Review Marvel Movies in order of their phase-wise original releases, including their plot synopses, critical reception, brief opinion, and more:
The MCU, aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been a dream come true for fans of Marvel’s massive library of popular comic book superheroes and villains. Its success has raked in billions of dollars for Disney and created long, glorious careers for the actors and directors associated with these projects.
As of today, several interconnected stories have been told through 24 action-packed movies spread across 3 distinct phases, with the 4th phase set to continue MCU’s enviable run at the box office.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t watched these films or at the very least heard about the craze surrounding films like the Avengers and Black Panther.
That being said, there are people who haven’t watched these films but would love to catch up before the next entry into this franchise graces a silver screen near them. We understand jumping into the MCU when we are 24 films deep can be overwhelming.
So where would you start? Do you watch Marvel movies in order of their release or try to follow them chronologically?
Well, to ease you into this uniquely epic cinematic experience, we’ve listed down all Marvel movies in order of their phase-wise original releases. The list will mention each of their plot synopses, original US release date, critical reception, how much money they made at the box office, our brief opinion of the films, and much more.
So without much further ado, let’s look to watch marvel movies in order. First, let’s understand what the 4 phases of MCU entail.
Suggested Reading =>> Top Video Streaming Services
What You Will Learn:
- MCU: 4 Phases Explained
- Marvel Movies In Order
- Phase I
- Phase II
- Phase III
- #1) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- #2) Doctor Strange (2016)
- #3) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)
- #4) Spiderman: Homecoming (2018)
- #5) Thor Ragnarok (2017)
- #6) Black Panther (2018)
- #7) Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- #8) Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
- #9) Captain Marvel (2019)
- #10) Avengers Endgame (2019)
- #11) Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)
- Phase IV And Beyond
MCU: 4 Phases Explained
The MCU phases are a unique format devised by its creators to bring several movies together under a shared universe. All three phases work towards a common goal, with certain movies responding to events that transpired in movies before them.
To date, there have been three complete phases. The movies in the first three phases of the MCU covered the Infinity Stones Saga.
- The first phase focused on introducing us to the original Avengers team and culminated with all of its members coming together to stop Loki.
- The second phase expanded the universe, taking the action into space by introducing Guardians of the Galaxy.
- The third phase dealt with the Avengers team falling apart and then coming back together to face the threat of Thanos.
There is a fourth phase currently ongoing, which will introduce new characters into the fray and deal with the aftermath of ‘Avengers Endgame’.
Now that we’ve briefly looked into the four phases, let’s jump straight to the main course as we present to you the list of all marvel movies in order of their release.
Suggested Reading =>> Websites To Download Movie Subtitles For Free
Marvel Movies In Order
#1) Iron Man (2008)
|Directed By||Jon Favreau|
|Run Time||126 Minutes|
|Release Date||May 2, 2008|
|Box Office||$585.8 million|
Iron Man had huge hurdles to overcome. Not only was it supposed to succeed as a standalone action film, but also sell Robert Downey Jr. as the eponymous superhero.
Fortunately, it more than succeeded on both these fronts. It catapulted its main lead to superstardom while officially launching the MCU. This was also the film that started the tradition of marvel’s post-credit sequences.
After escaping his terrorist captors, famous billionaire and engineer Tony Stark build a mechanized armor suit to become the superhero, Iron Man.
#2) The Incredible Hulk (2008)
|Directed By||Louis Letterier|
|Run Time||112 minutes|
|Release Date||June 8, 2008|
|Box Office||$264.8 million|
Before Mark Ruffalo took the mantle of marvel’s beloved green monster, Edward Norton was the Hulk. Because of some creative differences, he stepped aside and let Mark Ruffalo do justice to the role in future MCU movies. While not the best or the most successful MCU film, it is still entertaining with decent late 2000 CGI action and outstanding performances from everyone in the cast.
Bruce Banner becomes an unwitting victim of a military scheme seeking to reinvigorate the ‘Super -Soldier’ program and becomes the Hulk. Bruce now finds himself on the run as he desperately tries to cure himself of the gamma radiation that causes him to transform into the hulk when enraged.
#3) Iron Man 2 (2010)
|Directed By||Jon Favreau|
|Run Time||125 minutes|
|Release Date||May 7, 2010|
|Box Office||$623.9 million|
The critical and commercial success of the first Iron Man resulted in its sequel being fast-tracked even before two key members of the Avengers were yet to have their own film. The film feels rushed by an underwhelming villain. However, it manages to progress further to its intended goal by introducing Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and bringing S.H.I.E.L.D to the forefront.
