How To Watch The Marvel Cinematic Universe Chronologically
As a comic book fan, I was excited when Disney bought Marvel. For me, the stories that I read growing up in Marvel Comics were as important and meaningful to me as any Disney film. But, I know there are many Disney fans don't have the same connection to Marvel as I do, but who want to know more about it. For those of you who are new to my blog, I encourage you to read a blog entry I wrote a few months ago about why Marvel works at Disney.
Anyway, many new fans to Marvel are being introduced to the property through way of the movies and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the Marvel movies being distributed by FOX and Sony. And, many Disney fans new to Marvel have asked me, if they wanted to watch everything in order, how should they watch the Marvel films. So, I've decided to compile a timeline for which I, personally, think everything should be watched. This timeline includes films, Marvel One Shots and television series produced by Marvel Studios.
PLEASE NOTE: This timeline ONLY includes the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which are the films produced by Marvel Studios itself. FOX owns the movie rights to the X-Men, which seems to be building its own connected universe, and Fantastic Four, which is being rebooted. Sony owns the movie rights to Spider-Man which has recently rebooted the franchise. So, those universes are not connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe right now and it would be complicated to build one timeline.
Also, you'll see me list projects still in development (these are in purple) and where I think they might fall on the timeline. And, I've listed other projects outside of the timeline as I don't have enough information as to when they'll take place. I've listed these just to give you a scope of how large the Marvel Cinematic Universe is becoming.
Alright...here we go. Again, this list was compiled by me based on having watched everything and where I think everything belongs. Let me know what you think and if you'd list them another way... [Thank You To @NI_DLP_Geek on Twitter for suggesting an edit to the timeline and placing Thor: The Mighty Avenger ahead of The Incredible Hulk.]
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE TIMELINE
- Captain America: The First Avenger - While, sequentially, this film does not come out until after Thor: The Mighty Avenger and is the fifth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the bulk of the film takes place during World War II and establishes Captain America as the First Avenger. PLEASE NOTE FOR VIEWING SEQUENTIALLY: While there are some events that take place present day, it should not confuse a new watcher of Marvel films. If you would like to watch everything sequentially, wait until after you've watched Thor: The Mighty Avenger to watch the ending and post credit scene of the film. You'll know the ending when you see Captain America awakening from being unconscious.
- Agent Carter Marvel One Shot - This Marvel One Shot, released with the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray/DVD release, takes place immediately after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. It also follows the post-war career of Agent Peggy Carter, one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Marvel's Agent Carter Television Series (Late 2014) - This series will be coming out this fall as a mid-season offering while Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on hiatus. The events of this series take place in 1946 and should follow the events of the Agent Carter Marvel One Shot.
- Iron Man - Iron Man is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and establishes the origin of Iron Man. The film also has the early modern introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D. Iron Man is one of the founding members of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Iron Man 2 - While this film comes after The Incredible Hulk, it actually makes more sense to watch the film before that movie as several of the happenings chronologically make more sense. Iron Man 2 continues the adventures of Iron Man as a superhero and also introduces Nick Fury and Natasha Romanov (Black Widow) as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Widow is also a founding member of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- A Funny Thing Happened Marvel One Shot - Released with the Captain America: The First Avenger Blu-Ray/DVD release, this is the first Marvel One Shot. The One Shot establishes that, while Agent Phil Coulson maintains a mild mannered persona, he is a force to be reckoned with.
- Thor: The Mighty Avenger - Thor: The Mighty Avenger introduces the characters of Thor, Loki, Jane Foster, Hawkeye and all the denizens of Asgard. Thor and Hawkeye are founding members of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- The Incredible Hulk - The Incredible Hulk introduces the Hulk into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is not a sequel of Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk. You do not need to watch that film to understand The Incredible Hulk. The opening does a soft reboot of the first film and then goes to establish the characters as they would exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Hulk is one of the founding members of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. PLEASE NOTE FOR VIEWING SEQUENTIALLY: The Consultant Marvel One Shot comes between the penultimate scene and the ending of the movie. My suggestion is to stop the movie before the ending (you'll know the ending as you'll see General Ross sitting in a bar) and then watch The Consultant. The Consultant actually contains the final scene of The Incredible Hulk, so you don't have to switch back and forth.
