August 4, 2021

‘Black Widow’ Confirms MCU Viewing Order

[EDITOR’S NOTE- This article has a very vague spoiler regarding Black Widow’s post-credit scene as far as when it takes place]

There has been an ongoing debate as to what order to watch the MCU films- in order of release or chronologically. Watching them in order of release would begin with 2008’s Iron Man and would create the same viewing experience as those that watched the films as they were released, whereas watching them in chronological order would begin with 2011’s Word War II-era Captain America: The First Avenger and would give a better idea of the time span of the films.

One of the arguments for watching them in order of release has been the post-credit scenes, as some post-credit scenes set up future MCU films. That would be lost if you watch them chronologically, and may even get a bit confusing. Thanks to the post-credit scene in Black Widow, we now have confirmation that the MCU films should be watched in order of release. 

Black Widows comfortably takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War (there are other MCU films in between, but their storylines are not relevant to the the storylines presented in the Avengers-focused films). The aftermath of the events of Civil War are front and center, and upcoming events in Infinity War are hinted at. However, Black Widow’s post-credit scene takes place AFTER Avengers: Endgame and features a major spoiler for the film. That said, if you are watching the MCU films for the first time, you DO NOT want to see Black Widow before Endgame (unless you skip the post-credit scene, but we never recommend that).

The same debate has existed for the Star Wars viewing order, with some saying you should watch them in order of release (4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9) with others saying they should be watched in chronological order (1-9). Incidentally, an informal Star Wars order viewing Facebook survey we conducted a few years ago showed results split directly down the middle, with the divide categorized generationally. By enlarge, of those that participated in the survey,  a majority of those people that said in order of release were raised on the original trilogy, while most of those that said chronologically were raised on the prequels.

It should be noted that Black Widow‘s post-credit Endgame spoiler obviously only applies to first-time viewers. For those those that have seen all of the MCU films already, watching them in chronological order can be a fun way to look at the films from a slightly different perspective.

Below you can see the viewing orders both by order of release and chronologically (It should be noted, that the Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and Winter Soldier and LOKI can be watched in any order, but they ALL take place after Avengers: Endgame and have direct tie-ins to both Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War, so bear that in mind).

MCU IN ORDER OF RELEASE

Phase One

  • Iron Man – May 2, 2008
  • The Incredible Hulk – June 13, 2008
  • Iron Man 2 – May 7, 2010
  • Thor – May 6, 2011
  • Captain America: The First Avenger – July 22, 2011
  • Marvel’s The Avengers – May 4, 2012

Phase Two

  • Iron Man 3 – May 3, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World – November 8, 2013
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – April 4, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – August 1, 2014
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – May 1, 2015
  • Ant-Man – July 17, 2015

Phase Three

  • Captain America: Civil War – May 6, 2016
  • Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017
  • Black Panther – February 16, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War – April 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018
  • Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019
  • Avengers: Endgame – April 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home – July 2, 2019

Phase Four

  • Black Widow – July 9, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – September 3, 2021
  • Eternals – November 5, 2021
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home – December 17, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – March 25, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder – May 6, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – July 8, 2022
  • The Marvels (aka Captain Marvel 2) – November 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – February 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – May 5, 2023

 

MCU IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Black Widow
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Black Panther
  • Doctor Strange
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home

[The remaining Phase Four films can not be included in chronological order as we have no concrete confirmation yet as to when they take place]

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