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I'm planning on rewatching the currently-released 5 Marvel films prior to seeing The Avengers. Has Marvel released any sort of official viewing order? Captain America seems like the hardest one for me to place in order with the rest. It takes place prior to the other films, but has the greatest number of references to the other films. So should it be watched first, or last? The rest of them are relatively clear, as they're chronological in the order they're released, with the possible exception of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 happening at the same time.

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11 Answers 11

up vote 58 down vote accepted

I would say order of release. Or in-universe chonologically.

You'd get the same story and it would just be your preference if you liked it better in a different order.

Personally I would go the order of release.

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Agreed. The only real purpose to watching them in release order is for the end credits (and perhaps the Iron Man reference in Thor). Other than that, there's little reason storyline-wise. – Chad Levy Jul 22 '11 at 23:55
Captain America was also hinted at in both Iron Man movies, the second much more easily spotted than the first. – Izkata Jul 24 '11 at 15:54
@izkata where in the first was the reference? – OghmaOsiris Jul 27 '11 at 4:56
Ah, so it's basically the same reference in both movies. – OghmaOsiris Aug 1 '11 at 14:47
Well, you can't exactly watch Iron Man 3 without having seen The Avengers, and by proxy, Thor and Captain America. – MyCodeSucks Dec 2 '13 at 22:55
up vote 108 down vote

This is an updated list of the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order of internal chronology (not release order); including shorts and other releases (feature films are in bold):

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Could this list be updated with the Marvel series/seasons/episodes/films that have come out since December of last year at some point? (new Daredevil, Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seasons, new Jessica Jones series). I'd do it myself if I could, but I'm not that good at figuring out the MCU's internal chronology :/ – nidunc Mar 25 at 16:54
I'm fairly certain Jessica Jones takes place before Age of Ultron, as the thing clearly on the minds of some people is "The Incident" which refers to the Battle of New York, and there's no real reference to the finale of AoU which you would expect otherwise. Hulk busted buildings in NYC all the way back in his own movie as well, so that's also what some New Yorkers would be referring back to as well. – Jimmy M. Apr 4 at 17:36
The Consultant takes place before the end of The Incredible Hulk. Coulson and the other Agent are talking about who to send to talk to Gen. Ross. That moment, following their decision, is the post-credits scene of The Incredible Hulk. – Paul L May 9 at 12:34
  1. Iron Man
  2. Iron Man 2
  3. Incredible Hulk (Hulk's campus rampage overlaps with Iron Man 2)
  4. Thor (end of Iron Man 2 overlaps with the middle-ish of Thor; Jane Foster's science partner references the experiment that created the Hulk)
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger (it can be assumed, from the post credits scene, that Nick Fury has already assembled the rest of the team; obviously if we are going in true chronological order, then you would watch the first 95% of this movie before Iron Man, and then the last bit after Thor)

Granted, watching them in this order or release date order won't change the experience I would say. But that is how they take place, chronologically.

EDIT To go even further, this site has a day-by-day breakdown of the events of the Marvel films.

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Did anybody else notice Tony Stark using Captain America's original shield to prop up a pipe in Iron Man 2, when he's making the new element? – BenjaminRH May 8 '12 at 9:14
The Capt'Ameria shield is also visible in Iron Man 1 in the background as Tony is trying to make excuses to Pepper when she finds him trying to get out of the suit > "You've caught me doing worse that this before" or something. – gingerbreadboy Jan 9 '13 at 13:23
Brett - can you please consider updating the answer with the latest movies? – DVK-in-exile May 9 '13 at 13:54
@DVK I've added an updated list in an answer below. – Reanimation Nov 30 '13 at 19:29
+1 for the link – o0'. May 21 '14 at 10:37

The Official Viewing Order

This is the intended viewing order by Marvel. (Movies are in bold.)

