How to Watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies in Order: Infinity Saga Guide
Avengers assemble! Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2008, you’ve heard of the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Most people call it the MCU for short.) But what if someone hasn’t seen a single Avengers movie and wants to start now?
Where should a new fan start? What order should a newbie watch the MCU films in? This list guides viewers through the chronological order of the overall story’s timeline rather than release date order. Some movies take place either before or after other films, which can make things a bit confusing.
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Let’s start with the first film in Marvel Studio’s timeline up through the end of the Infinity Saga. That’s the first major multi-movie storyline for the MCU, making it a great place to begin!
Scroll down for our guide on how to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in chronological order:
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
It all starts during World War II. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a man who is tiny in size but has a grand heart and wants to follow best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) to the frontlines. His life completely changes when he’s selected as the subject for an important experiment: being given a serum that transforms him into a super soldier: Captain America!
Now tall, extremely muscular, and possessing incredible abilities, he combats a Nazi-supported organization led by the nefarious Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).
Captain Marvel (2019)
This story is set in 1995. The main character, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), is a warrior on another planet who fights to defend the Kree from the Skrulls. She struggles with recurring flashbacks of another life as a United States Air Force pilot. Soon, she finds herself on Earth with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), and the truth is exposed. She realizes who and what she truly is — and who she should be defending.
Iron Man (2008)
The first Marvel Studios movie ever introduces Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the billionaire head of Stark Industries — which manufactures weapons. Tony begins as an egotistical executive, but he is captured by terrorists, who demand he build them a weapon. It’s here his eyes are opened to the horror his company causes. He escapes and, after returning home, uses his technology to become Iron Man. His new mission: stop destroying and begin saving.
But others within Stark Industries aren’t keen on his change of heart, which interferes with their profits. Using Tony’s own technology against him, an unlikely enemy decides to strike back.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
We meet Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), a Russian who has his own ax to grind against Tony. Creating his own special weapon, he becomes the villainous Whiplash. This Russian antagonist joins forces with Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), a competitor of Stark Industries, to take on the iron hero.
The sequel also introduces Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who spies on Tony when she goes undercover as his new assistant.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This is the origin story of Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, who is recast with Mark Ruffalo in subsequent movies) after he is exposed to the gamma radiation that grants him the ability (or curse) to transform into the raging Hulk.
His main nemesis is General Thunderbolt Ross (the late William Hurt), who wants to capture Banner. His love interest, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), is the general’s daughter. Emil Blonsky is a nefarious soldier who envies Bruce’s skills and experiments on himself to get the ability to transform into a monster. He becomes Abomination, and the battle is on!
Based on Norse mythology, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a warrior prince and heir to the throne of Asgard. But his father, King Odin (Anthony Hopkins), recognizes Thor’s lack of humility and lack of wisdom. As a result, Odin banishes his son to Earth, where he meets Jane (Natalie Portman) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as he discovers important life lessons. However, his trickster brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), has his own eyes on the throne — and he will do anything to get power.
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Loki remains a threat, having teamed up with a much larger, darker force in the universe. Now armed with the incredible power of an energy cube known as the Tesseract (which is space stone, a.k.a. the first Infinity Stone introduced) and a magical scepter (which includes the mind stone, another Infinity Stone), a single hero can’t stop him alone.
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In the first MCU film with a true superstar team up, Nick Fury creates a crime-fighting dream team. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye form an uneasy alliance to save New York (and the world).
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Many years ago, the gods of Asgard battled a race known as the Dark Elves. Asgard was victorious and buried their enemy’s weapon, the Aether (which, despite its liquid form, is the reality stone, a.k.a. the second Infinity Stone introduced). Jane Foster has now discovered it and winds up as its host. Thor rushes her to Asgard to prevent Malekith (Doctor Who’s Christopher Eccleston), a Dark Elf, from taking her and using the weapon to destroy the world.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The events of The Avengers have left Tony with post-traumatic stress disorder. He is now becoming increasingly obsessed with his iron suits. Meanwhile, a mysterious enemy known as The Mandarin arrives. Soon, Tony’s back is against the wall as he tries to figure out to save those closest to him, including Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Rhodey (Don Cheadle) — while fighting his own demons.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Steve Rogers is still trying to acclimate to the 21st century, operating as Captain America at the behest of S.H.I.E.L.D. But he soon learns a horrifying truth that changes everything, including his allegiances.
