Marvel Movies In Order Of Release: A Chronological Timeline

Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born in 2008, it has become a powerhouse forcing other movie studios to keep up. Characters that appear in Marvel Movies are superheroes from the pages of the much-beloved Marvel comics. As a result, fans are heavily invested in the films, the characters, the timelines, and even the villains.

Due to the fact that many Marvel Movies take place in a nonlinear timeline, here’s a chronological timeline of the films in their order of release.

Marvel Movies And Their Order of Release

1. Iron Man

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The first film in the first phase of the MCU was Iron Man in 2008. The film introduces us to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), the ‘genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist’ who seemed to be interested only in making more money. As an orphan, he followed his father’s footsteps to run the world’s biggest weapons manufacturing company. However, he gets kidnapped by a terrorist organization that uses his technology and gives him the resources required to build a terrifying weapon. Instead, he builds a suit of armor to escape.

Unable to live with the knowledge of the harm his weapons were causing to innocent people, Tony shuts down the weapon manufacturing plant on getting home. With his suit of armor, he becomes a superhero – Iron Man – to fight crime and terrorism.

2. The Incredible Hulk

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In 2008, The Incredible Hulk was also released. It follows Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) who is in search of a cure for his condition which causes him to turn into a huge green monster whenever he is under emotional stress. He is separated from his true love (Betty Ross) and forced to hide from her father (Gen. Thaddeus Ross) who wants to capture him. He also has to fight Emil Blonsky, one of Gen. Thaddeus Ross’ soldiers who became obsessed with the Hulk and turns into a monster himself – The Abomination. Bruce learns to “aim” the Hulk and becomes a hero when he stops The Abomination from destroying Harlem.

3. Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2
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In Iron Man 2, which was released in 2010, Tony Stark’s announcement of his identity in Iron Man 1 meant he had no alter-ego to protect him and this left him vulnerable. He faces pressure from the government to build Iron Man suits for them and not privatize world peace. He also has to deal with health issues as well because the palladium power source he is using is slowly poisoning him. As though all that is not enough, he still has to deal with a new villain, the vengeful Whiplash.

4. Thor

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In 2011, the next Marvel movie, Thor, was released. This is the first film that introduces fans to the cosmos in MCU. We meet Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the God of Thunder on his coronation day, as he prepares to replace his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), as the King of Asgard; however, the event is interrupted by the Frost Giants. An arrogant Thor leads his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his friends – The Warriors Three and Lady Sif –  to Jotunheim (home of the Frost Giants) to seek revenge, but this turns out to be a mistake. Thor is then banished by his father to Midgard (Earth).

On Earth, Thor must learn humility in order to retrieve his hammer and regain his powers if he must stop his brother who seizes the opportunity to take power for himself.

5. Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger
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Captain America: The First Avenger was also released in 2011. The movie is set during World War II and follows Steve Rogers who wants to fight in the war but is deemed to be physically unfit. He then meets Dr. Abraham Erskine who offers to give him the first and only successful Super Soldier Serum that transforms Steve Rogers into Captain America.

Steve Rogers then fights in the war and is able to defeat the Red Skull, the leader of Hydra – the Nazi deep science division, whose weapons were fuelled by the Tesseract – one of the infinity stones.

6. The Avengers

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The Avengers, which is considered one of the most iconic Marvel movies, was released in 2012. When Loki comes to earth with an army in search of the Tesseract, Thor joins forces with the planet’s greatest heroes: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye to fight against Loki and stop the aliens from infiltrating the planet.

The movie marked the end of the first phase of the MCU which spanned from 2008 to 2012.

7. Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3
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The second phase of the MCU began in 2013 with Iron Man 3. In this film, Tony deals with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the events that occurred in The Avengers. He spends sleepless nights coming up with improvements for his suit. He is then targeted by a villain known as the Mandarin whom he eventually finds out is just a puppet of one of his industries’ greatest rivals, Aldrich Killian.

8. Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World
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Thor: The Dark World was released later the same year, in 2013. After Jane Foster comes in contact with the Aether (the reality infinity stone) and becomes its host, she is put in the cross-hairs of the commander of the Dark Elves, Malekith, who has been searching for the stone. Thor comes to Jane’s rescue and ends up defeating Malekith. The Aether is then delivered to a being known as The Collector for protection.

