After multitudes of “correct orders” to watch the universe up to Endgame flooded the internet this past week, we came up with our own way to experience the MCU.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
The First Avenger can be placed in a couple spots in viewing order; but we personally love having the Tesseract in the story from the get-go. The Nick Fury cameo at the end sets up suspense for his intentions, and catapults the Avengers initiative into motion. Also, introducing Steve Rogers and Tony Stark as the first two heroes in the movies only feels right.
Iron Man (2008)
Is there any better place to start the modern day universe? The now classic story kicks off the current era in style and substance.
*Optional Skip* The Incredible Hulk (2008)
There’s not much reason to watch this one. The only real pay off you get out of this movie is knowing who Thunderbolt Ross is in Civil War. Watching a youtube clip of the final scene with Tony Stark is the only thing you need to do here.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
On the heels of Captain America, it’s great to see Nick Fury and SHIELD’s growth into the universe. In the post-credits scene, we see Agent Coulson find Thor’s hammer, leading to:
Thor sets up Avengers perfectly. The film introduces Loki and Thor, establishing for the first time that the universe is much larger than Earth. The post credit scene creates intrigue and bridges the gap to Avengers, with Nick Fury showing the Tesseract to Erik Selvig. Since the Tesseract has already been explored in Captain America, we already know the significance of it being there, and waste no time getting into the start of Avengers.
The Avengers (2012)
The big pay off to phase one. Safe to say it doesn’t disappoint. The ending of Avengers doesn’t offer much plot lines to build on, so where do we go next?
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The third Iron Man movie deals with Tony Stark’s direct fallout from Avengers. The movie is just… fine; but it does serve as a nice re-entrance into the more personal stories after Avengers.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
The movie that plays off of Avengers the most is the forgettable Thor movie; with Loki in exile in Asgard, and Thor’s motivation being based on previous events. The biggest thing that comes out of this movie is the introduction of the reality stone and the post credit scene with the Collector, who ends up being a character in:
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians helps expand the universe, and with its viewing coming closer to Avengers in this watching order, the mystery and anticipation of Thanos (among other outer space characters) only grows.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Winter Soldier is a top-tier MCU movie that hits even harder being one movie closer to Ultron. The post credit scene (just like most of them on this list) leads smoothly into Ultron, with the introduction of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The first movie that shows serious signs of fracture within the Avengers. Also the movie that made it apparent that parting ways with Joss Whedon was necessary.
Necessary to watch before Civil War, with the introduction of Ant-Man, and multiple scenes (during and after the movie) that set up Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
The biggest comic book film event to that point comes off of a three-movie run that directly sets up for it, instead of just two with release order. Civil War also introduces Spider-Man and Black Panther, thrusting the movies into the days before Infinity War.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
With the post credits scene of Civil War translating into Homecoming, along with the short film by Peter Parker kicking off the movie, it’s only right to watch the web slinger right after his first outing in the MCU. The impact Civil War had on Tony Stark is also apparent here.
Black Panther (2018)
Continuing with the fallout brought by the events of Civil War, Wakanda gets its grand entry with Black Panther. While T’Challa takes a step back from his first outing, the introduction of Wakanda and its characters is integral for the lead up to Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
There is plenty of reason to watch Guardians 2 right after the first movie in this list, but it would create an eight-movie break for the Guardians before re-appearing in Infinity War. While watching it after Guardians One is appropriate, we love the characterization from this film being fresh in our minds before Thanos’ reign of terror.
Doctor Strange (2016)
The second Sherlock Holmes in the MCU comes in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange in Doctor Strange. Not only is this film criminally underrated, but it feels more at place next closer to Ragnarok and Infinity War.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
God, this movie is so enjoyable. It fits perfectly in the universe after the post credits scene of Doctor Strange and before the post credits scene that translates into the opening scene of Infinity War.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Like that, you’re at the main event. There’s nothing to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said, but after seventeen (eighteen if you really want to watch Hulk) movies, this one comes and goes in a snap of the fingers (too soon?).
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
It is completely justifiable to skip this entire movie and just see the post credits scene for the larger picture of what impacts the universe. This one can also be watched before Infinity War for context of where Scott Lang is while all hell breaks loose.
Captain Marvel (2019)
The newest addition to the MCU is also the most versatile. It comes before everything but Captain America in chronology, and even feels like it fits along with the phase one movies. After bouncing between putting this before Infinity War (for dramatic effect of the post credit pager) or placing it here, but since we’re taking end credit scenes into account, we ultimately thought it’s the last thing that should be in your mind before seeing her appearance in Endgame.