The Best Order to Watch Marvel Movies - Featured - StudioBinder

Watching the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is a daunting task. Not only is it a huge time commitment to marathon through all 23 films, but there’s the question of watch order. Do you rearrange the films chronologically to see the events as history saw them or just stick to release order? What’s the best order to watch Marvel movies?

We have a third option.

Introducing the Pegasus Order, an MCU watch order that breaks the releases into 5 digestible blocks while maximizing the impact of each film. Inspired by the Machete Order for the Star Wars films, this is an ideal way to view the franchise for first timers or consummate revisitors. 

WARNING: spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe ahead.

THE PROPER ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

What does “Pegasus Order” Mean?

“Pegasus Order” refers to Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., an operation led by S.H.I.E.L.D. in conjunction with several other government agencies throughout the 1900s and early 2000s. The project aimed to harness the power of the Tesseract to create new technologies for use on Earth.

As such, the Tesseract is the first introduced and the most prominent of all the Infinity Stones. It debuted in Captain America: The First Avenger, then served a significant role in Captain Marvel, The Avengers, and Avengers: Endgame. The project is emblematic of the power of the Infinity Stones and the ongoing struggle to obtain them. Point is, it’s a crucial touchpoint for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With that foundational knowledge, our Pegasus Order reorganizes the films to scaffold the importance of the Tesseract while trickling in the surrounding Infinity Stones and characters in memorable, sequential ways. Those curated details make this the best order to watch Marvel movies. And, the name sounds cool.

Machete order Definition

what is the Machete order?

If you know anything at all about Star Wars, then you know that the original trilogy that began in 1977 consisted of Episodes 4-6. The trilogy that came decades later covered Episodes 1-3. Some fans believe that the films should be viewed in release order (4-5-6-1-2-3) while others prefer to rearrange them into chronological order (1-2-3-4-5-6).

“Machete Order” is a viewing sequence of the Star Wars movies that originated on the website No Machete Juggling. It supposes that the BEST way to watch the films is 4-5-2-3-6, omitting Episode 1 entirely. In this sequence, the twists of the original films are preserved, while the two prequel films fill in some background information before the finale.

The idea is to enrich the narrative as a whole, and it’s exactly what we’ve aimed to do for the order to watch Marvel movies.

BEST ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

1. Captain America: The First Avenger

The First Avenger | Behind the Scenes

The MCU began with Iron Man — but in the Pegasus Order, we’re starting the first block with The First Avenger. It acts as a prologue to the whole of the Infinity Saga.

This establishes a few things upfront. We feature the Tesseract right away, declaring its importance and planting the Infinity Stones at the starting line of this saga.

Leading with the film that introduces Red Skull, Howard Stark, and Agent Carter also bookends their roles in Avengers: Endgame.

Lastly, by starting the story in the 1940s, rather than flashing back to it a few films in, it helps the events feel like a multi-generational epic.

IN CONCLUSION

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Take it or leave it. It’s a Nick Fury recruitment scene that doesn’t add much.
  • Tomatometer: 80%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH ALL MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER

2. Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man | Behind the Scenes

We get right back on track with Iron Man. Tony Stark is the other driving protagonist so we couldn’t stagger his introduction for long.

There are a few benefits to viewing Captain America and Iron Man back to back like this. First, it establishes them as the two main characters of the Infinity Saga.

It also sets them up as foils to one other, Tony’s self-centered snark immediately offsetting the boy-scout heroism of Steve Rogers.

There’s also some symmetry to the characters’ conclusions in Avengers: Endgame. Steve opens the Saga, then Tony follows; Tony dies, then Steve closes the Saga.

IN CONCLUSION

IRON MAN

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Absolutely. It’s the essential introduction to Nick Fury and the Avengers.
  • Tomatometer: 94%
  • Watch Now →

ORDER OF MARVEL MOVIES TO WATCH

3. Iron Man 2 (2010)

The Making of Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 is an extension of the first film. 

It introduces Natasha Romanoff, alias Black Widow, and it showcases James Rhodes’ adaption to War Machine, but it doesn’t further the overall story very much. 

