By Ashly Moore Sheldon • March 05, 2023
With four feature films, four Disney+ series, and two Disney+ specials, the past year has been a big one for new Marvel material and the momentum continues. Here's what we expect to see in the upcoming year.
These additions, while exciting, have made it even more difficult to track the convoluted complicated Marvel timeline. It can be overwhelming to the uninitiated, so we've put together a guide for you to watch the past Marvel films and shows in chronological order.
If you watched the Marvel movies and shows as they were released, you know that they jump around in time. Watching them all requires a massive time commitment. This guide is intended to help you make sense of things and decide which movies and shows will be the most informative and entertaining for your purposes. Beware: There are some spoilers ahead.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
This may be the fifth Marvel film released, but it takes place long before any of the others—during WWII. It chronicles the creation of the super-soldier, Captain America (Chris Evans). We also meet Captain America's longtime friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), aka The Winter Soldier.
Captain Marvel (2019)
This movie jumps five decades forward in time to 1995 and introduces Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson. You also get a glimpse of a young Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Carol Danvers's best friend, Maria, who shows up later in WandaVision.
Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010)
Iron Man's odyssey begins in 2010 when genius inventor Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., creates his first Iron Man suit after being taken hostage by a terrorist organization.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The events of this movie and Thor both take place in 2010 around the same time as the first two Iron Man films. Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner who is on the run from General Thunderbolt and the US Military. Mark Ruffalo replaced Norton as the big green man in 2012's The Avengers.
Banished from Asgard to Earth by his father Odin, Thor, played by dreamy Chris Hemsworth, is trying to prove he's worthy of earning his powers back. Luckily he meets a helpful scientist (Natalie Portman).
The Avengers (2012)
With the main heroes introduced, this movie brings them all together for the first time to fight the daunting forces of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the Tesseract, and an alien horde invading NYC.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The third and final standalone Iron Man film takes place six months after the Avengers battle the alien takeover of NYC as Tony Stark struggles with PTSD about how close he came to death.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Thor returns victorious to his home planet Asgard after the Loki-led invasion of NYC. But he must quickly return to fighting mode with the return of the ancient Dark Elves seeking a powerful weapon called the Aether.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Since the big battle in NYC, Captain America has been working for Shield, a special government agency, but he begins to question the motives of the shadowy organization. In the meantime, his best friend Bucky Barnes returns from the dead and assumes the mantle of the Winter Soldier, an adversary. This film also Introduces The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
Peter Quill, aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), is a rogue scavenger who stumbles across an Infinity Stone amidst the ruins of an alien planet. Rising to the occasion, he assembles a ragtag group of outsiders to prevent the misuse of the powerful weapon. Part two finds the rapscallion space cowboy falling in love with the green-skinned Gamora (Zoë Saldaña) and confronting the mysteries of his own past.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The Avengers must reunite to confront Ultron, an AI created accidentally by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. This movie introduces Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), as well as Wanda's twin brother Pietro, aka Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson).
Good things come in small packages! Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a cat burglar who gets recruited by scientist and inventor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to don the mighty (yet mini) Ant-Man suit in order to battle Pym’s former prodigy who has co-opted the technology for evil purposes.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
This Captain America vehicle features almost every other Avenger, including two new additions: Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther and Tom Holland's Spider-Man. In this episode the Avengers take sides against each other as Captain America makes a controversial power play to save his friend Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier, who may be responsible for bombing the UN.
Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)
The agile, web-slinging superhero (Tom Holland) faces off with Michael Keaton's Vulture, a black market weapons dealer. Only recently recovered from the big NYC battle, Peter Parker is also dealing with the everyday drama of high school.
Doctor Strange (2016)
After a devastating accident destroys his hands, arrogant, imperious surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) goes in search of a cure. The ancient magic he discovers leaves him with unforeseen powers.
Black Panther (2018)
T'Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), returns home to be named king of Wakanda following the events of Captain America: Civil War. But once there, he reckons with the policy of isolation that has protected his vibranium-rich nation. He must also do battle with magnificent villain Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The Lightning God is grieving the death of his father and the destruction of his hammer by his estranged sister, Hella (Cate Blanchett!). After being pitted against the Hulk in gladiator style battles, the two team up with Loki, and Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie to battle the evil Hella.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Scott Lang has been placed on house arrest after siding with Captain America in the Civil War. He's been estranged from Dr. Pym and Pym's daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), but he agrees to help them try to retrieve Hope's mother from the Quantum Realm. (Heads up: the post-credits scene contains a spoiler about Infinity War.)
Black Widow (2021 movie)
This long-awaited film traces the path of Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) during a period of exile. We also get the chance to learn more about Black Widow's background as she explores her past. Plus there's the introduction of another Black Widow, Yelena (Florence Pugh).
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
After years of working from behind the scenes to try and gather all the Infinity Stones, Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin) decides to go and get them himself. His goal is to wipe out half of all life in the universe (for environmental reasons, obvs). The Avengers attempt to work together in an effort to stop him, but divisions persist from Civil War.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
After Thanos is successful in snapping away half of all life, he leaves the universe in chaos. A sliver of a chance emerges for things to be set right, but Captain America and Tony Stark must make peace and reunite the Avengers if they are going to be successful this time.
