How to Watch the Marvel Movies in Preparation for Phase Four (By Chronology and Release Date)

By Robert Gamble

As the release of the highly anticipated Black Widow film lies just around the corner (May 7th, 2021), the dawn of a new Marvel Cinematic era is fast approaching with Phase Four.

Since the very first time Tony Stark uttered those famous words, “I am Iron Man,” back in 2008, the world has never been the same–ours included! Since then, Marvel Studios has become a multibillion-dollar film studio with several titles featured on the highest-grossing movies of all-time list. In 2019, the Avengers: Endgame marked the conclusion of an 11 year, three phase long story. Its release surpassed James Cameron’s blockbuster 2009 hit, Avatar, for a lifetime gross amounting to nearly three billion dollars to date. 

Recently, the Disney+ exclusive series, WandaVision, has received much praise from critics and fans alike. The show offers us the first glimpse we have had into phase four and it looks promising, to say the least. Despite its success, many audience members have criticized the show as being hard-to-follow for those who have not been invested in the MCU over the past decade. So, for those of you looking to begin your journey MCU for the first time–into a world where limits are undefined and power has no limits–or for those of you who simply want to get lost in the beautiful storytelling of Marvel all over again, you have come to the right place. I’m going to break down how to watch all the Marvel movies in order (chronologically and by release date). So, are you ready to begin?

Marvel Movies in Chronological Order of Events 

Captain America: The First Avenger 

Although this film may not have been the first one released, its timeline begins in 1940 as it tells the story of a young boy from Brooklyn who finds himself thrust into the U.S. government’s supersoldier program where he gains the title of “Captain America”. 

Captain Marvel 

Don’t let this movie’s 2019 release date fool you, the events of Captain Marvel take place in 1995. This movie tells the story of Marvel’s “most powerful superhero”, Carol Danvers, a U.S. Air Force Pilot who, in a freak accident, attains the power of an infinity stone. The story takes place a few years after her accident when she is enlisted as a soldier for the Kree military with one objective: destroy the Skrulls. 

Iron Man 

This was the first movie released in Phase One of the MCU timeline. The story takes place with the self-absorbed tech mogul Tony Stark being captured by terrorists and forced to make destructive weapons. 

The Incredible Hulk 

This movie takes place right after the events of Iron Man and tells the story of scientist Bruce Banner seeking the cure to his gamma radiation poisoning that uncontrollably turns him into The Hulk. 

Iron Man 2 

Now that the world is familiar with Iron Man, the world pressures him to share his secrets for the government to replicate–secrets he feels will only hurt more people. 

Thor 

The events of Thor bring the Norse gods into the MCU. Although he is to inherit the throne of Asgard and subsequent leadership of the Nine Realms, from his father Odin, Thor’s ignorance causes him to be banished to Earth. 

The Avengers 

In order to face the world’s greatest threats Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D, initiates the search for a team of the Earth’s mightiest heroes who are tasked with stopping an alien invasion in New York City. 

Iron Man 3 

This movie takes place directly after the events of The Avengers film where we see the traumatic aftermath play a heavy toll on Tony Stark (Iron Man). 

Thor: The Dark World 

As the sequel film to Thor, this film focuses on a race known as the Dark Elves who to regain “the Aether” a dangerous weapon with the capability to level universes.  

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

This movie focuses on the life of Captain America after the attack on New York in the first Avengers film. We follow him and Black Widow as they work with S.H.I.E.L.D. to take down a mysterious threat. 

Guardians of the Galaxy 

Far away from the events on planet Earth, this movie takes place with the space adventurer, Peter Quill, stealing an orb that is coveted by one of the most powerful beings in the universe. In order to fight back, an unlikely alliance forms amongst a strange group of misfits. 


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

The events of this movie take place almost immediately after Guardians of the Galaxy and follow the newly established “Guardians” as they uncover the mystery of Peter’s lineage. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron 

This movie focuses on the aftermath of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and shows the team faces their greatest threat to date: Artificial Intelligence (to the extreme). 

Ant-Man

Taking place almost concurrently with the events of Age of Ultron, in order to prevent his competitor from achieving dangerous technology, Dr. Hank Pym recruits thief Scott Lang to become Ant-Man. The suit gives him the ability to shrink, control ants, and possess superhuman strength. 

Captain America: Civil War

Following the aftermath of Age of Ultron, many begin to question whether the Avengers’ existence is a danger in itself. The United Nations calls for the order which splits the team apart, causing a superhero civil war. 

Spider-Man: Homecoming 

This movie follows the events of Captain America: Civil War as young Peter Parker explores his newfound powers on the streets of New York City, under the mentorship of Tony Stark. 

Black Panther 

This movie introduces us to Wakanda, a hidden African civilization that is the most advanced on the entire planet. The story follows T’Challa as he deals with the challenges and responsibilities that come with the title of king. 

Doctor Strange 

The events of Doctor Strange span nearly an entire year, between 2016 and 2017 as Dr. Stephen Strange learns about the mystical reality that lies beyond Earth, and the threats that exist within it. 

Thor: Ragnarok 

This movie takes place concurrently with the events of Doctor Strange and showcases Thor’s growth as a superhero and leader for the Asgardian people when the throne is questioned by his sister Hela, the goddess of death. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp 

Although it was released after Avengers: Infinity War, the events of this film take place just before it. With Scott Lang on house arrest from the events in Captain America: Civil War, we follow the Pym family as they try to reconnect with the “lost” mother. 

Avengers: Infinity War 

This movie synthesizes all the characters we have met so far in the MCU. The storylines of all your favorite characters will intertwine and come together for the ultimate battle against the multi galactic threat, Thanos. 

Avengers: Endgame 

Five years after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, this film picks up with Scott Lang as he struggles to adjust to a world that is entirely different from when he left it during an expedition into the quantum realm. This story follows our heroes as they attempt to reverse the effects of Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War

Spider-Man: Far from Home 

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, this film brings us right up to the present (for them five years into the future). This film follows Spider-Man as he attempts to save the world, all while on a high school vacation.  

Marvel Movies by Release Date 

Phase One:

Iron Man – May 2, 2008

The Incredible Hulk – June 13, 2008

Iron Man 2 – May 7, 2010

Thor – May 6, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger – July 22, 2011

The Avengers – May 4, 2012

Phase Two:

Iron Man 3 – May 3, 2013

Thor: The Dark World – November 8, 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1, 2014

Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015

Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

Phase Three:

Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016

Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017

Black Panther – February 16, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War – April 27, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018

Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019

Avengers: Endgame – April 26, 2019

Spider-Man: Far from Home – July 2, 2019 

*All films can be found on Disney+ as well as other platforms; happy binging!!!

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