The Infinity Order - My Marvel Movie Viewing Order
I recently had a kid. Okay, my wife had the kid, but I was there. And I took two weeks off to help bring the child home and settle into this cold world we call life.
Between feedings and nappings and changings and all the fun parenting, my wife and I have been going through the Marvel catalogue to get ready for Endgame. Since I have this awful habit of over-analyzing and overthinking everything, I decided to apply those same powers to this process. I looked at watching them chronologically, but that didn’t really fire me up like I thought it might. Release order was my next stop, but that didn’t do much for me anyway. So I laid out all the facts and the narratives, and applied what I think my preferred order is. The list is below, with explanations where necessary. And now I present The Infinity Order:
Captain Marvel - Obviously this isn’t out to own yet, but it’ll make a great starting point.
Ironman - I know, you’re already upset that I skipped Captain America. We’re getting there. But here is where it really all started. And honestly it holds up better than any of the other phase 1 movies.
Ironman 2 - Picks up where Ironman leaves off. You get to know Fury and Black Widow. Makes sense.
Thor - I loved this movie when it came out. But It hasn’t held up super well. Holy Dutch angle, Batman! Anyway, gives us Thor and a way-too-serious Loki. Oh, and that Clint guy.
The Incredible Hulk** - I almost don’t even consider this canon. Yes, Stark shows up after the credits. Still a terrible movie and Norton sucks as Banner. You can skip. But if you want to watch it, it goes here.
Captain America: The First Avenger - I know what you’re thinking: “The movie takes place in WWII, why would you jump all over the timeline like this?!” (You should know I said that in the Spongebob mocking tone.) Here’s why: You’re wrong. The movie takes place in 2011. The entire film is basically a disguised frame story. We start with the Capsicle discovery, then flashback to the war, and then he wakes up in NYC. Viewing it this way sets us up perfectly to see Cap punch a bag across the room in…
Avengers - We’ve set the stage for the original 6. And this movie is awesome. ‘Nuff said. As for arching narratives, it’s interesting to go back and see the tension from Cap and Ironman build so much even here. They’ve always had a rocky relationship. It’s like Ross and Rachel. I’m waiting for Ironman to yell, “We were on a break!” in Endgame. But, I digress…
Ironman 3 - Picks up with Tony battling his internal demons after almost dying in space.
Thor: The Dark World - Something something infinity stone. Fine movie, I guess. But now we know stuff is getting real. Oh, and The Collector gets his first stone.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Bucky is back! No surprises on the order here.
Avengers: Age of Ultron - What happened to Guardians of the Galaxy, you ask? It felt weird to break up the Avengers narrative with two completely tangential movies. Now yes, we get a bit more Thanos and some Infinity Stone progress, but Phase 2 is kind of all about getting some demons out of the way (or really in the way) to cause some chaos with the climax of the Infinity Saga. Go to Ultron, see more of Cap and Ironman begin to fracture. Oh, and a little tease where Stark says, “That up there, that’s the endgame.”
Guardians of the Galaxy - Now we can meet our new friends from out in the galaxy. And a new Infinity Stone! Plus some of what Thanos has been up to.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 - While a great movie, this actually doesn’t do much for the Infinity narrative. Which is totally cool. These characters needed some good development and they got it here. Plus, it provides a good breath of fresh air, in my opinion, from the long arc.
Ant-Man - Now we get to meet Scott Lang and Pym and one of the best characters in the MCU. Luis is unbeatable.
Captain America: Civil War - Who are we kidding, this is Avengers 2.5 and it’s awesome. Bucky is back back and good or bad or something who knows, and Cap and Ironman are frenemenies, friends, and finally enemies. It’s actually pretty sad in the whole 22 movie context of everything. Oh, and Black Panther and Spiderman.
Black Panther - Super cool movie. Wakanda forever! Also good to see what Bucky is kinda up to.
Spiderman: Homecoming - I’ve always been a huge Spiderman fan. I liked this one a lot. A good, high school Spiderman doing high school things. Super immature, makes a lot of mistakes, gets the job done anyway. Tony and Happy are great additions. I do wonder how a studio like Marvel can make such a huge continuity error, with the whole “8 Years Later” thing though. Gross.
Doctor Strange - Good movie, sets up Strange to be in Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War. I do wonder how the entire Earth can be threatened and none of the other Avengers noticed, but hey, I’m not Kevin Feige.
Ant-Man and the Wasp - Now, I struggled with where to place this one. I think I actually watched it before Strange, but thinking about it, it takes place 2 years after Civil War, so maybe it needs a little space. Plus, that mid-credits scene takes place after Infinity War, so it’s admittedly hard to place this film.
Thor: Ragnarok - This also technically happens during or just after Civil War, which places it 2 years before Ant-Man and the Wasp, but to quote the Grandmaster: “Time works real different around these parts.” So though Banner has been Hulk for 2 years, we can maybe assume time has passed differently by the time they get to Asgard? The reason I place it after Ant-Man and the Wasp is because the mid-credits scene here takes us straight to the start of Infinity War (because Sakaar time is wonky, I guess).
Avengers: Infinity War - Finally, we made it! Good work team! We pick up right where Ragnarok leaves off, eventually catching up to the Guardians, and Cap and Ironman are still on a break. Spiderman gets stuck in space and somehow that’s not the meaning of “Far From Home” even though it totally should be. Anyway, you’ve made it this far. Now we’re in the Endgame.
Now, do I claim to have all the answers? No. Admittedly, I may be off on some of the timelines. But I think this order provides a great context for the Infinity narrative as a whole.
I will say I had a great time finding all this new little threads and beads that just take the movies to the next level for me. For example, the choir during the parody drama scene in Thor: Ragnarok is actually singing the score that was behind that same scene in Thor: The Dark World, which makes it even more hilarious to me. So good.
Anyway, there you have it. Have a different viewing order? Can’t wait to tell me I’m wrong? Let me know in the comments!