That's why it’s best viewed immediately after Iron Man, so we can double down on that character without distracting from the increasing stakes of Phase 1.

IN CONCLUSION

IRON MAN 2

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Take it or leave it. It sets up Thor, but like, so does the movie Thor.
  • Tomatometer: 73%
  • Watch Now →

PROPER ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

4. Thor (2010)

Thor | Behind the Scenes

In the original release order, Thor precedes The First Avenger, and they both set up elements of The Avengers. We’re introduced to the villain of the film, Loki, and then the means of his villainy, the Tesseract.

In this MCU watch order, we’ve already established the recurring significance of the Tesseract. So, by viewing Thor right before The Avengers, we can stay more focused on Loki and his scheme rather than an obligatory dissemination of setup information.

IN CONCLUSION

THOR

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Absolutely. It segues into The Avengers even better in this order.
  • Tomatometer: 78%
  • Watch Now →

WHAT ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

5. The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers | Behind the Scenes

As in standard viewing order, the Big 3 films culminate in the epic crossover, The Avengers

It’s the second time we’ve seen someone utilize the Tesseract for nefarious ends, but we’ve put some distance between Loki and Red Skull. The threat of the Tesseract’s power is more ever-present and less of a last-minute MacGuffin.

Just as it ends Phase 1, The Avengers ends your first block of films. Our core players have been introduced, they’ve joined forces, and the film ends by teasing the biggest bad of all, Thanos.

IN CONCLUSION

THE AVENGERS

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. It positions Thanos as the big bad at the end of the Infinity Saga.
  • Tomatometer: 91%
  • Watch Now →

BEST ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

6. Captain Marvel (2019)

Captain Marvel | Behind the Scenes

Block 2. This is the most radical rearrangement on this list. Why watch Captain Marvel here of all places?

It’s tough to pin it down in order of Marvel movies to watch. You shouldn’t watch it chronologically, after The First Avengers, since it doesn’t pay off for twenty more films. The information it introduces doesn’t matter for most of those films. It also doesn’t work well when viewed in release order as it splits up Infinity War and Endgame in a way that doesn’t add substance to any of them.

But, immediately following The Avengers, it’s a retrospective on what we just saw and a setup for the events yet to come — like how Lost or The Godfather Part II use flashbacks to inform their present narratives.

On the retrospective side, we see the origins of the Avengers Initiative after experiencing how it came together. Casual viewers will recognize Agent Coulson, who just died in The Avengers, returning here. And, of course, we restate the central importance of the Tesseract. It serves as a reminder that we’re not done with this thing yet.

Moving ahead, Captain Marvel sets up the Kree and Ronan the Accuser, who we’ll soon see as the villain in Guardians of the Galaxy. It also gives us more time with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury, so their respective collapse and fake-out death in the Winter Soldier will be more impactful.

And, of course, it puts the Carol Danvers on the board much earlier, so her arrival in Avengers: Endgame plays like the desperate homecoming that it was intended to be for the characters.

IN CONCLUSION

CAPTAIN MARVEL

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? No. It’ll make no sense at this point in time. Watch it after Infinity War.
  • Tomatometer: 78%
  • Watch Now →

ALL MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER TO WATCH

7. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The Dark World | Gag Reel

There are a few solid reasons to see Thor: The Dark World next instead of the expected Iron Man 3.

Firstly, it covers the aftermath of Loki’s imprisonment. That’s some needed gratification after the Captain Marvel interlude. It also rounds out Loki’s villainous spree and lets him off the hook until he reappears in Thor: Ragnarok, way down the line. From there, we can transition safely back to Earth for Iron Man 3. 

It would have been nice to go to straight from Captain Marvel to the Guardians of the Galaxy films instead; stick to the cosmos the whole time. But placing the Guardians films next creates a huge gap between the characters’ debuts and their return in Infinity War, not to mention some timeline issues The Dark World.