- The Consultant Marvel One Shot - This Marvel One Shot was released with the Thor: The Mighty Avenger Blu-Ray and DVD Release. This One Shot introduces the character of Agent Jasper Sitwell of S.H.I.E.L.D. and also features Agent Phil Coulson discussing an issue pertaining to the events in The Incredible Hulk. PLEASE NOTE FOR VIEWING SEQUENTIALLY: Again, if you want to watch everything sequentially, watch The Incredible Hulk through to the last battle between the Hulk and the Abomination but BEFORE the scene in which you will see General Ross sitting in a bar. The One Shot actually includes the ending to The Incredible Hulk, so you won't have to switch back.
- Marvel's The Avengers - Now that all of the founding members of the Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been introduced, it is time to bring all the characters together to face a threat by Thor's half brother Loki and the alien forces of the Chitauri. The film introduces Maria Hill, Nick Fury's right hand.
- Item 47 Marvel One Shot - Item 47 takes place after the Battle of New York at the end of Marvel's The Avengers and involves a couple finding a Chitauri weapon. This Marvel One Shot introduces the character of Agent Felix Blake from S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Iron Man 3 - Iron Man 3 shows Tony Stark continuing as Iron Man while, at the same time, dealing with some issues brought up in Marvel's The Avengers.
- All Hail The King Marvel One Shot - The All Hail The King Marvel One Shot takes place after the events of Iron Man 3 and follows what is happening with Trevor Slattery.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, from "Pilot" (episode 1) to "The Hub" (episode 7) - The first seven episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC introduces Agent Phil Coulson's team - Melinda May, Grant Ward, Skye, Fitz and Simmons. The first part of the season is primarily episodic, showing how these different individuals come together as a team.
- Thor: The Dark World - Thor: The Dark World shows Asgard and the Nine Realms healing after the destruction of the Bifrost in Thor: The Mighty Avenger. While Loki had proven himself a villain, a threat unites the two brothers to save the Nine Realms.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, from "The Well" (episode 8) to "End Of The Beginning" (episode 16) - The episode "The Well" has the team discussing the aftermath of the events in Thor: The Dark World. The rest of the season through Episode 16 gets a little more serialized as Phil Coulson tries to solve the mystery of his return and the team tries to find the Clairvoyant.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Captain America continuing to adjust to the modern world. He teams up with Black Widow and a new ally in Sam Wilson/The Falcon as the organization they've been working for - S.H.I.E.L.D. - finds itself compromised.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 1, from "Turn, Turn, Turn" (episode 17) to "Beginning of the End" (episode 22) - The episode "Turn, Turn, Turn" overlaps with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the rest of the season finds Coulson's team dealing with the film's aftermath.
- Guardians of the Galaxy (August 2014) - This film about a rag tag group of intergalactic heroes will be released late this summer and should take place after Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the rest of the season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2 (Fall 2014) - The second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs this fall and some of the events in the first season makes it feel like the second season will either fall after or concurrently with the events of Guardians of the Galaxy.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (Summer 2015) - This highly anticipated sequel to Marvel's The Avengers definitely falls after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and should fall after Guardians of the Galaxy. My guess is that there will be some overlap with the second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. toward the end of the season.
- Ant-Man (Summer 2015) - With the announcement that there are two characters who have worn the Ant-Man costume, there is a chance that some of this movie will take place at different points in the timeline. The bulk of the events should take place after Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I don't have enough information to know.
- Marvel Netflix TV Series - Daredevil (2015), Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Defenders (TBA) - Marvel is developing a series of interconnected television series that will air on Netflix. Daredevil will be the first television series to air in 2015 and will not have any connection to the 2003 Daredevil film starring Ben Affleck. That series will be followed respectively by individual series for Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. These series will then draw the heroes together and culminate in another series entitled The Defenders. With very little information, it is impossible to place these in a timeline. But, all these series will also take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.