How to watch The Avengers movies in order

The Marvel Cinematic Universe reigns supreme as one of Hollywood’s biggest franchises — and the Avengers are its premier superhero team.

The big-screen saga of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” (as they’re known in the comics world) dates all the way back to 2008’s Iron Man, which had Nick Fury first bring up the possibility of an “Avenger Initiative” to Iron Man himself, Tony Stark. Since then, the Avengers have periodically assembled to battle (in the words of the team’s creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) “the foes no single superhero can withstand.”

If you’re interested in getting reacquainted with Marvel’s famous superhero team, you’re in luck: All of the Avengers’ greatest battles (both together and as solo acts) are currently available on the Disney+ streaming service or via on-demand viewing. There’s no better time for an Avengers movie marathon, so here are all the films you’ll want to include, listed in order of when they’re set in the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline (not their release date). Take note, however, that the descriptions of each Avengers (and Avengers-related) film might contain some spoilers.

Captain America: The First Avenger

As World War II rages, Steve Rogers volunteers for an experimental procedure intended to turn him into a powerful super-soldier. The experiment is a success, and he’s dubbed “Captain America.” His adventures pit him against the Nazis and Hydra, a secret organization developing powerful weapons that utilize an artifact known as The Tesseract.

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Iron Man

Tony Stark is a brilliant, billionaire engineer whose privileged life is upended when he’s kidnapped by a terrorist organization. In order to escape, he develops a high-tech armored suit and becomes a one-man army — then decides that the hero life isn’t all that bad. While struggling to keep his connection to his armored alter ego a secret, Stark is forced to fend off challenges both at home and abroad. Make sure to watch through the film’s credits for the first, official reference to the Avengers in the MCU.

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Iron Man 2

Tony Stark does battle with a pair of competitors — one a professional rival and the other a personal foe on a mission of revenge — in this sequel to Iron Man. Along with offering a new chapter in Stark’s story, the film introduces several new, important characters to the MCU, including S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (and his future Avengers teammate) Natasha Romanoff, better known as Black Widow.

Read our full Iron Man 2 review

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Thor

The hot-headed prince of the alien kingdom of Asgard, Thor finds himself banished to Earth after disobeying his father, Odin. Meanwhile, his diabolical half-brother Loki enacts a scheme to keep him there and take the throne. During the film’s post-credits scene, we learn that Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. are experimenting with The Tesseract (last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger), but the powerful artifact is also on Loki’s radar — two plot points that lead right into the action in The Avengers.

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The Avengers

Nick Fury finally assembles The Avengers after Loki infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D.’s laboratory and steals the Tesseract, hoping to open a portal for an alien armada to invade Earth. Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor team up with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Black Widow and Hawkeye to stop Loki and the alien army, and the film’s final, mid-credits scene offers the first hint of the greater villain they’ll face down the road: Thanos.

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Thor: The Dark World

An ancient conflict re-ignites as the Asgardians and the Dark Elves both find themselves in pursuit of the powerful, mysterious weapon known as Aether. Thor is forced to enlist the help of Loki in order to defeat the Dark Elves’ leader, Malekith, and by the film’s end, many of the powerful artifacts introduced in the MCU up to this point have a new name: Infinity Stones.

Read our full Thor: The Dark World review

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra, the evil organization from Captain America: The First Avenger, and the trio of Avengers teammates Captain America, Nick Fury, and Black Widow are framed as enemies of the state. Their efforts to expose the vast conspiracy are assisted by former Air Force rescue pilot Sam Wilson (aka Falcon) and his high-tech wings. Their investigation reveals that one of Captain America’s oldest allies might be the assassin known as Winter Soldier.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

With the Avengers reunited and their reputations restored, the team is in action once again. Their efforts to study Loki’s staff result in the creation of Ultron, an artificial intelligence that tries to destroy humanity, and the resulting battle introduces the sentient android Vision and two additional Avengers allies: The powerful twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (better known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch). Meanwhile, Thanos decides to finally take action in his quest to acquire the Infinity Stones.

Read our full Avengers: Age of Ultron review

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Captain America: Civil War

The events of Avengers: Age of Ultron create a schism in the team, and a terrorist attack that kills the leader of Wakanda only heightens tensions. Iron Man and Captain America find themselves on opposite sides when it comes to how the two heroes view the role of the Avengers, and Captain America and his supporters quickly find themselves warring with their former teammates. The film introduces several key characters to the MCU and the Avengers roster, including Spider-Man and T’Challa (aka Black Panther), while also bringing solo superhero Ant-Man into the action.

Read our full Captain America: Civil War review

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Doctor Strange

While he isn’t technically an Avenger, Doctor Strange and his first solo adventure play a big role in the events to come for the superhero team. The film follows arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange as he becomes the world’s new “Sorcerer Supreme” and thwarts an invasion from an alternate dimension with the help of a powerful artifact — one that is later revealed to be another Infinity Stone.

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Thor: Ragnarok

Thor’s sister, Hela, escapes her ancient prison and exiles our hero to the distant planet of Sakaar. He is soon sold to the Grandmaster by a fellow Asgardian known as Valkyrie. Thor is forced to compete in gladiatorial combat and reunites with Hulk in the ring. Together, they must defeat the Grandmaster,  escape Sakaar, and attempt to save Asgard from Hela’s conquest. An epic battle ensues, after which Thanos’ ominous starship appears, setting up our next adventure.

Read our full Thor: Ragnarok review

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Avengers: Infinity War

Thanos has arrived on Earth to recover the Infinity Stones and use their power to unleash cosmic genocide on the entire universe. The Avengers must create a team of the most powerful MCU heroes and villains ever assembled to stop him. It’s a race against time and space to stop Thanos from gathering the remaining stones. The combined forces of our heroes must be enough to stop Thanos from completing the Infinity Gauntlet. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance.

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Avengers: Endgame

The battle against Thanos in Infinity War has taken a heavy toll on the Avengers and the other MCU heroes. The surviving Avengers and their allies will need to risk changing the very fabric of reality to bring back their fallen comrades.  It’s a daring plan, fitting for the biggest Avengers movie to date, including epic battles and many cheer-worthy moments. A journey into the Quantum Realm could undo the damage created by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Avengers: Endgame is the ultimate culmination of the Avengers saga and a fitting end for one of the greatest film franchises of all time. 

Read our full Avengers: Endgame review

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