IN CONCLUSION

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. It foreshadows the Guardians films and has key plot info.
  • Tomatometer: 67%
  • Watch Now →

CORRECT ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

8. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 | Gag Reel

Captain Marvel and Thor: The Dark World have hinted at cosmic forces, but it’s time to return to Earth. Now we know that there’s something bigger going on out there in the galaxy — and Tony Stark does too. His obsession with those forces are a recurring theme in this block of the MCU watch order.

In release order, we would have reconvened with Tony Stark directly after The Avengers. In Pegasus Order, we’ve given him time to marinate in his trauma.

IN CONCLUSION

IRON MAN 3

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. It’s the punchline to Tony’s narration and features a Bruce Banner cameo.
  • Tomatometer: 79%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Winter Soldier | Visual Effects

Once again, we get a Captain America and an Iron Man film back to back. I like the way this order entwines the two characters, especially considering that they eventually come to blows in Civil War.

Since we’ve moved Guardians of the Galaxy further down, this film tools up Age of Ultron. That order flows more seamlessly together and keeps up the thrilling tension that Winter Solider masterfully establishes.

IN CONCLUSION

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. It’s crucial to Age of Ultron and works better in our order.
  • Tomatometer: 90%
  • Watch Now →

BEST ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Age of Ultron | Behind the Scenes

Age of Ultron is an Avengers film, so of course it’s an epic watch, but it’s mostly just transitionary. 

Vision is born using the Mind Stone, Tony retires, Wanda switches sides, Ulysses Klaue cameos, and Steve and Natasha form the New Avengers. All of it matters, but there’s not a lot of flexibility with the correct order to watch Marvel movies around here.

This is the natural conclusion to the second block.

IN CONCLUSION

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? I guess. It establishes Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet, but barely and with no context.
  • Tomatometer: 75%
  • Watch Now →

BLOCK 3 OF THE PEGASUS MCU WATCH ORDER

11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians | Gag Reel

Mixing things up now by placing Guardians after Age of Ultron. With that arc of the story closed, it’s a better time to return to the cosmos and see what existential threats might be approaching. We’ve already been introduced to the Collector, and Captain Marvel taught us about the Kree, so we’re all geared up for some space adventures.

Since Thanos’ foreboding message at the end of Age of Ultron doesn’t actually mean anything, it’s a fine way to cue up his minor role here.

This “block” is really just the two Guardians films, but they’re so far removed from the rest of the MCU that they have to be a detour.

IN CONCLUSION

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? No. But only because I think Howard the Duck is despicable.
  • Tomatometer: 91%
  • Watch Now →

WHAT ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians 2 | Behind the Scenes

Guardians, Vol. 2 follows the original movie chronologically, so we’ve maintained that for Pegasus Order. Like Iron Man 2, the sequel doesn’t add very much to the overarching narrative, but it is a fun ride, so the two work together as a double feature.

But, if you want to choose what order to watch Marvel movies in, you could always stagger these two films. That’s what they did in release order. You can reinsert Vol. 2 between Ant-Man and the Wasp and Doctor Strange later on, breaking up those two blocks.

It could be interesting to watch these films as dividers between the large story beats. In a logical succession, though, this is the best place for it.

IN CONCLUSION

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? There are 3. Two of them are just gags, but you can skip Teen Groot because it’s years later.
  • Tomatometer: 84%
  • Watch Now →

BEST ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

13. Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man | Gag Reel

As was the case with Age of Ultron, Ant-Man’s viewing order isn’t very malleable. In both chronological and release order, it’s sandwiched between Age of Ultron and Civil War, so it has to align with at least one of those films.

We bumped Guardians, but we have to come back to Ant-Man. Marvel Studios released this as the closer of Phase 2, but in this MCU watch order, it’s the opening act for fourth block, the Civil War story arc.

IN CONCLUSION

ANT-MAN

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? You can take it or leave it. The literal same scene is featured in Civil War.
  • Tomatometer: 83%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH ALL MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER

14. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Civil War | Behind the Scenes

Ant-Man kicked off this block, but Civil War really gets it going. This story arc deals with the infighting between the heroes — so, we run a thread from this to Black Panther to Spider-Man to Ant-Man.

Each other them were involved in the eponymous war, so this order of Marvel movies to watch transitions viewers from the core heroes (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) to them, the new generation.