Taking place six months after the events of the first Iron Man, Tony Stark must face the United States Government who wants the Iron Man technology, deal with his own mortality, and come face to face with Russian Scientist Ivan Vanko who seems to have a personal vendetta against the stark family.
#4) Thor (2011)
|Directed By||Kenneth Branagh|
|Run Time||114 minutes|
|Release Date||May 6, 2011|
|Box Office||$449 million|
Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean spin on characters from Norse Mythology is a good time. It made stars out of new faces like Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, playing the now iconic roles of Thor and his jealous adopted brother Loki. The film tells a tale of hubris, arrogance, and redemption with healthy doses of humor and action sprinkled throughout.
Thor is banished from Asgard by his father, Odin, for a transgression that reignites a dormant war. Stripped of his powers, Thor must prove himself worthy of lifting the hammer Mjolnir and stop his Brother Loki’s plot to usurp Asgard’s throne.
#5) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
|Directed By||Joe Johnston|
|Run Time||124 Minutes|
|Budget||$140 – $216.7 Million|
|Release Date||July 22, 2011|
|Box Office||$ 370.6 Million|
Captain America: The First Avenger was the ultimate step in the long build-up to the Avengers film. Luckily, it was also a very good film set during the Second World War. In the form of Captain America, the film re-introduced the world to the traditional American superhero who displayed a stark contrast to most of the dark, brooding, cocky characteristics of his contemporaries.
During the height of World War 2, Steve Rogers, a frail young man, was transformed into the Super Soldier Captain America. He must now stop the Red Skull before he can use the Tesseract to help Hydra continue its terror over the world.
#6) The Avengers (2012)
|Directed By||Joss Whedon|
|Run Time||143 Minutes|
|Release Date||May 4, 2012|
|Box Office||$1.519 Billion|
Any skepticism people had about the MCU was blown away with the critical and commercial success of the first Avengers film. The film seamlessly integrated multiple superheroes into one film without feeling overcrowded.
This was the first time people got to see Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor share screen in a live-action film. Its billion-dollar box office collection proved what a successful experiment the MCU had been.
Nick Fury sets out to recruit Bruce Banner, Thor, Tony Stark, and Steve Rogers to form a team that would become earth’s only chance against the threat of subjugation brought upon it by Thor’s brother Loki.
#1) Iron Man 3 (2013)
|Directed By||Shane Black|
|Run Time||131 Minutes|
|Release Date||May 3, 2013|
|Box Office||$1,215 billion|
With a bigger budget, Disney showed the faith they had in the character of Iron Man and the MCU in general. Although the reception was divisive, the film was the first solo-hero film in the MCU to earn over a billion dollars at the box office. The film also showed the willingness of producers to give complete creative control to their directors, which kind of worked in Iron Man 3’s favor.
Struggling with PTSD because of the events that transpired in Avengers, Tony Stark must wrestle with his demons and face the threat of a national terrorism campaign launched by the Mandarin.
#2) Thor: The Dark World (2013)
|Directed By||Alan Taylor|
|Run Time||112 Minutes|
|Release Date||November 8, 2013|
|Box Office||$644.8 Million|
Helmed by Alan Taylor, who had directed several episodes of Game of Thrones, seemed like the perfect choice for Thor’s second outing. The plot meanders a bit but considerably picks up in the third act with amazing set-pieces and that signature MCU humor. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki easily stands out as the best part of this film.
Thor and Loki are forced to team up to protect the Nine Realms from the threat of Dark Elves who seek the mysterious reality-bending weapon known as Aether.
#3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
|Directed by||The Russo Brothers|
|Run Time||136 Minutes|
|Release Date||April 4, 2014|
|Box Office||$ 714.4 Million|
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is essentially a spy/espionage thriller disguised as a superhero film. The Russo brothers have deep respect for the character of Captain America and that shows in every frame of this film. This film is often cited as one of the best films in the entire MCU. It has exhilarating action, a nail-biting plot, and enough twists to keep you guessing till the end.
Captain America finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy festering within S.H.I.E.L.D. Not knowing who to trust, he joins forces with the Black Widow and Sam Wilson to understand an extremely dangerous plot.
#4) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
|Directed By||James Gunn|
|Run Time||122 Minutes|
|Release Date||August 1, 2014|
|Box Office||$772.8 Million|
A talking raccoon and a sentient tree seem ludicrous ideas on paper, but add the creative genius of James Gunn to the mix and you have a winning recipe. Guardians of the Galaxy showed the MCUs willingness to take risks. The film was an instant commercial and critical darling with ‘Groot’ becoming a major merchandise seller for Disney.
