March Madness is over, and we're in full Marvel Madness mode now. It's been Avengers this and Thanos that for the past several weeks (I'm just as guilty of this as anyone) in anticipation of Avengers: Endgame.
To prepare for the movie myself, I decided to watch every move in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and do it in timeline order. It's about two days worth of movies if watched back to back with no breaks. I took a month (mid-March to mid-April, mostly watching the movies on weekends).
I actually bought all the movies I didn't already own (most of them) on Amazon to do this. It cost me nearly $300 to do it and I have no regrets. Watching every movie was exactly what I needed to do to get even more hyped about the upcoming Endgame movie and the future of the MCU.
Overall, I am beyond impressed with the quality of every movie (minus one that I talk about later) I watched. Marvel goes above and beyond with awesome story telling, insane action scenes, and taking what is put in the comics and bringing it all to life on the screen. I'm going to share my thoughts and reactions to each movie below. If you haven't seen a movie, you might want to skip that section because there could be spoilers.
Timeline Order vs Release Order
There's a lot of sites out there talking about what order is best to watch the MCU movies. I decided to do timeline order, or the order that follows the characters chronologically. It's different than release order a bit because they released movies that jump ahead or back in time. Watching out of release order does give some mild spoilers of things to come because the movie they're referencing actually was already released, but you can call it really good foreshadowing and be okay.
The movies listed below are in the timeline order that I watched them.
Captain America: The First Avenger
This is one of three movies I had seen before (other two being Dr. Strange and Infinity War), not counting ones I had seen clips or pieces of when shown on cable tv. I love this movie because I 1) love Captain America and 2) I love World War 2 history. This movie obviously comes first in timeline order, because it takes place 50 years before the next one (though the end credits will skip you way ahead).
I had just watched this in theaters when I started this re-watch, so I actually watched it a little out of order (just one movie earlier). We're now in the 90s (hello, Blockbuster!) and having this movie as a part of the timeline really helped provide some context for the ones to come - especially with understanding Nick Fury and some of his motives and sayings.
If I was doing release order, this would have been first so I was mindful of the fact that it had it was already out before Captain America. I liked seeing after though, because I already knew who Howard Stark (Tony's dad) was and had some context for what he was struggling with there. This was a good first, introductory movie to Iron Man but wasn't something that I was overly excited about. It moves kind of slowly for the whole movie.
Iron Man 2
While I wasn't overly impressed with Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2 made up for it for sure. We really get to see what Tony is like as Tony and as Iron Man and this is where Marvel really started to shine with awesome story telling plus thrilling action. This is one of my favorites of the whole series of movies. I didn't think I would like Iron Man/Tony very much, but now he's grown on me after this movie. I also really appreciated how Agent Coulson hinted at going to New Mexico (to find Thor) to Tony, leading into the next movie in this timeline order.
I was hesitant to start Thor because I wasn't sure I would like the focus on being in space and not on Earth. Once I started watching and realized most of the story takes place on Earth and not on Asgard, I was immediately a lot more interested. Like Iron Man 1, this first Thor movie is mostly set up for things to come though so not a whole lot of action - but the love interest and group of humans created a good story to follow. Like Iron Man leading into Thor, Thor also led into the next movie (Hulk) with a conversation of another scientist who experimented with gamma rays and was never heard from again. That's all they say, but it makes this timeline order more fulfilling.
The Incredible Hulk
I hadn't heard many good things at all about this movie, and I knew it wasn't top movie by Marvel and it also didn't star Mark Ruffalo who plays Hulk in the Avenger movies. The first half of the movie was very slow and didn't really hold my interest. The last half got to more action so it was more entertaining to watch, but still not much to see. When people say you can skip this movie, they mean it - unless you have no idea about Hulk's backstory and need that context.
I had bought this movie when it first came out on DVD, but never watched it. Not sure why, because I loved it! Bringing all the characters together that I had just watched (okay, sans Captain Marvel obviously) together is where I started to get really excited about this re-watch. From this point on, cameos in each others' movies becomes a norm for the Avengers and that just adds to the quality of these stories. We start to see a common story form and then the end credits actually introduce us to Thanos (we don't know the name at this time or anything about it). I didn't realize he dated so far back in the story!
Iron Man 3
I liked this as much as Iron Man 2, and it felt like a good third installment in the story. It's a quality movie and tells a good story. It kind of stands on its own and can be a good movie even without the others in the line up. My one question, however, is related to Tony destroying his army of Iron Men suits/bots - but pretty quickly after this movie, he's back with a fully restored arsenal like nothing changed. Just seems a little off to me.
