarily required to understand the full MCU, but were canon at one point or another and are really good (mostly, if you ignore Inhumans).

For the sake of this writer’s sanity and time, we’re limiting this list to titles that have actually, materially crossed over with the MCU. But if Kevin Feige wants to go ahead and reference the X-Men movies or the Runaways TV show, we’re here for it.

The Spider-verse

With the popularity of the Spider-Verse comics and movies, Marvel Studios and Sony are finally coming around to reluctantly acknowledging each other’s movies. The most obvious example of this is Spider-Man: No Way Home, an MCU movie that brought in characters and actors from both Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies, which are both fully owned by Sony. (In contrast, Sony and Disney share the Tom Holland movies).

Recently, though, Sony let Disney+ have the streaming rights to all three Tobey Maguire movies. Unfortunately, this seems to have come at the cost of the Tom Holland movies, which are currently streaming only on STARZ.

  1. Spider-Man
  2. Spider-Man 2
  3. Spider-Man 3
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man 2*
  6. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  7. Venom*
  8. Into the Spider-Verse**
  9. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage*
  11. Spider-Man: No Way Home*
  12. Across the Spider-Verse***

*streaming on STARZ
**streaming on Fubo
***coming soon to theaters

Into the Spider-Verse
Into the Spider-Verse

The S.H.I.E.L.D.-verse

This one really hurts. When ABC first aired Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 2013, it was supposed to be a canon extension of the story from The Avengers. It starred Clark Gregg, whose character Phil Coulson was extremely important throughout Phase One of the MCU, and who even came back for the flashback-movie Captain Marvel in Phase Three.

However, despite the series running for seven years, Marvel axed it in 2020 and unofficially declared its events noncanon. Maybe this is because the show dealt with time travel before the rest of the MCU was ready for it—although honestly, the MCU has yet to stick to its own time travel rules, so S.H.I.E.LD. might as well be canon, as far as we’re concerned. Also, it’s really good, and way underappreciated by the general public.

S.H.I.E.L.D. saw two spinoffs of its own. The first was Agent Carter, which continued Peggy Carter’s story after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, and even crossed over with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in its later seasons.

The second was Inhumans, which was hypothetically supposed to continue the inhuman storylines from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, it didn’t do that at all, and it was really bad on top of that. Maybe that part of the MCU is better off forgotten.

  1. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  2. Agent Carter*
  3. Inhumans

*you should watch Agent Carter any point before the final season of S.H.I.E.L.D. Trust us!

The Defenders Saga, a.k.a. the Netflix shows

The Netflix Marvel shows are floating in a very murky purgatory right now. Like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they were produced before Disney+ and were originally made to be MCU canon. Unfortunately, the movies refused to acknowledge any of the TV shows, even though they supposedly shared a universe.

This saga is now technically a “legacy” story, although you see certain characters pop up in the MCU at times; both Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Wilson Fisk/Kingpin have appeared in a few of the MCU’s recent projects, and there’s a new Daredevil show, Born Again, coming down the line.

Unfortunately for die-hard fans, though, none of these recent projects recognize the Defenders Saga as canon, and we’ve yet to see Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or even Foggy Nelson again. We miss them dearly.

  1. Daredevil
  2. Jessica Jones
  3. Luke Cage
  4. Iron Fist
  5. The Defenders
  6. Punisher
  7. Spider-Man: No Way Home*
  8. Hawkeye*
  9. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law*

*MCU canon, cameos only

What to watch before the next Marvel movie

What to watch before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 premiered in theaters on May 5. You don’t need to watch any Phase Four titles or Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania to understand this movie, but it’s the end of a franchise, so you should be familiar with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Not caught up on Peter Quill’s adventures in space? Here’s every MCU appearance his crew has had so far:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Avengers: Endgame
  5. Thor: Love and Thunder*
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
  7. I Am Groot**

*Optional, cameo only
**This miniseries is just for funsies

What to watch before Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is coming to Disney+ on May 17. If you’re behind on MCU films, don’t worry; you don’t have to watch all 900 Marvel movies to keep up. Here’s every Ant-Man-adjacent title you should watch if you haven’t already:

  1. Ant-Man
  2. Captain America: Civil War*
  3. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  4. Avengers: Endgame*
  5. Loki**

*Optional, as Scott Lang is only a supporting character
**Okay, Ant-Man’s not in this one, but it’s still crucial to understand Quantumania

What to watch before The Marvels

The Marvels is coming to theaters on November 10, and we couldn’t be more excited. Ironically, the “Marvel” side of the MCU is less developed than other parts, so there are really only three titles you need to watch before the new movie. Each one introduces one of the movie’s three main characters: Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan.

Luckily for you, these are also three of Marvel’s best MCU installments.

  1. Captain Marvel
  2. WandaVision
  3. Ms. Marvel

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