IN CONCLUSION

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes, both of them. They segue nicely into Black Panther and Homecoming.
  • Tomatometer: 91%
  • Watch Now →

THE ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

15. Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther | Behind the Scenes

Black Panther released two years after Civil War, despite the film covering the immediate aftershocks of it. T’Challa’s central conflict is the result of his father’s assassination, which took place in that movie.

This is one of those cases where chronological order is the best order to watch Marvel movies. Civil War created some serious story ripples and this is one of them.

The downside of this arrangement is that we get two Black Panther appearances back to back, then nothing until Infinity War. If this was the release order, that may have been an issue, but in a home rewatch, it shouldn’t be too drastic.

IN CONCLUSION

BLACK PANTHER

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Take it or leave it. At most, it reveals that they dethawed Bucky.
  • Tomatometer: 97%
  • Watch Now →

CORRECT ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

16. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Homecoming | Behind the Scenes

They never interacted on screen, but both Black Panther and Spider-Man had their MCU debuts in Civil War. Following that storytelling logic, this is the correct order to watch Marvel movies starring them.

IN CONCLUSION

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Take it or leave it, but the Vulture prison scene still hasn’t paid off yet.
  • Tomatometer: 92%
  • Watch Now →

WHAT ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

18. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

The Wasp | Behind the Scenes

Ant-Man and the Wasp marks the end of the fourth viewing block; it’s fitting since we used Ant-Man to open it. The fifth block will carry right along into the climactic two-part Avengers finale.

In release order, this film popped up after Infinity War, but one of the goals of Pegasus Order is to keep the finale undivided. That could mean watching The Wasp right before Infinity War, but as you’ll see, there’s a different film that works better there.

Besides bookending the first installment, The Wasp works here because it picks up with Scott’s house arrest — just another one of those Civil War ripple effects that I mentioned. Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok are unrelated to that film so we can hold off on them.

The only issue with watching Ant-Man and the Wasp here is the credits scene, which plays off Infinity War. The rest of the film holds up though.

IN CONCLUSION

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? No. It’ll either feel like a J.J. Abrams-style mystery or a confusing spoiler.
  • Tomatometer: 88%
  • Watch Now →

THE ORDER TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES

19. Doctor Strange (2016)

Doctor Strange | Behind the Scenes

We’ve pushed Doctor Strange down quite a bit from its original release order. Just as we rearranged Captain Marvel to promote the synergy between it and The Avengers, so too did we move this one. The best order to watch Marvel movies plays up those common threads.

The doc’s cameo in Ragnarok creates some definite osmosis between his movie and that one, which is played up when you watch them back to back. I also like chaining appearances together as much as possible, so seeing Strange in four movies in a row solidifies him as late-stage part of the ensemble.

This final block — Doctor Strange into Ragnarok into Infinity War into Endgame into Far From Home — truly feels like one linear story thread that raises the stakes of the Saga just before its conclusion.

IN CONCLUSION

DOCTOR STRANGE

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? No. It’s just a scene from Thor: Ragnarok, which you’re about to watch next.
  • Tomatometer: 89%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER

20. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Ragnarok | Behind the Scenes

Thor has been absent since Civil War, supposedly hunting for Infinity Stones. That’s a long hiatus. Hopefully you’ve had the time to forget about The Dark World and don’t notice his radical character change.

The main inspiration for the delay is to allow Ragnarok to open for Infinity War. The reunion of Hulk and Thor, the cosmic setting, and the heightened stakes dovetail so well into it that it’d be a shame to keep the films apart.

Ragnarok even provides some levity before two very dour films.

The first few Thor films didn’t progress the character much, but his arc really shines across the coming installments. He puts all his stock in the preservation of his people, loses half of them at the hands of the Mad Titan, fails to stop him, then sinks into a depression only cured by the realization that his failures and physique do not define him.

It’s a great save for a character who was treading water for a while. Since that’s such a key part of this block, we’ve folded them all together.

