The Marvel Movie Debate: What is the Correct Viewing Order?

Marvel Studios has created twenty-three movies over the past twelve years that all entangle with each other. The total run time of all twenty-three movies would be three thousand hours and fifteen minutes. It seems like you would never be able to get through all of them. However, do you really need to watch all of the movies to understand the newer ones? After making my way through all 23 movies, I can resoundingly say yes. Take the time and watch these movies in the right order! Although, if you’re not trying to fully dive into the Marvel franchise, then you do not need to watch all of the movies.

The first movie created for the Avengers franchise of the Marvel City Universe (MCU) was Iron Man (2008). The movie totaled $585.3 million in box office sales and set the scales for the upcoming Marvel movies. Although Iron Man was the first MCU movie character created for the Avengers series, he was not the first Avenger. The first avenger was Captain America. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) takes place during World War II and ends with Captain America frozen in the ice - this is why his timeline is able to fit together. You are able to later see these heroes come together in The Avengers (2012). The original six Avengers are: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. The heroes were brought together by Nick Fury as a protection initiative to protect the coming threats on Earth.

As the MCU progresses, more and more movies are released. However, the events from different movies do not line up perfectly according to their release dates. The movies are not released in chronological order of events, which raises the question of whether the movies should be watched in chronological order or in order of release. East Haven resident Fred Crampton, a fan of the comics and the movies, believes. “If you watch them in [chronological] order, you have to deal with a different Hulk, which kind of makes it confusing. I can watch something that’s told forwards and backwards and my brain can put it together; it really depends on the person.” Fred brings up the fact that the Hulk in the original movie is not played by the Hulk we know and love now, Mark Ruffalo. Instead, in The IncredibleHulk (2003), the Hulk was played by Eric Bana. We later see Ruffalo taking over as the Hulk in The Avengers. Maria Buonasora, a teacher at North Branford Intermediate School, believes that you do not necessarily have to watch all of the MCU movies to understand the plot and action of the newer ones, saying, “I think that some of the smaller nuances and hidden easter eggs may go over your head if you haven’t seen them all.” There are many small jokes and easter eggs hidden throughout the newer movies. An example of this can be seen in Iron Man 3 (2013) when Iron Man, or Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), was run out of his home and hunted down by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). During his attempt to rebuild his suit, Stark was helped to stay hidden by a little boy, Harley (Ty Simpkins). We later see the reappearance of Harley for a split second during Tony Stark’s funeral at the end of Avengers: Endgame (2019). This small nuance further links the earlier Iron Man movies and allows for a deeper connection to the viewers.

Some people think that there is no reason to watch all twenty-three movies to understand the larger scaled movies like Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). They believe that some movies in the franchise can be skipped: Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Incredible Hulk (2003), and Thor: Darkworld (2013). Emilee Apuzzo, a senior at Mercy High School, believes you should watch the movies in release date order and that there are some that can be skipped. “I don’t think it’s necessary to watch the older ones [movies] to understand the newer ones. But if you go back to the older ones after, you’ll see a lot more connections.” Being someone that likes to understand the full picture, I recommend watching the movies in chronological order of events so that you can understand everything that happens within the timeline.

As someone who has just gotten into the MCU, I would suggest watching them in the way that makes sense to you. Personally, watching all of them in chronological order of events first made everything fit together better in my brain. However, watching the movies this way does not take the post credit scenes into consideration. Each post credit scene is a hint for the next movie that will be released - not necessarily the next movie in chronological events. If the allure of the secret hints interests you, watching the movies in order of release may be the way to go. Marvel fans can expect new movies to be released, although the recent Coronavirus outbreak has pushed back some of the premiere dates. Black Widow was originally supposed to be released on April 24, 2020. However, the release date is now set some time in November, making this the first year that the MCU will only be releasing one movie. Marvel is also working with Disney+ to create shows like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wandavision, Loki, What if…?, and Hawkeye, all scheduled to be released by 2021. They are also working on other shows and movies that are yet to have release dates.

All of the current 23 Marvel movies fit together in ways that are not always easily seen, but if you pay attention closely, the movies will start to have a new, deeper meaning. Nobody truly knows what the next phase for the MCU will look like, but remember to always watch through the credits