The shared universe in popular entertainment is nothing new. It goes back decades in comic books, although it wasn’t truly defined as such until the 1970s. The essential way to look at it is, if fictional character A meets fictional character B, then B meets C, then A and C (and everyone else they know) live in the same shared universe.
You seen it to the Nth degree in media franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, even Godzilla and the Universal Films monsters. It’s even on TV with shows like Law and Order and Cheers and All in the Family, which have sequels galore. Currently, the finest example with superheroes is The CW’s Arrow-verse.
No company has better pulled off a shared universe with a cohesive set of stories all told by completely different directors, writers, and stars, than the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s the crown jewel of shared universes, with 23 films thus far and more on the way (eventually). They may not all be telling the exact same story, but the different phases certainly built up to the monolithic double shot of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 and Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
Now, as you sit at home and wonder how to fill your days, every single one of them is streaming online. We’re here to tell you how to watch them in the proper order, which depends on what you consider proper.
You can go with the Order of Release option, which is how the die-hard fans did it, because we can’t wait. If you’re not a fan of jumping around in space and time, check out the Chronological Order, because some of the films have flashbacks or time jumps that may throw you off (assuming you’ve never read Slaughter—House Five or watched Doctor Who). What’s more, under Chrono with TV and One-Shots, we’re tossing in as many possible MCU-related TV shows and short films as we can, because it’s fun, even if the TV shows are tangentially affiliated, at best. At least for now.
For the most part, Disney+ is all you need. Most of the films are on the $6.99-per-month service, because Disney owns Marvel. Exceptions streaming elsewhere (if at all) are noted in bold below.
Order of Release
Dates indicate when the film was released to theaters, not (necessarily) the time it takes place.
MCU: Phase One
- Iron Man (May, 2008)
- The Incredible Hulk (June, 2008)
- Iron Man 2 (May, 2010)
- Thor (May, 2011)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22, 2011)
- Avengers (May 4, 2012)
MCU: Phase 2
- Iron Man 3 (May, 2013)
- Thor: The Dark World (November, 2013)
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April, 2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (August, 2014)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (May, 2015)
- Ant-Man (July, 2015)
MCU: Phase 3
- Captain America: Civil War (May, 2016)
- Doctor Strange (November, 2016)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May, 2017)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming (July, 2017)
- Thor: Ragnarok (November, 2017)
- Black Panther (February, 2018)
- Avengers: Infinity War (April, 2018)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (July, 2018)
- Captain Marvel (March, 2019)
- Avengers: Endgame (April, 2019)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (July, 2019)
MCU: Phase 4 (and Beyond)
- Black Widow (May 7, 2021, we hope)
- The Eternals (November 5, 2021)
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, 2021)
- Untitled third Spider-Man movie (December 17, 2021)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (February 11, 2022)
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (March 25, 2022)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2022)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (2023)
- Black Panther 2
- Captain Marvel 2
- Fantastic Four
The date on each film below indicates the year or years it takes place, maybe specifics if they’re available or at least have been speculated. We also have some caveats thrown in about some timeline anomalies, and that’s before the films even get to the time travel stuff.
We also have links to find the movies. Like we said, the majority are on Disney+. However, the rights issues Marvel has with some characters go back decades, in particular with the Hulk and Spider-Man, which is why they’re on other services (for now).
The post-credits scene at the end of each Marvel movie, by the way? Sometimes they take place in wildly different time frames than the main film itself, or were bits cut from the next film to come out, and we’re not counting them here.
- The Avengers (2012)—Disney+
- Iron Man 3 (2012)—Disney+
- Thor: The Dark World (2013)—Disney+
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)—Disney+
- Guardians of the Galaxy (the rest of it is set in 2014)—Disney+
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (remainder of it is set in 2014—34 years after 1980, so it says—even though it came out in 2017)—Disney+
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)—Disney+
- Ant-Man (2015)—Disney+
- Doctor Strange (2016-2017, part of it happens after Civil War)—Disney+
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)—Disney+
- Spider-Man: HomecomingSpider-Man: Homecoming (2016—Opening takes place DURING Civil War; the rest is set only 4 years after The Avengers despite what it says on screen)—buy or rent only
- Black Panther (2017)—Disney+
- Thor: Ragnarok (2017)—Disney+
- Black WidowBlack Widow—(supposedly this is a prequel set in 2017; we’ll find out some day)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2017)—Disney+
- Avengers: Infinity War (2017)—Disney+
- Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2018 then jumps to 2023, with hops back to 2012, 2013, 2014, and 1970)—Disney+
- Spider-Man: Far From HomeSpider-Man: Far From Home (2023)—StarzStarz, fuboTV
Chrono With TV and One-Shots, by Year
A shared universe that encapsulates not only movies but TV shows? It happens. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t. The MCU only works because the shows were kept so separate—a by-product of warring factions within two areas of Disney production that didn’t see eye to eye. Now, with mega-producer of the MCU Kevin Feige in charge of even the TV shows that are coming to Disney+ soon, the ties to the MCU will be tighter than ever. We can only hope he’ll throw fans of some of the older canceled shows a bone and bring back favorites like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Quake from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and others. Some were planned (Ghost Rider) but already have been scuttled.
Only time will tell which heroes get a revival. The one rule we know from comics is, eventually, ALL heroes get a revival, no matter how dismal their last outing might have been. (See that aforementioned Ghost Rider.)
A show like Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is full of flashbacks; we didn’t account for them all unless it was an entire episode or more set in a different time period. But really, don’t watch those episodes out of order, that’s nuts. And don’t watch Inhumans at all. Ever.