Loki (2021 Disney+ series)
This series, featuring everyone's favorite supervillain/antihero, Tom Hiddleston's Loki, bounces wildly through time so it is a little difficult to place. We're placing it here since Endgame is the point at which Loki breaks off into his own timeline.
Supplemental Reading: Loki: Where Mischief Lies
What If …? (2022 Disney+ animated series)
This series features Jeffery Wright as the Watcher, a powerful deity observing the events throughout the many different universes that make up the MCU. This show offers insights into the MCU multiverse.
Supplemental Reading: What If?: Into the Multiverse Omnibus Vol. 1
WandaVision (2021 Disney+ series)
The first of several spinoff television shows featuring some of the more minor Marvel characters, this campy series picks up immediately after Wanda's return from the Snap. Having lost everything, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) takes over a small town in New Jersey in order to make a happier version of her own life. TV historians will enjoy its clever, stylized romp through the evolution of the sitcom.
Supplemental Reading: Vision & the Scarlet Witch: The Saga of Wanda and Vision
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021 movie)
Simu Liu plays the titular character who confronts his shadowy past when his father, the leader of the Ten Rings organization, draws Shang-Chi and his sister, Xialing, into a search for a mythical village. Ultimately, he faces off against supervillain The Mandarin, played by Hong Kong movie star Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021 Disney+ series)
In this series, The Falcon, aka Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), and The Winter Soldier, aka Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), team up to take on an organization that has acquired a super-soldier serum like the one that transformed their old friend Steve Rogers into Captain America.
Supplemental Reading: Falcon and the Winter Soldier Collector's Special
Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)
This movie takes place in 2024, five years after Infinity War, with the return of all of those who were snapped by Thanos, including Peter Parker. On a field trip to Europe, he's surprised by the appearance of Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal).
Eternals (2021 movie)
A band of immortal alien beings emerge from hiding after thousands of years in order to protect Earth from their ancient counterparts, the Deviants. Directed by recent Oscar winner Chloe Zhao, this film's ensemble cast includes such big names as Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, and Kumail Nanjiani.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021 movie)
Picking up in the summer of 2024 where the last Spider-man left off, Peter has been accused of murdering Mysterio, while also grappling with having been unmasked (so to speak). The backlash has far-reaching consequences and Parker turns to Doctor Strange for help.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022 movie)
Directed by Sam Raimi (who directed the first Spider-Man trilogy with Toby Maguire), this film resumes where the last one left off. Strange has helped Spider-man make everyone forget him by closing a rift in the universe. But this has left far-reaching consequences and Doctor Strange enlists Wanda Maximoff for help, before setting off on his multiverse-spanning adventure.
Hawkeye (2021 Disney+ series)
It's the winter of 2024 and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye reluctantly teams up with obsessive fan Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), in an attempt to cover up his past as the murderous vigilante Ronin.
Supplemental Reading: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
Moon Knight (2022 Disney+ series)
Oscar Issac plays Steven Grant, a man suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. He learns he has been living another life as a mercenary named Marc Spector. This series also introduces Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow.
Supplemental Reading: Moon Knight: The Complete Collection
She-Hulk (2022 Disney+ series)
Tatiana Maslany stars as Jennifer Walters, a young lawyer. While spending time with her cousin, who happens to be Bruce Banner, the pair get into a grisly car accident. A drop of Bruce's blood finds its way into Jennifer's body via a wound she suffers in the accident. And well, you can probably guess what happens next.
Supplemental Reading: The Savage She-Hulk Omnibus
Ms. Marvel (2022 Disney+ series)
Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is a Pakistani-American teenager who's obsessed with the Avengers, especially Captain Marvel. While preparing her costume for Avenger-Con, she finds an old bracelet, a family heirloom that makes the perfect accessory for her look. When she puts it on, she finds that she is suddenly imbued with powers similar to her idol. This story takes place about two years after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Supplemental Reading: Ms. Marvel series
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022 movie)
Natalie Portman returns as Jane Foster, Thor's former love interest in this film, directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed Thor: Ragnarok. Here Jane's been granted the same powers as Thor and the two have to work through the awkwardness of their breakup in order to work together and defeat Gorr (Christian Bale), who's on a quest to kill all the gods.
Werewolf by Night (2022 Disney+ special)
Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Jack Russell, a man who infiltrates a meeting of the most feared monster hunters in the world (even though he's secretly a monster himself).
Supplemental Reading: Marvel Masterworks: Werewolf by Night Vol. 1
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022 movie)
Ryan Coogler returned to write and direct this film following the tragic 2020 death of Chadwick Boseman. The story begins with the death of his character T'Challa after his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) has tried, and failed, to find a cure for his disease. Now the women who have survived him, Shuri, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and Okoye (Danai Gurira), must fight to protect their home from those who desire access to their Vibranium.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (2023 movie)
Ant-Man and the Wasp find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
Supplemental Reading: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Miniseries
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022 Disney+ special)
Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) head to Earth to look for the perfect present for Quill, who needs some cheering up. (Psst, it's Kevin Bacon.) The rest of the Guardians also show up.
Supplemental Reading: Guardians of the Galaxy: Miniseries
Whew! What a project this has been. Hopefully it will be as helpful for you as it has been for us. You may also be interested in checking out our Star Wars Reading List, which includes a chronological guide to the shows and movies.