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MCU Timeline: All Marvel Movies and TV Shows in Order

banner with captain america and iron man fighting and text that reads Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.

This is the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, a complete order for everything in the MCU, from the films, to the Netflix shows, to the Disney+ shows. You can view this in chronological order (by default) or sort by release date, title, or author/director.

What’s in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline?

This timeline takes all of the media in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and places it in chronological order. The default timeline lists each work in chronological order. An item is placed based on where most of it takes place. We don’t break up stories so that portions of an MCU film take place elsewhere. This list includes media from the following elements of the MCU:

  • The MCU Films: These make up the backbone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline. The films started with Iron Man in 2008. However, the first chronological film is Captain America: The First Avenger. Marvel Studios has since continued to release these films at an alarming rate.
  • MCU Television : This timeline includes the shows from ABC that are part of the MCU. These include Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AOS), Agent Carter, Inhumans and others.
  • MCU Netflix Television: Though they may seem like a completely different universe (and they might be non-canon), the Marvel Netflix shows do fit into the MCU. However, they take place in isolation compared to the rest of the Marvel Universe. These shows include Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher.
  • MCU Tie-in Comics: This timeline includes the tie-in comics that are canonical in the MCU timeline. Usually, these are short preludes to the main films.
  • One-shots: Marvel has produced a few one-shot short films for the MCU. We include these as well.
  • Disney+ Shows: These shows take place in the MCU with as much importance and relevance to the overall plot. They are far more involved and canonical than, say, the Netflix shows.

Timeline Table

Here you will find everything in one sortable and filterable list. If you need to, you can also download a CSV of the entire thing. Read on for a detailed breakdown of the entire MCU timeline and order.

MCU Timeline: At a Glance

There are a couple of different ways to approach the MCU. Here is the best way to do this.

The Main Films and Disney+ Shows in Chronological Order

For most of us, we probably just want to know the main stories in the MCU, which consists primarily of the films and the Disney+ shows. Here they are in chronological order:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Loki (2021)
  • What If… (2021) – Start of the Multiverse
  • Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)
  • WandaVision (2021)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • Eternals (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Every Movie and Every Season of Every Show

For the die-hard fan who wants to see it all, here is our breakdown of everything that happens, including every show. Bear in mind that some of the placement for these shows is dubious, and some may not have the same canonicity as the films and Disney+ shows, but there are still connections that are fun to see.

See the table above for an episode-by-episode list, since some of the films actually take place in the middle of the season for one show or another.

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Agent Carter Season 1 (2015)
  • Agent Carter Season 2 (2016)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012
  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 (2013)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Daredevil Season 1 (2015)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Jessica Jones Season 1 (2015)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 2 (2014)
  • Ant-Man (2015)
  • Daredevil Season 2 (2016)
  • Luke Cage Season 1 (2016)
  • Iron Fist Season 1 (2017)
  • Defenders Season 1 (2017)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season (2016)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • The Punisher Season 1 (2017)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Runaways Season 1 (2017)
  • Cloak and Dagger Season 1 (2018)
  • Runaways Season 2 (2018)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 4 (2017)
  • Cloak and Dagger Season 2 (2019)
  • Runaways Season 3 (2019)
  • Jessica Jones Season 2 (2018)
  • Inhumans Season 1 (2017)
  • Luke Cage Season 2 (2018)
  • Iron Fist Season 2 (2018)
  • Daredevil Season 3 (2018)
  • Punisher Season 2 (2019)
  • Jessica Jones Season 3 (2019)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 5 (2018)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 6 (2019)
  • Helstrom Season 1 (2020)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 7 (2020)
  • Loki Season 1 (2021)
  • Wandavision (2021)
  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • Eternals (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Essential MCU

If you’re only looking for the most important stories to watch, then I’d consider giving these a go, in the following order:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Thor (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Loki (2021)

Release Order: What Are the MCU Phases?