TV shows and One-Shot short films are in bold below.
The 20th Century Years
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 7, Episodes 1-2 (1931)—NetflixNetflix
- Captain America: The First Avenger (1942)
- Agent Carter—Agent Carter—Marvel One-Shot short film (1946)—Disney+Disney+
- Agent Carter—Agent Carter—Seasons 1 and 2 (1946 to 1947)—Disney+Disney+
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 7, Episodes 3-4 (1955)—NetflixNetflix
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 7, Episodes 5-6 (1972-1976)—NetflixNetflix
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (opening in 1980)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 7, Episodes 7 (1982)—NetflixNetflix
- Guardians of the Galaxy (opening in 1988)
- Captain Marvel (1995)
2010 – 2011
- Iron Man (2010)
- Iron Man 2 (2011)
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s HammerA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer—Marvel One-Shot short film starting Agent Phil Coulson (2011)
- The Incredible Hulk (May-June 2011; takes place after Iron Man 2 and Thor)
- The ConsultantThe Consultant—Marvel One-Shot short film starring Agent Phil Coulson; plays right into the post-credit’s scene of The Incredible Hulk (2011)—Disney+Disney+
- The Avengers (2012)
- Item 47—Item 47—Marvel One-Shot short film, takes place post Avengers (2012)
- Thor: The Dark World
- All Hail the King—All Hail the King—Marvel One-Shot short film, takes place post Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 1, Episodes 1—16 (2013-2014)—NetflixNetflix
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 1, Episodes 17-22 (2013-2014)—NetflixNetflix
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (3 months later)
- DaredevilDaredevil—Season 1—NetflixNetflix
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 2; Episode 20 is concurrent with Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014-2015)—NetflixNetflix
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Jessica Jones—Season 1—NetflixNetflix
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 3, Episodes 1-10—NetflixNetflix
- Cloak and DaggerCloak and Dagger—Season 1—HuluHulu
- DaredevilDaredevil—Season 2—NetflixNetflix
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 3, Episodes 11-19—NetflixNetflix
- Luke CageLuke Cage—Season 1—NetflixNetflix
- Iron FistIron Fist—Season 1—NetflixNetflix
- Cloak & Dagger—Cloak & Dagger—Season 2 —Hulu Hulu
- The Defenders—The Defenders—Mini-series—NetflixNetflix
- Doctor Strange (act one)
- Captain America: Civil War
- Black Panther
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 3, Episodes 20-23—NetflixNetflix
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Punisher—Punisher—Season 1 (2016 holidays)—NetflixNetflix
- Doctor Strange (the rest)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 4, Episodes 1-8 (with Ghost Rider)—NetflixNetflix
- Marvel’s InhumansMarvel’s Inhumans—Disney+Disney+
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 4, Ep 9-22—NetflixNetflix
- Jessica Jones—Jessica Jones—Season 2 (summer)—NetflixNetflix
- Runaways—Runaways—Season 1—HuluHulu
- Runaways—Runaways—Season 2 (2017-2018)—HuluHulu
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Luke Cage—Luke Cage—Season 2—NetflixNetflixNetflix
- Black Widow (supposedly this is a prequel set in 2017; we’ll find out when it arrives.)
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Jessica Jones—Jessica Jones—Season 3 (November)—NetflixNetflix
- Iron Fist—Iron Fist—Season 2 (late 2017)—NetflixNetflix
- Daredevil—Daredevil—Season 3—NetflixNetflix
- Punisher—Punisher—Season 2—NetflixNetflix
- Runaways—Runaways—Season 3—HuluHulu
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 5, Eps 11—22 (final 4 episodes concurrent to Infinity War)—NetflixNetflix
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers: Endgame (starts in 2018 then jumps to 2023, with hops back to 2012, 2013, 2014, and a quick jump to 1970)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 6 (It seems to be out of continuity by ignoring the Snap; or in a new timeline/alternate universe altogether)—NetflixNetflix
- Avengers: Endgame (2023)
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (months later in 2023)
- Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—Season 7 – Episodes 8 to 13, which are entirely out of whack with continuity——NetflixNetflix
What Else Is in Phase 4?
In addition to the movies listed above, there are at least eight announced TV series all coming to Disney+ only from Marvel Studios as part of Phase 4, all with ties so tight to the MCU movies, they star the same people and may have continued storylines (mostly involving the multiverse). Five of the shows have been entirely or partially shot (or animated).
All are delayed thanks to the COVID-19 shutdown of Hollywood. Many won’t make it to us until 2022 of 2022 now. But the next few months have some exciting premieres on Disney+.
- WandaVision (January 15, 2021)
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19, 2021)
- Loki (May 2021)
- What If…? (Animated, summer-2021)
- Ms. Marvel (2021)
- Moon Knight (2022)
- She-Hulk (2022)
There was also a live-action HelstromHelstrom series on Hulu (which is already cancelled after one season). Other shows set for that streamer—such as a revival of the version of Ghost Rider that was a guest on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—have been tabled.
Thankfully, the animated comedy version of M.O.D.O.K. (short for Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing) starring Patton Oswalt, is still going to happen in 2021.
Finally, if you want a really good Marvel TV show that has nothing to do with the MCU, is only slightly related to the X-Men films, and it has musical numbers, you should watch LegionLegion, all three seasons of which are on Hulu via FX.
2020年のトップFXブローカー | 独占オファー《100%安全・公式サイト完結》