IN CONCLUSION

THOR: RAGNAROK

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. That’s your lead-in to Infinity War, which picks up right after it.
  • Tomatometer: 93%
  • Watch Now →

ALL MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER TO WATCH

21. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Infinity War Beat Sheet  •  Subscribe on YouTube

Back in our first block, we coupled up Thor and The Avengers because Loki tied the films together. It’s poetic that the last block recreates that — particularly since Loki sees his end in this film.

With the reorganization of the Guardians movies, this will be the first reappearance of those characters in a hot second (unless you staggered Guardians 2). That delay seems like a disservice to them at first, but not in the context of their introduction here. 

They save Thor following the decimation of the Asgardian people. Unlike Captain Marvel, they aren’t summoned to help, so this is a chance encounter. There’s some added dramatic weight to that spontaneous arrival when you’ve already discounted the Guardians in your head.

IN CONCLUSION

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. Then you can watch the Captain Marvel credits scene for the follow-up.
  • Tomatometer: 85%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER

21. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Endgame | Behind the Scenes Secrets

Endgame is the endgame. All the rearranging we’ve done has been in the service of this film. To quote the late, great Stan Lee: ‘nuff said.

IN CONCLUSION

AVENGERS: ENDGAME

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? There isn’t one.
  • Tomatometer: 94%
  • Watch Now →

ALL MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER TO WATCH

22. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Far From Home | Behind the Scenes

There’s only one correct place to end the Infinity Saga and it’s with Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s the perfect epilogue to Avengers: Endgame and takes the first steps of closure for Iron Man and the Infinity Stones. 

Maybe one day, once we’ve seen some Phase 4 films, we’ll realize that Far From Home is a better block opener than block closer. But, for now, we can only tether it to Endgame.

IN CONCLUSION

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME

  • Should I Watch the Credits Scene? Yes. Both of them are relevant to the film while setting up future elements.
  • Tomatometer: 90%
  • Watch Now →

HOW TO WATCH MARVEL MOVIES IN ORDER? — SKIP HULK

Where’s The Incredible Hulk?

You may have noticed that we skipped right over The Incredible Hulk

Yeah, it’s not in this viewing order. 

Just as the Machete Order chopped Star Wars: Episode I, we’ve omitted the Hulk. First of all, it’s not as accessible or important as the other films. Second, that character is reintroduced as Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers anyway, so it just spares some recasting confusion. 

Really, the only loss is the introduction of General Thunderbolt Ross, but that hardly matters in the long run given the way he’s reintroduced later.

Plus, if you’re watching this order with someone who’s completely green to the franchise (pun intended), it’ll be hilarious to see their reaction to Ruffalo hulking out for the first time.

If you really wanna know what order to watch Marvel movies in — like, ALL of them — then drop this one after Iron Man 2. But you’re better off dropping it altogether.


ORDER OF MARVEL MOVIES TO WATCH IN PHASE 4

What about Phase 4?

With the Infinity Stones destroyed, it’s unclear what the best order to watch Marvel movies will be in Phase 4. Maybe we can preserve the “spirit” of the Pegasus Order, concentrating on some new MacGuffin or a similar theme.

Presumably, Black Widow will find a spot in the above sequence since its a prequel film. Even so, it’s still unclear whether that spot will be BEFORE Endgame to cater to the chronology or AFTER Endgame to eulogize the fallen hero.

Other films, such the Eternals, seem to take place across the macro MCU timeline, while entries like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are likely to be firmly rooted in their release order positions. We’ll have to see how those pan out too.

Whether this MCU watch order will stand the test of time remains to be seen, but as far as the Infinity Saga is concerned, this is the best order to watch Marvel movies.

UP NEXT

More from Marvel

The depth and complexity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cannot be understated. There is so much content to read, watch, analyze, theorize and we've collected it all here. If you want to know about all the upcoming Marvel releases or see the MCU in order of release date or in story order, look no further. Or perhaps you're curious about our idea for the best order to watch the MCU: The Pegasus Order. 

Solution - Shot List and Storyboard

Showcase your vision with elegant shot lists and storyboards.

Create robust and customizable shot lists. Upload images to make storyboards and slideshows. 

Learn More ➜

467 Shares
467 Shares
Copy link