Marvel MCU Movie Watch Order

For anyone trying to figure out what order to watch the first 23 Marvel Movies in, I’m throwing my hat in the ring for a suggested watch order.

There are (as of this writing) two orders for the movies below. The “Romantic Order” which focuses on Tony Stark mostly, but also is very much character focused. It showcases/highlights the best moments of the best characters, it treats the Saga as an Epic Fantasy. The “Infinity Stone Story Arc Order” focuses more on the mechanical “story” and is more “logically” driven than “emotionally” driven, it treats the Chronology as a Historical Documentary.

If you have cried during the first 10 minutes of Up, deeply invested in Henry Jones Jr and “Dad”s relationship, or have ever wanted to fly like a bird because of the absolute joy of the freedom and exaltation of nature, you want the Romantic Order you namby-pamby little sissy girl you.

If you enjoy reading Economic Theory books, long treatises on World History, have ever read anything by Stephen Hawking and actually thought you got something out of it, and especially if “deeply moved” is not a phrase you would often (or ever) use in reference to how you felt about a piece of fiction, then “Infinity Stone Story Arc Order” is for you you cold hearted person you.

If neither of those really seem to fit you, but if you think The Chronicles of Narnia begins with The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, go look up the “release date order” online and watch it that way.

If none of those really seem to fit you, but if you think Star Wars begins with Episode I, go look up the “chronological order” and watch it that way.

Next time I watch these, I’ll do more to rate them as to how “good” they actually are in addition to how “required” they are, as well as splitting my reviews out from the actual movies themselves (to make the list a little more readable).

Formatting key:

  • required*
  • recommended
  • [optional – recommended]
  • {extremely optional – not recommended, but not that I recommend _agains_ it exactly}

“Romantic Order”

I’m calling this the “Romantic Order” because it is emotionally the best order to watch them in. Iron Man is absolutely first, and is absolutely the main focus of the entire Infinity Saga. If after watching the first Iron Man movie you don’t like Iron Man (both the movie and the character), just quit now before you waste any more time. And then go write technical manuals and keep paint company while it dries, because boy do you seem like a boring bag of rocks to me (just kidding, I love you you special weirdo you).

I’ve tried to keep continuity as best I can in the movies below, but some of them are “out of order” for pacing purposes.

  1. Iron Man*
  2. [Captain America]
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. [Thor]
  5. {Hulk} – Only saw it once. Kinda liked it. Universally “ignored” by fans.
  6. {Captain Marvel} – Had a lot of trouble placing this one. It could go here, or between 21/22, or between 19/20 (so that it doesn’t break up the rising action arc that starts at 20 and goes through 22). One year later and I remember almost nothing about this movie, other than I’d give it maybe 1.5/5 stars, and say it was “kinda fun” in some places.
  7. Avengers*
  8. Iron Man 3 – A lot of character development here for Tony. Since this first 22 movie run is really the saga of Tony Stark, this one is highly recommended for character development purposes.
  9. [Thor Dark World] – this one was not a great movie, but includes an infinity stone and is heavily referenced later, so it is maybe worth watching for completeness. If it were actually a good movie, it would be upgraded to required.
  10. Captain America Winter Soldier
  11. Avengers Ultron*
  12. [Ant Man] – Ant Man is heavily featured in Endgame, but you kind of get to know him in Civil War, so this one is “optional”. It was a very fun, good movie.
  13. {Black Panther} – I found this one boring. To me it felt less like a superhero movie and more like a political drama/cautionary tale targeted towards and applicable to people who do not think like me. Some people really really dearly love this movie (good for them!). It just wasn’t for me, like specifically as a white person it felt like the marketing around and language people still use to talk about this film openly states that I am not only not the target audience but also not really “invited” (there’s even a throw away line in the film “Another broken white boy to fix”. Almost like, “Ugh, freaking white people”. It’s like… Imagine being the limo driver at a bachelorette party. You can come but this sh*t ain’t for you.) Does this mean I think this movie is “for black people”? Absolutely not. This movie is actually for people that think most/many movies are either for black people or for white people (I’m obviously not of that opinion). This movie is also for Leftists and people that don’t like America, and I’m not even going to begin to dive into those statements other than to say that if you really really think about it when you’re watching it you’ll realize that this movie is a great argument for Libertarianism and also very clearly illustrates that the “Might Makes Right” mentality (the entire foundation of Wakandan political structure) is abhorrent. Based on the way it was promoted and talked about, it seems the movie doesn’t realize it is making this argument and the entire movie (or, its creators) seem to be actually extremely un-self-aware. It/They don’t realize that it is making all these Classical Liberal and modern Conservative arguments. It seems they think (maybe?) it is doing something else. Or else it is a brilliant bait-and-switch by classic Liberals to illustrate the need for proper Classical Liberalism to those on the Left, in which case bravo this is now my favorite Marvel movie (even if I won’t be interested in watching it ever again). So, again, since I wasn’t interested in watching what amounted to me to a Leftist teenager who lacks introspection and self-awareness work through their own political and actually racist ideology on screen and then not actually learn all the lessons they easily could have if they’d been paying attention, I was bored. BUT, it was a “well made” movie and I appreciated many things about it. Once I actually saw it, I didn’t regret watching it and enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
  14. Captain America Civil War*
  15. Spiderman Homecoming – This one was nearly required since it so heavily includes Iron Man, and develops a very important relationship that pays off in movie 22. It’s a “strong” recommendation though.
  16. [Ant Man & Wasp] – This one could just as easily go between 19/20. I’m tempted to move it there, but I’ll probably leave it here out of respect for my past self who made this list immediately after actually watching all of these. That said, My past self watched all of these before seeing End Game and Far From Home. Due to the large role Ant Man plays in End Game, I’d actually be tempted to move this one to just before Ragnorok. The one thing you can’t do is place anything between Ragnorok, Infinity War, and End Game. Those three are basically a trilogy in my book.
  17. Dr. Strange
  18. Guardians 1* – This one was nearly just “recommended” since it doesn’t include Iron Man, but it’s one of the best MCU movies so it’s required. It’s a “soft” required though.
  19. Guardians 2 – You might hate this movie. You might put it at {extremely optional} when you’re done. But it has some character development for some very important people and so I split the difference and put it at “recommended”. It’s a very soft recommendation though.
  20. Thor Ragnorok* – This one was nearly optional since it doesn’t include Iron Man, but it’s one of the best MCU movies so it’s required. It’s a “soft” required though.
  21. Avengers Infinity War*
  22. Avengers End Game*
  23. Spiderman Far From Home