Brash space hunter Peter Quill goes on the run along with a ragtag group of extraterrestrial misfits after stealing a powerful orb.
#5) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
|Directed By||Joss Whedon|
|Run Time||141 Minutes|
|Release Date||May 1, 2015|
|Box Office||$1.402 billion|
The sequel to the first Avengers was immediately announced in 2012 while the first film was still enjoying a dream run at the box office. While nothing could ever beat the novelty of seeing all of your favorite superheroes fighting side by side, Age of Ultron still manages to be a solid follow-up to the original.
The Avengers face a powerful new foe when Tony Stark, with help from Bruce Banner, creates Artificial Intelligence that vows to eradicate the human race.
#6) Ant-Man (2015)
|Directed By||Peyton Reed|
|Run Time||117 Minutes|
|Release Date||July 17, 2015|
|Box Office||$519.3 million|
The Ant-Man feels like a breath of fresh air in the MCU because of its low-stakes premise. It doesn’t rely on large beam-in-the-sky action set-pieces. Instead, delivering thrills with innovative visuals based on Ant-Man’s shrinking abilities. Add to that, the casting of the always charismatic Paul Rudd also does wonders for this film.
Thief Scott Lang is recruited by Hank Pym to plot a heist in a desperate bid to protect his shrinking technology.
#1) Captain America: Civil War (2016)
|Directed By||The Russo Brothers|
|Run Time||147 Minutes|
|Release Date||May 6, 2016|
|Box Office||$1.153 billion|
The Russo Brothers proved with this film why they were worthy of helming the concluding films in the Infinity Sage. Captain America: Civil War is more of an Avengers film with its heroes fighting each other both physically and ideologically. A 17-minute action sequence at an airport where each superhero gets to flex their powers is perhaps a highlight of not only this film but the entire MCU.
Disagreements over the Sokovia Accords results in the Avengers team fracturing into two factions, one led by Tony Stark and the other led by Steve Rogers.
#2) Doctor Strange (2016)
|Directed By||Scott Derrickson|
|Run Time||115 Minutes|
|Release Date||November 4, 2016|
|Box Office||$677.7 million|
Doctor Strange is a rare instance where fan casting became a reality. The film mustered enough hype by casting Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular superhero. Its trippy trailers did the rest. The film was an instant box office success. It was praised for its innovative storytelling and unusual climax.
A car crash lives master neurosurgeon with broken hands and no career. In a bid to get his life back, he begins learning mystic arts and becomes Dr. Strange.
#3) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)
|Directed By||James Gunn|
|Run Time||137 minutes|
|Release Date||May 5, 2017|
|Box Office||$863.8 million|
The second Guardians of the Galaxy came in riding the coattails of its very successful predecessor. Although not as good as the first, it still managed to tell a gripping, visually striking story with James Gunn’s bizarre humor thrown in for added effect. The film is also surprisingly emotional and takes the time needed to develop each of its characters.
The Guardians travel across the galaxy to unearth the mystery of Peter Quill’s parentage, all the while facing new foes on their journey.
#4) Spiderman: Homecoming (2018)
|Directed by||Jon Watts|
|Run Time||133 minutes|
|Release Date||July 7, 2018|
|Box Office||$880.2 million|
Spiderman is Marvel’s flagship character and is the most popular superhero on the planet. Fans were stoked to see Spiderman share screen space with some of MCU’s finest heroes while also getting his own solo film. The film focused on a younger Peter Parker as he juggles between his school life and being a superhero in New York while being mentored by Tony Stark.
Peter Parker/Spiderman must balance his hectic high-school life while also facing the menace that is the Vulture.
#5) Thor Ragnarok (2017)
|Directed by||Taika Waititi|
|Run Time||130 minutes|
|Release Date||November 3, 2017|
|Box Office||$854 million|
Thor was arguably the only character out of the original Avengers teams that were having a hard time resonating with the audience. So they hired Taika Waititi to reinvent Thor and his mythos. The result is a visually stunning film, which also is hilarious. Thor Ragnarok is a comedy through and through.
Thor finds himself captive on the planet Sakaar. He must escape this planet in time to save Asgard from Hela and the imminent Ragnarok.
