Now that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has exploded in the way that it has, there are currently a ton of films and shows to binge-watch. For those who have never seen a single Marvel film, the whole process might be a bit daunting. That is complicated even more by the fact that the tangible timeline for the films has been all over the place and starts in 1943 with Captain America. So, this begs some questions. Which is the best way to watch all these films? Is there a correct Marvel movie order? Should you watch Marvel in phases or timeline?
Let’s start with what might make the most sense. Watching the movies in order of when they are supposed to take place in time would be the way to go. If that is your ultimate goal, then you would start with the above-mentioned Captain America: The First Avenger film, which takes place in the 1940s. The reasoning behind this is that Captain America is frozen in ice, much like in the comics, and thawed much later to become one of The Avengers.
Not a whole lot happens for many a decade until we are thrust into the world of Captain Marvel, which takes place in 1995. Another 15 years passes before we are introduced to Iron Man in 2010. And so and so forth. Basically, you would be adhering to the timeline that these events actually happened in. It would make sense and allow the time jumps that happen within the MCU to make a bit more sense. While Captain Marvel came out in 2019, the film takes place in 1995. I know, it gets confusing. But there are reasons behind the significant time jumps within the grand scheme of things, like the Captain America frozen in time plot point. So, this version of Marvel in phases or timelines focuses on the timeline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, what is the other way? Well, the phases of Marvel films might also be the “purist” way of thinking about watching these films. This is how the films were released in real-time. The very first film was the 2008 smash hit, Iron Man. That film started what would turn into the world’s biggest and most profitable movie studio. Though back in 2008, no one knew how huge this would get, Marvel surely felt it. They began to cultivate films that would adhere to no specific timeline but would often connect the dots via post-credit scenes.
Take Captain Marvel for instance. This movie in particular raises questions around whether to watch Marvel movies in phases or timeline, since it’s position changes so drastically. In the Brie Larson movie, Nick Fury calls Carol Danvers at the end of Avengers: Infinity War while the “blip” happens. This is the event that was caused by Thanos snapping half of the world’s population out of existence. While it didn’t make sense at that time, her solo movie gave a ton more context as to where she had been since the 90s and how she knew Fury. It was some time before we saw Captain Marvel, we at least knew she was going to helo in bringing back Fury and everyone else.
So, this mode is that of phases, which adheres to when the films came out in real-time. Phase one is Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers. This is the order in which these films are released and honestly, it would also be the way to go. You would feel the same level of shock and awe that we all felt as these movies were released by Disney. The post-credit scenes would hit harder as well. Marvel in phases or timeline? Choose phases if you are wanting to see the MCU movies as long-time fans have.
It truly comes down to personal preference when it boils down to Marvel in phases or timeline mode. If you want to make sense of the historical means of the MCU, choose the timeline. If you want to be surprised as everyone in history was as Marvel Studios release schedule, choose phases, either way, you can’t go wrong. There is a ton of material to get through and even more with upcoming shows like Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight where we’ll be meeting new Marvel characters. Good luck on your adventure and just know that whatever road you take will ultimately lead to some of the best films and shows that have ever been made.