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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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What's the best way to have this question get up-to-date answers? I'm sure more Marvel films came out since 2012. Should I post an edit? A bounty? Meta Q? Chat? –  DVK Oct 21 '13 at 14:01
@DVK Bounty with reason of "Current answers are outdated". –  Keen Oct 21 '13 at 15:04
We also now have Agents of SHIELD, which overlaps with Thor 2 –  Izkata Dec 1 '13 at 22:26
Why is this question very much popular? –  S S Apr 13 '14 at 14:33
@SachinShekhar - 171K Views and counting. Crazy popular. –  Richard Apr 13 '14 at 22:07

11 Answers 11

up vote 33 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

This is an updated list of the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in order of internal chronology; including shorts and other releases (feature films are in bold):

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How does the Hulks campus rampage overlap with Iron Man 2? Stack Tech on the humvees? –  Lego Stormtroopr Feb 27 '14 at 1:53
@LegoStormtroopr If I remember correctly(will need to verify), when Tony Stark is in his tower and agent Coulson visits, footage of the rampage is on tv behind stark and the experiment is referenced. There's also a post-credit scene where Stark meets the general and criticises the super soldier program. –  Reanimation Feb 27 '14 at 16:33
Some thoughts: Doesn't Stark become "The Consultant" at the end of Iron Man 2? And doesn't Gen. Ross refer to said consultant during The Incredible Hulk? If so, does that mean IM2 comes before TIH? And that "The Consultant" goes directly after TIH? –  Django Reinhardt Oct 30 '14 at 14:15
Indeed, this timeline backs up what I just wrote: marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline –  Django Reinhardt Oct 31 '14 at 19:03
  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 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 –  Lohoris May 21 '14 at 10:37

This is the order in which Marvel has released things, which is, for all intents and purposes, the "intended" viewing order. The one exception is with the Marvel "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.

I've also included a list of the known upcoming titles as well:

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 spoilers for) Iron Man 3)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 1) - Pilot (ep. 1) to 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) - Turn, Turn, Turn (ep. 17) to Beginning of the End (ep. 22)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Agents of SHIELD (Season 2) (currently ongoing)
  • Agent Carter (Season 1) (currently ongoing)

Future releases:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Phase Three

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2018)
  • Inhumans (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (2019)

You can also view these in their internal chronology order, but there seems little value in watching Captain America first just because it (mostly) takes place in the 40s.

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This seems identical, with 1 small addition, to Reanimation's answer. –  PearsonArtPhoto Aug 10 '14 at 23:21
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
I was just looking at the end, which is the same, but I see now they are quite different... Sigh. –  PearsonArtPhoto Aug 10 '14 at 23:23
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'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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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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Captain America's name is Steve, not Bruce... –  childcat15 Dec 1 '13 at 18:07
“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 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? –  Keen 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 at 14:27

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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