Phase One: "Avengers Assembled"

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
    • One-Shot: "The Consultant" (2011) (4 mins) (short movie on Thor Bluray -- set directly after The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2)
  • Thor (2011)
    • One-Shot: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer" (2011) (4 mins) (short movie on Captain America Bluray -- set directly before Thor (although it adds very little and makes more sense to watch afterwards))
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
    • One-Shot: "Agent Carter" (2013) (12 mins) (short movie on Iron Man 3 Bluray -- set directly after Captain America)
  • The Avengers (aka "Avengers Assemble") (2012)
    • One-Shot: "Item 47" (2012) (12 mins) (short movie on The Avengers Bluray -- set directly after The Avengers)

Phase Two

  • Iron Man Three (2013)
    • One-Shot: "All Hail The King" (2014) (12 mins) (short movie on Thor: The Dark World DVD/Bluray -- set directly after (and contains major spoilers for) Iron Man 3)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 1) - Up until The Hub (ep. 7)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 1) - The Well (ep. 8) to The End of the Beginning (ep. 16)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 1) - Rest of season
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 2) - Up until The Dirty Half Dozen (ep. 19)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 2) - Rest of season
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Jessica Jones (Season 1)
  • Agent Carter (Season 2)
  • Daredevil (Season 2)

Phase Three

  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 3) - Up until Failed Experiments (ep. 19)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 3) - Rest of season

Future releases:

  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (2018)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (2019)
  • Inhumans (20XX)

(* The only exceptions are with the "One-Shot" short movies, which were only "released" on Bluray editions of the main movies. I've placed these directly after the movies they relate to for ease of viewing.)

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It's completely different. Reanimation's answer (which I contributed to) is an internal chronology. This is the actual release order. – Django Reinhardt Aug 10 '14 at 23:22
1) You forgot about the shorts ("A funny thing happened on the way to New Mexico" and "The Consultant" ect.)2)Internal chronology order still has Captain America after Thor as the Cube falls through time and to Earth during the events of that film. Not to mention it starts in Contemporary verse with them finding the plane. – Brouellette Dec 1 '14 at 14:15
The shorts are all there. Check again. Also, you should make your point to the highest rated answer on this page about internal chronology, as I'm only making reference to that. – Django Reinhardt Dec 1 '14 at 18:08
I would not watch The Consultant until the character of Agent Sitwell gets introduced in Thor. Also the last couple of episodes of AoS season 2 should be seen after AoU. – ibid Nov 30 '15 at 17:53
@ibid I'll try to get the exact episode order – Django Reinhardt Dec 1 '15 at 11:00

I'd watch Iron Man before Iron Man 2, for the obvious reason. Other than that, watch them in whatever order you can get your hands on them. The references aren't particularly thick or important, they tend to rely more on general comic-book knowledge than the other films, and even if you don't know what they are you're unlikely to lose much enjoyment of the movie.

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I know it's a bit late, but there is someone who made a fan edit of all five movies, joining them together to make a single, 9-hour movie called Avengers Assemble. It edited the films together in (roughly) chronological order.

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lmao... Will this super long film be edited each time a Marvel movie comes out? – Kalissar Dec 1 '13 at 20:38

Personally I'm going with this order: Cap, IM1, IM2, Hulk, then Thor.

Part of Hulk is going on during IM2 (campus smash in on the screens while Fury is telling Stark he is only a consultant). Plus the end of Hulk has Stark saying they are putting together a team so IM2 ends before Hulk does. But Thor has begun before IM2 ends (Mjolnir after the credits). I feel its IM1, IM2, Hulk, Thor (end of Thor has Loki with the cosmic cube) but Cap is throwing me off. Yes Cap in in WWII so that should put it at the beginning of my viewing list, it is that last scene after the credits about "trying to save the world" that throws me off. IM1 ends with Fury admitting their are other super heroes out there and that the Avengers Initiative is already in place. So put Cap at the front of my list; Cap, IM1, IM2, Hulk, Thor, Avengers. The ending of Cpt America is actually a scene from the avengers