“Infinity Stone Story Arc Order”

This one is less concerned about things like “rising action” and more concerned with “chronology” (kind of). It isn’t exactly chronological order, and it is much closer to “release date” order, but is also more careful not to introduce characters before you need to. It also commits the error of making you watch Captain America first, which I wouldn’t blame you for quitting half way through if this was your first time on the MCU merry-go-round… There’s a slightly different opinionation on which movies are required etc as well, because there is more of an attempt at a “full picture”. If a movie is required, it is either the introduction for a major character or heavily includes an infinity stone.

Prologue:

  1. Captain America*

Act 1:

  1. Iron Man – Such a hard call not to make this required. Strongly strongly recommend watching this one.
  2. {Iron Man 2}
  3. Thor – Only not required because there’s no infinity stone and you kinda get the gist of Thor in the Avengers movie and otherwise there’s too many required movies on this list.
  4. Hulk – Only saw it once. Kinda liked it. Universally “ignored” by fans. Hulk is a “core” character so its recommended to watch
  5. Avengers*

Act 2:

  1. {Iron Man 3} – A lot of character development here for Tony, but nothing really introduced here that carries over to the future films.
  2. Thor Dark World* – this one was not a great movie, but includes an infinity stone and is heavily referenced later.
  3. Captain America Winter Soldier – A lot of character development here with some ancillary characters that become major players in further films. Strongly recommended.
  4. Avengers Ultron* – This is basically Act 3 all on its own. Act 3 is more or less the prologue for Act 4. [spoilers! It marks the final time we ever see the Avengers as such.]

Act 3:

  1. Ant Man – Ant Man is heavily featured in Endgame and is a player in Civil War.
  2. [Black Panther] – Wakanda is a primary location in Infinity War and in End Game, so it could be useful to know why.
  3. Captain America Civil War* – Everything changes in this movie and it is truly the “end” of the Avengers and the setup for Act 4.
  4. Spiderman Homecoming – No infinity stone in this one, otherwise it would be required. Strong recommendation.

Act 4:

  1. Dr. Strange*
  2. Guardians 1*
  3. {Guardians 2}
  4. Thor Ragnorok – So hard to decide between “required” or not on this one. The only reason it is not required is because there were too many other required movies in Act 4. Strongly recommend.
  5. Avengers Infinity War*
  6. {Ant Man & Wasp}
  7. [Captain Marvel] – No point in introducing this truly minor character before now. This movie is very skip-able, especially since [spoilers: she only gets like 10 minutes of screen-time in End Game].
  8. Avengers End Game*

Epilogue:

  1. Spiderman Far From Home

Enjoy!

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