As part of a strategy to separate the films and give them a certain order, Marvel began to refer to a certain group of films as parts of a certain “phase” that encompasses a certain stage in this global history. For example, the Infinity Saga could be said to develop the history of the Infinity Stones which in turn is based on the Infinity Gauntlet comics. 

Phase 1

Phase 1, also called Avengers Assembled, encompasses films that primarily featured certain superheroes (essentially the most important), as Nick Fury formed the group called The Avengers and revolved around the Tesseract, one of the Infinity Stones. This includes the first two Iron-man movies, the first Captain America movie, the first Hulk movie and the first Thor movie as well as the first The Avengers film. Here are all the Phase 1 movies in release order.

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • The Avengers (2012)

Phase 2

Phase 2 focuses on developing the story of The Avengers and its relationship with the criminal agency HYDRA as well as a platform to introduce some new characters such as Winter Soldier, Ant-Man or Vision and provide more information about the Infinity Stones. Here are all the Phase 2 films.

  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier  (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Phase 3

Phase 3 covers a time of conflict and separation between The Avengers that is clearly reflected in Captain America: Civil War. It was also used to introduce new characters such as Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel or Black Panther as well as continue developing stories such as those of Ant-Man (Ant-Man and the Wasp) or Thor (Thor: Ragnarok). In addition, it served as the opportunity to introduce one of the best known characters (perhaps the best known) to the MCU, Spider-Man (Spider-Man: Homecoming). In this phase, the history of the Infinity Stones reaches its climax thanks to the strength that Thanos gained, mainly shown in Avengers: Infinity War and that is concluded with Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man: Far From Home is also part of Phase 3, though it serves as more of an epilogue.

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther  (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Phase 4

Phase 4 deals with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame, and begins to introduce new threats to the MCU, such as Kang the Conquerer. It also introduces the multiverse through the first season of Loki, which also serves as a backdoor to a variety of alternate realities, such as the animated What IF… Disney+ show. Here is everything in Phase 4, in release order, including a few that are not out yet:

  • Wandavision (2021)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (2021)
  • Loki (2021)
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • The Eternals (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
  • Ms Marvel (2022)
  • Hawkeye (2022)
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
  • The Marvels (2022)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Chronological MCU Detailed Breakdown

But if you’ve read this far, you’re really interested in the nitty-gritty details of the MCU and its chronological order. So let’s break down each era, chronologically:

1931 – 1995: Pre-Iron Man Marvel Era

This era covers a large amount of time, but has little going on. For the majority of the Marvel world, the catalyst that sends everything into motion is when Tony Stark says, “I am Iron Man.”

That said, there are some pretty important superheroes that have their origins before that, chronologically. 

Captain America has his origin set during World War II, though admittedly that film does have a post-credit scene that is set after Iron Man. Additionally, the two seasons of Agent Carter take place just after that film. 

Captain Marvel’s origin story takes place during the ‘90s. Though it too has a post-credit scene that is set much later.

Key stories from this era:

2010 – 2012: Avengers Assemble

Starting with 2008’s Iron Man, the Marvel Universe really kicks it into high gear. In come the origin stories for several superheroes, including Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and the Avengers as a whole. Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk all take place during the same week, so it’s kind of up to the viewer which order you’d want to watch these in.

Iron Man 3 is also included in this era, but it is more of an epilogue to the Avengers, and we’ll see this happen several times. But it still takes place in 2012, the same year as the Avengers.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Loki time variant seen in the Disney+ show, comes from this 2012 Avengers event. However, seeing as that is really more of a consequence of Avengers: Endgame, we definitely wouldn’t place it or watch it here.

Key stories from this era:

2013 – 2015: The Rise of Superheroes

It’s following Iron Man 3 that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins, with the first few episodes tying in directly with that film. The first season would also have ties to Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The origins of several other superheroes begin in this part of the timeline, including Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man.