#6) Black Panther (2018)
|Directed By||Ryan Coogler|
|Run Time||134 minutes|
|Release Date||February 16, 2018|
|Box Office||$1.318 billion|
The hype surrounding Black Panther was quite unlike anything in the MCU. The film was extremely important for African Americans for its respectful depiction of their community. It was also a major success for the MCU, both critically and commercially. With the help of Ryan Coogler, Black Panther managed to tell a mature superhero story with effective social commentary.
T’Challa the new king of Wakanda, is challenged by Killmonger, who plans to tear down the isolationist policies of the country in favor of a global revolution.
#7) Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
|Directed By||The Russo Brothers|
|Run Time||149 minutes|
|Release Date||April 27, 2018|
|Box Office||$2.048 billion|
After almost a decade of build-up, we were finally here at the culmination of the Infinity Stones saga. The Russo Brothers did a great job bringing so many established MCU characters in one film. Everyone was given their moment to shine. The star of the show, however, was its main villain Thanos, who turned out to be the most compelling antagonist the MCU had ever produced.
The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy try to prevent Thanos from collecting all six infinity stones, which he plans to use to kill half of life in the Universe.
#8) Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
|Directed By||Peyton Reed|
|Run Time||118 minutes|
|Release Date||July 6, 2018|
|Box office||$622.7 million|
Ant-Man and the Wasp felt like a good breather after the intense doom and gloom of Avengers: Infinity War. The film retained its original charm, thanks in large part to Paul Rudd, always charismatic and hilarious Scott Lang. The film also introduced the concept of Quantum Realm and acts as a bridge between Infinity War and Endgame.
Scott Lang helps Hank Pym and Hope Pym enter the Quantum Realm to find and save Janet Van Dyke.
#9) Captain Marvel (2019)
|Directed By||Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck|
|Run Time||124 minutes|
|Release Date||March 8, 2019|
|Box Office||$1.218 million|
MCU finally launched a solo female superhero film with Captain Marvel and it was a major box office success, raking in billions of dollars. The film stands alone from the shenanigans that were happening in the MCU at the time. It introduced a story element that holds significant promise for phase 4 of the MCU.
Set in 1995, Carol Danvers becomes the intergalactic superhero Captain Marvel in the middle of a galaxy-spanning conflict between two alien civilizations.
#10) Avengers Endgame (2019)
|Directed by||The Russo Brother|
|Run Time||181 minutes|
|Release Date||April 26, 2019|
|Box Office||$2.798 billion|
Avengers Endgame acted as a fitting conclusion in the Infinity Saga storyline and many of the original Avengers team members. It was epic in all the right measures and made a plot centering on time travel work. The film serves as 3 hour-long fan service with exhilarating action scenes, great character interaction, and a lot of heartbreak.
The original Avengers led by Steve Rogers attempted to reverse the destruction caused by Thanos 5 years ago.
#11) Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)
|Directed By||Jon Watts|
|Run Time||129 minutes|
|Release Date||July 2, 2019|
|Box Office||$1.132 million|
Spiderman: Far From Home serves two purposes. It tells a standalone Spiderman film while also dealing with the aftermath of Avengers Endgame. Despite all the spider-man related action, the movie still feels like a John Hughes high school coming-of-age story. This works in the film’s favor.
Another standout in the film is the visuals they used to depict Mysterio’s powers.
Peter Parker is recruited by Nick Fury while on a holiday in Europe to help Mysterio fight the threat of the Elementals.
Phase IV And Beyond
Marvel’s Phase IV was supposed to begin almost a year ago with Black Widow in 2020. Sadly, the coronavirus put an indefinite pause on those plans. Finally, after a year we finally got to see Black Widow release on Disney Plus and Theaters to mixed response.
Phase IV has officially been kick-started and Marvel has a long slate of films scheduled to release over the next few years.
Here is a quick rundown of the list (the release dates are not certain.)