Thor: The Dark World
After I was pleasantly surprised by the last Thor movie, I was ready to see where this went. I was glad to see Loki make a comeback, as well as Thor's Earth friends (and end up as more than friends for one). I was hesitant about the space setting at first, but I was now ready to learn more about Asgard and the universe at-large, which this movie provided.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Watching the other two movies after Avengers, and then coming back to this, gives some time gap/separation to allow Steve Rogers to better adjust to the modern world, experience some pop culture, etc. which I love how it's referenced in the film. That provides some good humor moments for sure! This movie helped me understand SHIELD a lot more (and Hydra), which was something I didn't really get before. I want to know more about Bucky though - like what has he been doing to 70 years while Cap was frozen? Bucky needs his own movie, honestly.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 1
This movie gave me so much context into the Guardians that I didn't really get before. Their backstories are so much more complex than I thought they were, for Starlord and everyone else. Thanos gets another role here, and this time he's named and is even in multiple scenes as Gamora's father (which I already knew from seeing Infinity War). In addition to backstories, this also really gets into the idea of the Infinity Stones - it's only been hinted at so far and often called by different names than what they are. This is an essential movie to watch before Infinity War/Endgame.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
I almost didn't want to watch these two back to back because they're the only ones out (for now) of these characters, but they do take place within a week of each other and they fit together perfectly as one giant movie. I also really wanted to know about Starlord's father after the ending of the first movie, and oh boy did I get that info. Starlord says in Infinity War that he's only half human as a joke to say he's only half stupid, but I didn't realize the other half was god. It's a shame he lost his powers though, because that could have helped a ton with Thanos.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Before I knew it, it was already time for another Avengers movie. The team had grown and solidified in the time since the last movie and they were working pretty well together... well, at first. I had no idea what Ultron was before watching and I definitely did not think it was what it ended up being. Nor did I realize that's how Vision came to be (remember, I saw him in Infinity War) nor did I realize who Wanda was and that she was one of the twins. Marvel pretty much just shook me throughout this entire movie.
It's interesting to think about this movie taking place in the context of the Avengers making headlines and then seeing a Stark competitor featured in this movie. It's fun to start seeing random people mention Avengers and reference past events from other movies (because obviously it was on the news) at this point in the timeline. I really liked Ant-Man too and Paul Rudd is a perfect casting for this role. The ending/teasing of the Wasp is fun, knowing now that the sequel is already out.
Captain America: Civil War
This was the movie I was most excited to watch. I knew it led to the Avengers breaking up and that it featured a lot of the Avengers. Honestly, this movie felt like another Avengers title and not so much like a Captain America/individual hero title and I'm totally okay with that. This movie did not disappoint and it gave me more of the Bucky backstory I wanted (though he still deserves his own movie) along with more detail on all of the heroes (Um, can we talk about how amazing Clint is?). Hawk and Black Widow were two that I was previously just meh on, but now I'm all about them and love their stories so much.
Another movie that I bought after it was released, but never watched it. I knew it got all the hype and raving reviews, so I was anxious to see how it lived up to that hype. Of course, it didn't disappoint. I really like T'Challa and his story. You also can't ignore the representation the messaging of communities of color in need that are present throughout the film. The ending also sets up for a Black Panther 2, but I guess we'll have to see how Endgame finishes to know if that can happen... I hope it does!
This was another one I was super excited to see because I love Spiderman and loved him in Infinity War. His youthfulness, with all the other adults, is so funny and he brings a whole new perspective to the universe. I loved that Tony played a big role in this as his mentor, just as he did when Peter was introduced back in Age of Ultron. I'm even more excited for the new Spiderman: Far From Home movie coming out this summer now!
Ant-Man and the Wasp
After Ant-Man, I was excited to see where this sequel went. It didn't disappoint. It followed up nicely on the events of Civil War, showing some real consequences for Scott Lang's involvement in those events. The ending got emotional real quick and I did tear up a little (I honestly haven't cried for a lot of these movies, unlike other Disney movies). The very end and credits scenes are a bit spoilery if you haven't seen Infinity War yet, but chances are you at least know what happened and so you won't be too confused or surprised. But either way, it makes for really good foreshadowing.
This was one of the movies that I watched last year before Infinity War, because I heard it was the one to watch for context. That advice wasn't wrong. This is the one movie, along with Guardians of the Galaxy, that goes into detail on Infinity Stones and gives us their story and talks about their power. Doctor Strange is a good movie on its own, too, and gives a character with some different powers than what we've seen a lot of (the super strength, tech-heavy, hero).
Another quality Thor film that continues Thor's story and now incorporates Hulk into the mix, giving him some love since he hasn't been able to get his own movie yet (that's mostly due to Universal still having rights to this one somehow). Ragnarok is great, and I'm tempted to say it's my favorite Thor, but I honestly love all three so much. This movie leads into Infinity very nicely with the ending - and then the very first opening scene of Infinity War will pick right up where Ragnarok leaves us.
Avengers: Infinity War
First watching it last year with only seeing two other movies, I liked it but there was a lot I missed (and I didn't even realize some of what I missed and didn't get till now). Now, I get all the references and appreciate this masterpiece even more. And it makes the ending even more sad, but it also gives me hope with Captain Marvel (who can finally return) and knowing about the others' stories.
And then I watched Avengers: Endgame... just kidding, I wish! (This joke is only funny if you read it before the release!)
Watch for my next post to drop with my predictions on Endgame, taking all of what I got from this re-watch (or really first-watch) process.
What's your favorite Marvel movie and why? What order do you prefer to watch in?