This is also the era when we start to see the Netflix shows take place. These take place far removed from the films, and some would even argue that they are non-canon. But they do have some loose ties to the MCU, even though the MCU has little to do with them.

Key stories from this era:

2016: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is a big turning point in the MCU, more so than many of the Avengers films. A lot of stories are defined by existing either before or after this point.

Back to the Netflix shows, it seems pretty clear that everything up to The Defenders takes place before Civil War, with post-Defenders seasons having clear references to Civil War. So that is why, to keep it simple, I’ve placed the entire first round of Netflix shows before Civil War.

Following Civil War, we immediately get the first MCU Spider-man movie, as well as the Punisher series and the origin film of Doctor Strange. 

Key stories from this era:

2017-2018: Infinity War

Following Civil War, there are a number of stories that take place and dwell on the repercussions of that film. Among them Black Widow (which even though it came out in 2021, still takes place pre-Infinity War) and Black Panther.

In this era, I have also included a wide range of the side television shows to come through Hulu, Netflix and Freeform. These shows have almost nothing to do with the MCU at large, other than a few minor connections, so they could be considered unimportant, but some are still good shows in their own right. 

That said, a lot of it is placed here because there’s really just no better place to put it.

After a few more films of buildup, this era ends with the “Snap” which ends half the life in the universe, and has monstrous consequences for the universe at large, though some of the television shows don’t seem to be affected as much.

Key stories from this era:

2018-2023 (and beyond): Recovery and the Multiverse

Following the Snap, there is a five-year gap where the world recovers, and learns to move on without half of all life on Earth.

However, with Avengers: Endgame that ends with the sacrifice of a key character (no spoilers here), and life is returned to normal. A good chunk of the MCU timeline then deals with the fallout from this event, as well as building up the multiverse.

With the Disney+ series, Loki, the doors to the multiverse were burst open wide. This actually works in our favor to explain timeline inconsistencies, like season 7 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It also explains our placement of the What If… animated series, which presents a number of alternate universes.

The Disney+ series also usher in a new era for Marvel, where the television shows are much more closely connected to the MCU.

Key stories from this era:

The Best Way to Watch the MCU

There are a couple of ways to watch the MCU:

  • The Essentials: Only watch the most important MCU movies and shows, listed above. Only for casual fans.
  • Main story, chronologically: This is where you only watch the main movies and the Disney+ TV shows in chronological order. This is probably going to be the most recommended way to do it.
  • Main story, release order: You can also do the same as the above, but do so in release order, which can actually be a little less jaring, even if it does jump around the timeline a bit.
  • Everything, chronological: For the die-hard fans, this is the way to go. Complete with Netflix, ABC, Freeform, and Hulu shows, along with all the movies and Disney+ shows, this is a completionist’s dream.
  • Everything, release order: As stated above, this can be a little less jaring, but just as extreme. Only for the die-hard Marvel fan.

For the majority of you, I recommend the “Main story, chronologically” order. See the MCU at a Glance section above.

The Best MCU Movies

There are some movies that are essential viewing simply because of the implications they have for the MCU, but what about the best movies? 

Which movies (or shows) do I most recommend simply because they are good? Here’s my list of the top ten, in order from best to worst (though the worst in this case still makes my top ten:

  1. Black Panther: Black Panther is, I think, a near-perfect film. The way it manages to handle vitally important topics in a way that is entertaining and intensely powerful is just amazing. One of the best Marvel films, if not one of the best superhero films of all time.
  2. The Avengers: Also a near-perfect MCU film, the way Joss Whedon managed to handle all the characters together without bogging down the film still amazes me. Now if he could have done that with the second Avengers film…
  3. Iron Man: The film that started it all, it’s actually a really good film in its own right, and with a little more gritty realism than films that came later, which I actually kind of like.
  4. Daredevil: I actually think the Netflix shows are pretty good, and Daredevil is easily the best of the lot. Though it has very few ties to the MCU, it’s still one of my favorite Marvel depictions in live action. Period.
  5. Captain America: Winter Soldier: This is my favorite Captain America movie, and a great political thriller in and of itself. It’s one of the best examples of exploring a different film genre through a superhero lens.
  6. Guardians of the Galaxy: What can be said about Guardians of the Galaxy. This film took the world by storm and really reimagined a fun and quirky superhero story. It almost reinvented the genre in a lot of ways.
  7. Avengers: Endgame: I couldn’t not put this one hear. Though I think it is technically less well put together as some of the previous films on this list, it’s still a massive undertaking that more or less managed to stick the landing to a massive 20+ film saga.
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming: The first of our MCU Spider-Man films, this one manages to really explore the inexperienced teenager side of the web crawler.
  9. Thor: I may be in the minority here, but I like the first Thor better than any of the sequels. I thought it best captured the genre that Thor is supposed to be: epic fantasy. And it presented us with Loki, one of the only well-developed Marvel villains. Speaking of which…
  10. Loki: The new show from Disney+ really drew me in. I thought it was the freshest piece of MCU content to come out in a long while, and while it still boggles the mind a bit, I thought it was a great piece of television.

Upcoming MCU Projects

While I’m sure this will be out of date in no time, here is a list of all the upcoming MCU projects:

Films

  • Spider-Man: No Wa Home
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • The Marvels
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  • Fantastic Four

Television Series

  • Hawkeye
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Moon Knight
  • She-Hulk
  • Secret Invasion
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
  • Ironheart
  • Armor Wars
  • An Untitled Wakanda series

In short, there’s a lot coming down the pipeline.

FAQ

There are a number of additional questions that I get that I haven’t had a chance to answer above, so let’s tackle a few of this, speed-round style:

Is it better to watch the Marvel movies in chronological or release order?

Personally, I prefer chronological, but the release order can be better for some people.

It can be less jarring if, for example, there’s an end credit scene at the end of the first Captain America film that introduces Nick Fury, and we still have no idea who he is (since he was introduced in Iron Man).

Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. canon?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mostly lines up with the plot of the MCU. The last two seasons really diverged from that of the MCU, and therefore are considered an alternate universe.

Are the Marvel Netflix shows canon?

James Gunn has hinted that the pre-Wandavision television shows are not canon in the MCU because Marvel Studios was not directly involved in them. That said, there are connections, and there’s little reason to think that the Netflix shows can’t be canon.

Are the X-men part of the MCU?

Not yet, but there will almost certainly be X-men in the MCU now that Disney owns the rights to the film versions of these characters. 

The X-men Cinematic Universe, with actors like Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen, is not part of the MCU.

Is Deadpool part of the MCU?

Currently, Deadpool is not a part of the MCU, but there are rumors that Ryan Reynolds will continue to play the character in an MCU canon project.

Is Venom part of the MCU?

No, but there’s a big chance that Venom will be part of the Spiderverse, which will be introduced in Spider-Man: No Way Home. There’s a chance that characters from the Venom universe will be introduced in that film. Characters from past Spider-man franchises, like Doc Ock, will be.

Who owns the rights to which characters?

The film rights for Spider-Man and most of the Spider-verse characters are owned by Sony.

The film rights for the X-men and the Fantastic Four used to be owned by 20th Century Fox. When Disney acquired Fox, those rights reverted back to Marvel Studios.

The film rights for the Hulk and Namor, are partially owned by Universal, and partly by Marvel Studios. This is why you have only seen one solo Hulk film. The exact details of this deal are less well known, so there may be more that we don’t know.

The film rights for most of all the other Marvel characters are owned by Marvel Studios.

How long will the MCU last?

Your guess is as good as mine. So far, it shows no signs of slowing down, and no signs of people losing interest. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will end when no one goes to see a Marvel movie anymore.

I hope all of that was helpful to you. I appreciate you checking out my post, and I will see you all again soon.

Cheers!

Jason