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As winter turns to spring, a young nerd's thoughts may turn from the brightly-blossoming trees and unfamiliar sunshine, towards the warm and familiar embrace of a Marvel Cinematic Universe re-watch in anticipation of the plucky low-budget upcoming feature presentation Avengers: Endgame.

The original release order probably makes most sense, but thanks to the vagaries of release scheduling, it can lead to some of the background story threads being a bit disjointed.

For example, the mid-credits scene of Thor: The Dark World directly foreshadows Guardians of the Galaxy, but when watching in release order we go straight to the mostly-unrelated Winter Soldier. Similarly, T’Challa is introduced in Civil War, but then we have four other movies before we see him again, right before Infinity War (in which he doesn't have a particularly big role).

Is there an order for watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that keeps related plot threads closer together?

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    I fail to see how this isn't a dupe of the linked question which whilst asks for the official order the answers give several different orders. Also "better" is entirely subjective so if not a dupe this is borderline (and only borderline because it's suggested-order) POB.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Apr 3, 2019 at 14:23
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    This must either be a dupe or is primarily opinion based, as "better order" is entirely subjective...
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 3, 2019 at 14:32
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    @Edlothiad: I don't think "better order" is entirely subjective. You can explain what's better about one order as compared to another. Personal preferences will vary, but with 21 released movies and counting, I think it's a potentially useful subject. Apr 3, 2019 at 14:45
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    Suggested order questions are always going to be "opinion based" but as a community we decided they are acceptable. The only close argument I see here is as a duplicate, so it is just a matter if you agree with the OP or not since this isn't asking for an "official" order.
    – Skooba
    Apr 3, 2019 at 14:49
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    But I ask you: if we don't step up and produce the canonical answer to this question, who will? Look at this incoherent mess that Screenrant belched up: screenrant.com/marvel-movies-rewatch-order The internet deserves better! Apr 3, 2019 at 15:39

1 Answer 1

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Some slight changes from the original release order put crossover scenes/events closer to their eventual pay-off, without confusing the in-universe chronology any more than it already is.

Movies pulled forward from their original release order are marked in bold:

  1. Iron Man
  2. Iron Man 2
  3. The Incredible Hulk
  4. Thor
  5. Captain America: The First Avenger
  6. The Avengers
  7. Thor: The Dark World
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. Iron Man 3
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  12. Ant-Man
  13. Captain America: Civil War
  14. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  15. Black Panther
  16. Black Widow (but move the post-credit scene after Endgame)
  17. Doctor Strange
  18. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  19. Thor: Ragnarok
  20. Avengers: Infinity War
  21. Captain Marvel
  22. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  23. Avengers: Endgame
  24. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Defend!

Iron Man 2

As noted elsewhere, one of the last scenes in Iron Man 2 includes news footage from the university incident in The Incredible Hulk, suggesting that the climax of Hulk happens after Iron Man 2. Tony's pre-credit appearance in Hulk works just as well if we assume he's visiting General Ross in his capacity as a consultant on the Avengers Initiative.

In addition, Iron Man 2 opens with Tony's press conference at the end of Iron Man playing live on TV in Ivan Vanko's apartment, then skips forward six months, so it flows quite nicely after Iron Man.

Thor 2 and Guardians 1

Thor: The Dark World begins (Dark Elves flashback excepted) with Loki being brought back to Asgard as a prisoner, allowing us to see the immediate fallout of The Avengers.

Its mid-credits scene features the Collector, so it's nice to follow it with Guardians of the Galaxy to get immediate pay-off there, and to keep the space-based movies together.

Nothing in Thor 2 or Guardians spoils anything in Iron Man 3 or Winter Soldier, which are both set on earth, and have some thematic parallels.

Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Black Widow

Spider-Man: Homecoming and Black Panther can slot in immediately after Civil War, so that we get to know the new characters — Spider-Man, in particular, follows on directly from that character's involvement in the airport fight, and Black Panther’s post-credit sequence pays off Civil War’s mid-credits sequence. Black Widow also follows closely after the events of Civil War.

As long as we skip the Black Widow post-credits scene and slot it in after Endgame, nothing in these movies particularly affects the post-Civil-War in-universe chronology (even though Black Widow came out five… years… later), and this order also:

  • puts the Doctor Strange mid-credits sequence closer to its payoff in Thor: Ragnarok, and the movie as a whole closer to the appearances by some of its characters in Infinity War and Endgame;
  • leaves the tonally-similar space-based Guardians 2 and Ragnarok right next to each other; and
  • means the Ragnarok mid-credits sequence is followed immediately (well, after a short Goldblum comedy interlude) by its payoff in Avengers: Infinity War.

Captain Marvel

After the post-credits scene of Infinity War, we can meet Carol straight away, then spend time with Ant-Man right before his fairly large role in Endgame.

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    Personally, I'd move Captain Marvel even earlier, somewhere between the 2 GotG movies. Mainly because GotG2 kind of majorly spoils the twist in Captain Marvel re: the Kree vs. Skrull. Also it makes her appearance in Endgame a little less Deus ex Machina to establish her earlier in the series. May 2, 2019 at 15:18
  • @DarrelHoffman: I did think about that (Captain Marvel: The Second Avenger!), but the mid-credits scene comes right between Infinity War and Endgame, so it can’t really go anywhere else. Aside from that, you’re spot on, it can pretty much go in anywhere. I think you’re thinking of Guardians 1 somewhat tipping the Kree/Skrull thing, rather than Vol. 2. May 2, 2019 at 16:05
  • Yeah, I don't count the end credit scenes as part of the movie really. If you could somehow move the movie earlier but keep the end credits where they are, it would solve that issue. Kree/Skrull comes up in Guardians 1, but it's much more of a major plot point in 2. But I wouldn't put Captain Marvel before Guardians 1 because that one was really the best one to introduce the space-themes into the series. May 2, 2019 at 16:25
  • @DarrelHoffman: they're certainly non-essential, although they are a signature feature of the MCU. I think you're wrong about Guardians 2 though — the Skrulls aren't mentioned at all, and the Kree get a few fairly off-hand mentions that basically refer to their grudge against the Guardians from the first movie, where Ronan is the antagonist (which is what spoils the Captain Marvel reveal of the Kree being maybe not so great). May 2, 2019 at 16:45
  • In terms of flow, I think it easiest to argue for Captain Marvel's after the first Captain America, to explain where the Tesseract was between 1945 and Avengers, and to set up Project Pegasus. May 2, 2019 at 16:46

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