How to watch all 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Polygon News –
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26, capping a Marvel Cinematic Universe arc 10 years and 21 films in the making. That’s a lot of story to remember, even for a series that loves to keep reminding audiences about its lore.
Some dedicated fans will get an MCU refresher at nearly 60-hour marathon screenings leading up to Avengers: Endgame. But those of us who want to re-experience all of the MCU’s up and downs — but can’t take off work for three days to sit in a theater — will have to turn to streaming services.
Starting in November, the dedicated streaming hub for all things Disney (including Marvel) will be the Disney Plus subscription service. In anticipation of this new platform, Disney yanked much of its massive library off of existing services. Which means, with the exception of a few recent films, the only way to stream Marvel movies is to buy or rent a digital copy from services like Amazon and iTunes — at least until Disney Plus launches.
Because of Netflix’s deal with Disney, MCU films released in 2017 and 2018 will stay on the service through the end of 2019. Netflix subscribers can catch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and The Wasp for the next several months. (Technically, Sony distributed Spider-Man: Homecoming, which has an exclusive deal with Starz.) And even though Disney owns a majority stake in Hulu, the only MCU movie streaming on that service right now is Iron Man 2, which is also available via Amazon Prime Video.
If that all sounds complicated — it is! Below we’ll try to simplify your rewatch, breaking down where each film in the MCU is available to stream, rent, or buy.
The blockbuster that started it all, Iron Man kicks off the MCU with our favorite genius billionaire playboy philanthropist’s origin story.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Yes, it’s technically part of the MCU. Edward Norton was, of course, replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers and all subsequent Marvel films.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The second Iron Man movie introduced two new MCU heroes: Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow and James Rhodes aka War Machine. Plus, Tony (and the audience) learns that his dad, Howard Stark, was a founding member of SHIELD.
We saw his signature hammer in Iron Man 2’s post-credit scene, but our first introduction to the God of Thunder is in his standalone, Thor. We also become acquainted with the MCU’s villain-turned-hero-turned-villain-turned-hero, Loki, when he stages a coup in Asgard.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Cap’s origin story is where we learn about Hydra and the Tesseract, two MacGuffins crucial to the MCU’s overarching narrative.
The Avengers (2012)
Capping off Phase One, The Avengers sees our heroes teaming up for the first time. They prevent Loki from invading Earth and recover the Tesseract, cleaning the slate for Phase Two.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The third Iron Man kicks off Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, focusing on the fallout from the Battle of New York that serves as The Avengers’ denouement.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Loki’s redemptive arc starts in the sequel to Thor, when the God of Mischief teams up with his brother to defeat the Dark Elves. But then he fakes his own death and impersonates Odin, so he’s still moderately villainous at this point.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The assassin known as the Winter Soldier is revealed to be Cap’s BFF Bucky Barnes, who’s been brainwashed by Hydra. And we’re introduced to his new BFF, Sam Wilson, aka Falcon.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The first Guardians movie introduces us to Star-Lord and his crew. It’s also the first real glimpse we get of the mad titan himself, Thanos, outside of an Avengers post-credits scene.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The sequel to The Avengers is where we meet the soon-to-be star-crossed lovers, Wanda Maximoff and Vision, who will join the team by the end of the film.
Phase Two ends with Scott Lang’s introduction to the MCU. Ant-Man also establishes the crime-fighting duo of Ant-Man and the Wasp, though it’s not until the sequel that we’ll see Hope Van Dyne suit up as the classic Avengers hero.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Phase Three kicks off with the third Captain America movie, which sees our heroes face off against each other. It’s also the first time we meet Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who will each get their own Phase Three films.
Doctor Strange (2016)
This origin story introduces the former neurosurgeon with mystical powers, Dr. Stephen Strange, along with his teacher-slash-sidekick, Master Wong.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
The Guardians sequel introduces a new hero, the empath Mantis, and the sort-of new hero, Baby Groot.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Thanks to a major deal with Sony, Spider-Man finally gets an MCU-approved standalone with Spider-Man: Homecoming, where the teen web-slinger is mentored by Tony Stark.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Thor tries to prevent the apocalyptic Ragnarok, with help from Hulk, Loki, and our newest hero, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).
Black Panther (2018)
Next, Prince T’Challa gets his own movie, which introduces us to Wakanda and its protective force, the Dora Milaje, led by Okoye. We also meet T’Challa’s younger sister, technology expert Shuri.
Avenger: Infinity War (2018)
The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy team up to defeat Thanos. Marvel originally announced the movie as Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1, with Endgame completing the story as Part 2.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Ant-Man was conspicuously absent in Avengers: Infinity War (though theories abound as to how he could be a particularly useful asset in defeating Thanos.) This movie was released after Infinity War, though Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of the Avengers film.
Captain Marvel (2019)
Carol Danvers’ origin story is still in theaters, and won’t be available to stream before Endgame is released. But Disney has confirmed that Captain Marvel will be streaming on Disney Plus at launch.
See Captain Marvel in theaters.