You’ve probably seen most of Marvel’s films, but what about the TV shows? Timelines in the world of comics and movies can be more than a little confusing. And now, as we approach the culmination of more than a decade of movies and Phase 3 of the newly named Infinity Saga, things may very well become even more confusing.
After more than a decade of movies, TV shows, shorts, and post-credits scenes, there’s a lot to work through in the MCU.
Editors’ note, March 28, 2019: It’s finally happened, we’ve redesigned the *entire timeline.* Please continue to sound off in the comments about how great or terrible it is! And if you’re looking to stream some MCU movies, we can help. Think you’ve found a mistake? Let us know in the comments.
So to either help you fill in the gaps before Endgame, to just watch all the shows for fun, or even merely try to impress your friends, we’ve created a timeline of what Marvel President Kevin Feige has now dubbed The Infinity Saga in the perfect viewing order. Or maybe you just care about where Captain Marvel fits in (hint: it’s not where you think!).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the entire franchise is called, also sometimes includes connected properties such as movie tie-in comics or shorts. For the graphic, we’ve left out smaller properties and stuck to the big two of films and shows, but there are more goodies below.
OK, now before you lash out in anger about some of the, ahem, more recent films’ placement, please keep two super, mega, major things in mind.
MCU postcredits scenes do not matter
Seriously, the mid- and postcredits scenes are nothing more than fun throwaways, or in-canon nods for fervent fans. Even Marvelitself has quite literally rewritten older scenes with new movies. Assuming Feige and other heads of Marvel Studios thought about the next 10, 20 or even 30 years of MCU films right from the start is a bit presumptuous and completely ignores the fun some directors have said they had with these scenes.
It’s bonkers to think that these films should only be watched or experienced in a single way. Do I believe this is the best way to watch the franchise, yes. Will I someday introduce friends and family using this CNET Method? OF COURSE. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
My colleague Sean Keane has graciously ranked all of the MCU postcredits scenes for you (but if it would be helpful, maybe we can also develop a timeline of which to watch and when). I can’t say it enough times for first-time viewers: Ignore all the postcredits scenes (just watch the fun ones your friends tell you to). Especially when watching in this order, do not watch the Ant-Man and the Wasp credit scenes or you will be very confused.
And as for your next big question…
Captain Marvel does not belong in chronological order
No really, hear me out!
Captain Marvel is the first true origin story (as in, she wasn’t seen in a Marvel movie previously) since 2016’s Doctor Strange, but the film also gives fans a new look at Agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, as well as the Tesseract. If you were following a chronological watch order for your first viewing ever of these MCU films, you’d have So Many Questions watching the movie right after Captain America’s first outing.
In the film, Vers takes years to discover her true identity, and by waiting to watch her story with the context and nuance of 18 prior films you give yourself a treat. It’s more fun to bask in the fun of numerous in-jokes, “A-ha!” moments and Fury backstory you most likely wouldn’t have cared about 17 movies ago.
In this order, Captain Marvel is the treat you get before the Infinity War-prequel that is Thor: Ragnarok.
Despite what order you end up experiencing these movies in, you should save yourself a few hours and definitely still note that The Incredible Hulk is indeed still skippable and even William Hurt (“Thunderbolt” Ross himself) admitted it. Speaking to IGN in 2015, Hurt said that “[Ross in Civil War] is different because it’s a different style… And what they’ve done is they’ve taken a character who was the Ross from the older film and made a new version. This is a much newer Ross. A much different Ross.” After watching both, we can confirm this is indeed the case.
You’ll also notice that shorts and the Marvel One-Shots are missing from the graphic. These brief videos were initially created as standalone stories to provide backstory for characters or things seen in the movies, with two of them later becoming full-fledged shows.
More continuity in the MCU
There’s definitely some continuity strangeness when you have both movies and television show properties, and those listed on the graphic are no exception.
Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw the release of two Marvel movies and had to contend with incorporating those plots. Airing after the release of Thor: The Dark World, episode 8 of S.H.I.E.L.D. definitely takes place directly after those events.
Later in that season, episode 16 aired the same weekend as the release of Captain America: Winter Soldier and, in a neat bit of continuity, the events portrayed on S.H.I.E.L.D. take place at almost the same time as the film. (Some people say episode 16 comes before Winter Soldier, and you can certainly treat it as such. The *absolute* best way to watch them would be simultaneously, but I have yet to see anyone make that fan edit.)
Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones also have wibbly-wobbly timelines. Early in the series, the Battle of New York is referenced to as The Incident, and it’s said that it occurred about two years prior. But because of the show’s lack of interaction with any big-screen Marvel characters, it could take place almost anywhere on the timeline between Thor: A Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. In our timeline, we placed it concurrent with the second season of S.H.I.E.L.D. so as to stay closer to the time it was actually released.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is higher up than you may have expected — that’s because of the number of years the film says have passed, meaning it takes place just a few months after the first film…….Read more>>