What’s the Best Way to Watch the MCU Movies?

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a watch list of the Marvel Cinematic Universe floating around social media that I’ve been wanting to talk about.

With just days left before the release of Avengers: Endgame, I got to thinking about just what is the best way to watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Should it be based on when the films released? Or chronologically?

I see merits in both versions. And I want to go though each film and talk about where it is located in each order and why.

Let’s get started.

The Machete Method

This is the method I’ve seen all over social media. I’m not sure if this is the right name for the method or not, but it is what I’m going to call it. This way doesn’t completely follow chronological or release date order.

The Lineup

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Marvel’s The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Black Panther
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp
  • Doctor Strange
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Pros of the Machete method

This list goes through the universe mostly in a chronological order. When it gets to Ant-Man & The Wasp, that’s where the focus starts to change. From there, we see the introduction of the multiple dimensions within the MCU.

Cons of the Machete method

This focus changes near the end of the watch order and is hard to follow. Things flow in order up to this point, then we jump ahead to the future a few years. Then we’re shuffled back to more dimensions, and then back for a Thor film that takes place almost fully off of planet Earth.

Chronological Order

This watch order follows the timeline of when events takes place within the universe. You’d think this makes the most sense considering it follows a chronological timeline. But there are a few nuances that make it not flow quite so smoothly.

The Lineup

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Black Panther
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Dr. Strange
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Pros of Watching in Chronological Order

Watching this way allows you to see the story unfold in the order it happens within the MCU. It can help you keep the events straight since you aren’t jumping around through different periods of time.

Cons of Watching in Chronological Order

The problem with this order is you miss a number of jokes and callbacks scattered throughout the story. And if you are able to pick up on them, they don’t have the same kind of pay off.

Most notably is the S.H.I.E.L.D. acronym. Before 2008, Agent Coulson always said the department name fully. It wasn’t until later in the series when the acronym was heard.

Release Order

Release order is my favorite way to watch the movies in the MCU. It’s essentially based on when the films were theatrically released.

The Lineup

  • Iron Man
  • Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man 2
  • Thor
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Avengers
  • Iron Man 3
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Avengers Age of Ultron
  • Ant-Man
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Doctor Strange
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Captain Marvel
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home

Pros of Release Order

Since this order goes by release date, it’s the easiest to remember. Seeing the story this way opens up the creator’s intent behind the stories. It also lays the best foundation to follow the inside jokes and callbacks that are in the films.

Cons of Release Order

When watching them in release-date order, it can be difficult to know when something happens within the universe. Think of The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor – they all happen within a few weeks of each other. And that can cause confusion.

What’s the Best Way to Watch the MCU?

Every time I have watched the MCU, I have followed release order. It gives the surprises and reveals in the way the creators behind the film intended. Few films overlap and, when they do, there is no real crossover between them outside of the overarching universal narrative.

When watching films in chronological order, you get segments in some films out of place. That makes you ask more questions than just seeing them as more of a flashback.

The Machete order adds this extra bit of confusion when you jump back and forth in the timeline, especially after Captain America: Civil War.

I would highly recommend you watch the MCU movies is in release order. In fact, I can’t recommend it enough.

1 thought on “What’s the Best Way to Watch the MCU Movies?”

  1. Of course I had no idea which order to watch them. I appreciate you sharing the pros and cons to both ways, chronologically and release order. I value your opinion and would think watching in release order would be best!

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