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The order is

  1. Captain America
  2. The Hulk
  3. Iron Man
  4. The incredible Hulk
  5. Iron Man 2
  6. Thor
  7. Avengers
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Thor 2
  10. Captain America: the winter soldier
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Can you expand your answer with your reasoning? – user1027 May 8 '12 at 3:05
I'm guessing this is based off of the released order, but it would be nice to know if there was another explanation. – PearsonArtPhoto May 28 '12 at 20:53
The Hulk is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cannon. – Dr R Dizzle Feb 2 '15 at 14:27

They are all stuffed up. The ends of all the movies don't match. But here is my info, and they are in order of how I might watch them before seeing the avengers movie :)

In Captain America, like, 90 or 95% is a flash back. The start and end are in 'our times' and in the end, in 'our time', he wakes up, and gets spoken to and stuff by Nick. Also - Captain America gets Howard Stark (Tony's - Iron Man's - dad,) to make the shield.

Iron Man 1, that's all good, at the end Nick talks to him, a bit.

But in Hulk there is some talk about the super solder serum (stuff that was used on Captain America) was the stuff used on Hulk. But it was clearly altered. At the end of the movie, Tony comes in and talks about this 'group' (Avengers) but if you were to watch it in the order I have it, it would be wrong-ish... because Tony doesn't get asked/told about the avengers group until the end of the second Iron Man..

In Iron Man 2 Tony sees more of Nick and at the end, Nick tells him about the Avengers, (S.H.I.E.L.D.), but when Nick is talking to Tony at the very end, if you look at the screens behind, you see the Hulk, bashing up stuff, the same stuff (same clip from the Hulk movie) and at the very very very end, the guys at S.H.I.E.L.D. find Thor's hammer.

In Thor you see alot of S.H.I.E.L.D, and at one point, you see HawkEye. (appears again in the Avengers movie) so this movie should be at the end of you list, because they talk about Steve (Capt. America)'s disappearance... (sleeping for like 70 years..) and when the 'destroyer' comes, one guy says he thinks it's Iron Man.

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“Tony doesn't get asked/told about the avengers group until the end of the second Iron Man” — really? I thought Nick Fury mentioned “the Avengers Initiative” in the post-credits scene of the first Iron Man movie. – Paul D. Waite Dec 1 '13 at 21:50

Here's the list I would go with:

Captain America: Just the fact that it does happen before everything. Even though it makes references to the other movies it makes the other ones much better to watch.

Iron Man: At the end you hear Nick talk about other heroes, and he can be referring to Cap.

Iron Man 2: You do see or hear references about Thor, like Agent Coulson has to leave to go check out something in the desert. And Hulk with the whole campus thing in the background.

Thor: For this is pretty tricky, the first 3 are a lock. It just depends on what viewpoint you want to go with, between Thor and the Hulk. During IM2, when Coulson leaves, it's way before the Campus thing. So Thor has a little edge over that one. If you want to go with the end scene to Thor and the Cosmic Cube, well they find it during Captain America. And at the end of IM2, you see the Hammer which everyone knows.

Hulk: He's such a badass you have to have him last. The super soldier serum didn't create the Hulk (more like the start of Abomination), as someone said above, but still a great reference to CA. Tony comes at the end to recruit, even though he's not on the team yet, but he's a consultant. I read somewhere a while ago that when the campus fight happens, a mysterious fog comes through, that's suppose to be Thor's doing.

So Capt. America, IM, IM2, Thor, Hulk = Avengers (in my opinion).

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The chronological order is

  1. Captain America
  2. Iron Man
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Thor
  5. The Incredible Hulk
  6. The Avengers

Per a posting on IMDB, here.

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Take that link with a grain of salt; it's nothing official, that's just a list one user (spikee5697) created. As such, it's not reliable as anything other than his opinion. – K-H-W Apr 24 '12 at 16:50

protected by Keen May 8 '12 at 3:00

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