How to watch every Marvel property in the perfect order
You’ve probably seen most of Marvel’s films, but what about the TV shows?
If you’re like me, that is to say a continuity junkie, timelines are very important to you — butcan be more than a little confusing. So to help you fill in the gaps before “ ,” watch all the shows for fun, or even just try to impress your friends, we’ve created a timeline of Marvel’s Phase 1 and 2 properties in the perfect viewing order.
Editors’ Note, May 20, 2016: The time for updates is nigh! No seriously, next week this big huge timeline will get *even bigger.* For now, I’ve updated some of the TV info after this week’s upfronts and sad goodbyes. This piece was originally published April 30, 2015, and is updated periodically.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it’s called, also sometimes includes connected properties such as comics or shorts. Here we’ve left out smaller properties and stuck to the big two: films on the left side, shows on the right.
Every film listed on the left is a single-character movie, meaning each film revolves around the title character. Some feature additional heroes (for example, Black Widow and Nick Fury appear in “Captain America: Winter Soldier”), but the movie doesn’t usually delve into those characters’ backgrounds too deeply.
Also, note that “The Incredible Hulk” is still skippable () and even William Hurt (“Thunderbolt” Ross himself) has admitted it. Speaking to IGN, Hurt said that “[Ross in ‘Civil War’] is different because it’s a different style. … And what they’ve done is they’ve taken a character who was the Ross from the older film and made a new version. This is a much newer Ross. A much different Ross.”
Ranking the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies
1 – 5 of 13
You’ll also notice the Marvel “One-Shots” are missing from the graphic. These are brief videos initially created as standalone stories to provide backstory for characters or things seen in the movies; two of them would later become full-fledged shows.
|Title, release date||Takes place…|
|The Consultant (September 2011)||During the end of “Incredible Hulk”|
|A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer (October 2011)||Directly before “Thor”|
|Item 47 (September 2012)||Immediately following the Battle of New York in “Avengers”|
|Agent Carter (August 2013)||One year after “Captain America: The First Avenger;” before “Agent Carter”|
|All Hail the King (February 2014)||Roughly two years after “Iron Man 3;” before “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”|
There’s definitely some continuity strangeness when you have both movies and television show properties, and those listed on the graphic are no exception.
Season 1 of ”” saw the release of two Marvel movies and had to contend with incorporating those plots. Airing after the release of “Thor: The Dark World,” episode 8 of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” definitely takes place directly after those events. Later in the same season, episode 16 aired the same weekend as the release of “Captain America: Winter Solider,” and in a neat bit of continuity, the events portrayed on “S.H.I.E.L.D.” take place at almost the same time as the film.
and “ ” also have wibbly-wobbly timelines. Early in the series, the Battle of New York is referenced as The Incident, and it’s said that it occurred about two years prior. But because of the show’s lack of interaction with any big-screen Marvel characters, it could take place almost anywhere on the timeline between “Thor: A Dark World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” In our timeline, we placed it concurrent with the second season of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” so as to stay closer to the time it was actually released.
Other properties not listed? Season two of “Daredevil” and “Agent Carter,” as well as the current season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and announced but not-yet-begun TV shows, and any forward-looking movies. (Upcoming movies can be found infor now.)
As I mentioned before, the infographic above only represents Marvel’s first two phases of its Cinematic Universe. Late in 2014, Marvel announced that Phase 3 would introduce Doctor Strange, Black Panther and Captain Marvel.
The latest film also gave us our first look at a couple of new characters. In what was the worst kept secret for awhile there, we finally saw Spidey in “Captain America: Civil War.” It was as awesome as we expected, but did raise some interesting questions. Having now made over $1 billion, “Civil War” was definitely not affected by the poor reviews of DC’s latest comic foray, “.”
Speaking of Spidey, he got an official name! Well, his film did. It’ll be called “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and after seeing “,” I’m pretty excited for it.
Third, thedropped last month during the company’s self-appointed #MarvelWeek — and it did not disappoint. The movie also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton.
Fourth and finally, we got our first somewhat meaty piece of info about the huge “Avengers: Infinity War.” Directors Joe and Anthony Russo told ComicBook.com that both Thor and Star-Lord will be making an appearance in the character-packed two-part story. And in the midst of that talk, we got our first glint of info about next year’s Thor sequel.
Joe Russo told the site he’s excited to work with Thor since there’s “some really interesting stuff with ‘Ragnarok’ and where he’s gonna be at the beginning of ‘Infinity War’ is gonna be a very interesting place and I think very profound.” Since these films are truly the pinnacle of every previous MCU movie, it will be extremely interesting to see how the Russos handle the tone as well as the majorly large cast.
Interested in what else is coming soon?
The second season of, starring , and featuring the much-talked-about Elektra Natchios, played by Elodie Yung (“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”).
Up next, though, is “Luke Cage.” Announced with a teaser at the end of “Daredevil” season 2, it briefly shows off Luke’s snark and, of course, his…well, thick skin. Check out the teaser here on Netflix.
Netflix announced recently that theand that Jessica Jones will return for a second season.
Here are the otherupcoming Marvel-Netflix shows, plus what we know.
- “Luke Cage”: September 30. Starring Mike Colter, with Rosario Dawson, Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Sonia Braga.
- “Iron Fist”: Season 1 TBA. Recently, it was announced Finn Jones of “Game of Thrones” was cast as superhero and martial arts master Danny Rand.
- “The Defenders”: Miniseries TBA. So little is known about this property so far it’s crazy. Now that we have our main roles cast, things could very well get rolling.
Recently, Variety broke the news that Disney’s ABC Family, I mean, Freeform ordered “Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger” straight to series. While it’s unknown how or if this will fit within the current MCU, the possibility for crossover is high, since the duo have appeared in various other properties, including Civil War.
Do you remember that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” spin-off with Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood starring as Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) and Lance Hunter? It’s dead, sadly. After we got our first look at the logo and heard that Oded Fehr (“Covert Affairs”) and Fernanda Andrade (“The Devil Inside”) joined the cast, I really thought it had a change.
Also canceled? “Agent Carter.” Fans are calling for Netflix to pick up the show and fit in into their slate, but it doesn’t really fit the theme or backdrop of the others. I’m only a little sorry it’s gone, but I’m looking forward to seeingthis fall.
Previously, “Damage Control” was in development as a single-camera sitcom that will focus on the men and women who clean up after the Avengers and other superheroes destroy, say, an office building. No official word has been released about that show, but a show about superhero insurance? Well, turns out NBC may have stolen some of that comedy thunder with it’s announcement of “.” Sorry, MCU, you were probably too slow on this one.
Are those other ABC-Marvel mystery projects (yes, multiples) still moving forward? No word for sure on those either, but since they weren’t, we know they won’t be coming soon.
The growth of the Marvel universe is extraordinary (har-har), and as the comics giant introduces new fans to new characters (some people had no idea who Doctor Strange was a couple years ago) and partners with cable television and Netflix to expand even further, we could seem some pretty epic pairings, teams and characters come out of the woodwork.
So, be honest. Which characters would you want to see in Marvel’s not-yet-announced-but-certainly-inevitable Phase 4 on both the small and big screen?