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Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Timeline Decoded: A Beginner’s Guide

Captain America
Credit: Marvel

I’m not a Marvel nerd; I’m arriving late to the party. However, my kids are becoming increasingly obsessed with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). That means I have to get caught up and become a nerd before I get left behind by my children—every father’s nightmare.

If you are joining the party late, like I am, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a vast, interconnected world of superheroes with thrilling storylines. While most Marvel movies follow a linear timeline, some portray events occurring simultaneously with others. Let me translate that for you; it means it’s tough to keep track of what’s happening with whom and where.

Iron Man

Credit: Marvel

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. This article will delve into the chronological order of events in the MCU, including the division of the story into phases and how to watch the films accordingly. Some of this might sound like a foreign language when you first follow it, but trust me; you’ll be MCU literate in no time.

Chronological Events in the MCU:

Thor and Thanos

Credit: Marvel

Some Marvel movies occur concurrently with events from other films, enriching the overall storytelling experience. For instance, the plots for Thor: Ragnarok (2017) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) take place around the same time, both leading up to the epic and ever-so-knuckle-gripping action-packed Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

The Phases of the MCU – The Infinity Saga:

The MCU is divided into three phases, collectively known as The Infinity Saga. This gripping story commences with Iron Man (2008) and reaches its climactic conclusion with Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019). Phase four kicked off with the Disney+ series WandaVision (2021) and included films like Black Widow (2021) and Shang-Chi (2021), ultimately concluding with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). Phase Five initiates with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).

Understanding the Timeline of Upcoming Films:

Guardians of the Galaxy Groot and Rocket

Credit: Marvel

To grasp the chronological timeline of upcoming MCU films, let’s take a closer look:

1. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022):

– Takes place after Avengers: Endgame (2019).

– Appears to be set some duration after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) and Ms. Marvel (2022).

2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022): 

– Takes place after Eternals (2021) and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).

– Coinciding with the events of Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and a tiny bit before Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023).

3. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023):

– Set in a post-Avengers: Endgame (2019) world.

– Potentially around the same time as the new upcoming sequel, The Marvels (2023).

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023):

– Occurs after the events of Thor: Love and Thunder (2022).

– Takes place after the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022), but the exact timing is unspecified.

Did that make sense? Don’t worry, just find the time to watch the following movies in the following order, and they will all fit together nicely.

Captain America

Credit: Marvel

The Ultimate Chronological Viewing Order:

To fully immerse yourself in the interconnected timeline of the MCU, here’s the definitive list of films to watch in chronological order of events:

1. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

2. Captain Marvel (2019)

3. Iron Man (2008)

4. Iron Man 2 (2010)

5. The Incredible Hulk (2008)**

6. Thor (2011)

7. The Avengers (2012)

8. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

9. Iron Man 3 (2013)

10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

12. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

13. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

14. Ant-Man (2015)

15. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

16. Black Widow (2021)

17. Black Panther (2018)

18. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

19. Doctor Strange (2016)

20. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

21. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

22. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

23. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

24. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

25. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

26. Eternals (2021)

27. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

28. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

29. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

30. Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

31. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

32. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

**Note: Marvel doesn’t include The Incredible Hulk (2008) on their official list, but Disney+ does.

Don’t have time to watch 32 movies?

Marvel films

Credit: Marvel

Honestly, I went on this journey and loved every minute of it. But let’s assume you actually have a life (unlike me). Go to Disneytips.com, use the search bar, and learn enough about the movies and characters to use the lingo. But here’s my warning, your kids will pick it up faster than you, and before too long, they’ll know you have no idea what you are talking about.

About Roy Jenks

Roy is the father of two boys who are obsessed with everything Disney. Roy also harbors a deep, dark secret he doesn’t like to share with everyone. He’s also a little obsessed and has been since he was a kid. The first movie he ever watched was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;" he’s seen "The Lion King" hundreds of times (sometimes even when his children aren’t around), and he’s seriously disappointed that his boys think "Tangled" is “too girly” for them. Naturally, his boys love Disney Parks, and he pretends he loves theme parks too. The reality is that he’s scared half to death by the rides. With two thrill-seeking youngsters to entertain, he’s become somewhat of an expert on Disney, their Parks, and movies… now he writes about it too.