Trusting very few people, he partners with Black Widow to expose the truth and save the country he loves. Above all, he wants to save Bucky, who he learns didn’t die in World War II but was instead taken by Hydra and forced to become the Winter Soldier, a legendary assassin.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a space traveler who takes possession of a powerful orb. The problem? Ronan (Lee Pace), a terrifying villain, is after it because it isn’t just super charged — it’s the third Infinity Stone (the power stone). On the run, Quill finds himself partnering with four other unique individuals: Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). They soon discover what the orb is capable of and work to keep it out of Ronan’s hands.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)
The Guardians are hired by an alien race known as the Sovereign to protect special assets. But Rocket has his own plans that send everything into a tailspin. Soon, their employers become their hunters, and the Guardians are on the run. Along the way, Quill learns a startling truth about his own origins and meets his father, Ego (Kurt Russell).
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The Avengers find Loki’s scepter (which has the mind stone in its core) being used for Hydra experiments, including triggering Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) powers as the Scarlet Witch. After the bring the scepter back to safety, Tony wants to create a peacekeeping program that will ultimately replace The Avengers and works with Bruce Banner to use Loki’s weapon in that process. But things take a terrifying turn when the new consciousness, Ultron (James Spader), comes online and decides to attack, and he gets backup from the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an electrical engineer who was caught stealing from the rich and giving back to the poor via cybercrimes. In a twist of fate, he comes out of prison and finds himself under the wing of genius inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Scott learns to use a suit that allows him to shrink to an incredibly small size, control ants and wield incredible strength. But Hank has a rival who wants to use the technology for much darker purposes.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
The destructive fallout from the various battles of the Avengers, including the climatic final showdown with Ultron, pushes world leaders to want superheroes under government control. Opinions differ, and many of the heroes in the Avengers must pick a side. Those who agree to the Sokovia Accords join Team Iron Man. Those who want autonomy join Team Cap. (Fun fact: This is the movie where Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man joins the MCU!)
Black Widow (2021)
After the events of Civil War, Natasha Romanoff is forced to confront a dangerous situation that brings her past into her present. Now she must stop a villain who wants to see her destroyed. The Black Widow embarks on her most personal mission, teaming up with her surrogate spy family, including sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh).
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Peter Parker is waiting for his next assignment from Tony Stark. But he soon learns a large threat is right under his nose as he embarks to stop a criminal known as Vulture (Michael Keaton). As the web-slinger takes on the winged menace, the two sides of Parker’s life collide in a shocking twist.
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Spider-Man: Far From Home continues Parker’s story as he tries to live a normal life post-blip … but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
Black Panther (2018)
After his father was killed during Civil War, T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman) returns home to his native African country, Wakanda, and takes his place as the new king. But a stranger (Michael B. Jordan) with ties to his family and a heart for retribution challenges T’Challa for the right to rule. The two men go head-to-head in a battle for the fate of the nation.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Brilliant brain surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) loses the use of his hands after a horrific car accident. Unable to find restoration through modern medicine, he seeks out a more mysterious, mystical community. Over time, he learns the art of sorcery and finds himself battling dark forces with the time stone (another Infinity Stone) to save the world while falling in love with Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Captured and forced into a gladiator battle on another planet, Thor reunites with the Hulk, who has been absent since the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Together, they must take on Hela (Cate Blanchett), a long-lost and villainous sibling of Thor’s who means to rule Asgard. In the end, things will never, ever be the same. Despite some dramatic developments, this film injected a lot more humor into the Thor series, changing the character’s journey thanks to director Taika Waititi.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Scott Lang dons the technology required to become Ant-Man once again, this time partnering with Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who in her own similar suit becomes the Wasp. A new enemy is tied to secrets from the past. And we learn more about Hank Pym’s wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her unsettling fate.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The Avengers are still separated as the villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin) pursues all the Infinity Stones. Once they are together in his gauntlet, he will have unlimited power to literally change the universe with the snap of a finger.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Five years have passed since the Avengers’ shocking defeat. They, along with the rest of the world, are trying to adjust to the new reality after Thanos’ victory. Soon, our heroes band together with a new hope of restoring what was lost — through time travel.
What Happens After the Infinity Saga?
A variety of movies came out after the Infinity Saga to set up The Multiverse Saga. These adventures included films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and Thor: Love and Thunder as well as a variety of TV shows on Disney+ like Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Moon Knight. It’s movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the Sony collaboration Spider-Man: No Way Home as well as the TV series Loki that really sow the seeds for the epic story about parallel universes.
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