9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier 
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Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the first Marvel movie released in 2014. In this film, Captain America realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D has been infiltrated by Hydra and that his friend, Bucky, is still alive but has been working as a brainwashed soldier for decades. With the help of his friends and agents loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D, he is able to foil a mass assassination plot by Alexander Pierce, secretary of the World Security Council. After his victory, he goes back to find his former best friend to bring him back to the good side.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy follows Peter Quill who steals a mysterious orb wanted by a Kree Soldier, Ronan The Accuser. With the help of four criminal Misfits – Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon – he must evade Ronan’s capture and save the Galaxy while at it.

11. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron
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In 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron was released. In this Marvel Movie, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to start a peacekeeping program called Ultron to protect the world. Things go south and the heroes assemble once again to save the human race from extinction.

12. Ant-Man

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Ant-Man was also released in 2015, marking the end of the second phase of the MCU. In this film, Dr. Hank Pym recruits Scott Lang, who was just released from prison to wear a suit built with shrinking technology and stop Darren Cross, his former protégé, who is almost about to discover the secret behind this technology. The mission is successful and Scott emerges as a hero.

13. Captain America: Civil War 

Captain America: Civil War
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The third phase of Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with the third Captain America Movie – Captain America: Civil War in 2016. In this film, World leaders are afraid of Superheroes running amok and destroying the world, so they push for the Hero Registration Act that regulates the heroes and limits their activities. This divides the Avengers as Iron Man and some of the heroes are in support of the Act while Captain America and the others feel the government cannot be relied upon to save the world. This eventually leads to a war between the two teams as a new villain emerges.

14. Doctor Strange

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2016’s Doctor Strange follows Stephen Strange, a wealthy, arrogant but skilled surgeon who gets involved in an accident that injures his hands severely, making it impossible for him to continue to practice.

Unable to restore the use of his hands through traditional medicine, his only hope seems to be in Karmar-Taj in Nepal where he has to push his ego aside and learn under the auspices of the Ancient One who teaches him spells and inter-dimensional magic. He soon realizes that there are more important things than himself and he has to protect the world from a deadly enemy that wants to destroy it.

15. Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2
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In 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released. In this Marvel movie, the Guardians are hired by an Alien race to protect their batteries, but things go awry. It also deals with the discovery and identity of Star-Lord’s father, Ego.

16. Spider-Man: Homecoming

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In Spider-Man: Homecoming, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the titular hero goes back to his normal life where he uncovers a plot for the development of black-market weapons and is able to save the day.

17. Thor: Ragnarok 

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In 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Thor must find a way to return home and protect his people when he is imprisoned on the other side of the universe.

18. Black Panther

Black Panther
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In 2018, the iconic Black Panther was released. The MCU film follows T’Challa who is to be named king after the death of T’Chaka, his father. However, Erik Killmonger arrives believing the throne rightfully belongs to him. He leads a revolution and takes over the country.

In the end, T’Challa fights back, is successful and decides to open up Wakanda to the world.

19. Avengers: Infinity War

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In the long-awaited Avengers: Infinity War, the villainous Thanos sets out to find the six infinity stones in order to wipe out half of all life in a bid to achieve balance in the Universe.

The Avengers, Guardians, Spiderman, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther come together to stop Thanos.

20. Ant-Man And The Wasp 

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Ant-man And The Wasp was also released in 2018. In this film, Scott Lang has to balance being a hero and being a father. Together with Hope Van Dyne, a.k.a the Wasp, he takes on a powerful new enemy called Ghost.

21. Captain Marvel

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The highly anticipated Captain Marvel was released in March 2019. It follows Vers, a Kree Warrior with no memory of her past, who finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic war between the Kree and Skrulls. When a mission brings her to Earth, she begins to regain her memories as Carol Danvers, an Air-Force Pilot.

Together with Nick Fury, they explore her past, discover the truth and put an end to the war.

22. Avengers: Endgame

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Avengers: Endgame is the final film in ‘Phase Three’ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film follows the surviving Avengers, after the events of the Avengers: Infinity War, as they try to fix the havoc brought on by Thanos. It was released in April 2019.

23. Spider-Man: Far From Home

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Spider-Man: Far From Home takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and follows Spider-Man as he faces a new threat while on school vacation in Europe. With the help of Nick Fury and Maria Hill, he is able to emerge successfully, before returning home.

Edidiong Mboho
A graduate of United States International University currently undergoing her Masters degree Programme in The UK, Eddy is a storyteller, movie enthusiast, and TV nerd who can always be found on Netflix. She's always up to argue about comic book movies. Getting to write and edit for a living is definitely the dream and it is always exciting to be afforded the opportunity to learn new things every day.


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