- Shang Chi (2021)
- Eternals (2021)
- Spiderman: No Way Home (2021)
- Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness (2022)
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
- Captain Marvel 2 (2022)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 3 (2023)
- Blade (2023)
- Ant Man and Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
- Fantastic 4 (2023)
Marvel Movies In Chronological Order
Aside from their order of release, there is another way of watching MCU movies, based on where they take place in the core timeline. Although not recommended, the following list can act as an alternative way to get into MCUs long line-up of movies:
- Captain America the first avenger (2011)
- Captain Marvel (2019)
- Iron Man (2008)
- Iron man 2 (2010)
- The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Thor (2011)
- The avengers (2012)
- Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Thor the dark world (2013)
- Captain America the winter soldier (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)
- Avengers Age of Ultron (2015)
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Captain America civil war (2016)
- Spider-man homecoming (2017)
- Doctor strange (2017)
- Black Widow (2021)
- Black Panther (2017)
- Thor Ragnarok (2017)
- Ant man and the wasp (2018)
- Avengers infinity war (2018)
- Avengers Endgame (2019)
- Spider-man Far from home (2019)
Comparison Of Marvel Movies In Release Order
|Marvel Movies||Directed By||Run Time||Budget||Release Date||IMDB||Box Office|
|Phase I||#1) Iron Man (2008)||Jon Favreau||126 Minutes||$140 Million||May 2, 2008||7.9/10||$585.8 million|
|#2) The Incredible Hulk (2008)||Louis Letterier||112 minutes||$150 million||June 8, 2008||6.6/10||$264.8 million|
|#3) Iron Man 2 (2010)||Jon Favreau||125 minutes||$170 million||May 7, 2010||7/10||$623.9 million|
|#4) Thor (2011)||Kenneth Branagh||114 minutes||$150 million||May 6, 2011||7/10||$449 million|
|#5) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)||Joe Johnston||124 Minutes||$140 – $216.7 Million||July 22, 2011||6.7/10||$ 370.6 Million|
|#6) The Avengers (2012)||Joss Whedon||143 Minutes||$220 million||May 4, 2012||8/10||$1.519 Billion|
|Phase II||#1) Iron Man 3 (2013)||Shane Black||131 Minutes||$200 Million||May 3, 2013||7.1/10||$1,215 billion|
|#2) Thor: The Dark World (2013)||Alan Taylor||112 Minutes||$150-170 Million||November 8, 2013||6.8/10||$644.8 Million|
|#3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)||The Russo Brothers||136 Minutes||$170-$177 Million||April 4, 2014||7.7/10||$ 714.4 Million|
|#4) Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)||James Gunn||122 Minutes||$232.3 Million||August 1, 2014||8/10||$772.8 Million|
|#5) Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)||Joss Whedon||141 Minutes||$495.2 million||May 1, 2015||7.3/10||$1.402 billion|
|#6) Ant-Man (2015)||Peyton Reed||117 Minutes||$130-$169.3 million||July 17, 2015||7.3/10||$519.3 million|
|Phase III||#1) Captain America: Civil War (2016)||The Russo Brothers||147 Minutes||$250 Million||May 6, 2016||7.8/10||$1.153 billion|
|#2) Doctor Strange (2016)||Scott Derrickson||115 Minutes||$236.6 million||November 4, 2016||7.5/10||$677.7 million|
|#3) Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017)||James Gunn||137 minutes||$200 million||May 5, 2017||7.6/10||$863.8 million|
|#4) Spiderman: Homecoming (2018)||Jon Watts||133 minutes||$175 million||July 7, 2018||7.4/10||$880.2 million|
|#5) Thor Ragnarok (2017)||Taika Waititi||130 minutes||$180 million||November 3, 2017||7.9/10||$854 million|
|#6) Black Panther (2018)||Ryan Coogler||134 minutes||$200 million||February 16, 2018||7.3/10||$1.318 billion|
|#7) Avengers: Infinity War (2018)||The Russo Brothers||149 minutes||$325-$400 million||April 27, 2018||8.3/10||$2.048 billion|
|#8) Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)||Peyton Reed||118 minutes||$195 million||July 6, 2018||7/10||$622.7 million|
|#9) Captain Marvel (2019)||Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck||124 minutes||$175 million||March 8, 2019||6.8/10||$1.218 million|
|#10) Avengers Endgame (2019)||The Russo Brother||181 minutes||$400 million||April 26, 2019||8.4/10||$2.798 billion|
|#11) Spiderman: Far From Home (2019)||Jon Watts||129 minutes||$160 million||July 2, 2019||7.5/10||$1.132 million|
Watching Marvel movies in chronological order sounds like a rational decision, but we strongly feel certain crucial moments in these films lose their element of surprise when watched chronologically.
Hence, the best way to experience these films is to stroll down the MCU movies in order of their phase-wise releases. This would definitely make watching each of these films and understanding their premise simpler for a newbie.
Also Read =>> Best TV And Movie Streaming Platforms
Although we are now 24 movies in with MCU films, questions like ‘What Order to Watch Marvel Movies in?’ is frequently asked on fan forums. We’ve curated the above Avengers movies in order of their release so novice viewers can catch up in time for the next MCU release, which is always right around the corner.